infobox UK place
country= England
latitude= 51.2376
longitude= -2.9935
official_name= Burnham-on-Sea
population= 18,401 (2001 census)
civil_parish= Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge
shire_district= Sedgemoor
shire_county = Somerset
region= South West England
constituency_westminster= Wells
post_town= BURNHAM-ON-SEA
postcode_district = TA8
postcode_area= TA
dial_code= 01278
os_grid_reference= ST306492

Burnham-on-Sea is a town in Somerset, England, at the mouth of the River Parrett and Bridgwater Bay. Burnham remained a small village until the late 18th century, but is now a popular seaside resort as well as the home of the shortest pier in Great Britain. It forms part of the parish of Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge. According to the 2001 census the population of the parish was 18,401. [cite web | title=Neighbourhood statistics for Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge CP (Parish) | work=National Statistics | url=http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadTableView.do?a=3&b=799132&c=Burnham-on-sea&d=16&e=15&g=483298&i=1001x1003x1004&m=0&enc=1&dsFamilyId=779 | accessdate=2007-05-24]

Burnham-on-Sea is notable for its beach and mudflats, the danger they pose to individuals and shipping, and the efforts locals have gone to defend their town and to prevent loss of life. The Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world. The extensive mud flats at Burnham are characteristic of Bridgwater Bay and the rest of the Bristol Channel where the tide can recede for over convert|1.5|mi|km|1|abbr=off. Over the years a string of people have died when they became trapped in mud and were overcome by the rapidly rising waters. One of the earliest recorded historical incidents to affect the town was the Bristol Channel floods of 1607. Today the town is defended from flooding by a large curved concrete wall that runs along the Esplanade.

Burnham-on-Sea railway station was the terminus of the Burnham branch of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. The former GWR station is now known as Highbridge and Burnham.

The town's signature collection of lighthouses, including the Round Tower lighthouse of 1829, the "Pillar Lighthouse" [cite web | title=Burnham High Lighthouse | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=433716 | accessdate=2006-12-10] and the "Lighthouse on legs". [cite web | title=Burnham Low Lighthouse | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=433724 | accessdate=2006-12-10] The original lighthouse was built after the local vicar, either John Goulden in 1764 or Walter Harris in 1799, raised a subscription amongst the local population. This was taken over and improved by Trinity House in 1815.cite book |title=Somerset Harbours |last=Farr |first=Grahame |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1954 |publisher=Christopher Johnson |location=London |isbn= |pages=91 ]

There have been many shipwrecks on the Gore sand and the first lifeboat was sent to Burnham by the Bridgwater Corporation in 1836, with a second boat in 1847. The first Royal National Lifeboat was funded by the town of Cheltenham and arrived in 1866. The lifeboat was removed in 1930 because of the difficulty in getting a full crew and because the launching arrangements were not suitable for a powered boat. A local charity, Burnham-on-Sea Area Rescue Boat (BARB), was set up in 1992 to fund and operate rescue craft in the Bridgwater Bay area. BARB's boat house on the sea front was built in 1994 by the Challenge Anneka TV show. In 2002 a five-year-old girl from Worcester called Lelaina Hall died on the mud flats before help could reach her. The outcry over her death prompted a Western Daily Press campaign to fund an inshore hovercraft. [cite web | title=Burnham Rescue Hovercraft | url= http://www.burnham-on-sea.com/barb/index.html | accessdate=2007-01-04] BARB currently operates the "Spirit of Lelaina" alongside her sister hovercraft the "Light of Elizabeth" (named after Lelaina's sister). [cite web | title=Resort gets new rescue hovercraft | work=BBC News | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/5266482.stm | accessdate=2007-01-04]

The parish church, St. Andrew's, is a grade I listed building dating from the 14th century. [cite web | title=Church of St. Andrew | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/Details/Default.aspx?id=433731 | accessdate=2008-02-17]

In the south west corner of Burnham-on-Sea, north of the River Brue, is Apex Leisure and Wildlife Park. Covering over 42 acres, the park has been created from excavated clay pits; these were flooded, and the lakes are now home to many types of wildlife and leisure activities.

The town is part of the West Country Carnival circuit.

Notable residents

*John Pople, theoretical chemist, born in the town
*Thomas Alan Stephenson, marine biologist, born in the town
*Frank Foley, Major (Army), Wartime hero who saved thousands of Jews in WW2. Born In Highbridge.


External links

* [http://www.burnham-on-sea.com Burnham-On-Sea Town Website]
* [http://www.burnham-on-sea.com/webcam Burnham-On-Sea Webcam]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/somerset BBC Somerset]
* [http://www.burnham-highbridge.org/ Burnham & Highbridge Town council Website]
* [http://www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/cultureheritage/heritage/projects/eus/burnham The Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey: Burnham and Highbridge] , by Clare Gathercole

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