TV star’s shock over demolition go-ahead

Professor Mark Horton, BBC TV Coast presenter, is ‘shocked’ Budleigh Salterton’s Longboat cafe is to be demolished. He said the Admiralty longboat house is the last in Britain.

A television coastal expert is ‘shocked’ Budleigh Salterton’s Longboat cafe has been earmarked for demolition - because it is the last building of its kind in England.

Professor Mark Horton, a presenter on the BBC’s Coast programme, visited the Victorian seafront building at the weekend after hearing it is to be knocked down to make way for a glass-fronted, state-of-the-art restaurant.

Professor Horton said he was considering his next move with regard to saving the last surviving example of an Admiralty longboat house in Britain.

He believes English Heritage should reconsider its decision not to list the historic building - which would have housed a vessel more than 20 feet long - saying the organisation should ‘take stock of their senses’.

The coastal expert said Budleigh’s Longboat building was the only example left in the British Isles.

Prof Horton, a reader in archaeology at the University of Bristol, who specialises in history and maritime archaeology, said it was ‘vital’ to preserve the longboat house – another strand of life-saving history.

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Records show the boathouse would still have been in use in 1900, with the longboat being manned by eight rowing coastguards.

The professor said he was aware Budleigh’s Longboat conservationists had exhausted every route in a bid to preserve the building.

He said: “It’s not just rare, it’s unique.

“I am cogitating what to do next. There are ways in which you can fight a big battle.

“I think it should be listed. It’s a very important part of marine heritage. It is extraordinary permission was given to demolish it.”

Professor Horton, who has contributed to many programmes on the Discovery and History channels, had been speaking at a conference at Ladram Bay when Budleigh ward member Councillor Steve Hall told him of the Longboat’s future.

The television presenter immediately made the journey to Budleigh to study the historic building, asking for a number of detailed photographs to be taken and sent to him.

Cllr Hall said the TV personality was ‘appalled’ about the demolition plan. “I am delighted, because he’s an eminent person in his field,” said Cllr Hall. “He’s a much better person than any of us to take it to its final conclusion, or protect it. He may not be successful, but he’s such a powerful voice.”

David Daniel, of the Budleigh Longboat Association, said: “It’s great that someone can identify it for what it is - and Mark Horton does recognise its significance.”

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