top of page
  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Salcombe Part 2

Originally published on Blogpost by Gethin Thomas on the 10th December 2021

In part two, I have already walked south from the main pontoon from where the ferry operates in winter. Every direction from the main pontoon takes you up hill. Two cyclists had manhandled their bikes into the ferry when I crossed and they were discussing their options to get to Kingsbridge at the head of the estuary, all of which it turned out involved pedalling up hill.

This view is from the top of the ferry steps by the Ferry Inn, which is where it operates from in summer. Well, not from up here, but past the inn and at the bottom of the steps, where the water is.

Most of the next few shots are architectural which will give a feel for the styles prevalent in this area. To me they are reminiscent of the architecture style of Indian Hill Stations so I imagine they are of a similar era and fashion as this was expanded from a fishing village to a summer holiday destination just like Indian Hill Stations were expanded from small villages to outposts of local government.

There is quite a good view from up here of the channel out to sea, and you will recognise this scene further on in a different format.

This structure is a shelter with great views, but forms the base of the war memorial above. It is set in a small public park.

The most modern properties tend to be those with the prime locations right on the water and many come with boat houses, and because of the drop below the road level, some also come with rooftop parking.

Salcombe Yacht Club, below, hosts the Salcombe Yacht Club Regatta every August, attracting up to 400 dinghies in 10 or more dinghy classes plus handicap fleets. The Salcombe Yawls take pride of place as they were all designed and built in Salcombe using traditional boatbuilding techniques.

Encaustic tiles are ceramic tiles in which the pattern or figure on the surface is not a product of the glaze but of different colours of clay. They are usually of two colours but a tile may be composed of as many as six. The pattern appears inlaid into the body of the tile, so that the design remains as the tile is worn down.

Encaustic or inlaid tiles enjoyed two periods of great popularity. The first came in the thirteenth century and lasted until Henry the Eighth's reformation in the sixteenth century. The second came when the tiles caught the attention of craftsmen during the Gothic Revival era, who after much trial and error mass-produced these tiles, and made them available to the general public. During both periods, tiles were made across Western Europe, though the centre of tile production was in England. These tiles at the entrance to a hotel are of the later Gothic Revival period.

This tower seems to be some ancient remnant in the grounds of a hotel.

In the hotel there are panoramic views of the estuary.

Opposite at this point is Mill Bay and unusually you can see a concrete slipway there at the moment. This is often covered by sand or only part exposed. This is what remains of a US Navy boat repair facility connected to the preparations for the D-Day landings.

You can see a very interesting video about this history on Youtube. Some very rare original footage.

And here is the town war memorial.

The war memorial and the shelter below it in the earlier photo are Grade 2 Listed.

Following the end of the First World War, a memorial was proposed to commemorate the residents of Salcombe who had died fighting in the conflict. The terraced land in front of Cliff House was donated by Mr A McIlwraith for the memorial. A shelter was erected, its roof serving as the base for the war memorial raising it level with the road. A public garden, with a network of paths was laid out on the terraced land below the memorial, accessed by pair of steps (not listed) leading down from street level. At the same time the road was widened to create a public thoroughfare. The memorial was unveiled on 7 April 1921. In addition to bearing the names of those who died during the First World War, it included a dedication to the Salcombe Lifeboat Disaster, in which 13 members of a 15 man lifeboat crew tragically died when their boat overturned while returning from a call to aid a grounded schooner at Lannacombe Bay on 27 October 1916. In 1949 further names were added to the plinth, and a set of decorative gates to the Cliff Road entrance, to commemorate those who had died during Second World War. Also added to the plinth were the names of the civilians who died during bombing raids on Salcombe between 1941-3. (

Another in my accidental series of "Men at Work" which I seem to be collecting, here they are raising the roof. The ever present boom box balanced precariously on the chimney. We used to have a decorator whose radio was so covered in paint that you would no longer have guessed what it was, were it not for the fact that rock music at 30 decibels was emanating from it.

The Victoria Inn right in the centre of town which I suspect from it's appearance seriously predates Victoria. That ship is entering the estuary and there is that view from earlier in the post.

Before water was piped into homes it was supplied by conduits like the one below, which brought fresh spring water into town. These were normally proudly displayed and often built by benefactors or groups of charitable local business men. It was a form of status symbol for the town. Here is one that even features a lower aperture for dogs to take a drink which is unusual.

This one also carries a warning as it is right next to the quayside.


Whoever is found cleaning

fish, or creating any other

nuisance at this watering

place, will be prosecuted

according to law.

On the left a small door which accesses the pipework at the back has become a makeshift notice board. Events coming up include, three local authors reading from their own work, the Salcombe Players presenting Christmas Cracker, Deja Revue, the WI (Women's Institute) Christmas flower arranging, the Stanborough Chorus singing Haydn's Nelson Mass, and last but not least a poster for "Getting Frisky" in Salcombe. The "Getting Frisky" notice does not add anything to that message so maybe you have to be in the know to know. I do feel I am missing something though.

There is also a small plaque in memory of a "son of Salcombe" lost at sea.

Finally there is a notice proclaiming that the area is an Alcohol Free Zone with a penalty of £100. That's a bit ironic given all of the pubs moved their operations outside for the Pandemic which meant most alcohol consumption was in fact outdoors in this very area. I can only conclude that the "Getting Frisky" is done outside the designated area of the Alcohol Free Zone for which a handy map is also available on display.

This cute doorway is a shell covered holiday let, just off Fore Street. Now, we are climbing the hill again.

I got chatting to an elderly lady in Dartmouth yesterday, well, actually it was more her chatting to me. It's amazing how much of someone's life story they can recount in an hour, but it was all fascinating as she was "Dartmouth born and bred". Her verdict on Salcombe?

"Salcombe? I ne'er thawt much a Salcombe, it's jest a 'ill innit?"

"She sells sea shells by the sea shore. The shells she sells are surely seashells. So if she sells shells on the seashore, I'm sure she sells seashore shells."

Once you move out of Fore Street, which as I say means hill climbing, this is a common sight, houses piled one on top of the other. Many of these if not most of them are holiday homes, often what is called "Topsy - Turvy" homes, where you enter on the lower floor to bedrooms and on the next floor is the kitchen and dining and often the living room is on the top floor as this is where the sea views are.

Topsy-Turvy - means "upside down". It can also mean total confusion or disorder, like the street plan in Salcombe. Early 16th century: apparently based on top and the now obsolete terve ‘overturn’.

Salcombe, also called scaffolding town, (by me anyway), as there is always development going on somewhere.

The kids are fit in Salcombe, (at school on this day) as their playground is on quite a slope. They grow sailors in Salcombe so nearly every feature of this playground is boat related. I counted five different boat apparatus and one with seahorses.

The UK has two native seahorse species, the spiny and the short-snouted seahorse. Both were granted protected status in 2008 under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. If you want to carry out an activity that would disturb a seahorse, you must have a marine wildlife licence, administered in England by the Marine Management Organisation. Such activities could include taking photographs, filming or surveys. Intentionally disturbing seahorses without appropriate permission could lead to enforcement action.

I can't see me being in any position where I might disturb a seahorse any time soon. Me and being under water are not a great combination, I get palpitations in the shower cubicle.

Being a seahorse must be tiresome, having rubber clad photographers and surveyors waving Marine licenses about in your face as you go about your seahorsing around. A bit like being a Hollywood star and trying to pop out for a pizza. At least if you are a Hollywood star you can don dark glasses and a wig. Even in a wig and dark glasses a seahorse is a bit of a giveaway as a seahorse, and who wouldn't want a photo of a seahorse in a wig and dark glasses.

I am now on my way to the church for Part Three, and on the way there I pass this house built way up on top of a natural outcrop of bedrock which has been infilled with stone and mortar to consolidate it. No need to worry about sea level rise here.

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page