Shoring up the future of a village steeped in history

Help sought from tourists to meet pounds 2.5m repair bill. Michael Pres tage reports

A routine survey of the houses set into the cliffside at Clovelly, north Devon, has revealed structural faults that present a major conservation task for the unique listed village.

There are 80 houses and a pub in Clovelly, which has belonged to the Rous family since 1738. While other villages in Devon have seen their character and communities undermined as properties are bought up for holiday homes, Clovelly has remained unsullied.

It is the rule that tenancies go only to full-time occupiers and preference is given to locals - families who arrived 40 years ago are still considered incomers. But tourists are being encouraged to help to pay the pounds 2.5m repair bill. English Heritage has also given a grant.

Jonathan Rous, the current squire of Clovelly, is overseeing the improvement work. The last major renovation was carried out at the turn of the century. Now, beneath the whitewash and plaster of the quaint fishing cottages, the reality is rot and leaking roofs. The very survival of some properties is in question.

In a village built into a 400ft (120m) precipice, where wooden sledges and donkeys are the traditional way of getting materials down cobbled streets impassable to vehicles, the 10-year repair plan could prove an optimistic schedule. Investment in a motorised sledge is the only concession to modern times.

Mr Rous said: "Because they are listed buildings we have tried to respect the old building technology. We have used materials that would have been familiar to builders two centuries ago. It hasn't just been done for old time's sake; those builders knew what was needed, given the rigours of the Atlantic conditions."

Tourists are encouraged, but not at the expense of the character of the village. Last year, 300,000 walked the cobbled streets, but many locals still earn a living from fishing.

Mr Rous said: "We have to achieve a fine balance; we need the revenue to pay for the repair work and ensure the village's future but Clovelly is a living community with many families living here for generations."

In the past six months pounds 300,000 has been spent, and the estimated cost continues to rise. Mr Rous said: "We are finding that after starting work on a leaking roof it is discovered that most of the joists are rotting as well. The more work we do, it seems, the more money we need. It was a task that could not have been put off any longer."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee