FREE ADMISSION | Open Mid – March to the end of October Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 – 16.00 Sunday 11.00 – 16.00
As Minehead Museum has limited space, our policy has always been to design a new, themed exhibition every year. So far, these have included Maritime Minehead, Minehead Businesses, Entertainment, and the Emergency Services, amongst others. This allows us to rotate exhibits and show more of the many new items generously donated by members of the public. 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!
One day we hope to have a bigger Museum; meanwhile just a few of our exhibits are pictured below:-
The first written record of the Minehead Hobby Horse is 1830, but the tradition certainly existed previous to this. Rumour has it that the ‘Oss drove the Vikings away from Minehead…’; unfortunately, we have no proof this ever happened!
Each year the Hobby Horse emerges from its stable at the Quay on the eve of May 1st.
It parades through the town to appear at Whitecross on the day itself. It is always accompanied by musicians playing accordions and drums.
The horse is built of a light framework, about eight feet long, covered with sacking to almost ground level and decorated with roundels and ribbons. Although it is boat shaped 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 booty’ happens, with tradition being that if you refused to put some money in the pot you would suffer the consequences! 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
Punch and Judy shows are synonymous with so many seaside towns, and Minehead is no exception. Born in Minehead, Roy Van Dyke (real name Roy Hobbs) was a well known Magician, Comedian and Entertainer who appeared regularly at the Gaiety Theatre. Roy was also well known for making animals and other shapes out of balloons and for his Punch & Judy Shows. The Museum is indebted to the Hobbs family for donating the items in our display, with a framed poster outlining the career of Roy Van Dyke.
In April 2020 a significant piece of Minehead’s history, an original entrance gate to the old Edwardian Pier, was uncovered. This discovery led directly to the Museum’s decision to commission a scale model of the pier. Built in 1901, the original pier was demolished by order of the War Office at the beginning of WW11. It is believed to be the only pier in the country to be so destroyed and never re-placed. This exquisite model is shown whilst under construction by Amalgam Modelmaking Ltd. of Bristol.
Arthur C Clarke
Minehead’s most famous son, Arthur C Clarke, was born in Blenheim Road, Minehead on December 16, 1917. The house, No.13, bears Minehead’s only blue plaque as testimony. A childhood love of both stargazing and American science fiction magazines sparked a lifelong enthusiasm that has provided a lasting legacy that bridges the worlds of both the arts and the sciences.