Lynmouth is a village in Devon, England, on the
north edge of Exmoor.
village straddles the confluence of the West Lyn and East
Lyn rivers, in a gorge below Lynton, to which it
is connected by the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff
The meeting of the Lynmouth
The river seen here is the East Lyn river, the West Lyn River
joins it at the white bridge.
car of the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff
Railway. Opened in 1890, the railway is a
water-operated funicular, long, operating
on a 1 in 1.75 gradient track. One car descends, while the other
ascends, on a counterbalance system.
The water is piped from the West Lyn river]]j
The two villages are governed at local level by Lynton and
Lynmouth Town Council
Lynmouth was described by Thomas
, who honeymooned there with his bride Margaret
Burr, as "the most delightful place for a landscape painter
this country can boast"
The Lynmouth lifeboat
on 12 January 1899, a 1,900 ton three-masted ship Forrest
Hall, carrying thirteen crew and five apprentices, was in trouble off Porlock Weir on the
North Somerset coast to a severe gale which had been blowing all
She had been under tow, but the tow rope had broken.
She was dragging her anchor and had lost her steering gear. The
ship's destruction was probable. The alarm was raised for the
(the Lynmouth lifeboat
) to be launched to assist.
However, due to the terrible weather, the launch was impossible.
Jack Crocombe, the coxswain of Louisa
proposed to take the
boat by road to Porlock's sheltered harbour — around the coast —
and launch it from there.
The boat plus its carriage weighed about 10 tons, and transporting
it would not be easy. 20 horses and 100 men started by hauling the
boat up the 1 in 4 Countisbury Hill out of Lynmouth. Six of the men
were sent ahead with picks and shovels to widen the road. The
highest point is above sea level. After crossing the of wild Exmoor paths, the
dangerous Porlock Hill had to be descended with horses and men
pulling ropes to stall the descent; during this they had to
demolish part of a garden wall and fell a large tree to make a
The lifeboat reached Porlock Weir at 6:30 A.M. and was
Although cold, wet, hungry and exhausted, the crew rowed for over
an hour in heavy seas to reach the stricken Forest Hall and rescue
the thirteen men and five apprentices with no casualties; but four
of the horses used died of exhaustion. The Forrest
Hall was towed into Barry, Wales.
A fuller account of this story can be found in John Travis' book
An Illustrated History of Lynton and Lynmouth
The event was re-enacted 100 years later, in daylight.
The Lynmouth disaster
On 15 and 16 August 1952, a storm of tropical intensity broke over
south-west England, depositing of rain within 24 hours on an
already waterlogged Exmoor. It is thought that a cold front
scooped up a thunderstorm
, and the orographic
effect worsened the storm.
cascaded down the
of the moor,
converging upon the village of Lynmouth; in particular, in the
upper West Lyn valley, a dam was formed by fallen trees, etc.,
which in due course gave way, sending a huge wave of water and
debris down that river. A guest at the Lyndale Hotel
described the night:
"From seven o'clock last night the waters rose rapidly and at
nine o'clock it was just like an avalanche coming through our
hotel, bringing down boulders from the hills and breaking down
walls, doors and windows. Within half an hour the guests
had evacuated the ground floor. In another ten minutes the
second floor was covered, and then we made for the top floor where
we spent the night.
The river Lyn through the town had been culverted
to gain land for business premises; this
culvert soon choked with flood debris, and the river flowed through
the town. Much of the debris was boulders and trees.
Overnight, over 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged
along with 28 of the 31 bridges, and 38 cars were washed out to
sea. In total, 34 people died, with a further 420 made
same time, the River Bray at Filleigh also
flooded, costing the lives of three Scouts
from Manchester who had been camping alongside the
Similar events had been recorded at Lynmouth in 1607 and 1796.
After the 1952 disaster, the village was rebuilt, including
diverting the river around the village.
In 2001, a BBC Radio 4
suggested that the events of 1952 were connected to government
operation Project Cumulus
conducted in southern England at the time. There does not presently
seem to be any direct evidence to support such allegations, but
fuelled by rumours of missing or destroyed government documents
relating to the experiments.
August 2004, a similar event happened in Cornwall, when flash floods caused extensive damage to
Boscastle, but without loss of life.
setting of these two villages is
very much the same.
of Lynton and Lynmouth is twinned with Bénouville in France.
- Filleigh Village hall Memorial