This post carries on almost seamlessly from the last, this though, has a little more of my childhood ramblings involved, so beware! I found myself staying in Butlins Holiday Park, Minehead, Somerset, for a 80’s music weekend, as one does. Rather like a Jekyll and Hyde figure, in the evenings I was making pictures of 80’s pop stars with my Panasonic G6 and lenses, whilst having the odd drink. During the day, I was out and about with my Pentax ME super, and yes you guessed it, loaded with the good old Poundland Agfa Vista 200. The main area of Butlins, is the white “tented” structure in the centre above. The Butlins Hotel is the white building to it’s left. Did you know Butlins was a first venue for many hopeful musicians, most notably the rock band Status Quo, who formed here following a chance meeting between guitarists Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt?
As mentioned at the end of my last post, the railway was extended to Minehead, to help develop the town into a seaside resort. The train reached the town in 1874, lasted nearly 100 years, until 1971, by which time the resort had declined, and the railway had become un-economic to run. It had been a slow decline, and by the time it did close, there was already a plan to run it as a private concern. Apparently, negotiations took five years, but during Easter 1976, the first trains rolled on the “West Somerset Railway” from Minehead to Blue Anchor, by 1979 it was running a total of 20 miles to the village of Bishops Lydeard, just 4 miles away from Taunton, the nearest main town. After a somewhat difficult 80’s and 90’s, it is now one of the busiest attractions in the south-west carrying about 200,000 passengers a year!
As a child I remember staying at the Blue Anchor Holiday Park, I would have been 8, in 1977. If I stood on a seat in the corner of the caravan I could see the train go up and down! Of course I had no idea then, that this was only it’s second season as an attraction! What I do also remember, is my dad driving us all the short distance to the town of Watchet for it’s carnival that week. I had my old Ilford Sportsman 50c 126 camera, with a 20 exposure of kodachrome in it. I know this as I still have a few slides from that roll, somewhere! I’m sure in those days 126’s were 20 and not 24 exposures. What made this so memorable was 1977 was also the Queens Silver Jubilee, so Union Jacks and photographs of the Queen were everywhere, and nearly every float in the carnival had a “Jubilee” theme. Amazing to think this year we are celebrating her Plantinum jubilee, and some 45 years have passed!!!
As a footnote (pun intended) Minehead is also the start, or indeed the end, of the South West Coast Path, stretching 630 miles around Land’s End and on to Poole Harbour – just down the road! To mark this, there is a sculpture and a line on the tarmac!