• Westward Ho! History
  • Westward Ho! History

The content of this site is being re-edited and added to, please come back soon to see the changes, thank you.

Westward Ho! is noted for its unusual place name. The village name comes from the title of Charles Kingsley’s 1855 novel “Westward Ho!”, which was set in nearby Bideford.

The book was a bestseller, and entrepreneurs saw the opportunity to develop tourism in the area. In 1863 “The Northam Burrows Hotel and Villa Building Company” was formed.

Its prospectus stated:

This Company has been formed for the erection of a Family Hotel, on an Estate purchased for the purpose immediately contiguous to Northam Burrows, and of Villas and Lodging Houses for Sale or Lease. The want of such accommodation has long been felt, and as no attempt to supply it has hitherto been made by individuals, it is deemed to be a legitimate project to be undertaken by a Company. The salubrity and beauty of the North of Devon have long been known and appreciated. Sir James Clark has placed it in the highest position for health-giving qualities; and the recent publication of Professor Kingsley’s “Westward Ho” has excited increased public attention to the western part, more especially, of this romantic and beautiful coast. Nothing but a want of accommodation for visitors has hitherto prevented its being the resort of families seeking the advantages of sea bathing, combined with the invigorating breezes of the Atlantic.

The hotel was named the “Westward Ho! Hotel”, and the adjacent villas were also named after the book.

As further development took place, the expanding settlement also acquired the name of Westward Ho! The exclamation mark is therefore an intentional part of the village’s name.

Within these pages are details of the years since 1863, with a little from before.  You will find details of the older buildings, what they looked like and were used for – up to modern times.

Many of the photographs can be zoomed by clicking them.

Please let us know if you have photographs to add, stories to tell or corrections to make. The site is an ever changing story of this unique village so please come back regularly and of course when you’re visiting the village look out for that rich history.