Saturday, 21 April 2012


The coming of the railway to the Estuary in 1861 robbed the fishermen of Lympstone of their traditional boat shelter.  This was a cove, a natural little harbour , known as the "Herring Cove".  The railway was constructed right through this cove.  What remains of it is now a marshy tract in the grounds of Nutwell Court which can be seen from the new Cycle Track.   For generations the Herring Cove had provided safe shelter and beaching even in the roughest weather.

When, in 1895 the fishermen were looking to build a boat shelter to replace the cove both the Railway Company and Lady Drake were asked to contribute to the cost.   The Railway Company offered not a penny.  It was 'unable to tender any pecuniary assistance' and Lady Drake offered to find £15 but only on condition that the fishermen paid to her agent 'dues' to which she may or may not have been legally entitled.   Unlike Lady Rolle she was someone who gave with two fingers. She also required, as a condition of her giving, that "the fishermen would cease to draw up their boats on the bit of beach known as Parsonage Stile which was annoying to her tenants."

'Cove' is a pleasant word which you don't hear too often these days.   It is related to the Anglo Saxon word, 'cofa' meaning a room and hence a shelter and was much used locally for a sheltered bay.

(Source:  The Devon Weekly Times,  March 1895.)

1 comment:

  1. Out of interest, this is the location (via Google Maps).

    I walked along this route recently. The part between Lympstone and Topsham was a real drag.