Salcombe Maritime Museum

The little town of Salcombe at the southern tip of Devon has a smashing, packed little community museum that’s open from 10.30am-12.30pm from April to October – it’s definitely worth a trip, as it’s full of great exhibits about shipping, boatbuilding, fishing and pleasure boating.

One of the many things I learned was that Tennyson wrote his iconic poem Crossing the Bar in 1889 after arriving at Salcombe in a very impressive and comfortable looking steam yacht.

I wonder what the bar looked like that day, and what stories he heard about it. That bar has a history: just a generation after Tennyson wrote his poem in 1916 the town experienced a terrible lifeboat disaster in which 13 crewmen drowned.

If you can take a dinghy down for a sail or a motor on the lovely estuary, I recommend that too…

Advertisements

The Salcombe lifeboat disaster of 1916

‘On Friday, October 27th 1916, an appalling calamity befell the South Devon port of Salcombe. the lifeboat (the William and Emma) had been called out about six o’clock in the morning to render assistance to the schooner Western Lass, which was reported to be wrecked on Meg Rock, near Prawle Point.

‘In spite of the furious gale that was raging and the tempestuous breakers on Salcombe Bar, the gallant crew of fifteen succeeded in getting out to sea, and in reaching the vessel that was in distress; then, finding that the schooner’s crew had been rescued by the rocket apparatus of Prawle, and that no further help was needed, they started on their return voyage, but in crossing the bar their little craft capsized, and all but two of their number were drowned. Most of them were married men, who leave not only their widows, but also twelve very young children to mourn their loss.’

Read more about this terrible loss that befell the community of Salcombe in the midst of another, the Great War, here, here and here.

Here are some of the graves and centenary commemoration plaques in Salcombe’s graveyard.