FREE ADMISSION

NOW OPEN - through to SUNDAY 3rd NOVEMBER 2024

NEW OPENING DAYS AND TIMES FOR THIS SEASON
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday 10.00 to 4.00, Sundays 11.00 to 4.00
Also open on Bank Holiday Mondays and Mondays during the school summer holidays

Minehead Museum piggy bank for donations

Exhibits

Like many small museums, we have more in storage than we have on display. To show as much of our collection as possible, we regularly rotate exhibits, and every year we have at least one new, themed exhibition.

To celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III in May 2023, we put together a fascinating collection of ‘Royal’ exhibits. This year’s theme is the quirky illustrated election posters of 1912 and 1913, with associated notices and information about how the candidates got their nicknames.

Soon we hope to have a bigger Museum; meanwhile just a few of our exhibits are pictured below.

Regal Theatre 1934
Model of The Regal Theatre, Minehead

The Regal Theatre was built in 1934, much larger than it is today, with a ballroom as well as the main auditorium.

Our model is built to scale based on original drawings and measurements. Compare it with The Regal today.

The theatre is still going strong, enabled by many local volunteers. It showcases a wide variety of stage productions, music events and films. Why not take a look at their programme.

Hobby Horse

We are very fortunate to have a complete Hobby Horse costume, as well as two masks (pictured).

In a tradition whose origin is lost in the the mists of time, on the eve of May 1st each year the Hobby Horse emerges from its stable at the Quay, to parade through the town accompanied by musicians playing accordions and drums.

Built over a light framework, about eight feet long, it is covered with sacking decorated with roundels and ribbons. It has a long tail (hence a horse) which it swishes from side to side. A grotesquely masked and frightening figure propels the horse from the centre, but the ‘Oss is usually quite benign until it arrives at Cher, where ‘the booting’ happens, tradition being that if you refused to put some money in the pot you would suffer the consequences! Donations today are given to the Minehead branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The Hobby Horse’s tour of the town continues for three days, finishing in Wellington Square before it returns to its stable for another year.

Punch and Judy

We are indebted to the family of magician and entertainer Roy Van Dyke (real name Roy Hobbs) for donating the items in our Punch & Judy display. Born in Minehead, the artist was ideally located to present traditional seaside Punch & Judy shows, as well as develop his own style of comedy, appearing regularly at the Gaiety Theatre on the seafront (now an amusement arcade). Roy was also well known for making comic animals and other shapes out of balloons. He wrote a number of books and articles on the art of balloon folding. 

Model Pier and Original Entrance Gate

Minehead’s magnificent Edwardian pier, built in 1901, was demolished by order of the War Office at the beginning of World War II, less than 40 years after its construction. It is believed to be the only pier in the country to be completely dismantled and never replaced. In April 2020, an original entrance gate to the old pier was uncovered and retrieved from the sea. It is now proudly displayed in the Museum alongside a scale model of the pier made by Amalgam Modelmaking, of Bristol.

Arthur C. Clarke

Minehead’s most famous son, Arthur C. Clarke, made his name as a science fiction writer and TV presenter. Born in Blenheim Road in 1917, his legacy bridges the worlds of art and science. The house (pictured) bears Minehead’s only blue plaque.

Come to the Museum to view some of our many souvenirs from the Space Age Festivals held in Minehead to celebrate his life.

Codd bottle for Hakins & Whitman, Minehead
Hamilton or Torpedo bottle, Ebenezer Culverwell, Minehead
Codd bottle neck showing marble
Keeping the Fizz

The process of carbonating drinks was developed in the 1790s. Find out how Minehead firms such as Hawkins & Whitman or Ebenezer Culverwell adapted their glass bottles to store fizzy drinks.

Why were flat bases a problem? What was the advantage of the ‘Torpedo’ bottle with a rounded base?

See our example of a Codd bottle, developed by Hiram Codd of London in 1872. These had a longer neck which contained a glass marble. Under pressure from the carbonated drink, the marble would be pushed up to a rubber seal. This innovation meant that bottles could revert to having a flat base and be shelved upright.

The museum has a number of examples from Minehead firms, as well as a range of other bottles and flagons produced for local firms including Hancocks Brewery in Wiveliscombe .