Taking a look at Weston-super-Mare through the years

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 August 2015 | UPDATED: 15:45 18 August 2015

An old photo of the entrance to the Grand Pier.

An old photo of the entrance to the Grand Pier.

Archant

THE look of Weston is changing all the time – sometimes gradually, occasionally more radically – and one man has documented the town’s development in a new book.

Dusk and Sunset views of Grand Pier and Weston Sea Front.Dusk and Sunset views of Grand Pier and Weston Sea Front.

Stephen Butt, aged 63, grew up in Weston and lived in the town until he was 18 years old.

Now, home for Stephen is in Leicestershire but he still returns once a month to see his 89-year-old father, George Butt, who lives in Hutton.

Stephen has noticed the town’s changing landscape throughout the decades and has compiled a mixture of old and new photographs in his book, Weston-super-Mare Through Time.

Stephen said: “Many people don’t notice some of the changes because they are not dramatic – take the High Street for instance, a shop might change hands but the overall feel stays the same.

The Grand Pier was opened in 1904 but was badly damaged by fire in 1930. It took three years to rebuild but in July 2008, fire once again destroyed it.The Grand Pier was opened in 1904 but was badly damaged by fire in 1930. It took three years to rebuild but in July 2008, fire once again destroyed it.

“I was born in Weston, so it’s obviously a place I remember and because I come back frequently, I guess I see the changes that people who are 
in Weston every day may not see so easily.”

The book includes fascinating comparisons of the old sea wall to the newly-refurbished promenade and it shows off enchanting pictures of Birnbeck Pier – with people still walking along the boardwalk.

Stephen also details the history of the Grand Pier, which opened in 1904 but was badly damaged by fire in 1930 and took three years to rebuild.

In July 2008 it was again destroyed by fire, only to reopen in 2010 with an impressive re-design Weston people have now become used to.

Weston-super-Mare Through Time.Weston-super-Mare Through Time.

Stephen said: “Weston doesn’t look too bad at all. It’s doing well.

“The pier looks great and the sea wall and the promenade, everything has been completely re-done, I think it looks really good.

“The real thing you can’t ignore is the Tropicana.”

The swimming pool lay empty for 15 years but North Somerset Council is now redeveloping part of the site, and a café has recently been opened within its walls.

This picture shows the flooding along the sea wall in 1981 after Weston was hit by gale-force winds.This picture shows the flooding along the sea wall in 1981 after Weston was hit by gale-force winds.

Stephen said: “I haven’t been to the café yet, but it is good something has finally been done with it.

“That really should have been sorted out a long time ago and to see it fading over time was just sad.

“I think Knightstone is also looking good now that has all changed. There’s a lot of positive things in the town, like Weston College’s plans for the Winter Gardens.”

The council sold the seafront venue to the college for a nominal £1 fee last year and it has recently submitted its planning application to transform it into a Law and Professional Services Centre.

The fresh design of the sea wall in Weston now.The fresh design of the sea wall in Weston now.

Stephen said: “It is just nice to see all of those buildings being looked after.”

His book contains more than 180 photographs of the town, with the old images dating right back to the Victorian era and up to the 1980s.

When compared to up-to-date photographs, some sections of Weston, such as The Grand Atlantic Hotel and the High Street seem to have seen only minimal changes, while other parts of town, like the area now occupied by The Sovereign Centre, are completely different – with pictures of the town’s old Post Office showing how drastically the centre has changed.

The photos have been sourced from cuttings from the Mercury, historians in the area and a number of organisations who collect old photographs.

Birnbeck Pier which was opened in July 1845 is now in a state of disrepair.Birnbeck Pier which was opened in July 1845 is now in a state of disrepair.

But some of them were easier to find for Stephen and came directly from his father.

Stephen said: “He came around with me when I was looking for the old photographs and taking the new ones.

“The book even has an old picture he took in it. He was my guide throughout the project.”

Birnbeck Pier.Birnbeck Pier.

You can buy the book here.


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