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    Inside Out - South West: Monday September 19, 2005


Augustus Smith

Isles of Scilly
Man with a mission - Augustus Smith and the Isles of Scilly

The year is 1834. Back then it was customary for rich young men to travel abroad in search of worthy causes.

Augustus Smith came here on such a mission.

But rather than venture to some far flung colony Smith travelled just a few miles off the coast of Cornwall.

He paid the Duchy £20,000 for a lease on the whole of the Isles of Scilly and gave himself the title Lord Proprietor.

Smith sowed gorse seeds around the islands with saplings in behind.

They in turn grew into trees that provided protection for Scilly’s otherwise exposed fields and allowed crops such as daffodils and potatoes to flourish.

He built a new quay at Hugh Town, to send those crops to the mainland - and bring tourists back the other way.

Smith also built schools on all the main islands and continued his pioneering work in education.

In order to make farming a viable proposition he evicted those he considered surplus to requirements.

Tresco Gardens
Bloomin' lovely - Smith's descendants live at Tresco

And his zeal for orderly reform didn’t go down well with Scilly’s smugglers and wreckers.

Legend has it that aggrieved islanders from St Agnes plotted to drown Smith by pegging him out below the high water mark.

This is an event that probably didn’t happen, but the fact that the story survives shows the strength of divided feelings for the man they called 'Emperor Smith'.

He also left another amazing legacy - he built and created Tresco Abbey and its Gardens.

Succeeding generations of the family have maintained and added to Augustus Smith's paradise island.

His descendants retain their lease on Tresco and continue to live in the Abbey.

The other four inhabited islands reverted to the Duchy in 1922. David Stafford assesses the impact of the man who "civilised" the Isles of Scilly and his legacy today.

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Salcombe estuary

Salcome estuary
Salcombe estuary - marine paradise

Nick Baker dives below the beautiful Salcombe estuary to discover its wonderful wildlife - but also the threats to this unique environment.

Salcombe is increasingly popular with boat owners and summer visitors.

But the increase in boat traffic, moorings and rubbish is causing harm to the estuary.

A group of local conservationists have begun a three year filming project to document the estuary and help people realise what they've got - and what they could lose.

Underwater fish
Amazing life underwater at Salcombe

They are also hoping to one day capture on film the most elusive of estuary residents - the seahorse.

Salcombe Harbour provides a natural haven for nature.

Birds flock to the estuary which supports a wealth of plant and marine life.

The area's warm climate enables many species of plant to flourish here, and encourages a diverse range of marine life..

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Underage drinking

Drinkers in bar
Drinking culture but can you spot an underage drinker?

Presenter Sam Smith goes undercover behind the bar of one of Plymouth's busiest night clubs as she investigates the problem of underage drinking.

The team also visits Newquay where police and trading standards have mounted a ground breaking 'sting operation' against pubs and clubs in the town.

Newquay has had a reputation for binge drinking by young people - so the authorities have been "test purchasing" with 15-year-olds to see if they do get served.

Last year they did a similar exercise with worrying results - many of the pubs and clubs got caught out.

Will there be an improvement this year?

Meanwhile, in Plymouth, the authorities are targetting "street" drinking - children who illegally buy alcohol from off licences and then cause trouble getting drunk on street corners.

The council doesn't believe that tackling underage drinking in pubs and clubs is a priority.

Yet Inside Out discovered that many children in Plymouth believe the city is an easy hit when it comes to getting served.

Sam works a shift in the city's Union Street to see how hard it is to challenge suspect under-agers.

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