Teignmouth has been in the news a lot recently. But it is not for the reasons people would usually expect.

The reputation of the town that gave us international rockers Muse, the best Wetherspoon pub in Devon and was named by The Guardian as one of the top 40 holiday destinations in the world has suffered a bit of a battering in recent weeks.

Running street brawls, one of which left a man seriously injured in hospital, and the shocking mugging of a teenage girl on the seafront left a bitter taste in the mouth.

But such murky goings on could not have been further from the thoughts of locals when we spoke to them about their town.

Instead, we found that the people who live and go on holiday there either love it – or they REALLY love it.

Even those people who live in the town centre and have witnessed late-night drunkenness say they can overlook such behaviour because  are still fans of the quirky shops, arts quarter, alternative cafes and the £2 a pint beer at the glossy Jolie Brise Wetherspoon’s pub.

 

And the running street brawls take place not far from the house in Northumberland Place where poet John Keats once lived in the early 1800s. Mostly he wrote about how green and damp he found it but he also reported: “I saw a pretty valley, pretty cliffs, pretty brooks, pretty meadows, pretty trees.”

Keats even wrote a poem called ‘Teignmouth’ which talks a lot about the rain but it is also one of the first literary allusions to the famous Devon cream tea (wisely, he doesn’t mention jam at all).

The first verse of Keats’ poem ‘Teignmouth’

For there’s Bishop’s teign
And King’s teign
And Coomb at the clear Teign head –
Where close by the stream
You may have your cream
All spread upon barley bread.

One of the ice cream kiosks along Teignmouth Seafront which was broken into

One of the ice cream kiosks along Teignmouth Seafront which was broken into (Image: Google Maps)

Back in 2017 Teignmouth attracted peak publicity after Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz spent weeks in the resort filming The Mercy.

The Guardian named Teignmouth as one its 40 top travel destinations alongside such exotic destinations as New Zealand, San Francisco and Indonesia. And the i-newspaper put  Teignmouth at number two in its top five places to visit in the UK.

But that was followed by an outcry when the resort was labelled a ‘charming but faded’ seaside town in a review of The Mercy in The Guardian.

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THIS IS WHAT THE PUBLIC HAD TO SAY

Tina and Dave Harris, from Exmouth, were in Teignmouth for the day for their son Alfie’s second birthday. After a trip to Shaldon Zoo on the other side of the estuary we spoke to them as they strolled along the prom in glorious sunshine.

Tina said: “It’s nice on a sunny day like this. We’ve just had lunch on the roof terrace at the pavilions – it was beautiful. Really, really nice.

“We wouldn’t come on a night out though. As far as I can gather Teignmouth’s not that sort of place.”

The couple said a recent gang attack on a 15-year-old girl who was robbed and beaten during daylight hours was ‘shocking’.

Dave said: “The easy answer is more, high visibility police on patrol. It’s OK saying that but it’s having enough officers to do the job.”

Dave Harris with son Alfie (Image: Matt Carter/Devon Live)

Holiday home owners Martin and Julia Hall said they love the area and have had a house above the beach at Holcombe for two years.

Julia said: “I have always loved Teignmouth. My mother was evacuated here during the war and I’ve always come down.

“I don’t think it has changed. I just love the area.”

Martin said: “One of the things we like is that, even at the height of summer, it’s never over-run with tourists. You can still drive through and walk along the seafront.

Martin and Julia Hall (Image: Matt Carter/Devon Live)

“But the one thing we’re not happy with is Network Rail’s proposals for Holcombe .

“They are planning to move the railway line out to sea. That will affect the beach and so many people use that beach.

“We don’t mind looking out at the railway – but we don’t want to lose the beach completely and that’s what we are worried about.”

The original design in 2016 would have seen most of Holcombe beach lost when the tracks were moved out to sea on a causeway, but the scheme has been redesigned, which means a large part of the beach will now be maintained.

Mother and daughter Sharon and Sophie Skidmore, from Exeter, regularly visit friends in Teignmouth.

Sophie said: “I love all the quirky little shops in town. The vinyl shop is really awesome.”

Sharon said: “We don’t go out in the evenings. I like it during the day – I particularly lioke the Gluten Free cakes at PerryLicious.”

Sharon and Sophie Skidmore (Image: Matt Carter/Devon Live)

Two older gentlemen in their 80s, who didn’t want to give their names, were enjoying the Victorian shelter on the promenade.

An 83-year-old Torquay man said: “We like it because it’s nice and flat for geriatrics like us! Ever since they’ve renovated the seafront it’s got a nice modern feel. I don’t like the architecture of the Pavilions but I can see it has lots of facilities and comfortable armchairs. The only sad thing is that the pier looks in need of work.

“The other highlight is the Jolie Brise – it’s beautiful up on the terrace. It’s the best Wetherspoons in Devon.

The Wetherspoons pub, on Station Road, is named after the last boat to carry the Royal Mail under sail.

He added: “There is trouble everywhere, not just Teignmouth, what with all the drugs and alcohol everyhwere. There has been no discipline of children – and I think we should bring back national service. The world has become dog eat dog.

“My generation were brought up with strict rules and it never did us any harm”

The Jolie Brise Wetherspoons pub in Teignmouth

The Jolie Brise Wetherspoons pub in Teignmouth (Image: TripAdvisor)

JD Wetherspoon pubs in Devon and Cornwall

The Union Rooms

George’s Meeting House, Exeter

The Chevalier Inn, Exeter

The Imperial, Exeter

The Sawyer’s Arms, Exeter

The General Sir Redvers Buller, Exeter

The Powder Monkey, Exmouth

The Star Inn, Honiton

The White Ball Inn, Tiverton

The Panniers, Barnstaple

The Water Gate, Barnstaple

The Rose Salterne, Bideford

The Mannamead, Plymouth

The Gog and Magog, Plymouth

The Union Rooms, Plymouth (pictured)

The Britannia Inn, Plymouth The Stannary Court, Plymouth

The Richard Hopkins, Newton Abbot

The Talk of the Town, Paignton

The Isaac Merritt, Paignton

The Green Ginger, Torquay

The Vigilance, Brixham

The Queen’s Head Hotel, Tavistock

The White Hart Hotel, Okehampton

The Admiral Collingwood, Ilfracombe

The Jolie Brise, Teignmouth

Try Dowr, Truro,

John Francis Basset, Camborne

Rann Wartham, St Austell

Coinage Hall, Helston

Hain Line, St Ives

Chapel an Gansblydhen, Bodmin

Tremenheere, Penzance

King Doniert, Liskeard

The Green Parrot, Perranporth

The Packet Station, Falmouth

Allen and Pat Price (Image: Matt Carter/Devon Live)

Essex holidaymakers Pat and Allan Price, walking on The Den with their dog Ruby, are now in their 70s but have been visiting Teignmouth since the Sixties.

Pat said: “It’s a bit more built up – but the place and the atmosphere hasn’t really changed. There seem to be more people and families with children this week. We have decided next time to come in April when it’s quieter and when we can go on the beach with the dog.

“Everybody is so friendly. It’s the same Teignmouth I’ve always known.”

Allan agreed: “This place right here where we’re standing is where we used to play football with our children and our grandchildren.

“What we like is that it’s easy to get to so many other nice places – it’s not just Teignmouth. There’s Shaldon and Torquay and Dartmoor. Everything is quite near. Everywhere you go is just nice.

“We have noticed that there are more young people living down here than when we first used to come.

“The sunshine is a bonus but we like walking on the beach even when it’s raining and blowing a gale.”

Julie Milby, one of the staff at PerryLicious, the popular coffee and cake rooms in Bank Street, said:

“We do try and cater for everybody.

“I have lived in Teignmouth for 32 years. It’s a lovely place to live. A lovely little town. I’ve got horses and it’s a great place for horses and dog walking too. It’s fabulous.

“We have The Muse guys who still come home – we see them out and about in the town every now and then. They are lovely guys who still come back to visit their families in Teignmouth.

“I don’t go out at night because I’m not into the pub scene but we do have problems here at night. It’s really, really sad that it’s suddenly all started happening

Allanah McGeary, 18, lives overlooking one of the main trouble spots in the town centre. She said she had often witnessed trouble: “It’s most Friday and Saturday nights. There’s fights every week. We live just across from it. It happens just by the kebab shop. They gather all around there because it’s the only place to go at 2am or 3am.

“The boys just take it too far when they get drunk – it’s literally just when they get drunk and bored.”

Reuben Lenkiewicz (Image: Matt Carter/Devon Live)

Reuben Lenkiewicz, the son of one of Devon’s most famous artists, explained why he has made Teignmouth his home.  He runs the Reuben Lenkiewicz Art Gallery in Northumberland Place in the centre of the arts quarter, where some of his father’s largest works sell for up to £50,000.

“I find Teignmouth to be a very friendly, safe place.  Growing up in Plymouth, I’ve always loved the seaside and the sound of the sea, walking along the seafront with its old Victorian pier. It’s a shame that the local district council don’t take more responsibility for it. The pier is an important public building, even if it’s privately owned – even wealthy towns like Brighton have lost their pier.

“Like any town you find an area that can be difficult. Every town has got some problem somewhere and in comparison to other places Teignmouth is pretty good. If you compare it to Newton Abbot or Totnes or Exeter – it’s a very welcoming, friendly, creative place.

“I moved to Teignmouth because I found that Plymouth reminded me of my dad so much – everywhere I went, it just felt as if something was missing. When I came here it was such a welcoming place. Even when I first arrived, people seemed pleased to meet you. It’s a quiet town – maybe a little bit too quiet sometimes.

“The arts quarter is being redeveloped in the next few months and we have an arts festival coming up at Bitton House which is a beautiful Georgian house.

“A late night food area is going to attract people after the pubs have closed. The people who run the kebab shop are really friendly and pleasant and it’s not their fault.

“There’s not a lot of resources for young people in Teignmouth and I think they just get bored. The nightclub has gone.”

 

Phillip Bird (Image: Matt Carter/Devon Live)

Another person who moved to Teignmouth is Phillip Bird, who has lived in Northumberland Place with his family since 2003.

Phillip said: “Teignmouth is an amazing place. I moved down from Bristol. I like the sea and it’s one of the nicest seaside places and the easiest to get to. I still have to drive up to Bristol three or four times a week and in all these years I have only had traffic problems on the motorway a handful of times.

“It’s a very friendly, open community. People started to talking to us straight away and we thought what a friendly place – it still is.”

But Phillip is aware of late night problems in the town: “A lot of the issue is drinking – it was worse here when the club was open. It’s nowhere near as bad from a noise point of view.

“Now part of the problem is the Weteherspoons where it’s £2 a pint – on a Friday night it’s absolutely stacked in there. I like to support the local pubs if I can. But when it’s £2 a pint as opposed to £4 people are getting very drunk.”

Tracie Bell (Image: Matt Carter/Devon Live)

Tracie Bell was out walking her beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog Layla. She said: “I have never seen any trouble here. Teignmouth is a beautiful and lovely place to live and to bring up children. It’s the best of both worlds. I moved here when I decided to run my own business but I also wanted to live by the sea for a good quality of life.”

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