Pictures of Hallsands
in the county of Devon
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Hallsands is a powerful reminder of the havoc and destruction caused by gale lashed, turbulent seas. Once, on this picturesque stretch of coast there stood a small, thriving fishing village with a strong, lively community who drew there living from the sea. Late in the 19th-century, new docks were being built at Devonport and thousands of tons of shingle were taken from Hallsands and used to make concrete for the new project. In this one single operation, little Hallsands was left bereft of its natural defences and some twenty years later on a winter night in January 1917, disaster struck. The villagers fled to the safety of the cliffs to watch their homes clutched by a merciless sea.
In time, some kind of normality returned to this close-knit community but life was never to be the same again. The ruins can still be seen from both the sea and the cliffs above. It is an eyrie, silent place where not a lot flourishes. The responsibility for removing the shingle lay with the government of the day who eventually paid a mere pittance in compensation. The story of Hall sands is illustrated in the Cookmere Museum of Rural Life in Kingsbridge. The South Hams Council have plans to build a viewing platform for visitors who wish to see the site.
Interestingly, directly opposite the site is a building built on the strength of one girl's bravery. A mother and her four daughters were left homeless by the disaster, then in the summer of the same year Ella Trout rescued an American sailor whose ship had been sunk by a German-U boat. Ella was awarded an O.B.E for her courageous act and the sailor's family sent a generous gift that enabled the family to build a guest house on the cliff top looking towards south Hallsands. The house is turned into holiday apartments and a tea room.
In spite of its chilling connections, this is a place of beauty where from a short walk over cliffs leading towards North Hallsands there are dramatic cliff and sea views. The area is popular with scuba divers and for water skiing. Boat trips take visitors all around Start Bay, taking in Start Point and Hallsands.
Places to visit include: Wildlife park at Stokeham, Kingsbridge Museum, Overbecks NT property, The Butterwalk at Dartmouth and Salcombe.
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