FREE ADMISSION | WE ARE NOW CLOSED FOR WINTER

RE-OPENING ON SATURDAY 23rd MARCH, through to SUNDAY 3rd NOVEMBER 2024

NEW OPENING DAYS AND TIMES FOR THE COMING 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

As Minehead Museum has limited space, our policy is to rotate exhibits in order to show more of the many new items generously donated by members of the public. We have at least one new, themed exhibition every year.

To celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III in May 2023, we put together a fascinating collection of ‘Royal’ exhibits. Past themes have included Maritime Minehead, Minehead Businesses, Entertainment, and the Emergency Services.

Recently, some spectacularly large items have come our way – but storage is a constant headache, so offers of somewhere dry and convenient to store some of these objects would be gratefully received! Soon we hope to have a bigger Museum; meanwhile just a few of our exhibits are pictured below.

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, was born in Blenheim Road on December 16, 1917. The house, No.13, bears Minehead’s only blue plaque as testimony. His childhood love of both stargazing and American science fiction magazines sparked a lifelong enthusiasm, providing a lasting legacy that bridges the worlds of both the arts and the sciences.

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 .