Severn Beach – A Step Back in Time
It can be difficult to imagine the village and river around Severn Beach in its heyday: a popular holiday resort and pleasure gardens complete with a grand hotel, bungalows, bathing pool, boating lake, amusement park, and cafés.
When the nearby New Passage ferry, which had plied the river for centuries, linked up with the South Wales Union Railway in 1863, it brought construction workers and railway staff to the village. Then Great Western Railway opened the Severn Tunnel in 1886, meaning passengers could safely travel under the river by train.
In 1922 a railway station was built, linking the area with Bristol and London and it was at this point that Severn Beach began to expand into a riverside resort.
A local entrepreneur, Robert Stride, built wooden bungalows and houses, and attractions began to spring up around the Blue Lagoon swimming pool. In the 1930s the amusement park included the dangerous-looking Toboggan Glide rollercoaster and scary Hill Brothers’ Ghost Train ride.
By the 1960s the arrival of the motorcar meant fewer people were visiting by rail and motorists were finding other holiday destinations more attractive. The amusements became dilapidated and the Blue Lagoon and boating lake were demolished to improve the sea defences needed to protect nearby houses.
Today Severn Beach still boasts incredible views of the estuary, an abundance of birdlife and a lovely riverside promenade.
The active Pilning and Severn Beach local history group makes sure Severn Beach’s vibrant past is preserved and shared with the next generation.
Did You Know?
You can take a walk back in time by following one of the Severn Beach or New Passage Heritage Trails.