Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Brixham: up to the Cavern

I've just freshened this post because of some new details arising. On 11th July I had a glance at the location of the long-closed Brixham Bone Cavern (aka Brixham Cavern, Windmill Hill Cavern, and Philp's Cave). However, yesterday I paid a visit to Brixham Heritage Museum, whose staff kindly showed me further materials.

It's a short but steep walk from the pedestrianised Fore Street, up Cavern Steps to Mount Pleasant Road, then a little to the right, where the gate to the cave is in the front garden wall of a house in what was formerly called Grotto Terrace. The views over Brixham are picturesque, and it's altogether a pleasantly quaint part of Brixham, with a network of steps, alleys and often oddly-designed houses, a townscape resulting from Victorian urban development up the steep limestone cliffs on either side of the harbour. For more on the history of the Cavern (and others in Brixham), see the April 2014 post Bones beneath Brixham.

- Ray

Fore Street
Cavern Steps
View from Mount Pleasant Road
The Cavern entrance
View from Mount Pleasant Road
House at corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Shinners Steps
Shinners Steps - down to Fore Street

Addendum, 30th July 2014
I mad a pleasant return visit to Brixham yesterday, and this time visited the Brixham Heritage Museum, whose staff very kindly showed me some materials on the Cavern and gave permission for photography.

The Cavern exhibit comprises four information boards, a diorama imagining the scenery when wild animals inhabited the Cavern, with fossil specimens (see also the Gallery slideshow), and a rolling display of photographs, most of which I'd never seen. Stupidly I didn't photograph the one showing the whole frontage of the house above the Cavern; it was decorated with huge black text advertising the attraction. But here's a  poster and a couple of internal scenes, including the discoverer and exhibitor, Mr Philp.

Brixham Museum rolling display - reproduced by permission
Mr Philp inside the Cavern entrance
Brixham Museum rolling display - reproduced by permission
Inside the Cavern entrance
Brixham Museum rolling display - reproduced by permission
They also showed me a booklet, The Brixham Cavern ("The Story of Brixham Cavern") written by the ubiquitous Eric Delderfield and published by J&W Slack, Brixham, c. 1959. This has some good images of the exterior and interior, including its folksily-named attractions such as "the Cave of the Seven Dwarfs", "the Bottles", "the Wishing Stalagmite" and "the Fairy Grotto" (copyright unknown, images reproduced as fair use).

Thanks to Brixham Heritage Museum for their help and kind permission for display photos.

You might want to check out Brixham Heritage Museum under threat, which concerns existing and proposed funding cuts that endanger the future of this excellent museum.

- Ray

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