Food first for Wellington

SOM Jan 15 Wellington

SOM Jan 15 Wellington - Credit: Archant

It seems one of the main attractions for this Somerset town is its food offerings, partly thanks to an initiative aimed to put it on the map, as Clare Bourke discovers

When it comes to food and drink, it seems the town of Wellington is the place to keep an eye on. Its streets are packed with delis, cafés, restaurants and shops offering everything from sunflower seeds to indulgent cupcakes, and a myriad of yummy treats in between.

The Wellington Food Town initiative has spent the past decade building on the town’s assets and creating annual events that celebrate these.

The area is renowned for its farming heritage, food suppliers and outlets and in 2006 the Wellington Economic Partnership felt the town should celebrate this with one major highlight in its events calendar.

The Wellington Food Town Festival, supported by Waitrose, has steadily grown and this year will celebrate its 10th such event on 5 September with around 70 traders taking stalls in two streets in the town.

Chairman of Wellington Food Town, Donna Munson, says the plan was initially all about increasing footfall into the town – which has certainly worked, with figures standing at 14,000 people visiting the town for the one-day event.

Donna says: “It has become more and more popular over the years and increased from being just in the High Street to being in South Street as well.

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“Last year we had a demonstration kitchen and we always have a kids zone and a raffle. We are a not-for- profit organisation and raise money for local charities that need our help.

“It’s a great day and a nice vibe. We have music in the streets and open mic tents. We don’t want it just to be about wandering around spending money. People can sample food and sit down with a pint in the sunshine with the entertainment around them.”

Donna says the event is indebted to the volunteers who give up their time to help: “If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have an event.”

Wellington Local History & Museum Society aims to promote knowlege about Wellington and its history by organising talks and visits, running the town’s museum and publishing books on local topics. The museum is run entirely by volunteers and is a fantastic resource for local images and artefacts including those found on the site of a medieval building complex just outside Wellington. The finds followed archaeological work carried out last year and include floor tiles, ceramic roof ridge tiles and pieces of pottery. There are also displays on the Duke of Wellington and his association with the town.

If you are feeling active why not head for a walk around the Wellington Monument, built in honour of Arthur Welleseley, Duke of Wellington, following the Battle of Waterloo. The monument, started in 1817 and completed in 1892, is a major landmark in the area and at 175ft high it is the highest point of the Blackdown Hills. From the car park you walk down a wide beech-lined avenue that opens out into a meadow surrounding the monument. The monument is free to visit or you can just carry on walking and enjoy a circular route that eventually leads back to the car park.

Thanks to a Heritage Lottery Grant, the picturesque award-winning Wellington Park is now a must-visit part of the town. The park was given to the town in 1903 by the Fox family who built a woollen mill in Wellington in the 18th century. The park is an important example of late Victorian design and The Friends of Wellington Park arrange a number of events there during the summer.

No average school lunches…

Pupils at Wellington School get treated to a world of tastes, from Bollywood, Chinese and Thai style to Ukrainian and Caribbean days.