Infobox UK place
static_image_caption= Ilfracombe seen from Hillsborough
country = England
population = 10,840 (2001 parish census) [cite web|url=http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadTableView.do?a=3&b=793646&c=Ilfracombe&d=16&e=15&g=436863&i=1001x1003x1004&m=0&r=1&s=1212935080750&enc=1&dsFamilyId=779|title=Parish Headcounts|work=The
Office for National Statistics|accessdate=2008-06-08]
region= South West England
constituency_westminster= North Devon
postcode_district = EX34
imagesize = 200px
Ilfracombe is a
seaside resortand civil parishon the north coast of Devon, Englandwith a small harbour, surrounded by cliffs. The town stretches along the coast from 'The Coastguard Cottages' in Hele Baytoward the east and 6 km along The Torrsto Lee Baytoward the west. The resort is hilly and the highest point within the town boundary is at 'Hore Down Gate', 3 km inland and 270 m (860 ft) above sea level.
The landmark of Hillsborough Hill dominates the harbour and is the site of an
Iron AgeCeltic fortress. The award-winning Landmark Theatreis either loved or hated for its unusual double-conical design; it is distinctive and, with the St Nicholas's Chapel on Lantern Hill, a major landmark in the town.
Ilfracombe has been settled since the
Iron Age, when the DumnoniiCelts established a hill fort on the dominant hill, Hillsborough (formerly Hele's Barrow). The town's name is a derivative of the Anglo-Saxon "Alfreinscoma" - by which name it was noted in the Exon or Exeter Domesday Bookof 1086. The translation of this name (from Walter William Skeatof the department of Anglo Saxon at Cambridge University) means the "Valley of the sons of Alfred". The manor house at Chambercombein east Ilfracombe, was recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as being built by a Norman knight Champernon(from Chambernon in France) who landed with William of Normandy. It is also said to be haunted.
Ilfracombe was two distinct communities; a farming community around the
parish churchcalled Holy Trinity, parts of which date from the 12th century, and a fishing community around the natural harbourformed between Capstone, Compass and Lantern Torrs. It is recorded that the lands by the church were part of the estate owned by Champernowne family those by the harbour to the Bouchiers, Earls of Bath.
Ilfracombe was a significant port on the
Bristol Channel. In 1208 it was listed as having provided King John with ships and men to invade Ireland; in 1247 it supplied a ship to the fleet that was sent to conquer the Western Islesof Scotland; ships were sent to support the siege of Calais, and it was the disembarkation point for two large forces sent to subdue the Irish. The building which sits on Lantern Hill by the harbour, known as St Nicholas's Chapel (built 1361) is reputed to be the oldest working lighthouse in the UK; a light/beacon has been there for over 650 years. [cite book | author=Hoskins W.G| authorlink = W. G. Hoskins | title=Devon | publisher=Phillimore & Co Ltd | location= | year=1954 | id=ISBN 1-86077-270-6]
The novelist Fanny Burney stayed in Ilfracombe in
1817. Her diary [cite book | author=Fanny Burney | authorlink = Frances Burney |title=The Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay — Volume 3] entries (July 31 - October 5) record early 19th century life in Ilfracombe: a captured Spanish ship; two ships in distress in a storm; the visit of Thomas Bowdler; and her lucky escape after being cut-off by the tide.
In 1911, the Irish nationalist
Anna Catherine Parnell(sister of Charles Stewart Parnell) drowned at Ilfracombe.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, was written by Jane Taylorwhilst staying in Braunton, only a few miles away, during the early 19th century at The George Hotel.Fact|date=February 2007
*Roads, Education, Economic Affairs, Youth Services and Social Services are covered by Devon County Council based in County Hall, Exeter to which Ilfracombe sends one elected member.
*Housing, Refuse Collection, Street Cleaning, Parks & Gardens, Harbour, Leisure & Culture, Licensing and Planning are covered by North Devon District Council, Barnstaple to which Ilfracombe elects five members (two each from West and Central Wards and one from East Ward)
*The Town Council, which has 3 wards and 18 members (7 from West and Central Wards and 4 from the East Ward) acts as the watchdog to the other two councils whilst also developing local initiatives such as redeveloping old buildings and supporting many community associations and activities.
North Devon District Council offices are in the town council's offices in High Street. Northern Area Group District Councillors meet several times a year in The Lantern Community Centre to discuss current proposals for redevelopment and grievances of the local population toward these.
As with most communities with high density housing, the largest issue is car parking and the lack of spaces. The problem of inconsiderate dog owners is another concern, for which the council has to mount advertising campaigns to remind owners of their resposibilities. A third issue is the growth in the seagull population. The town council is to erect more signs warning visitors not to feed them.
slatesformed from sedimentary rockthat underwent geological stress (creating faultsand folds), towards the end of the Carboniferousera, around 300 million years ago. These are known as the "Ilfracombe slates".Ilfracombe lies within the North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is renowned for its dramatic coastal cliffs and landscape. Hillsborough, lying close to the town centre is a local nature reserve and around the town are many other havens for wildlife. The coast itself is part of the North Devon Voluntary Marine Conservation area because of its diverse and rare species.
When the tourism market faltered at the end of the
Victorian erahoteliers invited people living in major urban areas to the town with the prospect of seasonal employment. Later, as unemployment levels rose, this 'inward migration' caused social problems and friction between these people and those with a long history of residence. In 2001, Ilfracombe Central Ward was designated the most deprived super output area in Devon.Fact|date=February 2007
These problems are now being addressed by the implementation of local government schemes e.g.
Sure Startnow known as "Mystart" covering the Ilfracombe Learning area - a project to help support families with young children - and, since 2004, the Neighbourhood Management Transform programme: both were the first such government sponsored social development schemes covering rural areas in England. Better policing, the use of neighbourhood wardens and CCTV have led to a reduction in crime rates as reported monthly to the town council by the police toward the North Devonregional average (a fraction of those nationally).Fact|date=February 2007
Until the mid-19th century the economy was based around sea trade and fishing. The town gradually developed into a tourist resort served by ferries along the
Bristol Channel. The provision of the railway accelerated this development. The population grew until the First World War, then stabilised at 9,200, now 11,000. The economy suffered throughout the 1960s as UK holiday patterns changed, and suffered further through the closure of the railway line in 1970.
In the last twenty-five years, major investment by private 'light engineering' companies has added to the economy. These companies include: Pall Europe - a filtration manufacturers with 700 employees on site Fact|date=April 2008; a
Tescosuperstore; and [http://www.lambda-gb.com/uk/index.htm Lambda UK] - a manufacturer of power supplies owned by the TDK Corporationand a former subsidiary of Invensys. Ilfracombe is European HQ of Lambda UK with 200 employees. [http://www.lambda-gb.com/uk/local_pages/about_lambda_uk.htm] A large Co-Operative supermarket store sited on the sea front opened December 2006.
A number of light engineering firms provide additional employment and operate within a couple of miles of the town centre at Mullacott Cross.
Employment Research conducted by MORI in 2005 for the Transform (UK government neighbourhood management project), and by Roger Tym & Partners for the Ilfracombe Community Alliance showed :-The service sector (includes hotel and catering) at 76% is 2 x higher than the North Devon (40.1%) or Devon average (33.7%). 51% of businesses by number are within the distribution, hotels and restaurants sector.12.8% are within the banking, finance and insurance sector.11.9% are within public administration, health and education. [ [http://www.transform-northdevon.org.uk/research Transform Research] ]
Despite the arrival of supermarket stores by large retailers such as
Tescoand the Co-operative Retail Society, the High Street still thrives. The usual national chains like Lloyds Chemist, Somerfield Stores and Superdrugare present, but Ilfracombe has fortunately retained many local businesses, maintaining its traditional Victorian character.
Ilfracombe is at the southern end of the A361, the longest 3-digit
A-roadin England. The A361 finishes on the A5 at Kilsby on the Northamptonshire-Warwickshire border near Rugby. This road is the town's main connection with the South West Englandmotorway, the M5.
From 1874, Ilfracombe was served by the Ilfracombe railway line that ran from
Barnstaple, but this closed in 1970. Now, the nearest National Railrailway station is in Barnstaple and buses provide the public transport link from there to Ilfracombe. Regular bus services to Barnstaple are operated by First Bus. There are several smaller routes around the town run by Roy Filer Coaches. A twice-daily national coach service operated by National Expressroute 502 connects Ilfracombe to London Victoriavia Heathrow Airport. Seasonal route 300 – operated by Filers – connects at Ilfracombe to Lynton and there connects with a bus operated by Quantock, to Mineheadand Tauntonin Somerset.
A seasonal passenger
ferry, operated by MS "Oldenburg", runs from the harbour to Lundy Island. Pleasure boats, including MV "Balmoral" and PS "Waverley", operate cruises from Ilfracombe, including crossings to Porthcawlnear Swansea.
The town's educational needs are served by three schools: the Infants, the Junior and the
Comprehensive school- Ilfracombe Arts College. Each of these schools are amongst the largest of their type in Devon. The college serves the needs of Ilfracombe residents and those across the coastal North Devonarea as far as Lyntonand Lynmouthon the Somerset county border. It is a nationally recognised centre for Media Studies and was in 2004 awarded Media Arts Status. Further educational courses and vocational courses are run by Ilfracombe Arts College.
Ilfracombe Museum was opened in 1932 in Ilfracombe Hotel's Victorian laundry and contains attractions from around the world including pickled bats and the two-headed kitten. [ [http://www.devonmuseums.net/frameset.asp?No=63 Ilfracombe Museum] at http://www.devonmuseums.net/] It also contains items and photographs of local railway interest including one of the concrete name boards from the now closed Ilfracombe railway station, which can be seen on the front wall of the museum.
Ilfracombe also has a library located on the Residential Candar Retirement Development. [http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/culturetourism/libraries/yourlocallibrary/north_devon_libraries/ilfracombe_library.htm]
churchesin the town serving denominations of the Christianfaith. The main Anglican church is the parish church'Holy Trinity' which is the mother church to St Peter's on Highfield Road. Several other churches identify themselves as Evangelical but differ in denominational background, these include: St Philip and St James Church(known locally as 'Pip & Jims') whose background is Anglican; two Free churches - [http://www.brookdale-church.org.uk/ Brookdale Evangelical Church] and [http://www.cfchurch.co.uk Ilfracombe Christian Fellowship Church] , of which the latter is the more charismatic; and Ilfracombe Baptist Church of the Baptisttradition. There is also a Roman Catholicchurch, Stella Maris, (in Runnacleave Road), the Methodist/United Reformed [http://www.ilfracom.org.uk/emmanuelchurch/church.htm Emmanuel Church] (on Wilder Road) and a Salvation ArmyCorps (church) (on Torrs Park, by Bath Place). Other faiths are represented by a Jehovah's Witnessmeeting place (in Victoria Road).
Ilfracombe Rugby Union, established for over a century, boasts high calibre players such as Kai Adair.
There is a High Street gym, however, the rural and hilly nature of the local terrain provide plenty of opportunities to exercise. A
tennisclub is based at Bicclescombe Park which contains several tennis courts, bookable for a small fee by both tourists and locals.
[http://www.ilfracombegolfclub.com/ Ilfracombe Golf Club] (located just beyond
Hele Bay) was founded in 1892. Other active sport facilities include: a rugby club, cricket club (including the best player from the county Tim Bird(Fact|date=May 2007) and swimming club in the suburb of Chambercombe. There are, by the harbour, a yacht club [http://www.ilfracombe-yc.org.uk] , a sub-aqua club and a kayak and canoeing club. Other sports teams in the town include Hash Harriers Running Club and many skittles and darts teams operated by the numerous licensed premises in the town . There is also a flat green bowling club located in the town.
Jonathan Edwards the World and Olympic Champion
triple jumpathlete lived in the town whilst his father was the vicar of St Philip & St James Church. He is commemorated in a mosaic on the seafront near the Landmark Theatre, which demonstrates the length of his record-breaking jump. Jason Twist, twice World Champion at 8-ball pool still lives in the town.
Despite the hilly terrain, Ilfracombe is at the northern end of
National Cycle Networkroute 27, known as the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route[http://www.sustrans.org.uk/default.asp?sID=1132149356859] , which starts from the pier (clock-in station at the Pier Tavern) and ends in Plymouth. There is another coastal trail suitable for cycling which starts at the pier which heads eastwards towards Minehead(defined as 'arduous').
South West Coast Pathconnecting Minehead ( Somerset) to Dorset, via Land's End, passes through the town from Hele Bayto Lee Bayvia Ilfracombe Harbour.
Since 2001 there has been an economic regeneration programme led by the
Ilfracombe & District Community AllianceMCTI, a community interest companydesigned to encourage social entrepreneurship. After community consultation this programme developed a community economic strategy for the next twenty years.
South West of England Regional Development Agencyis working with the Alliance and North Devon District Council formulating plans for the town's economic and physical structures. Proposed developments are: the enhancement of the harbour area Fact|date=February 2007; the implementation of regular all year foot passenger ferry service to the Mumbles near Swanseawhich is only 21 miles away across the Bristol Channel[Plans for new car ferry service [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/5030904.stm BBC News] ] ; the re-development of the derelict bus station site based on plans developed by Terence O'Rourke[ [http://www.ilfracombe.gov.uk/downloads/ILFRACOMBE%20TC%20STUDY%20keysites.pdf O'Rourke T. (2006), Town Centre Study Report:Key sites pp. 5-6] ] ; and the creation of better youth support and recreation facilities at the Larkstone Brimland area on the eastern side of the harbour areaFact|date=February 2007.
The town council - working with GOSW, SWRDA and NDDC, supported by the Alliance and Transform - has proposed the development of the council offices into a community training resource in the town centre: 'The Ilfracombe Centre'. [The town council's project proposal for [http://www.ilfracombe.gov.uk/modules.php?name=content&pa=showpage&pid=27 Ilfracombe Centre] ] In 2006, major leisure industry developments by John Fowler, a local holiday camp operator, are expected to help shift the local economy back to tourism. This combined with investment by patrons such as
Damien Hirst(who with his partner Mia recently funded a restaurant owned by Simon Brown, No 11 The Quay, on Harbour Quay Road) and the introduction of high quality accommodation should make Ilfracombe a more attractive proposition for food lovers and tourists.
Each year, the residents and school children of Ilfracombe celebrate their heritage. These celebrations include six carnivals - a May Day walking celebration (dating from 2000, this is sometimes confused with an earlier tradition suppressed by the church in the 19th century); Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration [http://www.ilfvc.org.uk] , a week-long programme of events held annually in June to celebrate the time of the town's greatest prosperity; a large street
carnival processionduring August, organised by the St John's Ambulanceservice; the Lighting of the Lights held during November; and at Christmas, a Christingle.
farmers' marketis held regularly in The Lantern Community Centre on High Street. By the Landmark Theatre there is a small museum, housed in the buildings of the laundry of the former Ilfracombe Hotel. For those of literary intent there is an Ilfracombe authors'/writers' group.
The town hosts 8 small galleries, including the exhibitions displayed by the Art Society in the crypt of Emmanual Church on the seafront, the foyer of the Landmark Theatre, The Quay and in "Number Eleven, The Quay" there are many Damien Hirst works, butterflies, pharmacy etc including small statues and wallpaper designs.
Two charitable events are organised each summer by Ilfracombe Round Table [http://www.ilfracomberoundtable.co.uk] . Both make use of Ilfracombe Pier as a display area. The first of these is the annual "South West Birdman" contest which involves entrants seeking to 'fly' from the pier in home-made flying machines and silly costumes. The second event is "Rescue Day", an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the activities of the emergency services. The highlight of the day is a simulated air-sea rescue involving the launch of the Ilfracombe
RNLIlifeboat, a Sea Kinghelicopter from RAF 22 Squadron, Exmoor Search and Rescue team and local Fire, Ambulance and HM Coastguard services.
[http://www.ariel.org.uk/ The Aerial Studio] , situated near
Mullacotton the approach toward Ilfracombe, provides recording facilities and practice rooms for local musicians. The marching band Blazing Sounds(one of several in the town), came third at the year 2000 World Marching Band Championships in Calgary, Alberta, Canadaand 2nd the following year in Germany.
[http://www.studiotheatreonline.org.uk Studio Theatre] is a community theatre group, established in 1984, which stages a wide variety of classic, musical, comedy and variety theatrical productions throughout the year at venues in Ilfracombe, including
The Landmark Theatre, and throughout North Devon. Studio Theatre will be staging its 100th production, The Heiress, in May 2008. Through the 1990s, the town was also host to the now defunct National Youth Arts Festival.
During the early 1990s, the team of the popular English reality TV show
Challenge Annekarelocated the redundant old wooden library from the Hermitage site, to 'Burnside' in the heart of the Slade Valleyestate for use as a community owned centre.
The Montebello Hotel fire
A little before 19:00 BST, on Wednesday the 8th of August 2006, a fire broke out at the derelict Montebello Hotel in Fore Street, Ilfracombe. Twenty fire engines were required to put out the blaze including a number rushed to the scene from
Woolacombe, Barnstapleand the bordering county of Somerset. Specialist equipment was brought in from as far afield as Exeter, and according to the local radio news, 85 firemen were involved at the fire.
The fire spread to three neighbouring properties and showered combustion debris over a wide area. The six-storey hotel was completely gutted, with only the front wall, chimney stacks and remains of the lift shaft frame surviving the blaze, which was still being damped-down the following day.
Fore Streetwas closed for some period due to the difficulties of demolition. [Initial report of the fire from [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/4778763.stm BBC News] ]
Unfortunately, as the fire left it structurally unsound, the Victorian building had to be demolished. This caused additional headaches for the emergency services as curious members of the public ignored safety barriers in an attempt to see the remains more clearly. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/4787171.stm BBC News - Report update - 12 Aug 2006] ] . The site is to be redeveloped as residential accommodation.
Ilfracombe Branch Line
Architecture of Ilfracombe
List of Ilfracombe people
* [http://www.ilfracombetown.net Ilfracombe Town Council]
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/i/ilfracombe/index.shtml History of the town's station]
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