Hi, I have lived in the Ilfracombe area for six years (in Devon for ten) , and I wondered what visitors and locals alike, think of Ilfracombe and Combe Martin. The 'Combe' is a good looking seaside resort down by the promenade, in my opinion. The town and its people are generally friendly, especially most of the shops, though Ilfracombe is marred by its 'bedsit' and hostels reputation. This is not the fault of Ilfracombe townspeople, this is the fault of policies, and the nationwide idiocy of putting trouble in to run-down seaside towns (telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10221475/Seasi…).
Recessions have also taken their toll, but we can still see the town's Victorian heritage, interesting perhaps to those who don't consider sitting in Wetherspoons and carrying on like they do at home, as a worthwhile pastime on holiday. Worth mentioning are the small businesses, who bravely battle modern trends, with their own shop, Cafes and restaurants. Bravo !!. We haven't been invaded by many nationwide chains, and for that I am grateful as a supporter of the High St. But the Councils have the final power; what will happen to our small businesses, in future?
Combe Martin about five miles away, has changed in recent years, and perhaps not for the better. All along the coast road from Ilfracombe to Combe Martin, there are coastal path walks, and wonderful views, the best anywhere, which of course cannot be harmed, thankfully. The village seems lifeless and drab though, Combe Martin seemingly has nothing to offer but a Museum about the village's good old days. No photogenic buildings of note, no flowers or bright buildings, and not more than a couple of really good restaurants and very little fish served. One wouldn't know they were in Devon. Whereas Ilfracombe has beautiful buildings, gardens and great restaurants. The village of Combe Martin has a wonderful history when you investigate, and there is an annual carnival but it seems to be a backwater full of shops. The village is hugely egotistical imho, and does not welcome visitors publicly. CM's Pubs have been decimated, latterly the Royal Marine, now yet another shop, but I guess shoppers and holidaymakers like that.
I do dislike the Ilfracombe theatre for its odd shape ("Madonna's Bra" they call it), "tribute" shows and mimics, with just a few good plays and shows. But complete disregard for the Victorian heritage. I'm not fond of 'Verity' either. That said, I am sure the right people will be attracted to Ilfracombe because of the statue, and equally sure 'she' attracts criticism because she has nothing to do with a few local values and beliefs. Ilfracombe has a rich history in maritime, boats, ship building, fishing, and Victoriana. If this is allowed to decline further, we will have lost one of the finest Victorian heritages in the world. The blame might lie squarely with the local Council.
There are rumours that Ilfracombe is due for redevelopment, good for the economy, maybe not so good for its traditional residents who value its quirky and quiet aspects. After the developers have finished, within a couple of years perhaps the town will look much different. It seems to have suffered in the recession and from under-investment, Hotels are sold and redeveloped, but just like any other town if we kept away from the less savoury parts, Ilfracombe would be a fantastic holiday. I love the area, it has some of the best walks, views, and rocky seascapes, in Britain. The town looks quite clean, and we have a brilliant quirky Museum with wonderful staff, which continually scores high on TA. Our Churches are lovely, and we have several of those. We have a few great restaurants, fishing, boat trips, and one or two outstanding Pubs here. That said: I do not venture on to the High St after dark , and this is what disappoints me. But does anyone have other positive views? Diversity and developments rightly reflect modern Britain which needs to be inclusive, but what if visitors can't get away to a Victorian seaside resort and have a change? Do we just rely on the coast and sea views and nothing else? Are we losing our Devonshire character? Love to hear other opinions.