The East Devon town with the Exe factor
Becky Sheaves discovers that Exmouth’s fortune are now very much on the upturn.
Exmouth sits by the sea on the east bank of the mouth of the River Exe in East Devon. With a population of 32,500, the town has a lot to offer, including two miles of sandy beach, some handsome Georgian and Victorian properties and a direct train link to Exeter, perfect for commuters. So why isn't property here more sought-after?
Sadly, Exmouth has, like so many seaside resorts, struggled with a reputation for being slightly down-at-heel. But in recent years there is no doubt the town has shown distinct signs of bouncing back. There's been a good deal of investment here. In the early 1990s Exmouth harbour was nothing short of an eyesore, its main cargo scrap metal. Today, the harbour's redevelopment is almost complete, with brightly-coloured luxury apartments surrounding a popular marina.
Water sports here have become ever more popular, with traditional boating vying with up-to-the minute kite surfing and jet-skiing. Smart launches now jostle for space in the marina and tanned surfing types mingle with the fish-and-chip crowd on the esplanade.
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When it comes to house-hunting, some of the sprawling developments here, such as those around Littleham to the east, are less than thrilling. But there are some gems to be had and prices are still relatively reasonable. Along the sea front, grand stucco-fronted buildings hark back to the days when Exmouth was a chic Georgian seaside resort for the great and the good. Lady Byron and her daughter Ada Lovelace stayed here and Exmouth was also the chosen residence of Lady Nelson, the estranged wife of Lord Nelson, who is buried here in the Littleham Churchyard.
Today, Exmouth has a wide range of architecture, from small cob cottages in parts of the town that were once villages and are now incorporated into it, such as Withycombe, to the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian townhouses.
The seafront has a traditional promenade, and there is currently a planning row brewing over plans to build a huge "leisure zone" at the western end, with a water sports centre, indoor play area, restaurants and holiday accommodation.
Exmouth's illustrious history includes the fact that Sir Walter Raleigh (born in 1544) set off from here on several of his expeditions. In the mid 17th century the area suffered from the ravages of Algerian pirates who raided the coastline attacking shipping and attempting to capture sailors and villagers for sale as slaves in North Africa. Today, it's a considerably safer place to be and certainly looks set to be on the up for many years to come.