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Torcross sea front from Slapton Sands, the sea wall built in the late 1970s can be seen.
Torcross sea front from Slapton Sands, the sea wall built in the late 1970s can be seen.
The "inland" part of Torcross seen from across Slapton Ley.
The "inland" part of Torcross seen from across Slapton Ley.
Salvaged tank
Salvaged tank

Torcross is a village in the South Hams district of Devon in England. It stands at grid reference SX822420 at the southern end of Slapton Sands, a narrow strip of land and shingle beach which separates the freshwater lake of Slapton Ley from Start Bay and carries the A379 coastal road north to Dartmouth.


[edit] Early history

The first mention of Torcross was recorded at the manorial court in the court rolls of 29 March 1602 when it was recorded that a representative of the new village reported that everything was "all well". In 1854 the coastal road between Kingsbridge and Dartmouth was built passing through Torcross giving a much needed lifeline to the community. In 1858 a coach service started between Dartmouth and Kingsbridge.[1]

[edit] WW2 evacuation and Exercise Tiger

In late 1943, Torcross was evacuated along with many other villages in the South Hams area to make way for 15,000 allied troops who needed the area to practice for the D-Day landings. In the early hours of 28 April 1944 a tragic incident happened during Exercise Tiger, nine German torpedo boats (Schnellboote) alerted by heavy radio traffic intercepted a three mile long convoy of vessels travelling from the Isle of Portland to Slapton Sands to undertake landing rehearsals for D Day, two Tank landing ships (LST‘s) were sunk in the engagement and 749 American servicemen lost their lives. A Sherman amphibious tank and several plaques stand at Torcross car park between Slapton Ley and the beach as a memorial to the men who lost their lives. The operation to salvage the tank from the shallow waters of Start Bay was financed by Ken Small, a Torcross hotelier and was completed in 1984.[2][3]

[edit] Storms and coastal erosion

Torcross has survived some terrible storms that have battered the village, on 4 January 1979 enormous waves washed over the roofs of the dwellings causing substantial damage, lorry loads of boulders were brought in from the Plymouth area as temporary protection, a new curved seawall was built as a result of this 1979 storm. On 11 and 12 January 2001 another bad storm caused the loss of up to five metres of the beachhead along a stretch of beach about 1000 metres in length. Part of the A379 road along Slapton Sands near the village was also destroyed, closing it for three months, 3,000 tons of boulders were initially used to protect the road, however these were later removed because of damage to the Slapton Ley SSSI.

The maintenance of the road is imperative to Torcross as it is the main access route to Dartmouth for the villagers and the local businesses. The South Hams District Council is working to keep the A379 from being eroded away by road realignment and the importing of shingle from parts of Slapton Sands that have a surplus. A study by Natural England after the 2001 storm confirmed that Slapton Sands is and will continue to retreat backwards, due to the reduction in the amount of shingle available, increasing frequency of storms and a predicted 30 to 40 cm rise in sea level over the next 50 years. [4][5]

[edit] Tourism

The village is very much geared up for the many tourists who visit the area, with restaurants, cafes, two pubs (the Start Bay Inn and the Torcross Tavern) and much accommodation for the visitors. Torcross lies at the southern end of Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve and it is here that the Ley issues through a culvert under the road and into the sea. The A379 road swings inland towards Kingsbridge at the village and the dwellings of Torcross follow the road inland for a few hundred metres, some dwellings are situated on the higher ground south of the village giving fine views of Start Bay.

[edit] References

  1. , BBC Devon. Gives early history.
  2. , US Naval Historical Center. Gives details of Exercise Tiger.
  3. , Official tribute site for Exercise Tiger. Gives details of Ken Small and salvage of tank.
  4. , English Nature site. Gives details of road realignment and rebuilding.
  5. , South Hams District Council. Gives details of storms, repairs and future.

Coordinates: 50.26619° N 3.65420° W

(Source: Wikipedia)
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