An Insider's Guide to Clevedon and Nailsea
PUBLISHED: 01:16 10 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 February 2013
Malcolm Rigby visits an area with a fluctuating history and a wide-ranging set of admiring visitors, including Coleridge, General Eisenhower, a First World War heroine and John Betjeman
Best known for
The pier undoubtedly the only fully intact Grade I Listed pier in the country. It was opened in 1869 to satisfy the appetite of wealthy Victorians in search of bracing sea air for pleasure and for health.
Tragically, during insurance weight tests the edifice, described by Sir John Betjeman as the most beautiful pier in England, collapsed in 1970. Initial reaction was split should it be restored or just sold for scrap? Fortunately, the preservation dream won through and almost 20 years later, after much fundraising, dismantlement and refurbishing, the pier was reopened. At about the same time the sponsor a plank scheme was introduced and there are now 11,000 brass plaques dotted along the walkway. These days it is run by the Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust, who boast: There are wonderful views of the Severn Estuary, the islands Flat Holm and Steep Holm, the two Severn bridges, and the best sunsets in the West Country.
By contrast, Nailsea is probably best known for its industrial past, most notably coal mining and the glassworks. The search for coal in the town can be traced back to the 16th century and it was the mines that persuaded glass-maker John Lucas to set up a business here in 1788; the enterprise became the fourth largest of its kind in the country. But as the coal industry migrated to South Wales in the late 19th century, the glassworks closed.