Splash Point and the Victorian Pleasure Ground
The Victorian Pleasure ground is located on the cliff top behind the marina and East Quay.
The creation of the pleasure ground was intrinsically linked to the arrival of the railway, which changed everything for Watchet. Now working, industrial, maritime Watchet could flourish economically thanks to its modern infrastructure, and so it began to be seen as a place to visit for pure enjoyment. Visiting the seaside was becoming the fashionable thing to do in Victorian England, and for the first time, thanks to the railway, Watchet was relatively easy to get to. Larger ‘pleasure’ vessels were using the harbour, and the Esplanade, which was built the same year as the railway, became somewhere to promenade, and to enjoy the sea air. The pleasure ground provided the perfect space to entertain these new visitors, with an octagonal timber refreshment kiosk, known as the ‘beehive’ and seating.
By 1919 there is no mention of the Pleasure Grounds in the directories so we may assume that they went into disuse, or were used for other purposes during World War 1.
It offers some of the best views in Watchet, looking out over the Harbour and Marina and down to Splash Point where the waves crash against the Harbour Wall and rocky beach. It is a fantastic spot to fly a kite or walk the dog. The area is a conservation garden with many species of wild grasses and other native plants. There is an orchard area with a small planting of some of the more unusual cider apple species. A viewing point with railings and seating. We are looking forward to a new human sundial installation and the group that are looking after the area are hoping to offer activities during the summer.
To get there, take the small pathway that runs parallel to the railway tracks, just after the Goviers Lane crossing if heading towards the town centre. There are some steep steps at the end of the path that take you up there. Currently, the access to the Pleasure Gardens includes a number of steps from the Railway crossing and from the footpath from Splash Point. The access from the Hellway Bay end is very uneven and undulating. This path forms part of the South West Coastal Path.
The image shows the temporary pavilion built by the community in 2017. This structure has now been taken down and the timber repurposed. We look forward to new additions in the coming year.