TOPSHAM, Devon

Topsham is an attractive town on the Exe estuary, Devon, in England's Westcountry. Now part of Exeter, it nevertheless maintains a distinctive identity. Loved by its locals, and savoured by those who visit, Topsham offers river walks; wildlife; a Saturday morning market; many characterful shops, restaurants and inns; and quiet space to sit and watch the sailing boats go by. But while present-day Topsham is undoubtedly picturesque and has a rich historical heritage, it always has been a working town. Despite no longer being one of the great trading ports of Britain, it continues to have a very strong business and commercial life, with traditional maritime trades continuing alongside the modern and computerised. The site aims to support and encourage the current and future community, so that the history which awaits us may be just as interesting and rewarding.

Topsham - looking north from Quay

The Steam Packet

The Steam Packet was a public house at the roundabout by Topsham quay, which finally closed as a general public house when its last landlord, Barry Stock, retired on November 8th 2008.

This was a pretty historic event; though the Bridge Inn is considerably older as a building, the Steam Packet is the second oldest pub in Topsham, and the oldest one purpose-built. It began its days as the Red Lion, and was renamed in 1850 after the steam packet Zephyr that called at Topsham as part of its weekly run between Torquay and London. Its owner in the late 1890s was Charles Gale (who also ran the London and South Western, now Drakes) whose wife, Tryphena Sparks, was a cousin of Thomas Hardy.

Basics thanks to Exeter Memories: see The Steam Packet - Topsham Quay for further historical background. (Image: scanned from Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, June 4th 1846).

Gallery, November 2008 (click images to enlarge)


















Route 2


The Steam Packet was bought by the owners of the Globe Hotel. Renamed Route 2 after the local branch of the national cycle network, it reopened in June 2009 as a licensed cafe bar offering cycle hire, open 8am-8pm, with holiday apartments above.

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