'Weston' is Anglo-Saxon for the 'west tun' or 'settlement'. The 'super Mare' meaning 'on sea' was first recorded in medieval times (in medieval latin) by a church clerk. It is thought to have been added because of the other 'Westons' in the area.
Ruins can be seen today of a 2,000 year old ancient stronghold overlooking Weston super Mare called Worlebury Hillfort. During excavations in the mid 1800's there was a discovery of massive pits cut into the hill, thought to have been used initially as grain storage, later used as burial pits. For the inhabitants at that time it was an easy location to defend due to it being edged by sea and marsh. Evidence of the ancient settlers in Weston super Mare comes from flint weapons and tools discovered dating back to the Neolithic period.
Weston super Mare in early Mediaeval times was a tiny village with driftwood huts and a small church. The church remained for approximately 700 years until 1824 when a new church was built. From 1600 Weston had its own manor until the title "Lord of the Manor" was sold in the 70s. In the late 1700's a local Reverend built a seaside cottage on the dunes and part of one of them still remains today.
During the 1800's many fashionable crescents, villas and terraces were built and Weston became a popular Victorian town. When King George the third drank sea water for it's health benefits thus making seaside resorts extremely popular and fashionable. Brunel's Bristol & Exeter Railway reached Weston and Birnbeck Pier was completed (late 1800s) in and the town grew, with villas, estates and boulevards. There were drives and walks through Weston Woods and from the top visitors could enjoy panoramic views as far as Exmoor and Wales. One of the most important developments for Weston super Mare was the seafront improvement of the sea walls and two mile promenade.
With other visitor facilities added such as the Grand Pier, Knightstone Theatre and Knightstone Baths Weston became a Mecca for thousands of visitors. As the number of visitors increased new shops and hotels opened. Many private boarding schools were set up, it was very fashionable for the wealthy to send their children because of the healthy climate.
In the First World War 80 per cent of the trees in Weston Woods were felled for military use. The 1920s and 1930s saw a Marine Lake built providing a safe shallow beach where the tide was always in. Other additions to the town included a magnificent open air pool - the best in Britain at the time - boasting a truly dramatic art deco diving stage, the Winter Gardens Pavilion, a seafront coach station, a Odeon Cinema, Grammar Schools, a municipal aerodrome and the Rozel bandstand. The bandstand accommodated 600 people under shelter, with room for 1,200 more in the open air. The Grand Pier was rebuilt due to a fire and its Pavilion housed a fine Edwardian 200-seat theatre, where a wide range of stars appeared such as Dame Clara Butt, George Robey, Vesta Tilley and Sir Ralph Richardson. In the 1930's "Ever Forward" was adopted as the town's motto.
During the Second World War evacuees arrived here from large cities around England and the first bombs fell on Weston in June 1940. During the worst blitzes in 1941 and 1942 large areas were destroyed particularly in the Boulevard, High Street and Grove Park. Weston super Mare also hosted a large numbers of American troops in preparations for the Normandy Landings. In the 1950s package holidays abroad hit the tourist trade in Weston-hard but you can see from photos from that era, the place is still packed to the rafters. Along the entire beach lights were installed in 1950 as part of a new seafront illumination scheme. Through the 60's and 70's it was still a popular holiday seaside resort for British holiday makers. The Rozel bandstand had to be demolished after severe storm damage in 1981. The fine art-deco-style diving stage was demolished in 1982 when the open air swimming pool was converted to the Tropicana Pleasure Beach. In 1989 the Winter Gardens closed for multi-million pound development, complete renovation retaining the classic 1920's grandeur and extension into the new Town Square Gardens. The Grand Pier is to be rebuilt again due to the more recent fire on 28th July 2008.
Population: Approx 71,000
Famous people: Lord Jeffrey Archer, Ritchie Blackmore, John Cleese, Roald Dahl, Jill Dando and Rupert Graves.
Second highest tidal range in the world.