CHARMOUTH IN LIVING MEMORY
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We wish to thank Mary Davis, Ron Dampier, Keith Wiscombe, Alec Aldworth, Sheila Stamp, Jill Matthews, Ken Gollop, Malcolm Mcnair and many others for use of these photos and information relating to the changes occurring in Charmouth over the last 80 years. This is an imaginary walk through the village from the beach highlighting people, buildings and events. Not everywhere is covered, as it has been difficult to locate photographs of every building or area. But by the end of this talk you should be able to look at the village in a more informed way.

This aerial photograph which was taken in 1926 shows how undeveloped the village was between the Street and the sea with just a few houses having been built by then and mostly fields surrounding them. Until the his death in 1931 the area on the corner of Lower Sea Lane was a Stone Masons Yard run by Harry Pryer, who also owned the piece of ground opposite where the arcade of shops were to be built two years later. At the bottom of Lower Sea Lane can be seen the Tea Gardens and the Galvanised tin roof buildings known at the time as Tin Town, built for cheap accommodation after the 1st World War. Higher Sea Lane was dominated by Sea Horse House, dating back to 1810, which was then run as a hotel and was later demolished and rebuilt as apartments. On the corner of this lane was another Hotel known as Charmouth House dating back to the 14th Century. There were large numbers of allotments where five acres is today and around the village.  A dairy where Buckland's Farm is today.

An Aerial photo of Charmouth in 1955 when there were a large number of Hotels, Boarding Houses and Pubs many of which have gone. In the photo can be seen the Coach and Horses, New Inn, The Court and Charmouth House all of which have been converted into accommodation. The 14th century stone wall is seen here running parallel to the Street with the gardens stretching back it which originally formed 1/2 acre burgage plots when the village was planned as a Borough in 1298. Whole areas of the village were still to be developed. The Women's Institute had their own Hall in what is now The Village Hall.

Another aerial photograph taken at the same time with Charmouth House and its extensive grounds behind it in the centre. Further down Higher Sea Lane can be seen Sea Horse House, then run as a Hotel.

A view in the 1970`s with the village still having a number of fields still to be built on. Notice Sea Horse House still standing high above the village.

Another view of the village before Hammonds Mead was demolished and the area developed.

A more recent view

Returning to the imaginary walk of the village and how the present car park looked back in the 1950s with a mass of cars squeezed in right up to the fence.

The fields around Charmouth were popular with Scouts who would cover the area with their tents. Here is the local Group with Charmouth Stores owner, Donald Dampier with a young Ron Dampier at the back on the right and John Bragg whose family owned the other Grocers at the front on the left.
David Hansford, Donald Dampier, Ron Dampier
Richard Garland, Bill Ashley, David Spurdle, Colin Bowditch
John Bragg,Graham Turner, Mike Thompson, Richard Garland, Melvin Upward.

This is one of a number of photographs lent by Alec Aldworth of his family on the beach. This clearly shows some of the Anti Tank blocks in the background which still forms a line along the shore in the 1950s.

Another superb photo of the Allworth's on the East Beach.

During the spring of 1954 severe gales so damaged the concrete walls of the Car Park that they had to be entirely rebuilt. Here are some of the workmen outside what was to become the Heritage Centre.

The Sewage pipes are seen here in the process of being laid out to sea.

This is Charmouth Beach in the summer of 1968 which shows how popular it was. At that time the police would stop people driving down Lower Sea Lane after the car parks were soon filled up in the morning rush.

The Heritage Centre before it was opened in1985. The Beach Café is still there, at that time it was run by Barnie  Hansford who advertises his collection of Fossils.

In 1945, Miss Evans, who owned the land on each side of the River mouth, gave the marsh and all that lay between the marsh and the property already acquired by the Parish Council to the Village on condition that it was left as it was, and no hut or other building (except under the Vineyard) erected on it, also the field on the cliff running from the river up to and including the Vineyard. Since the Village already owned the foreshore from 1936, this generous gift gave Charmouth almost complete control of the beach and the ground behind it. After the war it was run as a Hotel, but has since been demolished and housing built on the site.

A view of the extensive garden in front of the large property.

This is an early photograph of the Tea Gardens that stood at the bottom of Lower sea Lane. We have yet to find any photos of the Zoo, but the next few images were taken of it and the area around before they were developed.

Another view of the same building painted red, white and blue in 1977, the year of the Silver Jubilee.

The Tea Garden at the rear now built over, but still bears the same name.

Lower sea Lane

Lower Sea Lane

The field where the new school was to be built. It was built at a cost of £865,000 on the land previously used as a sports field and was officially opened by Lord Digby, Lord Lieutenant of Dorset on 23rd June 1993.

This is the entrance to The Community Hall, then known as The Church Hall  with some local lads.
Len Smith, ........ , Vic Smith, Bill Hodges
Eddie Gerrard, Donald Stapleforth, Ken Gollop, John Culley,........

There follows a number of photos taken both in the Church Hall and the Women's Institute Hall as it was known then. Here are a group of fire men dressed up as “Nippies” for the Village Supper.

Another celebration in The Community Hall, this time women leading men round behaving as dogs.

A table full of locals with their soups and bottles of Stout. Bill Draper, Grant Edwards,Harold Larcombe ? Martin Connery, Eddie Austen, Tom Norris, Les Holman, Roy Aldworth 

Henry Turner is seen here with his Charlie Chaplin impersonation.

In this photo can be seen Jean Hutchins,  John Childs and a young Ted Whatmore.

Phillis Smith, mother of Mike, Rose Bastin and Olive Childs

Charmouth Youth Club 1st Anniversary 1961
Tony Grinter, Roy Guppy, Brian Jones, Colin Bowditch, Russell Edwards, Roger Spurdle, Derek Massey, Martin Farrant.
John Davis, Gordon Pitfield, David Trevett, Richard Farrant, Michael Bearpark

 Another photo of the Birthday of the Charmouth Youth Club in  1961.
Richard Stirck, Peter Bearpark, Stuart Massey, Martin Farrant, Jill Linthorne, Elise Long, peta Woolard
Front Sue Smitton, Ethel Reed, Lill Hansford, 

Villagers dressed up as Cowboys and Indians in 1961 for one of the many Pantomimes performed in the past. Amongst the group can be seen a young Jill Mathews and Elice Long.

Malcolm and Mary McNair were regular advertisers in the Charmouth Guides each year. Here on the left is one of these displays with an early photo of The Hensleigh Hotel in Lower sea lane.

School Children pose in front of the Old School with the headmaster Mr. Broadhurst on the top left in the 1970s .

A group of youngsters get ready for their float in the St. Andrews Place Car Park.

A view of the Lyme Regis Brass Band marching down Lower Sea Lane,

A number of people had to be rescued from their caravans as the River Char burst its banks, sending floodwater cascading through the Dolphins Caravan Park in the 1979 floods in Charmouth. The extent of the floods can be seen from this aerial photograph.

A lorry full of Barrels is seen here precariously leaning over the old Bridge

In 1957 a new bridge was built, the Charmouth men assisting in the building were :- E. Harry  Grinter, Fred Grinter, Alfred T. Bradford, Brian Bowditch and Charlie Stirk . The crown was lowered by 2 feet 9 inches which gives a clear sight line and a smooth gradient.

The Bridge as we know it today,soon after it was comploeted.

The Hallway in 1952 of 5 Wesley Close. In the photo are Cyril Wheeler, Len Hunter, Fred Slade, George Mills, Jake Farrant, Bert Hastead.

Work starts on more houses in Wesley Close in 1990 opposite Village Hall on the former school playing field.

Charmouth Fire Brigade

Barney Hansford is seen here with a giant Ammonite and a view of his Country life Exhibition in an advert from the annual guide to Charmouth.

A glimpse inside the magnificent displays that made up the Countryside Collection.

In 1968 Barney Hansford opened his collection of fossils and later his Country Life Exhibition. He became a well-known figure and was often interviewed on T.V. Illness forced its closure in 1986.

The Ransfords are seen in the next two slides at the bottom of The Street

The Ransfords who ran Charmouth House Hotel.

Stow House when it was a Tea Room and Boarding House.

The George Inn with two refined ladies passing its entrance in the 1950s

A group of Locals enjoying a pint in The George in the 1950s

George Restorick, the village Butcher delivering to The George Inn.

The Local Football team and supporters celebrate in front of The George Inn back in the 1970s

A group of young drummers march towards the Recreation Ground where the Charmouth Fayre is held in August each year.

The village celebrates the Silver Jubilee with a massive Street Party along the Street.

The Queens Armes, famous as the hostelry where King Charles stayed for one night trying to escape to France. It is now renamed The Abbotts House.Here it is seen in the 1960s with a wonderful collection of cars including  a Morris traveller and Austen A40. 

In 1951 Charmouth and Wootton Fitzpaine Conservatives re-enacted Charles II attempt at escape from Charmouth for the 300th anniversary of the event. They printed a special booklet from which this photo and many others were used. Many of the village played parts in it.  

Back in the 1950s the village boasted two garages opposite each other where you could get petrol. Now you would have to drive to Bridport to find one. On the left of the photo can be seen The Wander Inn Café with its board outside advertising Walls Ice Cream.

Back in the 1950s the village boasted two garages opposite each other where you could get petrol. Now you would have to drive to Bridport to find one. On the left of the photo can be seen The Wander Inn Café with its board outside advertising Walls Ice Cream.

The Wander Inn which formerly the New Inn was very ancient. After the War, James and Dorothy Potter renamed it the Wander Inn. They created a Cafe in what was The Swiss Cottage that was so successful that they extended it into the rest of the building, this became the Wander Inn. The last resident in the property was David Hoffler and his father. In 2003 it crashed to the ground and a new building erected on the site.

Lansdowne House in rather a sorry state back in the 1970s.The Garage has been replaced with a Wine Shop.

There follows a group of photos taken in the 1950s of shops and buildings on the south of The Street which reveal many changes. Here is Morris oxford parked on the forecourt of The Queens Armes Hotel. The end section was a Tea Room for many years.

Another view up the Street towards Gears Garage.

An early advert for Gears Garage from the annual Charmouth Guide

Here is Billy Gear standing proudly on the forecourt of the Garage and workshops he had built up. Its position on the strategic A35 Folkestone to Honiton trunk Road gave him important passing trade. He must have been Charmouth`s foremost businessman at the time for as well as the Garage he owned the large Car Park by the footbridge near the East Cliff and built a number of houses in the village. To the right is a lock up shop, which had been built by Bagshaw of Axminster in 1931 and was for many years a Gift Shop but is now the Fish Bar.

A view of the Garage taken in the 1950s

This photograph lent by  Jill Matthews reveals the inside of the workshops. She has been able to track down the four gentlemen proudly standing by the automobiles. From left to right can be seen Bert Dancy who was known to assist with the petrol sales on the forecourt with Vic Hunter who still lives in the village and remembers the photograph being taken in 1940 when he was just 16. Then Jill's father –Len Linthorne can be seen with Dick Woollard, one of whose daughters now lives in Lyme Regis.

Len Smith, Herbie Lock, Gerald Rattenbury, survey some badly damaged cars which they are about to repair.

Billy Gear also owned the Gift shop next door which was run  by his wife and at one time lived in the house next to it.

Their house can be seen next to Lloyds Bank which is now the Bank Café.

Beasley's sold knitwear, wools, jewellery and gifts in their shop seen here. Next to it was Herberts, The Chemist.

It has been difficult to find photos of Braggs Store which opened in 1931 in what was originally a Carpenters workshop dating back to the 18th century. This is one of it with its Christmas Tree .

Ann and Andrew Peach are seen here standing behind the counter of their shop with shelves piled high with cereals.

A more recent photo of Ida`s that replaced it and offered a wide range of goods and services to the village.

The Devonedge Hotel was built on the site after a disastrous fire in 1894 had destroyed a group of buildings as far as Barr's lane. It had a somewhat chequered life as a Hotel and was later converted into apartments. The ground floor was originally a Bakers but later converted to a Butchers and Hairdressers. The advert on the right is from the 1952 Guide to Charmouth., when it boasted sprung mattresses, bedside lights and gas fires in the bedrooms.

The shops in the 1950s were different to those of today. On the corner was Edward Thompson the Drapers, Harold Smith - Bakers, Dunns –Stationers and George Restorick – Family Butchers.

George Restorick stands proudly in his doorway. You would have to look hard to find this today as when Morgan's was extended it took in the former butchers in the 1960s

Edward Thompson opened as a Drapers in 1933 on the corner in what is today the Post Office.

The Circus come to Charmouth and this amusing photo of an elephant showing The Bakers and Butchers in the background.

Participants in a Wheel barrow race on the recreation ground behind the shops.

Three telephonist in the former Telephone Exchange which was at the rear of the shops with Joan Main Sheila Stamp and Nan Matthews.

A scarce coloured photo of the shops from the 1960s with Robinsons the bakers replacing Thompsons the Drapers on the corner.

There follows some fascinating photos in 1982 which reveal a number of changes in the shops and buildings. A number celebrate the end of the Falkland Wars.

This one shows Gears Garage when it was briefly an engineering Works.

Here The Cheshire Cat which sold a wide range of Giftware, has reverted to a house again. The bank Café is actually Lloyds Bank. Next to it is Charm the Hairdressers and then the Chemist run by Michael Davis.

A proud soldier waves from his VW at the crowd. In the background is Charmouth Galleries which sold Pottery and Giftware. It was also the Post Office for a time and explains why the preent Post Box is where it is. The Butchers was run by Peter Hulme at that time. 

In the background here can be seen Morgan's which by then had extended into the former Butchers next door. Charmouth Galleries was for a time The Post Office.

Bread and Cake baked on the premises fresh daily

Another busy street scene by the traffic lights.

The Pelican Tearoom provided Breakfasts , snacks and cream teas.

Charmouth was very often in the headlines for the frequent Lorry crashes. It would seem that quite often the brakes would go, especially in hot weather, down the steep hill and out of control would smash into other vehicles and buildings. Here are just a few of the many incidents recorded by Mary Davis over the years until the by pass came as a welcome relief in 1990. They also provide an opportunity to see changes in the shops as can be seen here with a Garage on the right run by Whittakers and Marlene's the hairdressers on the left. This crash was in 1972.

A Cider Lorry careered out of control down the Main Street, just missing a group of children on the pavement and then shearing off the rear of a bus and crashing into a parked van. Fortunately the only casualty was  William Beasley who was cut about the head and arms whilst the bus towered above him outside the Devon Edge Gift Shop. The van which belonged to Morgan's, the newsagents was a write off.

Of all the many crashes that occurred none can compare with that on May 31st 1978 when the village was to suffer two consecutive incidents within ten minutes of each other. It was only the actions of a brave local policeman, Monty Harris that prevented it becoming a national tragedy. The first crash was when a French Lorry lost its brakes and careered down The Street and crashing into the Wander Inn. It attracted a crowd of onlookers, unaware that shortly with the hot weather another Lorry was to lose its brakes as well and follow down the hill towards the crowd. Monty Harris risked his life as he ran ahead of the lorry screaming at onlookers to clear the way. The second lorry eventually crashed further down the road damaging four cars en route.

Many of the shops had lorries crash into them. The worst was in 1987 when a Grain Lorry overturned at Braggs Grocery store and almost demolished the entire building. 

Cars shunt outside Whittington in July 15th 1982

Another view of the damaged cars, with Braggs Store in the background.

One of the cars is seen here being towed away outside  Childs hardware shop and Morgan‘s newsagents.

In 1983 a Harding's Coach crashed into the gardens of Charmouth Lodge, then known as The Limes, where the Whittington Sisters lived .

On October 26 1981 a runaway  lorry crashed into 3 parked cars outside Dampier

Another view of the cars with Frampton`s Butchers and the Coach and Horses in the background

A rare photo of Braggs Store covered in snow, with Michael Davis, the Chemist next to it.

Looking down the Street with a thick layer of snow.

An unusual photo from Dampier's looking down on to a snow covered street.

The snow-covered Street

A beautiful Christmas Card scene of a snow covered Coach and Horses when it was still an Inn.

A Coronation  procession passing by Sandford House which was demolished in 1958 to improve access to Lower Sea Lane.

The Whittington were the last living descendants of Sir Richard Whittington, Lord Mayor of London in his day.  The sisters ran a small prep school, called The Limes, which was in Little Lodge, a building adjacent to the Whittington's home.

Keith Wiscombe is seen here in the centre of a group of school children outside The Limes now called Charmouth Lodge. The advert on the left is from the Charmouth Guide

It can be seen from the advert on the left that at one time Stanley House on the left was both a Guest House and Gift Shop. Further along was Dampier's who took over the shop in 1918. Opposite was Framptons the Butchers next to The Coach and Horses inn.

Donald Dampier is seen here behind the counter of his shop before it was altered to self service,

Here he is filling up his outside display. The bench on the left was very popular.

A more recent photo of the shop when it went under the VG banner when it was run by Ron and Jean Dampier.

Reub Frampton was the village butcher with his brother Ron standing outside their shop next to The Coach and Horses. They came to charmouth in 1938 when they bought the butchers from Cecil Marsh and eventually sold it in 1961,

Charles and Heather Sargent were running The Coach and Horses in the 1970s and were regular advertisers in the local Directory . Here is one of their adverts promoting their virtues.  This building replaced one that was burnt down in 1882, which dated back as an Inn to the 18th century.

A view from the 1960s of the Coach and Horses Hotel.

Any one who buys items linked with Charmouth on Ebay will be aware of how popular items produced in the past by Charmouth Pottery are. The business was started in 1967 by Mike and Susan Hendricks in old Forge that is now the Fossil shop at the top of The Street. It later moved to The Manor House opposite the Church whose window can be seen in the photo. Here they are seen outside their shop.

Albury House, then called The Cottage is seen here with an advert from The Guide produced every year by the council.

A scene from the 1960s when Albury House was a popular Hotel and Childs ran a Hardware Shop in what is today Herringbone on the right.

This photo from the 1970s shows the scouts passing Dorset Down in what is Herringbone today. The Littlewoods who owned it, specialised in Sheepskin, Suede and Leather Wear

This postcard shows a view a little higher up the Street with Lutrell House as a Hotel, one of many I the village at that time. The couple on the right are seen in he garden in front of The Royal Oak.

The Hill in the 1960s when Charmouth House`s garden extended to the War memorial. The White Board on the right advertises it with a large car park.

Another nasty accident seen here when a run away lorry crashed into The Court. On the left is an advert when it ran as a Hotel under the ownership of Pat Stapleton and her husband.

Charmouth House Hotel is seen here on the left, with Mediteranea`s side window on the right. In the centre was Claremont which at that time was run as a Hotel, whose advert is seen here.

Charmouth House elevation from The Street.

A Page from their Brochure with its fine dining, Bar and Swimming Pool – those were the days!

A view of the swimming pool, now lost under the garden

The beautiful gardens that surrounded the hotel

The Sea Horse Hotel was part of the way down Higher Sea Lane and due to subsidence was demolished and replaced with an apartment block in 1991. The original structure dated back to 1801 and was for over a century the only building in the lane. 

It is difficult to visualise now that there was a grocers shop called Cabell`s at the junction of higher sea lane. It was known as Knapp Stores or Cabells.  The advert shown here reveals the wide range of goods that could be bought there including wreaths.

Mediterranea was a shop in what is now Portland House whose advert is shown here. They went on a buying trip to the continent each year and would sell a wide variety of goods from the Mediterranean including furniture, pottery, jewellery, baskets and toys.   Further up the hill in what is Badgers today was a bookshop which also cards and stationery.

Another view of the  Claremont Hotel and Badgers Bookshop in the 1950s.

Ernest Hurchins is shown here in the doorway of his shoe shop  which formed part of Granville house where he lived. You can still see the shop, but it has long since closed. He moved in to the premises in 1920 and continued to live there until his death in 1970. He was a postman, fireman, councillors as well as a shoe repairman. He took on his fathers business after he died on 1920 and was known as Tacker.

Here he is again on his retirement from the fire brigade in 1959. The photo shows left to right : Henry Turner, John Childs, Frank Turner, George Bastin and Ernie Hutchins.

The flags are flying here at the end of the war with flags hanging from some of the shops that existed at that time at the top of the Street. Where waterloo House and the Fossil Shop are today used to be a Blacksmiths and after the war Childs had their Hardware Shop. They were to later move to Wisteria and then to the Parade next to Morgan's.

Nora and Ellis Long opened their shop in 1937 in Melville House at the top of the Street, where they stayed for 30 years, acquiring the Post Office after another ten years. On the side is an advert for the Regent Cinema in Lyme Regis. Ellis was  a painter and painted posters for the cinema.

Here they are again a little older in their doorway with an assistant. This had been a grocers for over 100 years and was run in the 1890s by Vince who also owned Charmouth Stores in the centre of the village.

Cecil Gear with his daughter Sheila outside his Fish Shop opposite Old Lyme Hill junction with the Street. Sheila still lives in the village and is Sheila Stamp now. The Gears came to the village in 1830, which must make her a member of the longest surviving family in the village today.

The Street in the 1950s with an ivy clad Charmouth House in the distance.

The same view painted by Claude Muncaster shows the "Charmouth Post Office“ in 1954 when it was run by the Longs, as a general store. Immediately up from the shop was Askew House set back from the road, which for a long time was the Charmouth Surgery run by Dr. Chamberlain. The building known as The Holt  with the Sold sign was once a Fish shop  run by Cecil  Gear.

A procession marches down the Street in the 1950s . On the left is The Well Head, where the famous historian Reginald Pavey lived until his death in 1973. It includes Peggy Grinter, Steven in pram. Frank Turner and Lily and Alf Bowditch. 

A smartly dressed girls Band passes Askew House which at the time was the Surgery run by Doctor Chamberlain in 1953.
Monica Thomas, Heather Frampton, Doris Pulpher, Maureen Bowditch, Ann Barton,Valerie Turner, Jean Manuel, Nan Matthews, Carol Mayne, Rita Turner. 

The New Inn was situated at the top of the Street and continued trading until recent times, though is now subdivided into separate properties. But in 1883 there is a fire in the Thatched Roof, which destroys the Inn, and it is not until 3 years later that the building we see today was completed

The interior of The New Inn with some Charmouth Locals back in the 1960s. Jack French can be seen on the left.

The Cotley  Hunt used to meet outside The Coach and Horses further down The Street but in the 1950s moved to The New Inn. The following 3 photos show its popularity.

Opposite The New Inn used to be a Thatched cottage, but this was later bought and demolished to make way a car Park for the pub. It is seen here with members of the Cotely Hunt. The area today is where the road has been widened by the Bus Stop.

Another view this time looking towards The New Inn. On the left can be seen “The Singing Kettle” Tea Room, whose advert in the annual Directory is shown here.

A Coronation Tea Party to Celebrate The Queens Coronation in 1953 is seen here in Nutcombe Terrace which was built in 1934.

The Fernhill Hotel back in the 1960s with residents enjoying the delights of their swimming pool.

A massive Truck with a load that just passes through the old Charmouth Tunnel which was opened in 1832 and closed soon after the bypass opened in 1990.

A view before it was converted into a Shooting Range in 2004.

In 1983 a lorry once again lost his brakes and decided not to risk careering down The Street and causing damage. He instead drove into the first house at the top of the hill which was  Brackendal Cottage and demolished it entirely as can be seen in this and the next photo. The house was later  rebuilt but further back than before.

Another view of the devastation.

Plans for a by-pass materialised after an album full of road accidents was taken by Mike, husband of Mary Davis to Linda Chalker. She was The Minister of Transport and was visiting Charmouth. Unfortunately for us she kept the album, but fortunately for the village, the by-pass was realised.  It was finished in 1990 to the relief of Villagers. The following photos reveal what a major undertaking it was at the time.

The Roundabout soon after completion

Some vehicles pass along the newly completed by pass in 1990.

Charmouth Today