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Victorian Ilfracombe

28 High Street

(Locketts until 1996)

The sketch taken from an old photograph of about 1875, shows the the three stages of development in Ilfracombe High Street. On the right is the Old Moon Hotel, (demolished in 1876 to make way for what is now Pedlars), typical of the low, two storey buildings with "dormers" in the roof, serving the needs of the local community. The Wellington, further along the High Street, and the George and Dragon in Fore Street are survivors of this vernacular style.

12K line-drawing

To the left of 28 is one of the grandest of the late Victorian shops, erected when Ilfracombe's prosperity was at its height, sometime in the 1860s or early 70s. From the start it was designed as two shops with a double ironwork shaft indicating the division, and the Healthy Way now occupies the main section. This has a most attractive name board and canopy, but these cover up the fine stonework above the cast iron columns. The shop front has also been altered, making a large display window instead of three alternating doors and windows. The facade above is entirely of stone, local New Road stone (from Muddiford) in the walls with freestone, (stone that could be carved easily) in the window surrounds and quoins (corners). With the cut-off pointed windows, it shows the influence of the Gothic Revival, but the strong cornice on its corbels is very Italian Renaissance. Originally there were shafts between the window lights, but these, evidently not weathering well, have been replaced by square pillars.

Number 28, until this year Locketts, (the last of a long line of chemists. Clark, Reed, Lees and others stretching back over 150 years or more, now a gift shop) though built in the 1850s (according to Hussell) is in the Georgian style. It was a plain, stuccoed building, with carefully proportioned windows and sensitive mouldings between the storeys and along the parapet. Superimposed on this was a delicate and delightful ironwork veranda and shop front. Whether this was original or not is debatable. There are pilasters by the doors with Ionic capitals, now almost hidden, which suggest an earlier frontage.

The ironwork shop front survives and shows how the Georgian tradition of symmetry was maintained with a central bay flanked by two doors, one to the shop and the other to the flat above. The veranda has gone, like so many others in the town which enriched its buildings. Only the carved markings on the shops at each side suggest where it was. Until last year its fine railings was in place, now this has gone. The delicate window bars have been replaced by modern insertions on the top floor, and the mouldings between the storeys and along the parapet have been smoothed away, making this one of the dreariest facades in the High Street. It crouches back between its tall neighbours as if it hopes no one will notice it, whereas in its heyday, it was one of the prettiest and most attractive buildings in the High Street.

The railings (true Ilfracombe style) and lamp post show that the photograph was taken from the terrace that rang along the South side of the High Street until the 1930s.

Jim Bates - September 1996

What was Lockett's, the Chemist, has been taken over and most tastefully decorated, bringing out the richness of the fine ironwork on the shop front. It carries on the traditions of the past by selling perfumes, but adding 'fancy goods' and toys.

is proving to be very thorough. The mouldings above the 1st floor and the cornice have been replaced, as has the rustication on the ground floor. Planning permission is being sought for a canopy over the main entrance. Gerald Bailey tells me that the Stables were down an alley between The Lantern and Alec Bligh's, where Paul Candy has his Blacksmith's Shop. P.C. tells me that the name board for the stables is now at Comyn Stables.

Created 17/4/99