Fire History Highlight of Dorset Park's New Bar

Published: September 18, 2017

Fire History Highlight of Dorset Park's New Bar

Guests relaxing in the bar of a top Dorset holiday park can now drink in more than just the stylish new surroundings after its recent top-to-toe refurbishment.

For Martin’s Bar at Highlands End Holiday Park in Bridport is also home to one of England’s largest and most important private collections of fire service memorabilia. Exhibits on view range from historic firefighter helmets and other curios to a magnificently restored 1936 Leyland fire engine, and a 1902 Merryweather horse-drawn steam engine.

The collection has been built up over three decades by Martin Cox, a member of the family which has owned Highlands End – and today its four sister-parks – for 45 years.

The park has provided a bar and restaurant for holiday guests since 1985, but last year it was decided to give the facility a complete makeover with added features. It was also an opportunity to provide an even more eye-catching setting for the exhibits which celebrate firefighters and their life-saving achievements through the ages. A wall of photographs depicts local firefighting history, and is already a talking point for locals and visitors.

The unique character of Martin’s Bar – where specialities include locally brewed ales and meals based on fresh Dorset produce – has won it a large following. Now it also offers chic and comfortable new surroundings, rooms to celebrate events such as anniversaries, a children’s play area, a beer garden and a host of traditional and modern games.

But pride of place still goes to the fire service collection which draws enthusiasts from across the UK to see the exhibits that have been carefully curated by Martin over the decades.

A recent addition is a Land Rover Fire Engine which promotes the park and the history of the fire service at local events and fetes. Martin himself previously served for many years as a Retained Leading Firefighter with the Dorset Fire and Rescue Service.

The local main contractor in the bar refurbishment was specialist Dorset builder C G Fry & Son which is also involved with Prince Charles’s Poundbury development near Dorchester. Martin says that the company’s craftmanship and enthusiasm – together with the skills of other sub-contractors and designers – has created a truly unique holiday park bar.

With a commanding cliff-top position and breathtaking sea views, Highlands End provides holiday caravans to buy and rent, plus pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. As well as Martin’s Bar, its highly-praised facilities include a leisure club which incorporates a pool with sauna and steam room, and a shop specialising in fresh Dorset produce.

The park has received a number of additional awards for its care for the natural world, including the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.

Martin is a former national chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, and currently serves as one of its vice presidents. He is also the president of the European Federation of Campingsite Organisations & Holiday Park Associations (EFCO&HPA) which represents 20,000 holiday park businesses across Europe

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