Pointed question

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Marion Gammell’s letter (“Derek’s question”, Opinion, May 24) asked where the name Pennington Point came from. She went on to say that they could not recall hearing the name during the 1940s and 1950s.

Unfortunately we still cannot say where the name came from, but we can confirm that the name goes back considerably further.

Between April 1927 and February 1930 both the Sidmouth Herald and the Sidmouth Observer reported at least four cliff falls at Pennington Point. Prior to 1927 there are reports of falls at Alma Cliff.

Some of the reports relating to Pennington Point read like some of the much more recent Sidmouth Herald articles.

A report from the paper dated January 7, 1928, said a tremendous fall of cliff occurred yesterday and was the largest of many frequent subsidences during the past year or two.


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It went on to say: “It is a matter of satisfaction that the fall occurred when it did. Had it been in the summer time when, despite every warning, people will freely sit about right under the foot of the cliffs at this part, it might very possibly have caused serious loss of life. The subsidence at the top strikes right in against the public path...”

The Sidmouth Observer of February 5, 1930, reported that residents on the eastern side of the seafront were awakened on Sunday at 4.30am by a terrific rumbling noise and discovered that “a very large cliff fall had occurred at the Alma”.

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Falls continued throughout the rest of the day and the following day as well. The report concluded “... with the result that Pennington Point has completely disappeared, and it is now possible to get an uninterrupted view along the coast to Beer Head”.

While this does not explain how it got its name, this might explain why the name Pennington Point does not seem to appear in reports again until much more recent times.

Rab and Christine Barnard

Sidmouth Museum

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