From bathing machines to The Beatles, from smugglers to stagecoaches – Minehead’s history has been brought to life in a newly enhanced set of Storywalk trails.
They’re designed to guide visitors around different areas of the town while revealing its history – all via a website on a mobile phone.
Three of the trails concentrate on the original settlements – Higher Town, Middle Town and Quay Town – which were eventually joined together by new building as the town’s popularity as a Victorian seaside resort led to major expansion.
And three more offer a fascinating guide to the trees and shrubs in the Parks Walk – essentially a mile-long arboretum leading from a point close to the town centre into open countryside.
All the trails have been researched and created as a website accessible on a mobile phone by Dunster-based author Chris Jelley, who’s been supported by Minehead Information Centre and Minehead BID, the traders’ consortium set up two years ago to promote the town and raise its profile as a holiday destination.
He said one of the challenges was deciding what to leave out, given that Minehead has such a long and fascinating history, from its origins as a small but bustling trading port surrounded by farms to a modern holiday resort.
“It is always tricky striking a balance between making the trails family- friendly and informative,” he said.
The Storywalks reveal the past importance of herring fishing, recount how some of the earliest aircraft landed on the beach and trace the history of the West Somerset Railway, including the time it was used by The Beatles for filming ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.
The trails bring together folklore, local customs and dialect words as they guide users to features and buildings which were key to the town’s development.
Minehead BID manager Andrew Hopkins said the updated Storywalks offered a wonderfully interesting way of discovering the modern town – and its history.
“A lot of our visitors never stray very far from the town centre,” he said. “They only see what the Victorians and the Edwardians created – with a few modern additions.
“But it literally only requires a few yards’ walking to find oneself in an older, even more attractive Minehead, with original cottages, cobbled paths and a real sense of time standing still.
“And some of the Higher Town locations featured offer magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.
“We’re delighted with what Chris has produced for us, particularly his celebration of the Parks Walk, a particularly undervalued attraction offering a real oasis for relaxation.
“And the fact that these trails can be followed so easily via a mobile phone should hopefully encourage a lot of our visitors to discover them.”
The Minehead Hidden History Storywalks are free for all to access at: minehead.storywalks.info