Local History

The important bit!

The Local History Group meets monthly on the first Thursday at 10.30.  We are meeting online, using Zoom.  Please remember to check the Calendar in case of any late changes to schedule.

Our group is led by David Temple, and he may be contacted at 01984 640170, or by email at localhistory@minehead-district-u3a.org.uk

Group news


June  We need more volunteers to provide short talks for the June meeting.  Please contact David with ideas. 

May  The next main meeting will be on Thursday 6th May at 10.30am when Cherrie will reprise her talk on Arthur C. Clarke, probably Minehead’s most famous son.   This was given as a museum lecture in the Beach Hotel a while back, but Cherrie has some new images, including more sky at night shots courtesy of  the local astronomical society. 

April   Another very successful meeting was held by Zoom on April Fools’ Day, with nearly 50 in the audience.  Barbara Hoffbauer regaled us with stories of some of the people who lived, owned or rented property in Dunster, from the Middle Ages until more recent times.  As usual her account was well-illustrated and showed the depth of her knowledge and research of the history of Dunster.   With the slight lifting of restrictions, she will be offering to take parties of 5 round Dunster Hawn to see where the medieval harbour might have been.  Please contact David if you are interested in participating.

March   The group seems to have really taken to Zoom now, Iā€™m pleased to report.  Local History held an enjoyable and informative meeting via zoom on Thursday 4th March.  About 35 members were enthralled by Anne Stamford’s story of Dunster during the Civil War period, 1643-46.   The narrative was well illustrated with images taken by her niece, who is an enthusiastic Civil War re-enactor.  A video recording of the Zoom presentation is also available for registered and logged in members only.

History was then brought back into living memory, when Jan Lowy presented some images of Minehead showing the effects of the great storm of 1996, which led to the reconstruction of the sea wall.  The discussion which followed linked both eras, with questions about the massive surge of seawater back in 1607 – an item for someone to follow up and present to the group perhaps?

February    We enjoyed a presentation from Barbara Hoffbauer about her very thorough search for Dunster’s medieval port.  

January  The first session of the year (15th January)  was an update on the Knight Family Archive Transcription Project (see our Research/Shared Learning Project pages).  An excellent mixture of talk and visuals of Simonsbath was enjoyed by over 30 members.  We would have been very cramped had we held the meeting at Townsend House, so the chance for some of us to meet online was a positive advantage.   A pdf version of the presentations is available through the Presentations page; and a video recording of the Zoom presentation is also available for registered and logged in members only.


December    The final meet of the year was on Thursday 3 December when Jan Lowy presented on early transport on Exmoor, i.e. the development of the road system.  This presentation (in pdf format) can be found via a link on this page (see right hand side or the bottom of the page, depending on how your device handles web pages).

November    Unfortunately, Catherine Knight‘s walk in Watchet was scheduled for the first day of the new lockdown, so it was cancelled.  It will be offered again in the New Year, COVID permitting. 

Image shows a 3 dimensional model of Minehead Pier

David Temple presented (via Zoom) the latest information on Minehead Pier, resulting from work being done by the Museum to create a model of the pier to celebrate 120 years since it opened in 1901.  David: I have found the plans in the Heritage Centre, which form the basis for some excellent 3D computer images of the pier, prior to actual model building.  There will be an interesting little-known twist in the story.  

[image] 3D model of Minehead Pier (Photo Amalgam Bristol)


October   Visits to outside venues being allowed, a first outing was a visit to the Somerset & Dorset Railway Museum at Washford Station.   This may well be the last chance to see this museum, since it will be relocating outside the county next year.    David Temple


Images from the visit to the Somerset & Dorset Railway Museum at Washford Station.  Click the image for a larger view:

Information for new members

If you’d like to join the group, please contact the convenor

What we do

The emphasis is on shared learning, with group members encouraged to research topics and then talk to the rest of the group about them.  Occasionally we invite outside speakers to talk to us and some of our meetings take the form of outings.  Details of meetings appear in the monthly U3A newsletter, the Calendar,  and also here on the Local History group’s main page.

Examples of some group activities

In the last year or so we’ve visited the Exmoor Society in Dulverton, where we had a tour of the building and a talk from the archivist; we also visited Chapel Cleeve Manor, where we enjoyed a tour of the ground-floor rooms and a very delicious tea.  We have had guided walks in Selworthy, Allerford and Watchet.  We’ve also had a number of presentations from group members at Townsend House.  Some members of the group have worked on Shared Learning Projects (SLPs) in collaboration with Minehead Museum.  Some members of the group worked on the 2018 season’s SLP on the theme of travel, which was entitled Minehead on the Move.  This, too, was the theme of our Special Interest Day in March 2018.


Full list of groups      |      Calendar