Longboat’s hidden beauty

Monday, February 6, 2012
10.32 AM

As my property includes part of the boundary wall of the Budleigh Salterton Coastguard Buildings and steps, I have become quite knowledgeable on the listing of this local maritime complex.

In January 2010, the coastguard cottages, ancillary buildings, steps and my garden wall were given Grade II status by English Heritage in recognition of the “architectural, historic and group interest” as well as the “rarity”.

The boathouse was not included as a listed structure, but it was referred to in the designation by English Heritage as “linked to a boathouse on the seafront by a set of brick steps”.

A request for a review of its omission from the complex was granted and a detailed report upheld the original decision. It was acknowledged by English Heritage that “the Boathouse has historic interest as a rare example of a Longboat House and has a functional association with the listed Coastguard station”.

Mrs N Bennett (Journal letters, January 13) was quite correct in stating that the Longboat wasn’t listed, but it certainly was a very close decision.

I did not want my wall to be listed, it was. Mr. Hushon did not want the Longboat listed, it wasn’t.

I find it an astonishing decision by English Heritage that my much altered and rendered wall is listed, but the last known Admiralty Longboat House is not.

It is good to live in a democracy where we are allowed to express our differing views, but I have always felt it important that the correct facts are presented. Recently, it has been stated that there is no reference or documentary evidence to the term Longboat House in any publication or records, and that there are three listed examples of worthy, intact coastguard stations, namely Kings Lynn, St Agnes and Tynemouth.

There is, in fact, a bundle of evidence to prove that the present Longboat Café was, in fact, a Longboat House.

The original plans, old photographs of the boathouse and the whole complex, the coastguard crew in training, written statements etc

The boathouse was, in fact, home to an eight-oared longboat.

Kings Lynn: This is a listed complex, but it is situated 19 kilometres south of the mouth of The Wash. Kings Lynn was a very important port and the boat that was housed here was primarily used for customs purposes. It was not a traditional longboat. The whole complex has been completely altered and is now home to many families.

The buildings have certainly not been listed for their beauty, so it can only be for historic reasons and rarity.

St Agnes: English Heritage has listed this complex, which includes the terrace of coastguard cottages with the head coastguard’s house to one end, the associated garden walls, wash house and equipment house. It does not mention the existence of an original boathouse.

Tynemouth: Buildings are listed here as well, but not an original boathouse.

In 1846, the lifeboat Providence capsized with the loss of 20 of its crew. It was not a longboat.

The Tynemouth lifeboat station was established in 1862, but was destroyed in April 1941 by enemy action. Experts say the Longboat in Budleigh Salterton is the last known Admiralty Longboat House.

The original plans for the Coast Guard Budleigh Salterton Boat House are stunning and in pristine condition.

They are dated April 8, 1874, and show that beneath the render of the Longboat Café lays an architecturally handsome building that could easily be restored to its former glory. If restored, it certainly would be a real gem of historical interest.

It would be marvellous if Mr and Mrs Hushon could be persuaded to include the original Longboat House into their plans for a more modern building.

Ray Gallop

via email.