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Burnham On Sea - Through The Years
August 1, 2017
Burnham was a small fishing village until the late 18th century, when it began to grow because of its popularity as a seaside resort. It forms part of the parish of Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge and shares a town council with its neighbouring market town of Highbridge.
The position of the town on the edge of the Somerset Levels and moors where they meet the Bristol Channel, has resulted in a history dominated by land reclamation and sea defences since Roman times. Burnham was seriously affected by the Bristol Channel floods of 1607, with the present curved concrete wall being completed in 1988. There have been many shipwrecks on the Gore Sands, which lie just offshore and can be exposed at low tides. Lighthouses are hence prominent landmarks in the town, with the original lighthouse known as the Round Tower built to replace the light on the top of the 14th century tower of St Andrews Church.
A stone pier was built in 1858 by the Somerset Central Railway. Soon afterwards, in 1860, a steamer service to Wales was inaugurated, but it was never a commercial success, and ended in 1888.
The concrete pier, built in 1911–1914, is claimed to be the shortest pier in Britain. In 2008, it was rated amongst the top five piers in Britain.