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Was this story true or indeed, did it contain any elements of truth? Time now for some careful research.

Alfred Russell Price was born in Ilfracombe in 1864, the eldest son of Philip and Maria Price.  He lived in the town all his life, working first as a house painter, then, after his marriage, building up his own business  known initially as The Capstone boarding house where he did well, catering for the needs of  summer visitors and no doubt, telling and re-telling his story.  He inherited his father's interests on Rapparree beach, hiring out changing accommodation in the little huts, and bathing costumes and towels, offering safe storage of clothing and other valuables all for a very modest  fee but which added up to a secure income and required minimal input.


Rapparee Beach in 1935
Rapparree Cove in 1935 after the Council had purchased it. Alfred had died so we do not know who owned the huts at this time but they are clearly visible in the foreground.


Rapparee Beach in 1923
And here's another view of the same beach taken in 1923 - the year in which Alfred died, His changing huts can be seen near the back of the beach, strung out across the sand. With magification, it is possible to see the white-painted nukmbers on each one.


So that's quite a lot of corroboration. But what of the Kaiser's side of the story? That's harder because the hotel where he stayed is no longer in existence but we know the Kaiser did visit the town under the care of his tutor and can read in old newspapers that they stayed at the best hotel - the luxurious  Ilfracombe Hotel: you can read all about that hotel on this website by following the link below:


The local newspaper noted  that the Kaiser visited Ilfracombe in the September of 1878, using the name Count von Valingen during his stay. And we also know from local newspapers that a story very like that described in the pamphlet sold to raise money for the troops, appeared and re-appeared for many years after the incident took place. In one version, the Kaiser was not alone but accompanied by another lad of roughly the same age as himself - then about 18 who also travelled incognito calling himself "Count von Hochberg".

Several sources suggest that ever after the event, Alfred Price was known in the town as the "Man who fought the Kaiser" and that when war started, he was known as the "hero of Ilfracombe".

Interestingly, legends say that it was common knowledge up and down the Severn estuary that the Kaiser returned often, always travelling incognito, using the paddle steamer service to reconnoitre a possible route from which to encourage Ireland into an open rebellion against the British in which they would be supported by Germany. And so the legend grew and grew and took on a new, more exciting shape and developed into full-scale international espionage, boosted by various little publicity prods by no less a person than Alfred Price. But in 1923, Alfred died and the legend took on its own momentum.


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