Illustrated answer

May I please answer your Opinion letter (Sidmouth Herald, January 17), from Steve Jellyman, Sidmouth.

The photograph on this page submitted by him depicts the time of the Great Storm of 1924. This is aptly described in Sidmouth, a History by John Ankins on the gales and storms which destroyed a large part of the centre Esplanade in November and December from the Bedford Hotel to the York Hotel.

The storm, at Christmas, left a 45ft hole on the Esplanade.

In the lower photo submitted, the Bedford Hotel is clearly seen and the woman’s dress of 1924 is shown in another photo on page 55 of Reginald Lane’s Old Sidmouth when the new sea wall was rebuilt and opened in 1926. Construction winches were used in the rebuilding as shown in John Ankins’s photos (page 24) with tram lines erected to take the building materials to the site – quite a long distance.

The hole in the Esplanade is clearly seen in the Reginald Lane book (page 24), and it is repeated in the newer Book of Sidmouth by Ted Gosling and Sheila Luxton (page 49).

On the next page the temporary rail-type line is seen with men waiting to transport along it in some sort of truck. A huge victory arch was erected when the sea wall damage was repaired in 1926 (page 51 of the book), and in an elaborate photo (page 125 of John Ankins’s book) shows the crowds of people who were gathering for the opening ceremony across Station Road by the Bedford Hotel, built by builder Mr Ernie Barnard out of timber, lathes and canvas.

Mrs RM Richardson

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