As its name suggests, Sidmouth lies at the mouth of the River Sid. Situated in a valley between Peak Hill to the west and Salcombe Hill to the east the town faces south into the English Channel. It is in the county of Devon with a population of roughly 15,000 - more than 40% of whom are over the age of 65. In addition to being a retirement destination the economy is heavily dependent on tourism.
Sidmouth's rocks contain fossils and so this stretch of coast is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Sidmouth appears in the Domesday Book as Sedemuda and, like many towns on the south coast of England, it started life as a small fishing village. However, every attempt over the centuries to construct a harbor failed, preventing growth either from fishing or cargo operations.
At the end of the 18th century, the fashion for coastal vacations began to take hold and throughout the Georgian and Victorian eras numerous fine vacation villas were built in the area. Today, many of these have been converted into guest houses effectively squeezing out the small fishing industry altogether.
In 1819, George III's son Edward, Duke of Kent, his wife and baby daughter - the future Queen Victoria - came to stay at Woolbrook Glen which in later years morphed into the Royal Glen Hotel that is still in operation.
A wide esplanade has been a seafront fixture since Regency times although it was nearly lost in the early 1990s via a series of storms. Some additional breakwaters were built and new beach had to be trucked in by road.
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