HISTORY OF MINEHEAD HARBOUR

A Brief history of Minehead Harbour

There was a small port at Minehead by 1380, but it was not until 1420 that money given by Lady Margaret Luttrell enabled improvements to be made and a jetty built. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the town had its own Port Officer similar to the position at Bristol. Vessels in the 15th century included the Trinite which traded between Ireland and Bristol, and others carrying salt and other cargo from La Rochelle in France. Other products included local wool and cloth which were traded for coal from south Wales. In 1559 a Charter of Incorporation, established a free Borough and Parliamentary representation, but was made conditional on improvements being made to the port. The harbour silted up and fell into disrepair so that in 1604 James I withdrew the town’s charter. Control reverted to the Luttrells and a new harbour was built, at a cost of £5,000, further out to sea than the original, which had been at the mouth of the Bratton Stream. It incorporated a pier, dating from 1616, and was built to replace that at Dunster which was silting up. Trade was primarily with Wales for cattle, sheep, wool, butter, fish and coal. These are commemorated in the town arms which include a woolpack and sailing ship. Privateers based at Minehead were involved in the war with Spain and France during 1625–1630 and again during the War of the Spanish Succession from 1702–1713. The first cranes were installed after further improvements to the port in 1714.

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