Connolly Wellingham were recently shortlisted for an appointment leading the conservation of historic shopfronts in Weston-Super-Mare’s Heritage Action Zone, covering the town’s Grove, High Street and Orchard Meadows districts. Although the team were disappointed not to be awarded the position, we very much enjoyed our time immersing ourselves in the architectural heritage of this Victorian seaside destination. We prepared these quick sketches to illustrate the wealth of character that we discovered on our exploratory visits through the town centre.
Weston Super Mare is one of several coastal towns that are being increasingly recognised for their contribution to British heritage, whilst also being identified as being ‘at risk’ due to lack of appropriate protection and strategic vision over the last 30 years. Fortunately with initiatives like Historic England’s HAZ, these fortunes are being turned around. With many of these seaside towns in dire need of regenerative investment, the proposed conservation works aim to use the town’s heritage as the springboard from which to improve the prospects for a sustainable and culturally strengthened future.
The shopfronts of these destination towns are particularly significant to the glamour and atmosphere of their hey-days, as the physical faces designed to jostle with one another for the attention of the passing public. Bay windows and bowed frontages step out to greet the approaching pedestrians, whilst chamfered entrances and recessed niches pull them closer to the wares on display; the overall townscape is given a charmingly chaotic incoherence.
We wish Historic England the best of luck with their Heritage Action Zone and very much hope to work in this wonderful town in future!