top of page
  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Brixham 3. Inner Harbour

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas NOVEMBER. 30, 2020

So here is the much anticipated part three of my Brixham Photo Walk. It seems like a long time ago I actually did it now, nearly a month ago. Part One is the Shoalstone section and Part Two is the Outer Harbour.

I did the walk on the 4th November 2020 as our second national lockdown started on the 5th and I wanted a load of photos to work on during lockdown, but of course the best laid plans etc.... My PC then packed up and with various twists and turns trying to find out what the problem was and a failed first attempt I ended up not getting it back until a few days ago.

So I now have a large backlog of photos to edit and post as this lockdown ended up not being as onerous as the first. We are in a very rural area and there are many empty places we were able to travel to to "exercise" while keeping away from people. So I "exercised" every day with my camera, sometimes my little point and shoot which enabled me to keep posting something every day using a tablet to keep up with my 365 challenge.

But I digress.

Brixham seems to have two main themes, fish and pirates. The pirates are featured everywhere and there is an annual Pirate Festival which I am desperate to go to when it is next held, obviously none this year. But whereas the pirate stuff is fun and make believe and the tourists love it, the fish is very real and is the meat and potatoes of the economy. Yes, that was deliberate, and I at least thought it was funny.

There are many fishing boats tied up in the inner harbour, mainly day boats which operate the shellfish traps in the bay, there are also some boats that have seen better days and seem to be lying in wait with uncertain futures.

Today, Brixham is the most important fishing port in England and Wales when measured by the value of catch landed. The Harbour provides areas for the safe and efficient management of the fishing industry. This includes the provision of fish landing facilities and a fish market for the conduct of fish auctions, for which the Harbour Authority is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance. (

Brixham is a very hilly town and the locals are known to have specially evolved feet which aid the walking up and down of very steep cobbled roads. You can tell the locals if you visit because when on flat land they lean backwards or forwards depending on which level of the town they live.

The inner harbour is very picturesque and a perfect example of an English South coast fishing town. The buildings that line the harbour edge now are mostly aimed at the tourist trade, souvenir shops, arts and crafts and bars and restaurants, fish and chips being prominent. Traditionally the town had two halves, the upper level centred around the church called Cowtown and the lower harbour area called very creatively Fishtown.

It is thought that the name 'Brixham' came from Brioc's village. 'Brioc' was an old English or Brythonic personal name and '-ham' is an ancient term for home derived from Old English. The first evidence of a town comes from the Saxon times. It is possible that Saxon settlement originated by sea from Hampshire in the 6th century, or overland around the year 800.

Brixham was called Briseham in the Domesday Book. Its population then was 39. (wikipedia) In the corner of the harbour you will see what looks like an old ship stranded on the harbour bottom, this is a recreation of the Golden Hind and is a visitor attraction. The large stone building next to it on the left is the old indoor market and the long narrow roof on stilts to the right is the current fish market.

This is a replica of the Golden Hind. The Golden Hind was Sir Francis Drake's Tudor Galleon. Sir Francis Drake was a brilliant navigator, an excellent soldier, an accomplished politician and best remembered as an extraordinary explorer. In his most famous ship, the Golden Hind, be became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe in an epic expedition of discovery over four hundred years ago. She was originally known as Pelican, but Drake renamed her mid-voyage in 1578, in honour of his patron, Sir Christopher Hatton, whose crest was a golden hind (a female red deer). Hatton was one of the principal sponsors of Drake's world voyage.

Seven years after the circumnavigation in 1587, Drake was also hailed a hero when he was appointed Vice Admiral of the fleet to defend England from the Spanish Armada. Prior to the Armada beginning Drake led a bold 'fire storm' raid against the Spanish ships anchored at port in Cadiz, destroying many prior to the eventual unsuccessful raid by the Spanish a year later.

In 1595 Drake came out of 'retirement' to attempt to take Panama from the Spanish, an area of the world that by now he knew well. He was taken ill in the Caribbean and died of yellow fever and dysentery. He was buried at sea, in a lead coffin, in his suit of armour, just off the Panama coast. His body has never been recovered. He was 56 years old.

Queen Elizabeth granted Drake a family crest with the Latin motto ‘Sic Parvis Magna’ which translates as ‘Great things from Small Beginnings’, a reference to his humble start in life. Drake personally designed the imagery, which features God's hand pulling his ship around the globe.

This Queen Elizabeth commonly mistakenly called Queen Elizabeth the First is in fact just Queen Elizabeth and was called such until 1952 when the present Queen Elizabeth became the monarch.

Below is a gruesome spectacle which I thought at first had been displayed for Halloween which was only three days before, but I have discovered since that they are a permanent "attraction" of the harbourside and are related to the Pirate Festival. I can only assume this was the fate of pirates. It was de rigueur back then to hang body parts around the streets if the owners had committed some felony like half inching a loaf to feed their kids.

To half inch- Pinch or steal, this is good old Cockney Rhyming Slang again.

They were pretty smelly times with no sewers, and in Brixham's case plenty of fish heads lying around the gutters. The odd body or two past their sell by date probably didn't make a lot of difference. I suppose it is an apt way to end your career as a pirate hanging up at the harbour as a pile of bones when your whole career was carried out under a flag carrying the skull and cross bones as your logo.

If I am going to eat shrimp I definitely want serious ones. I don't want them laughing away as I pop them in my mouth, it would be very disconcerting. There are restaurants locally called the Giggling Squid and the Winking Prawn, I'm not really sure why.

This is William of Orange, below, who is one of our more controversial monarchs. This could explain why the majority of his face has been defaced over the years. Someone sawed off his chin and someone else knocked off his nose and I'm not really sure what happened to his right eye. At any rate he is a lot scarier in appearance than any pirate.


Monarchs collect different names and titles and that is why he arrived Prince of Orange to claim the throne of England and then became William III. His wife was Mary II of England and they reigned as joint monarchs which is very rare.

The reason was that both had direct claim to the throne so neither was a Consort but each a rightful monarch although Mary did have a closer claim. Both refused to serve unless Parliament gave them equal roles. As a consequence this period is sometimes referred to as William and Mary and even furniture can be described as William and Mary style.

So why did two foreign Royals from the Netherlands arrive in Brixham with their own army to claim the English throne? Prior to their arrival the English King was James II but the major problem with him was that he was a Catholic and he started appointing Catholics into positions of power, so Parliament got nervous because England was Protestant and they decided he must go, and go he did, he fled the country in fear of his life.

So who were his heirs? James's son was only a few months old so he was bypassed by Parliament who wanted to avoid triggering a possible Catholic dynasty. So they chose Mary of Orange and William her husband. Thus establishing the principle that sovereignty derived from Parliament, not birth.

As an additional complication James was James II of England, James II of Ireland and James VII of Scotland. They love all those titles.

Mary was James II's oldest daughter and a Protestant, while William was the nephew of Charles II of England, they were cousins and this was why both were rightful claimants to the throne.

The dispute between Catholic James and Protestant William led right up to the troubles in modern day Northern Ireland. William eventually won the dispute with James at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland on the 1st July 1690, where James's aim to retake his throne by taking control in Ireland was finally thwarted. After losing the battle he fled to France.

The troubles between Catholics and Protestants remain even today in Northern Ireland although a semblance of peace has returned. One seasonal tradition still raises tensions every year as the Orange Orders march on July 1st to commemorate the Battle and their hero King "Billy".

They start Christmas early in Brixham and this little tableau on a raft rises and falls with the tide.

Yes, pirates again. This friendly pirate struck a jolly pose, albeit pointing his gun at me, as soon as he spotted my camera. It was a jolly sort of gun.

Pirates, mermaids and penguins. I'm not sure about the penguin connection. Or the mermaids come to that.

You can just about see a pirate climbing the rigging on the Golden Hind with full pandemic face protection and a sack, not of treasure, but of Christmas lights.

I'm not sure if this will be putting to sea anytime soon. It certainly won't be putting out to sea with me on it. I have an aversion to see-through areas of rust on something meant to be waterproof.

I have posted this poster, below, in a previous post about this poster, which raised a question from a fellow Poster on Photoblog, a fellow Poster of the female variety who Came Earlier to this subject and wished to know what the words cockwomble and numpty were on this poster. So in answer to that Posters question about the words on this post about a poster I will carefully post my reply, hence posting this poster photo twice in two separate posts.

Numpty- is a stupid or ineffectual person. Borrowed from Scots numpty, meaning a fool or idiot. Someone who (sometimes unwittingly) by speech or action demonstrates a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation to the amusement of others. 1980s: of Scottish origin, perhaps an alteration of numbskull, with the ending remodelled on the pattern of Humpty Dumpty.

It is also A good humoured admonition, a term of endearment. That is until you get thrown out of the bar for crossing the line of numptyishness. You have been warned.

Cockwomble- I hesitate with this one because there are limited polite ways to explain it, at least the first syllable, so I am hoping that if I say it is a very up and coming male insult word, that I have said enough. It is nothing to do with chickens. But offence is always in the ears of the offended.

It is A foolish or obnoxious person. Although to be fair I would say almost exclusively a foolish obnoxious male person. A Womble is a children's book character. These characters collect litter and live on Wimbledon Common they have a laughable shape and ridiculous noses with blobs on the end. They tend to be figures of fun for adult males particularly the inebriated sort. So putting cock and Womble together doubles the foolishness and obnoxiousness and insult of the subject involved.

Interestingly both numpty and cockwomble seem to derive from children's characters perhaps indicating the arrested development of those concerned.

The Wombles are fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures created by Elisabeth Beresford and originally appearing in a series of children's novels from 1968. They live in burrows, where they aim to help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways. Although Wombles supposedly live in every country in the world, Beresford's stories are concerned with the lives of the inhabitants of the burrow on Wimbledon Common in London, England. (wikipedia)

This author was obviously way ahead of her time writing about environmental issues 52 years ago.

The Womble motto is "Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish". What we now call up-cycling. Here Wikipedia has a glaring error, having told us the books were written in 1968, the article goes on to say they reflect the growing trend of the environmental movement of the 1970's. So Elisabeth Beresford obviously had a time machine.

I should also point out that the word bugger transcends it's original meaning in modern Britain and is commonly used widely without causing any offence. I believe it has not travelled the same etymological route in the same way in the US and can still be considered shocking there.

I can't find any meaning for this street name, below, but as it goes up hill from the end of the harbour wall I can only assume it bears some relation to being the road leading from the gangplank. The word gangplank is a bridge or walkway usually moveable, to get on or off boats. I've also seen a narrow pathway called a gangway. It seems to originate in Middle Dutch, Old Saxon and Middle Low German.

Rockfish is our fish restaurant of choice serving excellent, if top end, seafood as a special treat. I have only now noticed the "fish in the C" in their logo and am not sure if that is coincidental to their "fish in sea" motto. The fish certainly don't travel very far in Brixham, as this restaurant adjoins the wholesale fish market which adjoins the, inaccessible to the public, fishing boat harbour facility. I might ask one day if they will let me in to take photos in the commercial port area when things return to normal. That would be Part 4 or 5 depending on when I do the pirate festival.

The rest of these shots of the inner harbour just make up all the interesting shapes, textures and colours that always make these places a gift for anyone with a camera. Enjoy.

Related Posts

See All

4 comentarios

Miembro desconocido
04 feb 2022

Whatever I said on the first round of this post, I say again! I really love #3 reminds me so much of Positano, but I also love the perspectives you took on the skeleton. Another one of your winners 😊

Me gusta
Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
04 feb 2022
Contestando a

Thanks, it's quite a job resurrecting them all but nice to get them out there again.🙂

Me gusta

John Durham
John Durham
04 feb 2022

Cockwomble - great new word! Great shots of the rope and nets, wonderful texture and color. But the best, to me, are the homes on the hills - their pastel colors are really soothing. The panorama should be framed over a sideboard in a cozy dining room. It's that comforting.

Me gusta
Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
04 feb 2022
Contestando a

I love locations like this there is just so much to see and snap.🙂

Me gusta
bottom of page