Weston Super Mare Town Guide
...the best of British seaside resorts
Step back into the world of traditional seaside holidays with inviting sandy beaches, amusements, the long promenade and of course the pier. A great place for a family holiday to remember and to treasure the fantastic memories for a long time.
A brief history
Weston Super Mare was a small Victorian village with around 100 residents who played host to around 20,000 holidaymakers, however during the 1800’s Weston grew rapidly and by the turn of the 1900’s had a population of almost 70,000. For residents of Bristol and Bath, Weston was the nearest coastal village and was within easy reach of the road. The first hotel opened in 1810, which is now part of the Royal Hotel, and following this the first ‘Holiday Guide’ was created in 1822.
By 1841 the railway arrived at Weston however this was a closed station and the trains were initially drawn by horses as the residents were not too keen on having noisy and smelly steam trains in their town. In 1866 a larger station was built to cope with the ever-increasing volumes of visitors and by the 1880’s Weston finally got a through station, which enabled the town to become a huge attraction for not only holidaymakers but also day-trippers. Birnbeck Pier had been completed by the end of 1867 which offered a huge variety of entertainment such as a ‘Theatre of wonders’ alpine railway, shooting gallery, park swings, merry go round, bars, tea rooms and many more and the introduction of the Seafront Improvement Scheme in the 1880’s enabled the town to build amongst other things sea walls and a two-mile promenade, which is still very much in use today. As visitor numbers increased, the facilities increased with more shops and even schools as it became fashionable for wealthy families to send their children to seaside boarding schools. It was decided to build a further Pier, ‘The Grand Pier’ in 1904 with a 2000-seated theatre as its main attraction.
Weston played a huge part during the World Wars and 80% of its woods were felled for military use and the beach was used for exercises and digging trenches. Weston airfield was opened in 1936 and in 1937 the town was granted a borough status along with the first mayor being elected when its motto of ‘Ever Forward’ was adopted. Weston was a popular destination for evacuees although it was bombed repeatedly with large areas of the town being destroyed.
By the late 1960’s foreign holiday destinations became far more popular and less expensive and along with many British seaside resorts, Weston faced a difficult period.
About Weston Super Mare
Today we are observing a reverse in the 1960’s trend and holiday makers choosing to remain in this country. Weston very much holds much of its original historical charm and along with ‘The Grand Pier’, original limestone houses, beautiful parks and of course long sandy beaches continues to attract regular holiday makers and day trippers.
The town is located 18 miles southwest of Bristol and is a traditional seaside town with all the traditional seaside attractions, including its famous donkeys! The character of the towns built environment has been created by the use of local stone, much from its own town quarry.
Weston enjoys one of the longest and naturally occurring beaches in the UK with miles of clean sandy beach and promenade, which creates a platform, to take in the superb views over the channel. Owing to the large tidal range in the Bristol Channel, the low tide mark in Weston Bay is about a mile from the seafront. Although the beach itself is sandy, low tide uncovers areas of thick mud, hence the colloquial name Weston-super-Mud. To capture an even better view you may wish to take a ride on the 40 metre high ‘Wheel of Weston.’
Weston annually hosts large events such as T4 on the beach and Enduro (held out of season) where the beach undergoes a transformation with the creation of giant mountains of sand and track to form a venue for thousands of spectators to watch dirt bike racing. The beach has designated areas for wind and water sports and over the past few years the seafront and promenade has been transformed through major refurbishment and the new ‘Grand Pier’ which is open all year round holds entertainment with state of the art rides and a great selection of cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes.
Things to see and do
The Grand Pier - Rain or shine the Grand Pier is the ultimate theme park offering world class rides, attractions and entertainment all under one waterproof arena. You will find something here for everyone, young or old, holiday visitor, day-tripper or resident. Many events are held throughout the year so it is always best to check their website for up to date information.
Paddle Steamer Waverley & Balmoral - Built on the River Clyde in 1947, PS Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world and visits Weston-super-Mare in the summer months. Visit their website to plan your trip and don’t forget to view the special trips which they offer themed to cater for all tastes from bird watching to children’s trips. Onboard you have access to catering facilities and a souvenir shop.
Miniature Railway - The 7¼ inch gauge miniature railway operates on the Beach Lawns, Marine Parade and in the seaside town of Weston. As well as a gentle ½ mile train ride behind the steam and petrol locomotives, there is plenty more to keep the whole family entertained including an excellent 18-hole putting green, a drive it yourself tram and a gift shop.
North Somerset Museum - The Museum hosts collections which are not on permanent display, so check out their website before you visit to see what is currently on show for your enjoyment.
Helicopter Museum - The largest dedicated helicopter museum in the world which has over 80 helicopters in the collection with those on show housed in the main display building. The museum offers the largest undercover all weather attraction and a fun place for all the family, with a coffee shop and children’s play area.
Marine Lake - Marine Lake has long been an important Weston-super-Mare seaside attraction but it has not always looked as it does today. Originally known as Glentworth Bay it had a pebble and shingle beach, swept twice a day by the tide. With a variety of excellent quality bars, restaurants and hotels in the vicinity there is definitely a good reason to walk up to the Marine Lake which has had a major refurbishment completed in May 2008 as part of the seafront’s improvement plan.
Winter Gardens - The Winter Gardens is an events centre housing the Playhouse Theatre, conferences, events and venues. Check their website for up to date information and for current shows.
Donkeys - Information about donkey derbys, events and most importantly how you can take a ride on the most famous Donkeys in the country!
Beach sand sculptures - Head to the beach at Weston to experience breathtaking sand art with a different selected theme each year. This festival is one which Weston is proud to host and is not to be missed. Check the website for dates the festival will be held this year.
T4 on the beach - Arguably world’s best beach party is held annually here in Weston. So dust off your bucket and spade, roll up your beach towel, put on your dancing shoes and be prepared for an awesome time. Check out the website for annual dates and how to purchase tickets.
Enduro - If dirt bikes are your interest then Enduro is an absolute must, whether you are a competitor or spectator. Enduro attracted over 80,000 people onto Weston’s beach last year to watch the spectacle. Check out the website for information, tickets and how to enter if you are a rider.
Puxton Park - Set in the beautiful Somerset countryside just a few miles from Weston is the 50 acre family adventure park, one of the largest visitor attractions in the south west providing fun and variety with something to offer everyone. From a state of the art giant indoor play barn to the delightful Pets' village, adults and children alike can experience the joys of getting up close and personal with the many animals. A visit to the Falconry centre is another highlight, home to Owls, Falcons and Hawks this is a unique opportunity to see birds of prey as never before with daily displays. Check out the website for all visitor details.
Jill’s Garden - Jills Garden, created in Grove Park in 2001, is a touching horticultural tribute to Jill Dando, the popular TV presenter born in Weston-super-Mare in 1961 who was murdered in 1999. Jills Garden, created by the BBC Ground Force team, was designed to provide all year round interest, with emphasis on the summer and many of the plants have interesting textures and scents. Grove Park, located at the centre of the town, has many other beautiful floral displays. There is also a cafe and in the summer concerts are held in the bandstand.
Local Places of Interest
Cheddar Caves and Gorge
Burnham on Sea
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015