Name game over Sidmouth ‘Fortfield’ flats

Councillors want apartments dubbed after ‘lady of Sidmouth’

APARTMENTS that rise from the ruins of the former Fortfield Hotel should be named after a ‘lady of Sidmouth’ - as too many places have male-related monikers.

Councillors this week expressed the opinion and their desire to see the 31 dwelling complex dubbed Annie Leigh Browne Court in honour of the woman who handed the town the Byes.

Bosses at developer Zero C, which has welcomed suggestions, say they will take all opinions “very seriously” and will unveil the title before construction starts in April.

The structure’s name won’t feature Fortfield, said managing director Kim Slowe.

Mr Slowe is considering five or six suggested names, including Sanditon, the title of Jane Austen’s last novel that has links to Sidmouth and Fortfield Terrace.

“We will make a decision before we start on site,” said Mr Slowe.

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Sidmouth Town Council discussed the issue on Monday.

Councillor David Addis nominated Annie Leigh Browne - the granddaughter of a midshipman who served with Nelson at Trafalgar - and later Captain John Carslake - who lived in Sidmouth and built Cotmaton House.

She was an active member of the Sid Vale Association (SVA) from 1907 until her death in 1936.

“Annie was a lady of Sidmouth who was of note,” said Cllr Addis.

He told collegues how, at the turn of the 19th century, Annie accepted responsibility for the Byes, when no-one else wanted to, and purchased land between Lawn Vista and the Sid bridge.

She left the stretch to the National Trust.

Annie also bought Woolcombe House, now the home of the town council, and used the ground floor as a children’s clinic and the first floor for the activities of the SVA.

She also owned May Cottage in Blackmoor View - which became Sidmouth’s first hospital.

“Her name should be attached to this new development, there being very few - if any - named places after the female gender in Sidmouth,” said Cllr Addis.

“Much of the new developments in the north of the town are named after gentlemen, Betjeman, Fortescue and even Regency could be construed to be in that group.”

Councillors agreed unanimously they would like to see the development named Annie Leigh Browne Court or Leigh Browne Court.

“What she did for the town, she has to have something,” said Cllr Jack Brokenshire.