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When There Was a 'Bank' in Ilfracombe!

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

The Bank

This photograph shows the central embankment, known as ‘the bank’, situated in the centre of the High Street. Originally, the bank stretched from the Queen’s Hotel on the western side nearly to Meridian Place on the eastern end, but the western end was demolished around the 1890’s/early 1900’s. At the top of the rise is the bottom of Springfield Road, you can just about see the street name on the facing wall, below the slates. Further on, under the letters WG, there is another narrow roadway which led directly to Adelaide Terrace. As you can see in the picture the high bank was used as a place for horse drawn cabs to pull up and wait for their next fare.

At the Museum, we have an oral history, given by Bill Hill, where he describes some of the shops on the bank around the end of WW1. He fondly remembers a shop where he would buy a halfpenny-worth of coconut chips and a crude form of toffee locally known as ‘clingle’. It was a jet black chew, cost a farthing, and was long-lasting like modern chewing gum. At Arthur Simmonds’ barber shop, Bill could get a penny haircut. Ernie Clarke’s shop offered shoe repairs and made-to-measure leather boots and shoes. There was also Wright’s Bakery, Drake’s outfitter and a fish merchant.

In 1934 the bank was demolished; Springfield Road was rerouted and seven new shops were built; these are where Annie & The Flint and its neighbouring shops are located today.

Nick Mollart, Ilfracombe Museum, 2023


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