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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Daymark



This is now a public right of way but was built as a military access for a defensive battery built during the second World War to protect Start Bay and the entrance to Dartmouth Harbour.


It is no accident that this road also leads to the Daymark a limestone tower built as a navigational aid for traffic approaching the harbour entrance which is notoriously difficult to spot from out at sea.


The Daymark was built in 1864 by the Dartmouth Harbour Commissioners.


The tower is 80 feet tall and hollow and serves a similar purpose to a lighthouse at night, only as a guide in this case not a warning. In the distance is Start Point which is surrounded by treacherous rocks and which does have a lighthouse.


The harbour mouth at Dartmouth turns from it's opening to the sea and the town is setback for protection. This means that from any angle of approach, other than straight on, one cannot determine exactly where the entrance to the harbour is.



Having seen the Daymark in the distance from the other side of the Dart for decades it was something of a surprise as to how big and complex a structure it was. It is well worth the walk down to see it and also to the Battery further on which we missed out this time because it was so hot.


The Duke of Somerset, with the aid of an act of parliament, created the River Dart Navigation Commission to improve the river’s navigation while entrepreneur Charles Seale Hayne used the opportunities opened up by the coming of the railway to attract money to improve and upgrade the port’s facilities. He formed the Dart Harbour Commission to promote and encourage shipping, including building or maintaining quays, providing buoys, lights or beacons.


The local economy was boosted even more when, in 1863, the Royal Navy decided to train naval cadets on the Dart and stationed first the Britannia, then the Hindustan, in the river at Mount Boone – on the estate of Sir Walter Raleigh. dartharbour.org

The Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority was formed in 1975 by the amalgamation of the River Dart Navigation Commission and the Dart Harbour Commission. In 1975, when Dart Harbour was formed, 75% of the activities on the river were commercial and 25% leisure. Today that figure has more than reversed and is 95% leisure and 5% commercial.


Here are some crop circles, definitely not made by aliens but by the farmer negotiating his way around the tower.


This is what the Daymark looks like on the skyline, from about 6 miles away. As you can see, it identifies exactly where the entrance to the harbour is, between those two headlands.


I just threw in this shot for free because on the gate into the field was this unusual mechanism designed to open the gate in both directions.


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7 Comments


Peter Smith
Peter Smith
Jul 04, 2022

Interesting post. I've been that way a few times over the years and don't remember noticing it. Must be more observant!

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David Nurse
David Nurse
Jun 20, 2022

Fascinating. What a great structure. I would love to see this. Maybe, just maybe!

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Jun 20, 2022
Replying to

It's also a fantastic location with unsurprisingly great sea views as you would expect. They weren't stupid in choosing the site. I definitely want to go back though as the road it is on is a dead end and built by the MOD to access a battery that defended Start Bay which was of huge strategic importance for D-Day preparations. There is a lot of that left and would be worth the visit.

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Unknown member
Jun 18, 2022

That is huge and to think of how this was built is awe inspiring considering the tools and technology that was available at the time.

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Unknown member
Jun 19, 2022
Replying to

I am assuming that is fog, and if so, pretty tall building that can be definitely seen from all over. The last photo reminds me of the gizmos they use on railroad tracks when they want to switch the direction of the tracks.

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