An ancient port used by the Romans, and possibly before then, it was once one of the busiest ports in Britain extending up to the city of Exeter. That was put paid to by two people; the Countess Isabella de Fortibus, who had a weir built across the river in 1284, at what is now known as Countess Wear above Topsham in Exeter, in order to run her mills on either side of the river, and Hugh de Courtenay who blocked the river in 1311 to prevent boats sailing up to the city. The latter stopped the tidal movement and meant that boat owners had to unload at Topsham.
Many foreign imports came from Holland during the 18th century, some examples of which can be seen in Exeter's Royal Albert's Museum. Ballast from their ships included bricks and tiles, which were used in some of the old buildings in Exeter as well as Topsham. Because of the close connection between the two countries, and also because some of the Dutch captains retired here, many of the quay buildings were built in the Dutch style during 1700 to 1730.
On a personal note, my visit in 2009 was a very unhappy one. Thinking it would be easy to get off the bus from Seaton to Exeter at Countess Wear and walk to Topsham, I missed a couple of stops and had to walk back to the roundabout...but that was the least of my problems! A very busy three-lane roundabout meant walking over a pedestrian bridge. I'm acrophobic, and although I've managed to climb and walk steep cliff paths, this one really put the willies up me. By the time I managed to shakily get to the other side I was in a full-blown panic attack. Never had one before and didn't realise how ill you feel. Then I walked the two miles to Topsham feeling worse by the minute as traffic rushed by...all i wanted to do was curl up in a hedge and hope that someone would just transport me home.
Unfortunately, since then my acrophobia has gotten worse and it's really difficult for me to walk across any bridge. But, I got there!
Getting to the quay was bliss after my ordeal...enjoying the quiet and taking pics of the boats and riverside. I'd actually gone to Topsham to look for something else...a military stores, which are no longer there as it happens, but I was in no state to care about that.
This was a nice find...the Ros-Ailither berthed at the quay.
My pics weren't up to much, and i thought it was because I wasn't feeling well. However, some time after I found out that my former printer had ballsed up several films over a period of time, which I didn't find out until I bought a neg scanner. The prints were garish, due to over-compensating at the printing stage. Some of them came out okay, but once I'd scanned the negs on those that were awful I found that they were totally blue! A happy chance that they fit nicely with the location.
I caught a bus back to Exeter, and whilst waiting for my connection back home I met a Dutch lady who lives near me. We talked about Topsham and the Holland-style houses, and she told me that what we consider Dutch isn't at all! Which is interesting, as having been to the Netherlands, they do look Dutch to me...the untrained eye and all that!
Not a happy day...but glad I went, and will go back again in hopefully better circumstances.
More pics to see in the Photo Gallery album.