Owing to the amount of shipping trade entering the river Parrett Burnham had its own Custom House on the Esplanade (currently a Fish and chips Bar). Erected around 1840 it was used principally to check goods arriving from overseas and bound for the Ports of Bridgwater and Langport. The first recorded occupier was William Ward (1866) who was ‘Tide surveyor (Customs)’ it is not known how long he had been there but records show that in the mid-20th Century the customs work came under jurisdiction of Bridgwater. The building was also originally known as ‘The Maroon’ as it was from here that the maroon was fired to call out the Lifeboat crew.
The plan above, attributed to George Reed, shows one of the two proposed boathouses under the Esplanade opening direct from the Customs house onto beach. It is believed that one of the boathouses held the Customs officers boat and the other the early Burnham lifeboat. These boathouses remained accessible from the beach under the shelter platform which was later built out from the Esplanade in front of the Customs House where the original beach steps were. This platform was eventually rebuilt to accommodate public toilets. The boathouses were used for storage until the development of the new sea defences in the 1980’s. They are now no more in evidence.
Picture above shows shelter platform at centre with ramp to boathouses visible under and Customs House flagstaff in front.
The Customs House Building currently used as a Fish & Chip shop.
The Building was previously used as a restaurant.