It is proposed to move the guns to the Somerset Heritage Centre, in Taunton. This will allow for a proper assessment of the conservation needs and costs for these items. I am sure that all those with an interest in Minehead’s heritage will hope that this is a positive move leading to the restoration or preservation of the cannon and not one that leads to an “out of sight, out of mind” solution. It is important these guns should be preserved for the town and that the money that might be required to re-bury or otherwise dispose of the guns, be used instead toward a more positive repair and conservation. It has not been made public whether there was any conservation funding included in the original Somerset Council plan for their removal, one fears not. 

The retrospective planning application cites health and safety issues, but surely there were other solutions than their removal. The Council also states the fact that the cannon have been moved on previous occasions, without thought of heritage or conservation needs. Surely those acts of neglect in the past are hardly a justification for further neglect now. While the future of the cannon remains uncertain, one thing is very clear: such actions should not have been undertaken without proper public consultation and professional advice on alterations to a listed structure. Most towns and especially those with so many holiday visitors take a pride in the history and appearance of the area and would be looking to using these cannon to enhance the town, not trying to throw them away.

The retrospective planning application gives no clear indication that the guns will be preserved or returned to Minehead and I would encourage anyone interested to view and comment on the proposals whilst you have the chance.

The following links will take you to the planning application details on Somerset Council’s website, where there are links to documents associated with the plans, starting with the planning application in January 2024 for the works carried out in October last year. There is an option to comment on the proposals, just one of several ways to broadcast your thoughts on the matter.

Julian Luke, Minehead Museum Curator and Chairman of the Museum Trustees