Weston-super-Mare… the town where I live

Weston-super-Mare is a large seaside town on the Bristol Channel, and although I actually live in a small village a mile south of Weston, it is technically where I live!

The name comes as you would guess from west+ton (west settlement) and  as there are other Westons in the area and it was by the sea it became known as Weston-super-Mare (Latin for ‘on sea’)

Weston was originally a tiny fishing village of not much more than a few fishermen’s cottages. Over two thousand years ago, late Bronze Age people built the hill fort of Worlebury Camp overlooking Weston Bay; the Romans arrived in the area and took over the site and left a cemetery nearby which still yields its residents from time to time as new building takes place.

After the Romans, the area declined back to the small fishing village that stayed  much the same until the late eighteenth century. With the popularity of sea bathing and the development of seaside resorts, Weston, as the nearest place to the fashionable Regency  town of Bath, and the thriving merchant city of Bristol, became Somerset’s first resort.

The Royal Hotel… opened in 1808, Weston’s first Hotel
The Royal is an attractive and popular hotel, restaurant, bar… originally called the Reeves Hotel
Next to the Royal is Unwined, a really nice place to unwind! In the background is the Knightstone Campus of Weston College where I used to work
An attractive building now housing Barcode Youth Café, opposite the Royal Hotel
The Cabot and the Grosvenor Hotels; the Cabot is now a popular bar, the Grosvenor welcomes visitors and holiday-makers from across the country.
The back of the Winter Gardens
Lilies – the Winter Gardens
Bridge over the untroubled lily pond
Ready for coffee?
Nice sky but a dull picture of a nice place, The Winter Gardens Pavilion

The Victorians loved the idea of seaside holidays but until the railway arrived in Weston in 1841, it was out of reach of anyone but the wealthy. Once the middle classes could travel to the seaside, hotels were built, amusements provided, refreshments were available. In 1867 the first pier was built from Birnbeck Island. In 1904 the Grand Pier was built, and although it was destroyed several times by fire, it is gloriously rebuilt and a great attraction to Weston!

The Grand Pier, Weston
A very continental looking view!
Weston is not such a wild town that the carousel horses have to be caged!

12 Comments

  1. jena

    I love it! Such charming architecture and history. I can hardly wait to see it for myself. You’re a great representative of WSM my dear 😉 One of these days we’re going to have a great play day there!
    xoxo

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  2. Jeremy Nathan Marks

    These are great photos and your description tells a very interesting story.

    It is funny to think that the railway restricted visits to the wealthy but that is how it goes with innovation.

    Weston has real character that comes through in these photos. I often find that in North America a person has to go looking for buildings that are outside of the cookie-cutter of strip malls, plazas and chain stores/fast food restaurants. You can find character everywhere and it isn’t restricted to what is old, but one thing North American architecture often lacks is a sense of the past.

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    1. Lois

      Thanks… Weston is quite an odd place in many ways; I’m going to write more about it later with more pics. I’d love to know how it would inspire you if you ever visited.. and what p[poems you would write!

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      1. Jeremy Nathan Marks

        I have been in England twice but only for brief visits both times. And each time I was in and around London; I’ve never been to the west coast. My parents lived in Leicester just before I was born but we never had an opportunity to go back as a family.

        I would like to come back to England (and travel the British Isles and Ireland someday. I am sure it would inspire a great deal of poetry. I’ve also taken an interest in the western ports because of the significant role they played in transatlantic shipping and fishing in the 16th-18th centuries.

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      2. Lois

        Gosh – you have so much to discover if you do manage to come!! There are great regional differences which you could explore.
        Is shipping and fishing a particular topic for you? Our nearest city is Bristol which was a major port in previous times… but sadly also heavily associated with the slave-trade. On the east coast where I was born and brought up, there are some very interesting towns… King’s Lynn which has a family connection is a fascinating place and I would really recommend a visit to its little museum to see the sea-henge.

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      3. Jeremy Nathan Marks

        Shipping and fishing are something I’ve developed an interest in because of their role in the exploration of the northeastern sections of North America. I also grew up near the water in Maryland and spent many summers along the Atlantic Coast both in the Mid-Atlantic region and up into New England.

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      4. Lois

        Well, you obviously know of John Cabot – although of Italian origin, he is now adopted as a famous Bristolian and it was from there that he set out in search of Hy-Brazil… there is a replica of his ship the Matthew in Bristol docks and when I was a teacher we took our students for a day out on her!

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  3. kevinashton

    Being originally from Birmingham, Weston-super-Mare was often a summer day trip destination.

    I remember when I was about 9 my parents had long planned such a trip, only to find our early morning start was greeted with torrential rain with a forecast of more of the same all day…..
    My parents suggested that perhaps we ought to choose a closer destination given the weather.

    From somewhere I gathered my most persuasive 9-year-old argument, pointing out that because we were not taking a proper holiday that year we really ought to see the seaside.

    My argument won, I was elated as we boarded our steam train at New Street station, no rain would dampen my spirits. My twin brother and I enjoyed the journey and the sights and sounds as my sister read, all the time the train was being lashed by the unyielding rain.

    As the train made its approach into Weston-super-Mare station we gathered our belongings and put our Pac-a-Macs on in preparation. As we left the station the clouds cleared, revealing a hot sunny day and our raincoats were taken off along with our sweaters. The day was filled with laughter, the beach, the pier, ice cream and more, a treasured day.

    As we reluctantly arrived back in Birmingham that evening we discovered that just about everywhere else in the United Kingdom had endured heavy rains and even some storm damage, but for some mystical reason and my childish pleadings we had avoided. Over time this trip to Weston-super-Mare became a much loved and retold story in our family.

    Liked by 1 person

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