Ilfracombe is the Brighton of Barnstaple and North Devon. The increasing celebrity of the romantic and marine spot is, we are well informed, without a precedent. Nature has proved a reckless and wayward jade most frequently, as regards her choice of situation, as well as persons where and on whom to leave the astonishing impress of her immortalizing hand; but here in the immediate vicinity of Ilfracombe she has poured forth her overwhelming charms with tremendous and prolific grandeur.
The Duchess of Clarendon, on whose exalted and refined taste we feel assured we can place every reliance, was heard to speak in terms of high gratification in relation to Ilfracombe during her recent visit, and Her Royal Highness's suite reechoed her words with honest fidelity and delight.
We confess to a preference for the health-giving breezes of the Bristol Channel, whose changeful face ever and anon sees the appearance of all that is dear to us as Englishmen - the types of industry, the commercial importance of Britain - fishing boats, vessels of every size and description, from the Pill pilot boat to the West India merchant-man, and line-of-battle ship. Since the different steam packets have been plying from Bristol, Swansea, and so on, the busy bustling scenes of arrivals and departures have been witnessed with no small gratification by the authorities. The pier is now being widened and otherwise undergoing a thorough repair.
The approach to Ilfracombe is not unlike Bangor from the Shrewsbury road. A crowd of landscape and marine beauties astonished the enquiring eye of the tourist all at once. We shall not soon forget the social and well-spent hours we have enjoyed at Ilfracombe.
("Ilfracombe throughout the ages", D. Warrell Bowring, 1931, A. Wheaton & Co., Exeter.)