PLAQUES celebrating the maritime history of Minehead have been unveiled ahead of this weekend’s harbour festival.

Thousands of people will steam into the seafront from tomorrow (July 12) as the eagerly-awaited festival gets underway.

Town Mayor Les Smith unveiled a series of plaques designed by artists, storytellers and children from Minehead Middle School today.

Also heralding the start of the festival was be a visitor in the form of a tall ship, Irene of Bridgwater, which sailed into shore as the seven plaques were showcased.

Rachel Hill, of Halsway Manor National Centre for Folk Arts, said: “Working with local school children and residents to create the artistic brief for the designs has been such a refreshing process.

“The finished plaques look fantastic and are pieces of public art in the truest sense. Artist Sue Webber has done a beautiful job of bringing everyone’s hard work to life.”

The project is part of the Minehead’s vision to celebrate the town’s maritime legacy and raise the status of the Quay Town as a cultural tourism attraction.

From 12noon on Saturday, the town will become a hive of entertainment for all the family, including a live pirate band and pirate workshops, with visitors able to hear sea shanties, stories and learn about Minehead’s history.

As part of the RNLI open day, there will be a lifeboat launch at 4pm and the station is also hosting an evening performance by the Darktown Strutters, together with a barbecue.

During the day, the arts, crafts and produce market will bring flavours of the countryside to its stalls.

The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery and Seaside Strategy funds, with entertainment running until late on Saturday.