and welcome to Ilfracombe (from the Saxon Aelfreinscwm), our town,
population 11000, nestles in the combes and tors within the North
Devon Coastal Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
town stretches 4.5 miles in the east from the hamlet of Hele, with
its own pretty beach, across to the flower bedecked valley and craggy
rock pools of the village of Lee to the west.
From the south the land plunges within 2 miles from the heights
of Hore Down 700ft above sea-level to the picturesque harbour.
Bay with the Queen of Cornwall
coastline here was the first UK Voluntary Marine Protected Area.
The area has been a settlement since the Iron Age, remnants of the
fortifications can be seen on top of Hillsborough, the 450ft hill
protects the harbour, with its RNLI lifeboat.
the middle ages there were two settlements. One around the 12th
Century parish Church "Holy Trinity".
The tower dates from about 900AD. Here you will find probably the
best collection of stained glass in the southwest.
other settlement was by the sandy harbour, with its 13th century
pubs supported by the fishermen, boat builders and traders.
More boats were sent from here to defend our nation against the
Spanish armada than great ports like Liverpool!
Church and Memorial Gardens scanned from a 1924 photograph
town’s population slowly grew until the second half of the 19th
century when the local lord of the manor the Bouchier-Wreys constructed
the then uniquely designed pier which allowed large ferries from
Bristol to bring even more people.
In 1895 it was reported to the Royal Society that Ilfracombe had
the warmest climate in the mainland UK.
The future Kaiser Wilhelm of Prussia and the then Prince of Wales
holidayed in the resort and with the arrival of the Southern railway
the holiday market and town grew.
Ilfracombe thrived until the 1960’s then the traditional market
declined rapidly and bad times arrived. Its people suffered, many
of the main buildings became tired and derelict, unemployment figures
soared and the town became a by word for decay.
coastal footpath from Lee back to the town centre
things are turning for the better.
Through the humour, guts, determination of the town’s businesses
and its people more investment is being made; much loved but tired
buildings have been demolished, refurbished or replaced, and new
cultures and attitudes have been created.
The crime rate is one of the lowest in the southwest. We have excellent
3* medical facilities, and our own cottage hospital.
We have more voluntary organisations than any similar community,
we have an award winning design "Landmark" theatre which holds national
youth arts, and many excellent professional and amateur plays.
We have several youth marching bands…one band "Blazing Sounds" won
3rd prize in the world championships at Calgary, Canada.