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Devon County

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From "Devonshire" by J.S.Curtis, published in 1896:

"The Den or Dene, a magnificent esplanade on which the Assembly Rooms stand, runs parallel with the sea and affords a fine promenade half a  mile in length. Its turf is maintained in excellent condition and it is a great resort of visitors.

This Den or Dene is really a huge sand bank caused by the shifting bar of the Teign, at the end of which there is a lighthouse for the guidance of vessels entering the river."

By 1843 the new "Hackney Cut" - a canal linking - had been completed. It allowed the clay barges to get in close to the mining areas in and around Kingsteignton and soon, 16 cellars had been built in the vicinity to store the clay prior to removal upriver to Teignmouth.

Exportation of china clay to the potteries in the Midlands now became a major enterprise for the Port of Teignmouth but the Teignmouth Harbour Commissioners realised that the shifting sand in the harbour entrance would pose a greater danger to larger vessels. Quantities of granite were also exported and in-coming ships brought coal, culm and timber - all were heavy cargoes making vessels low in the water. At the point where the river Teign met the open sea, there were dangerous currents and shifting sands causing many problems even for experienced pilots.

They set about building a lighthouse at the harbour entrance on the Teignmouth side. This was completed in 1845 at a cost of £196 7s with the Earl of Devon himself paying the surveyor's fee.

Not everyone like the idea. Someone unkindly said the "the feeble glare emitted from the lantern is of no service by night, except it be to light the fishes to their sandy beds." An Admiralty investigation soon put paid to the local critics and the little lighthouse still performs its task of guiding incoming vessels to safe passage through the channel to the safety of the harbour beyond.

In front of the Lynton Hotel in Powderham Terrace is a second light mounted on a pole. Larger incoming vessels must line up this light with that coming from the lighthouse -  only then  is it safe  to make the turn into the mouth of the river. The structure is some 37 feet high and is visible for approximately 6 miles. The light is operated by Teignmouth Port Authority.

Teignmouth Lighthouse

Teignmouth Lighthouse

The post carrying the secondary light can be seen to the right of the main structure at roof height.

© Richard J. Brine


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