The LEADER funding – EU money allocated to help rural areas – of almost £80,000 has just been announced and means Minehead’s dream of creating a Maritime Mile can be realised.
It will complement the Enterprising Minehead project that has already won substantial funding to make the resort the go-to seaside destination by making the most of its traditional appeal as a seaside resort – but with a 21st century twist.
The aim is to give Minehead the buzz that is needed to bring new visitors in, while retaining the Edwardian charm that keeps holiday-makers returning year after year.
The Maritime Mile initiative will create a new heritage interpretation trail, running the length of the seafront to showcase Minehead’s maritime history, myths and legends.
An open-air gallery will be built at the trail’s central point to display images and artefacts from Minehead’s past.
The Maritime Mile walk will link to existing features like the South West Coast Path/England Coast Path and signpost to other points of interest along the seafront that will be included in the new interactive/interpretation signage.
The signs will feature augmented reality technology to make the walk exciting and interactive – and it will link to a new website that will be launched. West Somerset Council will be working with Minehead Museum and Butlins on the materials.
Augmented reality uses computer-aided graphics to add an additional layer of information to aid understanding and/or interaction with the physical world around you.
The central area of the seafront trail will incorporate the open-air gallery as a showcase for the trail and will be an attraction in its own right. This is the central gateway to the seafront from The Avenue and West Somerset Railway, and will have real impact.
The gallery will be formed from stone-filled gabion baskets with gallery images of Minehead mounted onto marine plywood. Content for the gallery will depict historic images of the town provided by the local community and the museum. The gallery will also include augmented reality to make it more fun – and informative.
A new state of the art responsive website will also be developed to capitalise on marketing the town as a key destination and will also link to the seafront trail/walk and its innovative technology.
Cllr Andrew Hadley, Lead Member for economic regeneration, said: “This is excellent news for Minehead, and will give an added boost to the exciting projects already being developed to regenerate The Esplanade and give our visitors even more reason to come and enjoy what Minehead has to offer.”
“We will be working hand-in-hand with the community, and our Coastal Community Team to deliver this imaginative and exciting project,” said Cllr Roger Thomas, who chairs the Coastal Communities Team in Minehead.
“Our team of officers has worked incredibly hard to secure funding from a variety of sources so that we can invest in Minehead to benefit the local economy and provide visitors with a fun and informative way of finding out about Minehead’s past.
“We are lucky to have a fascinating history that can be brought to life through harnessing the incredible technology that is available now. “