Fire history highlight of Dorset park’s new bar


Guests relaxing in the bar of a 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 histored 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 photors.

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 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.

Local foods and Dorset craft ales are on the menu at Martin's Bar
Local foods and Dorset craft ales are on the menu at Martin’s Bar

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 – tors and designers – has created a truly unique holiday park bar.

With a commanding cliff-torhomes 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

For more information about the park, visit