Salcombe Devon - Information On Salcombe, Accommodation, Self Catering, Cottages, Hotels And B&B's In Salcombe
Salcombe - Devon - UK
Salcombe - Devon - UK
Salcombe - Devon - UK
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Salcombe ~ South Hams ~ Devon

 
Salcombe Castle - Salcombe - Devon
 

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Overbecks Meseum & Gardens
Museum of Maritime
Dartmouth Castle
South Devon Railway

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LOCAL HISTORY

Salcombe was until the later part of the 19th century, a small waterfront town whose main industries were shipbuilding and sailing. Salcombe was a typical seafaring town comprising mainly of seamen's and fishermen's cottages, with a few houses belonging to sea captains and rich landowners. There were of course a few food shops, workshops and the houses of craftsmen who catered for local needs. The isolated location of the town meant that both people and goods arrived and departed from Salcombe via its one major route - the sea.

It is not too surprising that the towns early prosperity was as a sea faring port - sailing, repairing and building ships, the ships needed to trade with foreign countries. Salcombe's sheltered estuarine location created the ideal environment for a maritime community. To facilitate this, Salcombe's simple waterfront began its development as early as the 1790's. The growth in maritime trade and the need for larger ships meant that the town's ship wrights were expanding and in need of much bigger yards. The space needed for this growth was created by developing the foreshore through a land reclamation scheme.

In the years between 1796 and 1887, the Salcombe ship yards were producing three new ships every two years - 200 vessels were launched from the Salcombe yards and in the period from 1837 to 1912 a further 86 were built and launched from the Kingsbridge yard. By 1851 a large-scale ship building industry had been established, employing 200 men in the local yards. The ship building trade also provided a great deal of employment in ancillary trades. Salcombe had three shipsmiths by 1851. An iron foundry at Kingsbridge provided ironwork and a range of other specialist manufacturers produced casks, masts, and pumps etc needed for the trade. As well as six sail lofts on the estuary; four in Salcombe and two in Kingsbridge.

Looking towards Kingsbridge
Looking towards Kingsbridge

Nearby, Kingsbridge was the main producer of rope for the ship building trade, with two rope-walks. Kingsbridge's first rope-walk was established as early as 1783 and the second opened after the end of the Napoleonic War.

The middle of the 19th century was a boom time for Salcombe. During the year 1848, 16,723 tons of cargo was landed in Salcombe (mainly timber, coal the consisting of coal, timber, groceries and fruit). In the same period the town despatched over 7000 tons of locally produce - corn, flour, malt, potatoes, slate and cider

This period in the middle of the 19th century was a boom time for Salcombe. During the year 1848, 16,723 tons of cargo was landed in Salcombe (consisting mainly of coal, timber, groceries and fruit). In the same period the town despatched over 7000 tons of locally produce - corn, flour, malt, potatoes, slate and cider.

Salcombe's prosperity as a port continued to grow - peaking in 1864, when this small coastal town had over 1000 seamen employed on nearly 100 large vessels; mostly fast fruit schooners, built in the local ship yards to race between Salcombe and the Bahamas, the Mediterranean, and the Azorian Islands bringing back fresh oranges and other exotic fruits for the British market. There were a similar number of smaller coastal and harbour vessels operating in support. There was often tragedy alongside this prosperity, as many vessels were lost in this period, often with all hands. On the 15th November, 1851, seven local vessels were wrecked off Terceira, Azores. Those fortunate to survive the hardships of this way of life often did well. Many of Salcombe's Victorian houses were built by shipowners and masters.

Salcombe's maritime decline was brought about by the production of steam driven, steel hulled ships. From 1879 onwards there was a substantial drop in the demand for the locally built sailing vessels, as the production of ships moved to the main industrial centres - close to the sources of iron and coal. The outdated wooden sailing ships that had served the area so well, were either sold overseas or simply laid up in the harbour. The numerous local craftspeople and seamen were left with little choice but to leave the area to try to secure work in the growing number of deep sea fishing ports or the new dock yards.

The Arrival of the Railway and the Growth of Tourism

Salcombe's fortunes began to recover with the arrival of the railway. In 1893 The Great Western Railway established a branch line from Brent to Kingsbridge, with the intention of eventually extending the link along the side of the estuary to Salcombe at Snapes Point. The town's first tentative steps into tourism were soon to follow. The South Devon Land Company Ltd was formed to capitalise on the imminent expansion and development of the town.

This led to the development of a cluster of new boarding and guest houses in the town, but only one hotel, the 'Marine' was established. The Marine Hotel was a private residence converted into a hotel and opened in 1880, and it was a private residence converted for the purpose.

The later development of the town's first two purposes built hotels 'York House', later renamed 'York Hotel' and the 'Salcombe Hotel' established in the 1890's mark the town's first real steps into the realm of a true tourist destination.

The greater mobility provided by the motor car and the improvements in public transport that followed World War II opened up the area to more people.

 
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