Westward Ho! Items of History

by Inkerman Rogers, F.G.S, December 1926

Mr Inkerman was a geologist and author who lived from 1866 to 1959. Below is a table of his writings in relation to Westward Ho!

1828 Oct 10th
A Wreck
Wreck of the Queen of Cardigan on the North tail at the mouth of the estuary of the Taw & Torridge. Four persons were drowned. The bodies of the Capt. and Mate were picked up on Northam Burrows.
1858 Oct 14thThe following summary of wrecks off this coast between Hartland Point and Baggy Point, since the year 1790, has been furnished by Mr W. Chapple, ships agent, Appledore; One Man of War, Nine ships, 16 Brigs, one Queens cutter, one packet cutter, two gentleman's yachts, ten schooners & twenty-two sloops. Total 62.
1859 OctA terrible storm. Six corpse cast ashore on the sands at Northam Burrows. They were carried on ladders to the nearest hut. Inquests were held, the bodies put into boxes without shrouds or any other decency and buried.
1863 May 28thNumbers of people from Bideford and other places visited Northam to perambulate the Burrows, and for the sea bathing. Numbers were induced to visit Rock's Nose, at the lower end of the Burrows, a prospectus having been issued respecting building a commodious Hotel there as well as cottages and Villas.
1864 Feb 11thLaying the Foundation Stone of the Northam Burrows Hotel, the site being contiguous to a point of land known as Rock,s nose, and abutting upon the Pebble Ridge. The Earl and Countess of Portsmouth were present. The Countess laid the Stone and gave the name of Westward Ho! to the place.
1864 Feb 18thThe new Dead House, at Northam, rebuilt on the site of the old building which was in a dilapidated condition. On Wednesday morning a considerable portion of the Burrows was under water, and if no embankment is made to prevent the inroads of the sea, in a few years this extensive and valuable tract of land will altogether be lost.
1864 Mar 2ndArticle on Northam Burrows. Letter by Rev. I H Gossetts. Proposed plan for the recovery of land & protection of Northam Burrows.
1864 May 19thThe erection of a villa and a large lodging house will proceed immediately and will be completed at the same time as the Westward Hotel, vis at Christmas next.
1864 July 14th
The Pier
On Wednesday last Col Wheeler proceeded in a boat from Appledore to Rocks Nose, for the purpose of finding out the depth of water outside, as to the building of a Pier out from Rocks Nose is talked of, so that pleasure yachts may be able to lay there in safety. The depth of the water was found to be 15 feet (at low water) just below Rocks Nose, a short way from the Hotel, with a clear bottom 100ft from the shore. Meetings are again talked of to take into consideration the encroachment of the sea and it is to be done that will be effectual in keeping out the sea.
1864 July 21stLower down on the range of hills, is another stately looking building, nearly completed having a beautiful tower, somewhat in the Chinese style. Another building, not far from the above on a level with and close to the Burrows is intended for a restaurant, a builder Thomas Cook of Northam, has contracted to erect a Caf‚ and eating house as an adjunct to the great Inn to cost œ1000.
1864 Nov 17thFirst match of the Nth Devon & West of England Golf Club
1865 Sept 28th(Northam Burrows) At the Royal Hotel, a paper was read on the 'Geology of North Devon' by Townsend. M. Hall. F.G.S
1866 Sept 27thTwo grand amateur fashionable concerts took place at the large Assembly Rooms of the Baths of Westward Ho! Company.
1866 Oct 11thThe Grand Tournament in celebration of the Third anniversary of the R.N.D.G. Club was held on Thursday last.
1867 Jan 7thThe smack 'Mary' of Bideford was driven ashore on Saunton Sands during the late gale.
1867 Feb 14thOn Wednesday a quantity of wreck was picked up on the sands at Northam Burrows, including a number of staves and a part of a cabin door, which had apparently only been in the water a short time. Doubtless during the gale that had raged with such fury on the morning of Tuesday, some hapless craft was shattered by the seas.
1867 Feb 28th(The Rights of Northam Burrows). The leader of the Potwallopers wilfully damaged a bridge on Northam Burrows, leading from the Highway, so as to make it impassable and dangerous for carriages to pass to the Pebble Ridge.
1867 Mar 21stPublic Meeting on Northam Burrows question, to take into consideration the present state of the Burrows and also the incident in connection with the destruction of the bridge.
1867 May 2ndThe Bone Hill improvement at Northam.
1867 May 16thThe Committee appointed some weeks ago to see what improvements they can make in the pasturage of the Burrows, have issued a notice giving a scale of charges for keeping cattle on the Burrows by the Potwallopers, also a scale of charges for those who wish to drive on the Burrows for a day's pleasure. Of course the committee admit the payments are quite voluntary, and cannot be enforced. Carriages are charged one shilling & sixpence each.
1867 July 18thOn Thursday last a boat from Clovelly landed several gentlemen safely at Westward Ho! (ladies) bathing establishment, and on Saturday a very large French Steamer anchored off the Pebble Ridge put off their boat and landed a passenger safely on the sands where a great number of friends and spectators witnessed it.
1867 Oct 31stNew houses at Westward Ho! a contract has been just concluded for the erection of twelve semi-detached villas on the slope facing the Bay at Northam Burrows.
1876 Nov 14thAt the Court of Queen's Bench, Westminster, the appeal in regard to a supposed right claimed by Potwallopers was dismissed.
1867 Dec 5thDuring Sunday night, when the gale was at its worst the wind blowing from the North a French schooner the 'Jeunne-Adeline' ladened with barley was driven ashore on the rocks between __________ and Portledge. Her bottom was knocked out, the crew consisting of six hands, waded through the surf on to the rocks and were all saved, but several of them were dreadfully cut & bruised. They lay on the bare rocks during the whole of the night, exposed to the dreadful fury of the gale, hail & sleet. Early in the morning when Mr Gosset the receiver of wrecks arrived he found the poor fellows wet to the skin and in a very exhausted state. He immediately took steps to get them refreshment and shelter at a neighbouring farmhouse.
1868 Jan 23rdA Committee was appointed to inspect the road leading from Holywell to the Westward Ho! Hotel.
1868 July 2ndFor those who like rock-ranging, there is a long extent where they may roam and bathe. There are also bathing pools provided by the Westward Ho! Company, and a bath house for Hot & Cold bathing. An improvement much wanted at the North East end of the Burrows is a strong bank from Graysand Hill to the Mills or nearer Appledore.
1868 Aug 27thThere are large fragments of wreck washed ashore at Northam Burrows believed to be portions of some ill-fated ship, the crew could not be less than 18 hands for a vessel of such size.
1868 Oct 1stThe proposed new Church. The Rev I.H. Gosset writes: the estimate for the Church is ϣ1,960. The Rev Edward Dansey, Vicar of Abbotsham has liberally offered to give stones for the erection from his quarry. On Thursday last, the first stone of the Church was laid by the Rev E Dansey, Dean Rural of Hartland.
1868 Dec 9thA terrible gale from the W.N.W raged during the whole of Sunday night & Monday on this coast. Two large Barques were struggling in Bideford Bay during the whole of Monday last, and notwithstanding the utmost efforts, they were both driven ashore. The barque “leopard” laden with guano, went ashore near the Baths at Westward Ho! Hotel. The crew clung to the rigging for a long time, but gradually the vessel was driven close to the Pebble Ridge, over which the sea was breaking grandly. The coast-guard men with rockets sent a line over the ship on one of the coast-guard men named Johns of Appledore, was knocked out of the boat and drowned. The other Barque was an Austrian the “Pace de Peume” ladened with coal. She came ashore farther up the sands. The Appledore lifeboat, by the gallant exertions of her crew, brought off nine of the crew in a most exhausted state. The crew then made a second attempt but owing to the heavy seas the lifeboat became disabled and capsized, fortunately, the lifeboat was saved. Three of the eight poor fellows remaining in the vessel were drowned. The Rev I.H. Gosset who was in charge of the lifeboat station, and Sgt-Major W. Rogers remained on the Pebble Ridge all day.
1870 Jan 13thAt this new watering place several large semi-detached villas recently erected by Mr Wilmot, have been disposed of.
1870 Mar 24thThe Church in course of erection for the past eighteen months in this fashionable and rapidly rising water place, was opened by the Bishop of Exeter. Mr Oliver of Barnstaple, is the architect, the carving work being executed by Mr H. Hems of Exeter.
1870 April 14thResignation of Rev Isaac Henry Gosset, Vicar of Northam.
1870 June 30thThe Pier. The construction of the promenade pier at Westward Ho! has commenced Mr Inman C.S. is the resident engineer.
1876 May 20thThe Post-Master General has authorised the establishment of a Post office at Westward Ho! Miss Manley, who has taken one of the new shops, will shortly open the Office.
1872 July 4thAll previous attempts to build a promenade pier failed owing to the fury of the Winter storms, which washed the framework away. Mr J Abbot of Bideford, who has undertaken the completion of the iron Pier has commenced the work and hopes to complete it during the present season.
1874 Feb 5thThe Company congratulated the directors in their report for the past year, on the actual completion of the Pier by Messrs W & J Abbot of Bideford. The shortened Pier (500ft), in accordance with the amended plan.
Bideford & Nth Devon, Horse, Dog, Donkey and Channel Island ________ its establishment in 1869 until the present year ________ at Westward Ho!
1874 Sept 9thUnited Services College opened.
1875 Sept 9thThe New Club House is rapidly rising. It has to be completed by the 10th of April, under a heavy fine, and unless the weather is unusually against the work, it will be finished well within the time. The swimming events (at the Nassau Baths) to be competed for on Saturday, Sept 11th, at half past three p.m. will include the sailors & shipwrights of Barnstable, Bideford, & Appledore. The splendid diving of Sanders, of Northam has been eclipsed by another diver.
1875 Sept 23rdThere has been an extraordinary catch of mackerel in the large bathing cove which had been dug out of the rocks, and used by the ladies prior to the opening of the Nassau Baths.
1875 Sept 30thA third scheme is now on foot for constructing a new line of railway to Westward Ho! from Bideford.
1878 Feb 28thTo the Westward of the Baths (ladies) and up to the Nassau Baths near the Pier, a new ridge of pebbles has been formed within the last two years. The weak part of the Ridge is at the new Golf Club House, a handsome building which recently cost £2000 in erection, and which is built on the lower level, and almost close to the sea. For several months past, men have been employed in driving long piles, with the twofold object of breaking the force £5-600 has thus been expended. The promenade opposite the Ladies Baths has almost entirely been washed away.
1879 Feb 2ndThe Pebble Ridge driven back about 70ft. In front of the Club House where the piles have been lately placed, a large mass of stones had collected the sea washed out, carried across the roadway and dashed them against the Club House, causing considerable alarm to the inmates, who, with all possible speed, left the building for a more secure retreat. It is feared that unless previously removed, the Club House will be swept away by the next tide.
1879 April 17thThe Club House, having been several times surrounded by the spent waves, which used to leap over the piles & pebbles in front, was at last undermined, the sea laying bare some dozen ft. of a loose looking concrete foundation.
1897 SeptMr Taylor, the well-known railway contractor has offered a sum which will probably be accepted for the whole of the shares of the Westward Ho! Villa Company.
1899 23rdOne of the first improvements to be carried out at Westward Ho! is the construction of a short sea wall from the Ladies Bath House. This is needed to save from destruction a portion of the low land and Lower Lodge.
1880 Feb 19thThe new Club House has just been opened.
1880The Pier. The late severe weather has been disastrous to the Westward Ho! Pier. Two more of the iron supporting legs gave way some time ago, and last week tow more were broken off. The planking of the upper part is so rotten that it can hardly hold together much longer. The storms have taken away a good deal more of the field between the Ladies Bath and Lower Lodge. The latter is now abandoned. So much water came over the Burrows that there is ample room for canoes to sail freely about over them.
1880 May 20thIt has been decided to remove the Pier, which has become dangerous as well as unsightly. (The seats of the Pier were afterwards placed in front of the Kingsley College. A number of them adorn the Westward Ho! Park in front of the railway station).
1880 July 29thThe Annual Bideford & Westward Ho! Horse Show will be held on August 2nd, the band of the Bideford Volunteers will be in attendance. During the storms of Sunday & Monday, at least 100 tons of the embankment between the Baths and the Pebble Ridge Terrace were swept away.
1880 Sept 23rdA gale from the North west has been blowing for several days past driving the sea over the pebble ridge, and doing considerable damage to the embankment and roadway leading to the Bath Hotel. More than 200 tons of earth were washed down.
1880 Dec 30thMr Molesworth purchased Kingsley House and Terrace, and was about to convert them into a College.