Ilfracombe

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Ilfracombe is an ancient seaport on Devon's north coast. Directly opposite is the coastline of Wales and over the years, Ilfracombe became a trading centre for the area. A short stone pier was built in the 18th century to enable larger boats to dock and this was improved and extended in 1820 by its owner, the Earl of Bath. Sea bathing became a popular cure as well as a pastime and by 1850, Ilfracombe had been "discovered" as a prominent watering place.

 

Early Victorian developers moved in to ensure the visitors had all the comforts of home when they came to the seaside and plenty to amuse them.

Rows of handsome villas were built as well as public rooms for entertainment and dancing. A tunnel was cut through the cliffs to what had been an unreachable cove where there were good beaches and safe bathing. Between 1801 and 1851 the permanent population rose from 1838 to over 5000 as more people moved in to cater for the growing number of tourists.

 

Ilfracombe - the town in Victorian times
Ilfracombe - the town in Victorian times

 

The Harbour, Ilfracombe

The port was developed as the 19th century wore on. Day-long boat excursions were started to nearby places of interest such as Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. Boats which had carried goods to and from the Welsh ports and up to Bristol, began to carry passengers on regular scheduled services. Now it was time for large hotels and boarding houses to be built to accommodate this seasonal influx. The nation saw Ilfracombe as one of its premier seaside resorts and it became something of a boom town.

The Harbour, Ilfracombe

 

The pier from Raparee

The pier from Raparee

 

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  Last modified:
30/09/2005