Daughter’s happiness after Sidmouth Museum puts family items in pride of place
PUBLISHED: 09:18 03 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:18 03 April 2018
Items belonging to a quartermaster of a famous paddle steamer stuck on Sidmouth beach for nearly 60 years have been put pride of place in a new museum exhibit.
The collection belonging to Martin Langley, a crew member of the Duchess of Devonshire, has been a fixture of Sidmouth Museum for many years but was obscured in a small space of the attraction.
Martin’s daughter Val Haramis visited the museum last year and wrote letter to the trustees expressing her disappointment that items, including the boat’s bell and wheel, were poorly displayed.
The museum took action and put all of the items on display for its new season, which began on Saturday.
Val travelled from Somerset to see the exhibit last week which features her father’s clothing, photographs and the boat’s bell and wheel.
The Wells resident said: “I just felt so disappointed and went to the trustees; after three visits nothing had improved so I wrote to ask what was going to be done about it?
“He would have been 100 last year and that’s why I felt the need to do something.
“I used to clean the bell as a child, that was my job to earn my pocket money.
“It has been absolutely wonderful to have the museum do this. Dad was very fond of Sidmouth.”
The Duchess of Devonshire was built in 1891 and travelled up and down the coast carrying passengers between Torquay and Exmouth.
In 1915, the boat was used to help evacuate troops from Sulva Bay at the close of the Gallipoli campaign.
Her father was aboard the boat when it struck a concrete slab as it attempted to land on the beach on August 27, 1934.
The boat ended up in trouble due to the weather, and as it came ashore, the boat swung broadside and went aground, damaging the hull and the boat was declared loss.
Over the decades the boat was dismantled and was not removed until 1993.
Ann Tanner, from the museum, said: “We received the letter and we knew we had to do something.
“The display was very poor, everything was in a very small space, you couldn’t see any of the detail properly.”