Sidmouth Seaside Stories

19th November 2018

My father was a well-known local character. He always wore a brown suit and brown boots. Even when he went prawning, he would go into the water in his boots.  We had so many prawns. He knew better than anyone where to get them. He and John Mortimore went up to Ladefoot. Dad would put his hand in and pull out a lobster and John never knew where it had come from.

We went down to the beach when the fishing boats came home and hauled them up to the capstans. The trawlers emptied their catch and threw the dabs back into the sea. We used to get a stick and thread them on to take home for tea.

During the war there were tank traps on the beach and they looked awful. We still climbed between so we could play on the beach.

The first lifeboat was the Rimmington in circa 1969.  This 33 feet ten-oared lifeboat was named after its donor a Mrs Rimmington of Streatham and purchased on 25th September 1869.  She spent her summers in Sidmouth, as was fashionable among many of the Victorian upper class and nobility.  All things maritime were held in such high regard that it even became fashionable to dress up babies and young children in little sailor suits.  In such a time, there was no cause more noble than the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

In the early 1900s, about £30 annually was collected from the good people of Sidmouth to maintain the lifeboat.
The Sidmouth lifeboat undertook its last mission in 1912.  The station was closed down, largely due to the branch railway line diminishing coastal trade.  A total of seven launches had saved 34 lives.

I used to go to Sunday school, and the highlight of the year was our trip to Exmouth. We went by coach from the Three Cornered Plot. Mum came too when we were little. We all took sandwiches. When we went to the beach we ate our picnic and the sandwiches were always full of sand. We played all day on the beach and had a wonderful time.

Do you remember Parrett’s fish and chip shop in York Street? It was in a little corrugated shack between the houses. We used to go and have 3d worth of chips and ” gribbles” (the crispy batter bits). They were the best fish and chips around. I always got some on the way home from Guides. My Dad would have been furious if he knew I was eating in the street.