I have moved back up into Somerset to the third and last of a trio of south west English sea side towns (First image 21 June 2009 and all others 8 August 2009). Weston Super Mare was a small village from Iron Age times until the arrival of the railway in 1841 and the subsequent Victorian tourist boom.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who I talked about in an earlier post ("Bristol Maritime History..."), lived with his family on the street shown above while he supervised the extension of his railway south from Bristol.
Weston Super Mare became so popular that Birnbeck pier was built behind the original area of holiday activity shown in the title image. Sadly the listed building that originally hosted the arrival of miners and their families on vacation to the town from South Wales, which was opened to the public in 1867, finally closed due to safety concerns in 1994.
However due to the distant position of these facilities, the trade of town centre shopkeepers was not as great as what it could be.... a second and more central pier was planned and finally opened in 1904...
|A second pier closed to the public... empty pier|
Due to the fluctuating tides of the Bristol Channel and the levelness of the sand, the seafront and beach is extensive at a distance of about 1 mile out to sea at low tide.
At the end of an extensive promenade lawned area, Pier square connects the Grand Pier to the town centre and has in itself a small but maybe not insignificant history in the development of the town. At the birth of the tourist industry in Weston, a project was conceived to turn wild sand dunes in this area (difficult to believe when you see the beach now !!) into lawns and parkland. Opposition to this plan held out for 40 years until approval was given for the 3 miles of sea wall and promenade gardens. Originally the area was for the private use of the residents of this street but was eventually opened to the general public in 1910. The Boy and Serpent fountain from the Coalbrookdale Iron company in Shropshire was donated 3 years later by a little known or documented Thomas MacFarlane. It seems that Mr MacFarlane had an interest in promoting trade by improving the town.
2010 was another milestone in turning back the clock in trying to revive the fortunes of an ailing seaside town when the great grand daughter of Mr MacFarlane unveiled the restored fountain in the same year that the £3.9 million "GRAND PIER" . The pier was re-opened on 23rd October 2010 to 52,000 visitors.
My many visits over the previous few years were unusual in that I didn't follow the afore mentioned town planners ideals by visiting both the sea and the town centre on the same day. On this, my last occasion, I only visited both to visually document the empty pier whilst purchasing some essential shopping supplies.... only to discover something more interesting described later in the post. The High street is a fairly standard affair where the shoppers can be occasionally entertained by other means than the chain stores.
|The most expensive bus stop you've ever seen|
I only mentioned this building once to the people I knew in the area who paid their council tax to this authority, the very thought of it annoyed them as they said project was funded with public money.
|2009/2010 grand pier substitute attraction.... view of the seafront construction work.|
|sand copy, originals in the background|
|Exploring the exhibition !!|
|Deja Vu ...... familiar ?? !|
|maintenance in progress... over use or trying to get comfortable|
|Virtual donkey rides|
|2009 fish theme|
|err... it wasn't to be for me though|
Lastly this man and all this walking and talking has tempted me to do the ultimate seaside thing of finishing off with an ice cream. Oh I've just been reminded, it's March... ahh well, the summer will soon be here.