Salcombe is in the the South Hams and is
the southernmost town in Devon. Today, Salcombe is a tourist destination,
situated amongst beautiful countryside with a magnificent scenic coastline.
Though it is referred to as an Estuary, the Salcombe Estuary is in fact
a Ria as it is a tidal inlet with no major fresh water river flowing
into it. Salcombe was, until the later part of the 19th century, a small
waterfront town whose main industries were shipbuilding and sailing.
Its isolated position via land and its maritime position meant that
most people and goods arrived by its natural highway - the sea. The
towns prosperity grew steadily from the 1790's as its shipbuilding industry
grew together with its trade as a port - both importing goods and exporting
local produce. This trade reached its peak in 1864 with over a 1000
seaman engaged in foreign trade on locally produced wooden sailing vessels
trading, mainly in fruit, for the British market. The development of
steel ships powered by steam ruined not only this trade but the wooden
sail-driven shipbuilding industry and the town declined from 1879 onwards.
However the arrival of the railway into Kingsbridge in 1893 opened up
the whole area to visitors and Salcombe began its growth into a tourist
and leisure centre.