Abandoned Communities ..... Hallsands
Visiting Hallsands today can be a frustrating experience, especially if you are keen to wander among the ruins of the village. If coming by car you can park at the top of Greenstraight beach. Following the coastal path you will climb the hill that leads behind the Western Morning News houses and the ruined chapel, and then pass in front of the Trout apartments, at the time of my visit in April 2007 closed for refurbishment. You then begin to descend the cliff, but soon find your way barred by a padlocked gate bearing a sign making it clear that public access is not permitted. You will at least have the benefit of walking onto a nearby viewing platform from which some of the ruins can be seen.

I returned to Hallsands at low tide to see if it might be possible to reach the ruins by following the foot of the cliffs. The attempt was abandoned after both boots were filled with sea water.

A visit to the Cookworthy Museum in Kingsbridge is very highly recommended. The museum will give you a vivid impression of the way of life in this part of South Devon a century or so ago. Part of the museum is devoted to an exhibition with the title Start Bay, A Fragile Landscape. It includes photographs and other items related to Hallsands. You can also see a painting of Hallsands done in 1869 by W Lidstone. Attached to the museum is a Local Heritage Resource Centre where books, booklets, and many documents on Hallsands can be read.

Lidstone’s picture is reproduced in the Paintings section of this website.

One or two descendants of those who were forced to abandon Hallsands still live in Fordworth Cottages. One of them, Fred Lynn, has an excellent collection of photographs and old postcards, which he is happy to show to interested visitors.

Send me an e-mail if you want Fred Lynn’s contact details.

A little fishing is still done close to Hallsands. In addition the sea here is popular among divers.

Go to the website of the Totnes Sub-Aqua Club for guidance on diving at Hallsands and other shore sites along the coast of South Devon.

After Hallsands you may choose to visit Beesands and Torcross as well, the villages to the north that were also threatened by Sir John Jackson’s dredging. You can get to them along the coastal path, or else travel back inland and then turn back towards them. Beesands, set further back from the sea than Hallsands, is now relatively well protected by a sea wall along the front of its promenade. From Torcross you can take the A379 in a northerly direction across Slapton Sands. As you do so you will probably be mindful that it is unlikely that the A379 will still be here twenty years from now.
Seven
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At low tide
At high tide
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Looking north
The Bible Christian chapel
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Members of the Totnes Sub-Aqua Club, with Hallsands in the background.

The more northerly part of the village

 

These two photographs have been supplied by Richard Wood.

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