Category Archives: Teignmouth Imagery

Exciting News

Cover imageIt has been a little while since the last post mainly because I have been busy putting together a selection of these poems into a book “Pebbles on the Shore”, which is currently at the printers.

Poetry and Song have long been a traditional way of recording stories of people and events, as an alternative way of remembering.  So, with that in mind, each piece of verse in the book has a brief story attached to tie it in to its place in the shaping of Teignmouth and the surrounding area.  I have also worked with a local artist, Maureen Fayle, who has illustrated the various pieces.  Her superb pen and ink sketches lend so much more depth to the stories that unfold.

Fresh to Bleed 13-cropThe selection goes back almost 400 years but there are a few contemporary pieces as well so thanks to the ‘modern-day’ contributors for allowing me to include their work:  Ian Chamberlain (one of the co-founders of Poetry Teignmouth), Kim Edwards, Bob Freshwater (and the Back Beach Boyz), Deborah Harvey, Barbara Hine, Don Pearson and Tacy Rickard.

Teignmouth 27 - cropped1This project started just over two years ago with a thought and a question. Walking up the cliff path through the beautiful Mules Park in East Teignmouth I saw a poem, The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy, posted on the noticeboard. Who put it there I don’t know, but it struck a chord. My thoughts drifted to Keats. Teignmouth is proud of its association with John Keats even though he stayed here only three months whilst looking after his brother Tom who had come earlier in hope that the sea air would alleviate, if not cure, his consumption. Then came the random question – were there any other poems or poets associated with Teignmouth? And so this project was born.

The journey to this book has been like a walk along the beach, occasionally finding interesting pebbles whose shape, texture and colour define the shoreline like poems marking time in the history of Teignmouth.



A Lament

Turning on the Christmas Lights in the Triangle

Turning on the Christmas Lights in the Triangle

Things change and very often people fear the worse, not liking the idea that something they have lived with for years will be different.

This poem, going back over twenty years, reflects such a thought. It’s about the change of the Triangle in Teignmouth.

Yet we look at the Triangle now and think how vibrant a place it can be with its outdoor cafes, farmers market, Christmas lights, frequent music etc.

Anyway, here’s the contemporaneous thought of 1993 from Marjorie Whittington’s collection ‘Miscellanea of Happiness”.

A Lament

What have they done to Teignmouth?
Why have they spoilt our town?
No wonder the folk who live here
Walk round it with a frown.

The charm therein was the Triangle
Where friends would always meet
And admire the stone beds filled with flowers
So colourful – what a treat.

An empty Triangle

An empty Triangle

It now is one large flat pavement
Not a flower is in sight
Can’t somebody come to our rescue
And put things back to right.

(Marjorie Whittington, 1993)



Farmers' Market

Farmers’ Market

Farmers' market

Farmers’ market

and with the farmers’ market …..


To Dance on Teignmouth Pier

The Right Side of the Pier

There have been a number of poems written about Teignmouth Pier, still one of the iconic and leading attractions on the seafront despite the most recent damage caused by the 2013 winter storms.

Here is another take on the Pier with a nostalgic view of its heyday when ‘dance’ was one of the main forms of entertainment.

To Dance on Teignmouth Pier
(Barbara Hine)

During the forties and fifties or so
The Pier was the place to go.
On many a night when the moon was bright
The Pavilion held its show.

There was comedy and song, all week long,
And even an acrobat strong,
There were beauty contests and famous guests
Who performed with great aplomb.

There was a place to eat where friends could meet
To indulge in a little treat.
No tea in a mug, no ‘Little Brown Jug’
But china and napkins neat.

But best of all was the lure of the hall
And the excitement of a ball.
For a real live band above the sand
Did nothing but enthral.

The dance floor fine with seductive shine
Was a veritable Glenn Miller shrine.
The bands played loud, the latest sound,
Above the foaming brine.

And with drinks and food, the girls were wooed
To get them ‘In the mood’.
When the boys cast a glance at the weekly Dance,
They did not think it rude.

With their hair in curls and ‘A String of Pearls’
And a spangly dress for twirls,
They gilded around to the big band sound.
They were up for it all, those girls!

Be it waltz or foxtrot, they didn’t mind what,
They quick-stepped away to the lot:
The rumba, the mamba, the cha cha, the samba
They gave them their very best shot.

For they all came here in excellent cheer
To lighten the fifties drear,
After days In the sun, they craved laughter and fun
And to dance on Teignmouth Pier.

So the music played and the people swayed
To ‘The Moonlight Serenade’,
While some went on deck, for a hug and a peck
And a gentle promenade.

And ‘I know why’ there was nipping and stripping –
The young were indulging in skinny-dipping.
Then they’d get themselves dressed so no one would guess,
But went home through the town all dripping.

Back in fifty-four, when folk took to the floor,
Not one of them knew the score:
That soon men would go ‘Over the Rainbow’,
In space ships they would soar.

There’d be lunar cars and trips to Mars –
The earth would have no bars.
There’d be astronauts then and little green men
‘On the Stairway to the Stars’.

James Bond would ride on the incoming tide
And people would just stay inside
To watch the tele with legs like jelly
The day the music died.

With the sixties new, beatlemania grew,
And ‘Come Dancing’ was just for the few.
When the bubble burst and TV did its worst,
It was discos for me and you.

Those nights on the pier, folk had no idea
That a brand new era was near,
That storm and fire would make a pyre
Of the ballroom once so dear.

And the Pavilion grand would come to land
Far out from the amber strand,
Where hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They had danced to a Glenn Miller Band.


Storms hit the pier

Storms hit the pier

Want to know more?  Check out:

Teignmouth Pier …..

Holiday in Teignmouth



Since the early days of bathing machines on the beach Teignmouth has always been a sea-side resort.

A couple of months ago someone came into the Heritage Centre in Teignmouth bringing a small book of poems called “Gillyflowers”. It was a selection of poems by her mother, Dorothy Heard, who had moved to Teignmouth many years before. The collection has been compiled and published privately by Dorothy’s brother.

Dorothy was born in a small Yorkshire village and had to leave school before matriculation. She went to work on the fields in a local farm before moving indoors to help the farmer’s wife. At school she loved English and enjoyed reading poetry; one of her favourite poems was Meg Merrilies by Keats. In the seventies Dorothy found herself working at the Minadab, on the Dawlish Road, which at that time was a restaurant. Later she ran her own Bed & Breakfast. Dorothy, aged 97, is still living in Teignmouth.

The poems in Gillyflowers reflect her thoughts and memories from Yorkshire and Teignmouth. This first one is about Teignmouth as a holiday seaside resort 40 years ago.

Holiday in Teignmouth
(Dorothy Heard – 1972)

Crowded beaches, sun-kissed faces,
silver sand and sparkling sea,
gay striped awnings, Granddad’s braces,
children digging merrily,
picture postcards, sticks of rock,
paddling pool and donkey rides,
trains arriving choc-a-bloc,
roundabouts and local guides.

Landladies, all working hard,
changing linen, sparkling clean,
flower beds on the promenade,
cricket matches on the green,
busy cafes, fresh cream teas,
lobster, crab and cockles too,
ice-cream parlours, chips and peas,
candyfloss from Lindy Lou.

Daily trips across the moor
visiting historic places,
Tavistock and Widdecombe, or
chance one’s luck at Newton races.
Pennies clinking on the pier,
scent of pungent suntan lotion,
local inn for ice-cold beer,
moonlight bathing in the ocean.

Singing hymns on Sunday morning
in the ozone-laden air,
dancing till the day is dawning,
sudden hectic love affair.
All too soon the days have flown,
cases packed, a goodbye tear,
back to work, and home sweet home,
promising to meet next year.
Deck-chairs stacked away once more,
little town now strangely still,
lonely seagulls on the shore
screaming through the autumn chill.

A Sunday Stroll through Teignmouth

John Andrews in 'Man in Green'

John Andrews in ‘Man in Green’

Some people simply like to walk to or through Teignmouth enjoying the ambience and the views.  The link with the previous post is that John Andrews is also an afficionado of folk music seen in the attached picture playing “Man in Green” at Tiverton Beer Festival.

A Sunday Stroll through Teignmouth
(John Andrews)

I would like to go for a walk with you
While the sun shines, near the sea
Where we could both enjoy the sights
I would like you to accompany me.

At Teignmouth we could walk through town
Past the Endeavour pub and lifeboat station
The lobster pots, and remembrance flowers
Go back , perhaps make a donation.

I would like to go for a walk with you
I know you’ll accompany me
If I promise to stop at that seaside café
For a biscuit and a pot of tea.

A new roof here, a summer coat of blue paint there
The beach huts dressed up to the nines
Watch the Shaldon ferry weave through waves
Take care of the fishermen’s lines.

I would like to go for a walk with you
We could watch the changing ocean
With dredgers, ski jets and cargo ships
From port to port in onward motion.

On the sand bar, with gulls in attendance
We could see the cormorants sun bathe
Past the pier that weathered the winter storms
Nearby buoy bobbing on a wave.

We could walk along searching for sea glass
Bleached by sun and washed by sea
In opaque whites, blues, browns and greens
I’m glad you’ve accompanied me.

I’ll be back to work on Tuesday
Away from home, count the days, all three
But when I’m home I’ll walk beside you
Because I know that you love me.

For more information about John Andrews check out:

Sean and Heard …..




Teignmouth Pier

Teignmouth Pier

What is it that attracts people to Teignmouth?  The poems so far have covered many aspects of the town, its character, the events that have framed its history and shaped the town to what it is today.

The next set of poems complement this theme, suggesting why people might come to Teignmouth; the poems don’t need to be complex to convey people’s reasons.

"a brown rock towers on the other side to me"

The Ness

We start with a particular style of poem called a “villanelle”, simply entitled “Teignmouth” by Margaret Sheppard.

(Margaret Sheppard)

A charming town beside a changing sea
Is Teignmouth with its pier and famèd Ness
In the whole wide world this is the place for me

I’ve journeyed five continents to see
The famous sights which do impress;
A charming town beside a changing sea

Despite the lures of Rome and gai Paris
Or cities which stunning styles possess
In the whole wide world this is the place for me

Sample the local breakfast, lunch or tea
The kindness, goodness and largesse!
A charming town beside a changing sea

The view is unsurpassed when standing on the quay
Where fishing boats and cargo ships do rest
In the whole wide world this is the place for me

The Teign with all its natural beauty blessed
The constant ebb and flow within the estuary
A charming town beside a changing sea
In the whole wide world this is the place for me

Premonitory (Teignmouth 1818)

Clark's promontory - the Parson and Clerk

Clark’s promontory – the Parson and Clerk

This second poem by Tom Clark also comes from his collection ‘Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes From the Life of John Keats’. The accompanying picture also appears in the book and gives an indication of the inspiration behind the poem.

“Junkets” apparently is the cockney nickname one of Keats’s friends devised for him.

Premonitory (Teignmouth 1818)
(Tom Clark)

Mariners don’t think about the deeps too much.
The canvas of my reverie: maritime,
With promontory, cave, and little antique
Town that’s emptied for a sacrifice.
A boat tacks around the cove and disappears
Into my mind’s eye, where the scene plays over

And over: a small town beside an immense sea,
A white sail tacks around the promontory.
Mariners don’t think too much about the deeps,
Poets were once thought premonitory.
The canvas of my reverie is
Maritime, with a promontory, a town:

The town has emptied for a sacrifice.
I close my eyes, but the same scene plays over:
Above the victim’s head the priest suspends
A blade, light plays cleanly upon bronze,
A sun beats down, the confused heifer lows,
The pipe shrills, the bright libation flows,

Those of the faithful with weak nerves look away,
The blue paint splashed beneath a glowing sky
Bleeds across the harbor to the bobbing skiff
Whose white sail shows above the green head cliff,
Moves around the point, and seems to freeze in time
The unison hymn of sailors who forget

All that they know but their songs’ chiming,
Chanting as we did when poetry was young,
Trying not to think too much about the deeps,
Our fear of death, and this abandoned town
Which itself has lost all memory of
The qualities of Life vacated when we die.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Tom Clark …..
Junkets on a Sad Planet …..