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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Brixham 1, Shoalstone

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas NOVEMBER. 08, 2020


This is the first part of my Brixham photo walk. Brixham is a small fishing port on the English Channel in Devon. It has ancient roots and a long history for such a small place. I have divided the walk into sections for the sake of putting together posts that work as standalone pieces.

I am dividing the posts into what I see as three distinct parts of the town. Shoalstone which is East of the mile long Breakwater, and the Outer Harbour which is distinct from the much older Inner Harbour, both of which lie West of the breakwater.

I parked at the Breakwater car park which is a great position to go in both directions, East and West, and it places you right in the middle of the action. Brixham is a really interesting place with much activity and loads of photo opportunities. The light was a real challenge as it was very bright and the sun very low, leading to massive contrast and heavy shadows, challenge is good though.

This is the Breakwater below, with it's lighthouse welcoming boats into safe refuge. In the distance divided by red cliffs is Goodrington Sands on the left and Paignton on the right. Brixham itself out of view to the left of the Breakwater. The Breakwater is the promenade of choice for locals and tourists alike. We humans are nothing if not predictable, build it and they will come. Tall building we want to go up it, high bridge we want to cross it, long pier we want to walk along it.


Goodrington Sands is a sandy beach on the English Riviera, located at Goodrington a coastal village, on the outskirts of Paignton. Goodrington is mentioned in the Domesday Book of AD 1086 as Godrintone in the ancient hundred of Kerswell. The red colouration is due to iron chemicals only found in deserts. The chemicals were leached out of the overlying desert rocks and it passed down into the Devonian rocks beneath, staining them red. (Wikipedia)

Brixham Higher town behind the Breakwater.

There is a pirate tradition at Brixham of which there will be more in the later posts, but even here at the breakwater I met my first pirate with a moth eaten looking parrot.

There was a famous comedy sketch on a show called "Little Britain" in which a man repeatedly went into a toyshop to ask for a Pirate Memory Game. After a lot of stupidity during which the shopkeeper shouts loudly to his wife Margaret multiple times and she shouts back explaining where the Pirate Memory Game can be found (we never see Margaret), the shopkeeper immediately finds exactly what the man asked for. The customer stares at it for a while and then says, have you got anything less piratey. Now I know none of that sounds remotely funny but as with most comedy, context is everything. It was repetitive and predictable but then some of the funniest things are.

I worked in a shop at the time and there were only two of us, and idiots both, we delighted at random times when the other was upstairs having their lunch in shouting loudly upstairs to the other, Margaret? Margaret? Context.

From pirates to gorillas. This is a gorilla from the Great Gorillas Project of 2013 where many different gorillas with different designs were placed in public spaces all over the English Riviera. This one obviously outstayed his welcome. They were all then exhibited together at the local zoo and auctioned off for charity. This one is called "Cool Ice Cream Bananas" Can't think why. It is designed by Malcolm Law from Torbay.

From the beach below at Shoalstone several cruise ships are at anchor.

We are extremely lucky in having one of the best coastal path networks of any country in the world. The South West Coast Path alone is 630 miles long. And this only follows the coastline of four English counties.

The whole of England Coast Path is a proposed long-distance National Trail which will follow the coastline of England. When complete, it will be 2,795 miles (4,500 kilometres) in length. Wales is ahead of England, The Wales Coast Path is a designated footpath which follows, or runs close to, the coastline of Wales. Launched in 2012, the path is 870 miles (1,400 km) long and was heralded as the first dedicated footpath in the world to cover the entire length of a country's coastline. The Wales Coast Path runs through eleven national nature reserves and other nature reserves such as those managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and The Wildlife Trusts.

Maintenance and upkeep is a constant effort even on those parts already established especially as by it's very nature it lies open to the most destructive elements of the wind and sea, not to mention subsidence as here below.

This little Art Deco gem is Shoalstone Sea Water Swimming Pool. Fighting the elements and surviving. Just. Currently closed. I'm not sure if it is Covid closed or just closed for the winter.






Below. Shoalstone Pool is a 53 metre sea water swimming Pool situated in a stunning position on Brixham sea front: one of only a few left in the country. It is built into a natural rock pool that in Victorian times was popular for bathing, and in 1896 two walls were built to retain the tidal water that flooded in. Thirty years later, in 1926, the Pool took on its current design and had a lot of rock removed to make it deeper and add a shallow end and deep end, with a gently sloping bottom. Shut throughout the winter the Pool was opened each season by a local lady, Minnie Bowman, who jumped off the diving board wrapped in a Union Flag! (Englishriviera.co.uk) It certainly has a spectacular outlook over Torbay, enhanced by all the passing boats and ships.


Below, this is a sight becoming less common these days. It is an actual sea mine, and many of these recovered sea mines were placed all over the country after the war usually at seaside locations as collection boxes to raise money for good causes. This one still remains and was originally discovered floating in the bay, it serves to raise money for the upkeep of the pool.


During World War II, the U-boat fleet, which dominated much of the battle of the Atlantic, was small at the beginning of the war and much of the early action by German forces involved mining convoy routes and ports around Britain. Initially, contact mines (requiring a ship to physically strike a mine to detonate it) were employed, usually tethered at the end of a cable just below the surface of the water. Contact mines usually blew a hole in ships' hulls. By the beginning of World War II, most nations had developed mines that could be dropped from aircraft, some of which floated on the surface, making it possible to lay them in enemy harbours.


Further to the East of the Seawater Swimming Pool is an area of rocks which must have been what the original Seawater Pool looked like before it was developed. There were many beautiful rock pools and they came as a very pleasant surprise. They were full of marine life, very clear water and beautiful colours.














These are Beach Huts and are common all over the UK in holiday seaside locations. I think they evolved from the Victorian Bathing Machines, as they were called. If you have seen the film about Queen Victoria, "Mrs Brown" you may remember a sequence when she bathes in the sea from a bathing machine. They could be loosely described as a wooden shed on wheels with a ladder or steps on the water side. These would be rolled down to the water with the occupant inside who is able to change from one massively cumbersome Victorian outfit for walking around on land, into another massively cumbersome Victorian outfit for swimming in, modestly. Dame Judy Dench, playing Victoria, emerges from the Bathing Machine as fully clothed as she went in including a hat.

Anyway today Beach Huts are instead, valuable properties and status symbols, fetching vast sums of money.

July 2020-Britain's 'most expensive beach hut' has sold after receiving offers of £330,000 following an intense bidding war. The wooden cabin at Mudeford Spit in Christchurch Harbour, Dorset, was listed for sale for the same asking price as a five bedroom detached house in Hull last Friday. Since then four potential buyers put in offers on the 12ft by 10ft hut - two of them without even viewing it. The final sale price smashes the record amount paid for a beach hut on the exclusive sandy peninsula. (Mail Online)



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5 Comments


John Durham
John Durham
Feb 02, 2022

Love the tops of the masts in #3 below the rows of colorful houses in the distance. Very much captures the essence of a seaport for me. And, not having seen the comedy show to which you refer, I get "Margaret" - very much Rowan and Martin.

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Feb 03, 2022
Replying to

Thanks John. Found out today The Pirate festival is back in April so I have to do a follow up.😀

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Unknown member
Feb 02, 2022

I am glad you are reposting these because for the life of me, I can't remember seeing this one.😀

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Feb 03, 2022
Replying to

The Pirate festival is back after Covid so will hopefully be doing a follow up.😊

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