Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Since 1974, Minehead has been administered by the West Somerset District Council. The Town Council was first begun in 1983. Since 1991, Minehead has been twinned with St. Berthevin , a small town close to the regional centre of Laval in the Mayenne département of France.
The town's major tourist attraction is Butlins holiday camp. Other attractions include: the old train station of the West Somerset Railway (the rail line terminates here); the town's main ornamental park, off Blenheim Road; and the Minehead & West Somerset Golf Club, Somerset's oldest golf club, established in 1882. There are a variety of sailing and wind surfing options, in addition to the usual beach activities.
One popular ancient local tradition involves the Hobby Horse , which takes to the streets on the eve of the first of May each year, with accompanying musicians and rival horses, for four days. The first of May has been a festival day in Minehead since 1465.
The town is the starting point of the Southwest Coast Path National Trail, the nation's longest long-distance countryside walking trail.
Environment & geology
In 1999 much of Minehead's famous sandy beach was washed away in a severe storm; the erosion being caused as an unexpected side-effect of a £13-million Environment Agency sea defence project. The town has been a popular seaside resort since the 1850s, and tourism employs 60-percent of the local workforce. The Environment Agency thus had to replace 320,000 tons of fine sifted beach sand, at a cost to them of £2.4 million. The town's new sea defences and flood defence officially opened in 2001, and the new beach is said to be better than the old one.
The wooded bluffs above Minehead feature as the Hermit's abode.... "in that wood which slopes down to the sea", in Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The poet lived nearby, at Nether Stowey (between Bridgwater and Minehead). He and Wordsworth (who lived nearby at Alfoxden ) would often roam the hills and coast on long night walks; leading to local gossip that they were 'spies' for the French. The Government sent an agent to investigate, but found they were, indeed, "mere poets".
Many famous entertainers have worked at Butlins holiday camp, which is well known for its live entertainment.
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