Watchet.Somerset

hendy
20th April 2005, 19:19
When I was a youngster living in Somerset the harbour at Watchet used to have small coasters berthing there. Does anyone (julian?) know if it is still a working harbour,it was not big enough to be called a port! ('))

julian anstis
20th April 2005, 21:25
"I wish"......again the sands of time have taken their toll. Back in the 60's I used to spend hours in the harbour cafe watching the coasters loading and discharging everything from coal, esparto grass and wood pulp for the paper mill up the valley. The coasters bringing the coal over from South Wales usually returned with scrap metal for the steel mills or rolls of printing paper.The harbour was in its heyday in the late 60's early 70's with 8/10 coasters filling the harbour to capacity with some of the largest being around 2000tns. Very often they worked them double berthed as it was the only way to get them in with another half dozen anchored in the channel awaiting their turn. There was a great deal of tractors being exported out from there as well but with the narrow roads all the way up from Taunton and trucks getting bigger this soon died a death. It was nothing to see a queue of trucks 40+ long through the narrow streets of Watchet as they were waiting to load or unload in the harbour and coupled with the trucks that were in and out of the paper mill......chaos was an understatement. The last coaster slipped her moorings sometime in 1993 and in 2001 the harbour was re opened as a marina. At one time there was talks of expanding the harbour considerably and the funds seemed to be available for this but when it came to financing new roads to support the harbour, everyone and their aunty did a massive u turn......as usuall. To be honest the road from Taunton to Watchet is hardly any better today than it was in the 60's. Remember all those low bridges..? they are still there! supporting the magnifcently preserved West Somerset Railway. Watchet is now nothing more than yacht's and yuppy's.

flyer682
21st April 2005, 03:19
Sounds like a fascinating place, I've never heard of it until now. Any piccies?

julian anstis
21st April 2005, 13:49
Sounds like a fascinating place, I've never heard of it until now. Any piccies?

Trying to track some old working photos to post......bear with me on that one,
For those wondering where Watchet is situated, its in the Bristol Channel, On the Somerset coast between Minehead to the west and Burnham-on-Sea to the east. Sail S.S.W. from Barry in South Wales and you should run aground there. Or take the A39 from Taunton to Minehead .....if your brave enough in the holiday season.

hendy
21st April 2005, 15:30
Thanks Julian,I thought you would be able to supply the answer for me.
Its a shame that another busy little harbour has been lost to 'progress'!!! (=|)

julian anstis
21st April 2005, 15:52
Thanks Julian,I thought you would be able to supply the answer for me.
Its a shame that another busy little harbour has been lost to 'progress'!!! (=|)

Along with Bridgwater, Portishead, Gloucester, Bristol all names anyone from this part of the world are familiar with. I think Sharpness still has a bit of traffic I will call round and see when I'm next in those parts. Allthough the one that seems to be getting busier is Portland harbour now that the Navy have left. There seems to be more commercial shipping using it at the moment allthough I think most of this traffic is for repair work. But there have been recent talks of bringing in cruise liners.

P.S. If you know anyone interested in a 400 cell floating prison its up for sale. Can be viewed by appointment or overnight stays arranged at tax payers expense, at Old Portland Naval dock......surprised Trust House Forte have not put in an offer!

hendy
21st April 2005, 16:07
Portishead...now that stirs the memory.
My Mum used to work at Albright & Wilsons chemical works & I was often in the car when my Dad drove her to work. I remember the 'Arthur Albright' that brought in the phospherus for the plant & they got a shiny new ship in 69 or 70 to replace AA but I cant bring the name to mind. Also a Russian ship called 'Kovda' brought in timber that seemed to take forever to shift out of the yard,it must have been a whole Siberian forest she carried (')) .
Then over at the Power Station the little coasters Colston,Salcombe & 1 other that used to keep the stocks of coal topped up. Now its all gone to yuppy housing & a marina.....only Albrights office block remains...for now!

julian anstis
21st April 2005, 16:13
And what of that great legend .....PORTISHEAD RADIO........I imagine some of the R/O's on site can tell us some great stories of that place.

Bob S
21st April 2005, 19:34
Just posted a view of Portland in the gallery.

julian anstis
22nd April 2005, 09:33
Thanks Bob,

You did'nt put in an offer for the prison then.....? Lot of debate going on about what they are going to do with it now.

awateah2
22nd April 2005, 17:34
I remember in 1976 as Mate on the 'Lady Sophia' trading regularly from Watchet to either Figuira de Foz, Setubal or Aveiro and with CKDs and returning with boxwood and Cork as a deck cargo,it was a great place to spend 2-3 days discharging and loading.

budwana2001
23rd April 2005, 23:56
It would be great to see this place.The number of small ports, docks even wharves that gave us happy memories have dissapeared all over the world apparently.
The price of progress. But what can one do, sit back an reminise. However lets get a photo now because tomorrow their GONE

julian anstis
24th April 2005, 09:07
Bear with me Bud....

I have some of Watchet as it is now but I am trying to track some of what it was like when it was a working port so I can post together for comparison.....hopefully have some soon. Working on it.!

Doug Rogers
7th May 2005, 22:22
We actually passed by Watchet a few weeks ago en route from Mawnon Smith to Bristol. Bit out of the way but I wanted to see Portishead again, hence the detour!!.
Think I prefer to remember it all as it was, ah must be getting old!!.
Doug

trotterdotpom
8th May 2005, 11:58
Just posted a view of Portland in the gallery.

Hi Bob,

Must be doing something wrong - can't find the photo and just tried to reply to your message and it disappeared - new thread Marie Celeste?

I was Supernumary Assistant Keeper aboard Portland Breakwater Lighthouse in 1966 (twice) - happy days beating off rats and climbing 180 odd steps to wind up the lens every two hours.

Just before I was there the Portland Spy Scandal erupted but this didn't stop me wandering around the dockyard with a large suitcase unimpeded. While I was there an even bigger scandal erupted when a dockyard worker saw his daughter in a movie at a porn night in one of the warehouses! Like father, like daughter?

John

julian anstis
8th May 2005, 13:18
We actually passed by Watchet a few weeks ago en route from Mawnon Smith to Bristol. Bit out of the way but I wanted to see Portishead again, hence the detour!!.
Think I prefer to remember it all as it was, ah must be getting old!!.
Doug

You probably did the right thing by passing by Doug.....as is Potishead .....its now all yacht's & yuppy's.........stick with your memories ....at least no-one can take those away from you.

Doug Rogers
8th May 2005, 23:12
Yeah sometimes it is wrong to go back because so often its so much worse than expected, but I guess you have to try and sometimes you can really get a nice suprise..but alas its not often these days.
Doug