Watchet Visitor Centre and Boat Museum
Watchet Visitor Centre and Boat Museum opened its doors in July 2016. The building and land was Community Asset Transfered from the District Council, and funded by EDF's Community Impact Mitigation Fund and Trusthouse Charitable Foundation.
Now run as a community owned facility it has a co-location of services with Watchet Town Council and Friends of the Flatner Association.
The Visitor Centre Manager is Fiona Payne, and runs tourism services from the site, as well as a number of events and activities. To go to the website click here
The project is the first major capital build by community-led social enterprise Onion Collective CIC and represents one of a series of regeneration projects planned for the town. The Visitor Centre is a new-build extension onto the Boat Museum on Harbour Road and has been funded by EDF’s Community Impact Mitigation Fund, Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, with a contribution to the build costs from Watchet Town Council for their new office space.
The project took just 2 years, from initial concept ideas to build completion and follows extensive community consultation in 2014, when local people were asked: ‘what does Watchet need for a stronger future?’ the results clearly showed that a stronger tourism offer was needed, that better use should be made of the facilities that Watchet already has and that Watchet’s maritime and cultural heritage should be better and more loudly celebrated.
The building includes Town Council offices, and the main Visitor Centre area is flexible space, so it can be used as Town Council chambers when needed, as well as a space for community events, meetings and talks. Taxi company Cliff’s Cabs has its office based in the building and the Centre also includes retail space selling gifts and Watchet branded items.
The building, designed by architects Louise Crossman and Invisible Studio had a remit to create a contemporary building that was sensitively attached to the old Boat Museum. The Boat Museum building was originally designed by Brunel and started life as a goods shed, as the terminus for the Bristol and Exeter Railway.
The Boat Museum is still run by the Friends of the Flatner Association, and has kept its original quirky and idiosyncratic feel, but with some substantial repairs to the main building and the addition of large glazed doors and windows to attract light into the building. The internal structures to exhibit the boats have been built entirely by local volunteers as part of a project called Watchet Community Makers, where skilled volunteers share their skills with others in mutual support. This project is another Onion Collective initiative and has been led by builder Iain Lambert.
The Visitor Centre has a new part-time Manager who will be working closely with Onion Collective team, as well as a crucial and valuable team of volunteers. If you are interested in working as a volunteer either in the Visitor Centre or Boat Museum please do get in touch, volunteers will always be an essential element to the success of this new project. For more information on volunteering please contact Onion Collective at firstname.lastname@example.org