WHEN we first went to Watchet, our interests were to see the little harbour where Coleridge met the sailor who inspired The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, to learn more about the eccentric Celtic saint Decuman, to whom the parish church is dedicated, and to meet members of the Onion Collective. Our interest was piqued by an article we had read about a biotech start-up, Biohm, which was working with an enterprising all-female collective in West Somerset on a project to use mycelium (fungus) to recycle hitherto unrecyclable builders’ and agricultural waste into usable materials.
East Quay was barely off the drawing board. On subsequent visits, we saw the reality of this adventurous arts project turning into a colourful contemporary building overlooking the harbour. Now East Quay is open and buzzing, with its inviting cafe, exhibitions in the galleries and a well-stocked shop – where you can buy Deepest Somerset.
Sadly, since Deepest Somerset was published, work has stopped on the Biohm project – but the Onions (Jessica, Naomi, Sally, Georgie and Fiona) are determined and undaunted. Already they are working on new ideas to develop employment uses for the old papermill, whose closure devastated the town and inspired the Onions to look for a project to bring jobs back to Watchet. So, watch this space for news.
In the meantime, visit Watchet, explore this ancient little port where so much has happened over the centuries. And pop into East Quay to see the exhibitions, enjoy the events, meet friends for coffee or lunch or tea (great brownies) and, if you haven’t already got one, buy your copy of Deepest Somerset.