Some historical information about Brixham.

More can be found here

The following is taken from the wikipedia website.....

Brixham (pronounced /ˈbrɪksəm/) is a small fishing town and civil parish in the county of Devon, in the south-west of England. Brixham is at the southern end of Torbay, across the bay from Torquay, and is a fishing port. Fishing and Tourism are its major industries. It has a population of 17,457.

It is thought that the name 'Brixham' came from Brioc's village. 'Brioc' was an old English or Brythonic personal name and '-ham' is an ancient term for village.

The town is hilly, and built around the harbour which remains in use as a dock for fishing trawlers. It has a focal tourist attraction in the replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship the Golden Hind that is permanently moored there.

In summer the Cowtown carnival is held, a reminder of when Brixham was two separate communities with only a marshy lane to connect them. Cowtown was the area on top of the hill where the farmers lived, while a mile away in the harbour was Fishtown, where the seamen lived. Cowtown, the St Mary's Square area, is on the road leaving Brixham to the south west, in the direction of Kingswear, upon which stands a church built on the site of a Saxon original. The local Royal British Legion club is also here. The main summer attraction in Cowtown is the Hap'nin in St. Mary's Park, an annual music event, with local bands, that takes place in mid July.

History

Although there is evidence of Ice age inhabitants here, and probable trading in the Bronze age, the first evidence of a town comes from Saxon times. It is possible that Saxon settlement originated by sea from Hampshire in the sixth century, or overland around the year 800.

Brixham was called Briseham in the Domesday Book. Its population then was 39.

Brixham was part of the former Haytor Hundred. The population was 3,671 in 1801[citation needed] and 8,092 in 1901. In 1334 the town's value was assessed at one pound, twelve shillings and eightpence; by 1524 the valuation had risen to £24 and sixteen shillings. It is recorded as a borough from 1536, and a market is recorded from 1822.

William Prince of Orange (afterwards King William III of Great Britain & Ireland) landed in Brixham with his mainly Dutch army, on 5 November 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, and issued his famous declaration "The Liberties of England and The Protestant Religion I Will Maintain". Many local people still have Dutch surnames, being direct descendants of soldiers in that army. A road leading from the harbour up a steep hill to where the Dutch made their camp, is still called Overgang, meaning 'passage' in Dutch.

The coffin house reflects Brixham humour: it is coffin-shaped and when a father was asked for the hand in marriage of his daughter, he said he would 'see her in a coffin, before she wed'. The future son-in-law bought the coffin-shaped property, called it the Coffin House, and went back to the father and said 'Your wishes will be met, you will see your daughter in a coffin, the Coffin House'. Amazed by this, the father gave his blessing.

The street names reflect the town's history. Pump Street is where the village pump stood. Monksbridge was a bridge built by the monks of Totnes Priory. Lichfield Drive was the route that the dead (from the Anglo-Saxon ‘lich’ meaning a corpse) were taken for burial at St Mary’s churchyard. Salutation Mews, near the church, dates from when England was Catholic, and the salutation was to the Virgin Mary. Similarly, Laywell Road recalls Our Lady’s Well. The first building seen when coming into Brixham from Paignton is the old white-boarded Toll House where all travellers had to pay a fee to keep the roads repaired.

The tower of All Saints' Church, founded in 1815, stands guard over the town. The composer of Abide With Me, Rev. Francis Lyte was a vicar at the church. He lived at Berry Head House, now a hotel, and when he was a very sick man, near to dying, he looked out from his garden as dusk fell over Torbay, and the words of that hymn came into his mind.

The main church is St. Mary's, about a mile from the sea. It is the third to have been on the site (which was an ancient Celtic burial ground). The original wooden Saxon church was replaced by a stone Norman church that was in its turn built over in about 1360. Many of the important townspeople are buried in the churchyard.

Many of Brixham's photogenic cottages above the harbour were oringinally inhabited by fishermen and their families. Near the harbour is the famous Coffin House mentioned earlier. Many of the dwellings towards Higher Brixham were built largely between the 1930s to 1970s. Several Holiday camps were built in this area, for example Pontins Wall Park and Dolphin. The Dolphin was one of the companys biggest camps. The camp closed in 1991 after fire destroyed the main entertainments building.

Brixham was served by the short Torbay and Brixham Railway from Churston. The line, opened in February 1868 to carry passengers and goods (mainly fish), was closed in May 1963 as a result of the Beeching Axe cuts. Although the former line to Brixham is deserted and overgrown, the branch line through nearby Churston is now maintained and operated as a heritage railway by a team of volunteers as the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway.

Maritime

Brixham is also notable for being the town where the fishing trawler was improved in the 19th century; their distinctive sails inspired the song "Red Sails in the Sunset", which was written aboard a Brixham sailing trawler called the Torbay Lass.

In the Middle Ages, Brixham was the largest fishing port in the south west of England. Known as the 'Mother of Deep-Sea Fisheries', its boats helped to establish the fishing industries of Hull, Grimsby and Lowestoft. In the 1890s there were about 300 trawling vessels in Brixham, most individually owned. The trawlers can still be seen coming in and out of the harbour, followed by flocks of seagulls. The fish market is open to the public on two special days in the summer, when the finer points of catching and cooking fish are explained. The modern boats are diesel-driven, but several of the old sailing trawlers have been preserved.

Hundreds of ships have been wrecked on the rocks around the town. Brixham men have always known the dangers but even they were taken by surprise by a terrible storm that blew up on the night of 10 January 1866. The fishing boats only had sails then and could not get back into harbour because gale force winds and the high waves were against them. To make things worse, the beacon on the breakwater was swept away, and in the black darkness they could not determine their position. According to local legend, their wives brought everything they could carry, including furniture and bedding, to make a big bonfire on the quayside to guide their men home. Fifty vessels were wrecked and more than one hundred lives were lost in the storm; when dawn broke the wreckage stretched for nearly three miles up the coast.

Hearing of this tragedy, the citizens of Exeter gave money to set up what became the RNLI Torbay lifeboat, which has rescued hundreds of people.

Since 1866, Torbay lifeboat station, located in Brixham, has operated an all-weather lifeboat. The station also has an inshore D-class lifeboat. The crews have a history of bravery, with 52 awards for gallantry. The boathouse can be visited and memorials to the brave deeds seen; on special occasions visitors can go on board the boat. Two maroons (bangs) are the signal for the lifeboat to be launched.

Smuggling was more profitable than fishing, but if the men were caught, they were hanged. There are many legends about the local gangs and how they evaded the Revenue men. One humorous poem describes how a notorious local character, Bob Elliott ("Resurrection Bob"), could not run away because he had gout and hid in a coffin. Another villain was caught in possession but evaded capture by pretending to be the Devil, rising out of the morning mists. On another occasion when there was a cholera epidemic, some Brixham smugglers drove their cargo up from the beach in a hearse, accompanied by a bevy of supposed mourners following the cortege drawn by horses with muffled hooves.

The town's outer harbour is protected by a long breakwater, useful for sea angling. In winter this is a site for Purple Sandpiper birds. During the Second World War, a ramp and piers were built from which American servicemen left for the D-day landings.

To the south of Brixham, and sheltering the southern side of its harbour, lies the coastal headland of Berry Head with a lighthouse, Iron Age Fort and National Nature Reserve.