Explore the Coast and "Country" Side of Bideford Bay
Copyright Notice Photo of Appledore Lifeboat heading back to port copyright Pat Adams  
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Photo of RNLI Flag Appledore copyright Pat Adams
Over the point to "Irsha", West Appledore. In the 19th Century, The Grand Hotel on Tavern Corner marked the demarcation line between Appledore and what, was once, the tiny hamlet of "Irsha". Today the tavern on the corner is known as the Seagate Hotel and its doors are still open for visitors all year round. This Torridgeside fishing village, famous for its boatbuilding and seafaring traditions, is overlooked by the imposing Parish Church of St. Mary's. A lot of history is packed into the area beyond the Seagate. There is plenty of parking at the end of the quay so take time to explore. On the right hand side of the bend, as Appledore Quay sweeps round onto the Torridge Road, you can still see the remains of the platform and sign for the old Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway. Running between the Torridge Road and the Torridge Estuary riverbank is Irsha Street. The narrow street is lined with pastel coloured cottages, cobbled courtyards, hidden passageways and slipways. This area is still known as West Appledore and in olden days it was a hive of industry with several small boatyards including J. Hinks & Sons and Edward Parkin. The main occupations of the men folk residing here included all manner of manly seafaring activities such as master mariner, fisherman, shipwright, blacksmith, stone heaver, limestone porter, pilot, roper, sail maker, coastguard, tide surveyor and ferryman. Tourism has now replaced the boatbuilding but still much activity can be attributed to this tiny community including fundraising events such as West Quay Fun Day and Lifeboat Open Days. About half way down Irsha Street there is a slipway, known as "Moody's Slip". The large black and white building beside the slipway has recently been converted to luxury apartments but prior to that it was the site of the Gaiety Cinema. The Gaiety Theatre was originally built in 1893 as a Public Hall by Harold Robert Moody and his initials still appear in one of the keystones over the entrance. Harold Moody was a bit of a philanthropist, son of a Civil Engineer who had studied under Brunel. It was Station Master H.R. Moody who received the first official train from Bideford on May 1st 1908. The hall was used for entertainment and as an overflow for the village school's infant classes. From 1914 it was known as the Gaiety Theatre when it was used for school operettas. By 1923 it had a new owner and became the Gaiety Cinema showing silent films with live piano accompaniment. The cinema closed in 1959 and one of the last pictures to be shown was "Ice Cold in Alex", a British Film starring the late Sir John Mills, Anthony Quale, Harry Andrews and Sylvia Syms. At the end Irsha Street is West Quay and visitors can choose between two welcoming pubs, the Beaver Inn and the Royal George. Although it was said that Appledore and West Appledore were rival villages in olden times, the only rivalry now is on annual Appledore and Instow Regatta Gig Races, West Quay Fun Day Events and the Appledore Arts Festival's "Best Decorated Door Knocker" competition. The final stretch of the lane leads to Appledore Lifeboat Station and Slipway. Appledore's long and proud tradition with lifeboats goes back to 1829, before the R.N.L.I. was even formed. There were, at times three stations open at the same time and all were manned by the Appledore Crew. The choice of which boat to use was dependant on where the casualty was. The Braunton Burrows Boat would go for a casualty anywhere from the North Tail, or Airy point to Saunton or Woolacombe. The Northam Burrows Boat would go for anything from the South Tail down to Westward Ho! Finally the Appledore Boat was for anything inside Bideford Bar. All that changed when the RNLB Jane Hannah MacDonald arrived at the Appledore Boathouse in 1889. In 1855 the stations were taken over by the RNLI. Over a period of 90 years from1829 to 1919, twenty-one Silver Medals were awarded for rescues to the many shipwrecks that occurred off the coast. Today Appledore lifeboat station is home to two lifeboats, an Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat and an all-weather Tyne class lifeboat (ALB). The third boat, a "Boarding Boat, is used to access the moored Tyne. Appledore Lifeboat Station hold special fundraising events throughout the year including the Sea Sunday Service, Lifeboat Station Open Day and Storm Force Day. In addition visitors can purchase souvenirs and gifts whenever the station is open. Visit the Appledore Lifeboat Website to find out station opening times and event dates. J. Hinks & Sons had two boatyards one in Irsha Street, the other one at Watertown. If you look out from the slipway towards Bideford you will see the roof of the old gas works which is now Watertown Garage. It was around here that J. Hinks & Sons built the replicas of the 17th century Hudson Bay Co. ship "Nonsuch" and the Drake flagship "Golden Hind". Don't leave Appledore without visiting the North Devon Maritime Museum on Odun Road. "From shipwright's tools to 'mud shoes' and from salmon boats to warships, this museum traces the centuries-long seafaring tradition of the North Devon coast through a wealth of exhibits, models and photographs." Appledore has many historians including David Carter who helped with the editorial on this page, his book "Illustrated History of Appledore" chronicles the history of the sea-port village of Appledore in North Devon, from the earliest historical sources to the present day, The book includes many original illustrations and approximately three hundred old photographs of the village taken over the past century.
Historical References: John Beara Appledore, Handmaid of the Sea 1990. Special thanks go to David Carter, Nimrod Research and Mervyn Gould of Mercia Cinema Society.
Useful Links:, Appledore Lifeboat History, North Devon Maritime Museum
Photo anchor on Appledore Quay copyright Pat Adams
Photo Willow worker at Appledore Arts Festival copyright Pat Adams
Phot of Irsha Street Appledore copyright Pat Adams
West Quay Appledore - Beaver Inn Torridge Estuary West Appledore Out West Appledore
Photo Tarka Cruises boat in the Torridge Estuary
Slipway Appledore Slipway
West Quay Fun Day - Don't Miss It! North Devon Focus, Appledore, Lifeboat, West Appledore, River Torridge, River Taw, Appledore Photos, Pictures of Appledore, West Appledore
BACK TO APPLEDORE Articles, Photographs & Illustrations ©Copyright P. Adams North Devon Focus 2015 - All rights reserved To BIDEFORD