Whalebone arches can be found around the world and Teignmouth was no exception. A local ship owner and merchant trader, Pike Ward, who was proud of his home town, its history and his connection with the fishing trade had two whalebone arches erected along the Eastcliff stretch of the promenade called “Old Maids’ Walk”. According to the book ‘History of Teignmouth’ this was done in 1924; however, there is a postcard of one of the arches reputedly dated 1922.
The arches were definitely not there in 1912 (according to a photograph of the time) and do appear in a photograph of 1925.
During the Second World War it appears that a pill-box was built adjacent to the far arch (and actually against one of the bones); this far arch was subsequently removed to improve the line of sight from the pill-box.
Exactly when this was done is unclear but a photograph purporting to be from 1943 shows the arch still in place. The arch at the start of Old Maids Walk (you can just about still see it in this picture) remained until after the war but eroded away and was taken down too. No-one knows exactly what happened to the bones but it is believed that they went to land-fill.
Was there a third arch as well at the river end of Teignmouth close to the Lighthouse?
Thanks to the History of Teignmouth facebook site for some of the images