Sunday, 2 October 2011

Rolle on autumn

View west from Orcombe steps

Few towns can boast of a walk more suitable for invalids than that through the Plantation and along under the cliff to the lime-kiln. It is almost perfectly level, and whilst it lies open to the south and west, it is sheltered by a continuous cliff from the cold winds of the north and east. It will be found to afford a warm and delightful winter walk. Excellent seats are placed at intervals along this path, and also upon the sea-wall. The latter affords a very agreeable promenade to those who prefer more bracing air. The sands, also, stretching away under the red eliffs to Straight Point, will give the pedestrian ample scope for exercise; and if he is wary, he will know where to pick out a firm footing thereon. The rock-pools near the rifle-targets contain ample stock for the aquarium.
- Memorials of Exmouth, compiled by W. Everitt, 1885

Some things don't change much. I've been down with a sub-flu bug this past week, but with the current 'Indian summer' continuing, I felt up to a gentle stroll in Exmouth. It turned into a four-mile walk, via charity shops and the park, along the beach to Orcombe Point and back, so I'm clearly on the mend.

Everitt's description of the walk along what's now Bath Road - a wooded pedestrian road, with a parallel higher footpath, at the foot of the red sandstone cliffs fronting Exmouth - is still largely accurate. We owe its general flavour to Lord and Lady Rolle, who left a major stamp on the townscape of Exmouth.

On the third of April, 1842, occurred the death of John, Lord Rolle ... For upwards of half a century Lord Rolle was actively engaged in public life. As a landlord, Exmouth owed much to his liberality. Indeed, almost all the improvements that had taken place in the town, with the exception of those due to Mr. Richard Webber, were made at the expense of Lord and Lady Rolle. The plantations and public walks on and under the Beacon, the extensive and costly seawall, and the large Chapel of the Holy Trinity, are among the enduring memorials of their regard for the town.
The splendid sea-wall begun in 1841, and constructed at the expense of the late Lord Rolle, was completed in 1842 by Messrs. Plewse, builders, London, under the direction of John Smeaton, Esq., architect. It is built of Babbacombe limestone, and is secured by a row of piles. Considerable additions to it were made in 1848, and a massive parapet added at the northern end. The cost of this work is said to have exceeded £20,000.
- Memorials of Exmouth, compiled by W. Everitt, 1885

The location and viewpoint of the photo illustrating this post is fairly close to that in Devon County Council's image archive - EXM00672 - showing the wreck of the Tehwija in 1907.

- Ray

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