Traders in Minehead are preparing to make the best of the holiday
season as the town gears up for a cautious return to something like
normal this weekend.
And business leaders are still hopeful of easing at least some of the
hardship inflicted by lockdown in the remaining weeks between now and
The reopening of Butlins this weekend will bring the first significant influx
of visitors to the town since the centre’s winter programme but coincides
with the introduction of Government instructions that face masks should
be worn in all shops as a precaution against a further spike in Covid-19
This weekend also sees the first major event on the West Somerset
Railway which has been unable to run any trains at all this year.
It is staging Living Railway Museum days at Minehead station on
Saturday and Sunday, though no train services will be running and visits
are being tightly scheduled to ensure social distancing can be enforced.
The longest heritage railway platform in the country will host a number of
attractions and there will be shunting demonstrations and a chance to
see the fully-restored turntable in action – and for some even to lend a
hand operating it.
The Turntable Café, Buffer Stop Shop and the second-hand Readers’
Halt bookstall will be operating and there will be a chance to get up close
to a steam railway engine footplate and the driving cab of a diesel
multiple unit. Qualified staff will be on hand to explain how both operate.
Staff are also organising conducted tours of the steam engine
workshops and depot - both normally out of bounds to the public - to see
engines under restoration including the Great Western King Class
locomotive, which has been hidden from public view for some time.
Visits will be in three timeslots, at 10am, noon and 2pm, each allowing
up to two hours to explore and enjoy the activities on the platform.
Admission, which will include free vintage double deck bus rides round
Minehead, is £5 for adults, £3 for children under 16 and advance
booking is recommended at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
Minehead BID manager Andrew Hopkins said the open days were an
encouraging example of how holiday attractions were attempting to
function within the limits of ongoing restrictions.
“Obviously this is going to be a very tough year for the railway because
there has been absolutely no ticket income at all this season, so we’re
hoping many local people as well as visitors will be showing some
support for what it is going on this weekend,” he said.
The Minehead BID consortium was set up in 2018 with the support of
more than 240 local traders to raise the town’s profile as a resort and
organise regular entertainment events – though this year’s programme
has been severely restricted by the virus.
But, as Minehead’s Information centre reopens, BID funding is also
supporting a team of Minehead Town Ambassadors who are providing a
mobile visitor information service while liaising with businesses and
carrying out a customer survey to help shape Minehead’s recovery
With its backing, Minehead has also been chosen as one of the
locations hosting a Monster Hero safari trail
https://monsterherosafari.com/locations/minehead, an ambitious new
project which will bring a fun, family experience to many of the UK’s high
streets this summer, and which aims to raise more than £100,000 for
NHS Charities Together. And it’s also underwriting the cost of the steam
lorry which will be returning this summer travelling around the town and
street entertainers who will be performing in the resort at weekends from
late July until the end of August.
Car parking in all council-run car parks is also currently free until the 30 th
Mr Hopkins said for all holiday-based businesses the 2020 season
would be one like no other – for all the wrong reasons.
“No-one has ever faced economic challenges on this scale before, or
been forced to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to getting
their business back up and running,” he said.
“But there is a tremendous ‘can-do’ spirit in the Minehead community.
We saw that during lockdown when so many local businesses managed
to find ways to carry on some form of trading to keep their customers
happy and we are seeing it again as we prepare for a limited launch of
the main season.
“No-one’s pretending any records are going to be broken this summer
but the very fact that most of our local attractions will be operating in
some way or other is a great tribute to the determination of the business
“And I am confident that those visitors who do manage to get here will
find Minehead still as charming and welcoming as ever – and make that
all-important decision to come back again once things have returned to
something like normal.”
For more information, contact Andrew Hopkins, Minehead BID Manager on 07703 668928