Broadsands- the beach that is neither broad nor sandy- or is it?
Our trip this week- as featured in our New Year Special Offer 2022 - is to Broadsands, one of the closest beaches to Totnes. Lying between Paignton and Brixham, the beach is mainly shingle, but there is enough red sand to make a sandcastle if the weather is warm enough.
The great thing about this beach is that it is only 6 miles away from Totnes and within 20 minutes or so, depending on the traffic, you can be on the beach. And this is our second free excursion this year for our adult students today.
Broadsands is a great beach for exploring rockpools, building sandcastles and paddling....but it also has an interesting extra feature that may be strange to you- it has that quintessentially Britsh feature of beach huts!
Beach huts are small, usually wooden and often brightly coloured, boxes above the high tide mark on popular beaches. They are usally used to change in, store swimming towels, maybe simple kitchen equipment to makes cups of tea or snacks. They were first found in the UK in the late 19th century, in Victorian times, to preserve people's modesty and were then in the early 20th century considered suitable for 'the working classes' who couldn't afford a beach house. However, during the 1930s beach huts became fashionable again and George III even took a 'medicinal' bathe in the sea from one in Weymouth, whilst an orchestra played 'God Save the King', the UK's national anthem.
Nowadays, beach huts are becoming popular again and have been selling for around £35 000 in popular seaside places, probably made even more popular during the pandemic when we weren't allowed to travel abroad for holidays. There is even a beach hut authorised for doing weddings!!
Broadsands also has an interesting history:
These are the remains of a Neolithic chambered tomb or passage grave which is on a slope overlooking Broadsands Bay. The Neolithic or 'New Stone Age' lasted from 4000 to 2000 BC so these remains show how long humans have been living in this area.
During the 1930s, this area of the coast- at that time not accessible to the public and just farmland- was developed by the Elmhirsts, the millionaire couple who had recently come to Devon and bought Dartington Estate, near Totnes. They formed a building company called Staverton Builders who, with designs from famous architects like Louis de Soissons and William Lescaze, wanted to build modern houses, with flat roofs, sun terraces and asymmetric walls
similar to houses found on the Mediterranean. The idea was to bring modern development to this seaside area. It didn't work out quite according to plan as the flat roof design wasn't great for the Devon rain and cold- but you can see some of the flat-roofed white houses up on the cliffs if you look up from the beach.
This brief summary of Broadsand's history is meant to set a broad context for our students' trip there so if I've got any facts wrong, bear with me and send me a gentle correction :)