Tuesday, 3 January 2012


At the start of the year 1910, the Fairway Buoy leading ships into the River Exe had neither bell nor light.  In thick or foggy weather or at night it was very difficult picking up the channel buoys.  The responsible,  irresponsible rather, public body was the Exeter City Council, the Navigation Committee of which had for years delayed a decision to provide a better buoy.  They did not want the expense.  It is likely that their parsimony was the direct cause of the loss of many seamens' lives and of a good many ships.

In January 1910, a public spirited Exmothian, Dr Martin, collected the signatures of a hundred and fifty of the captains, mates and seamen of vessels trading in and out of the river and of the fishermen of Exmouth, Lympstone, Torquay, Topsham and Budleigh Salterton to petition Trinity House to change the Fairway Buoy into 'a lighted buoy with a bell attached, or into a lighted buoy or into a bell buoy'.

In February, Trinity House promised to supply to Exmouth a bell buoy.   The Exeter City Council which collected the harbour dues of Exmouth readily enough made neither comment nor contribution.

In March, a bell buoy painted with black and white stripes and surmounted with a Saint Andrew's cross was placed in the Exe Fairway.

The Exeter Navigation Committee was shameless in its indignation.   'Why no light?'  asked one counsellor,  while another, a Mr Rose, at a Council Meeting of 12th March announced that the new bell buoy was a great inconvenience.  Three of his friends had  been disturbed in the night by the terrible booming of the bell.  It was one of the most dismal of sounds.

Did Mr Rose blush?  The record makes no mention of it.

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