Burgh Island

    The island was known as La Burgh in the 15th century and later as Borough Island.

    Burgh Island is a part time island, only being completely surrounded by water when the incoming tide covers the sand bar linking it to the mainland. Treacherous currents make a boat trip hazardous, so at these times visitors reach the island by a unique `sea tractor` it can operate in seven foot of water in all but the roughest conditions. The ingenious tractor on stilts drives guests out to the hotel. This contraption drives across the sea bottom as you perch on a platform 12ft higher.

    The tractor runs all year round. Every ½ hour in the summer and every hour in the winter. The last tractor is 11.30pm.


    When the tide is out the island is easily reached by a short walk across the sands.

    There was a chapel dedicated to St. Michael on its summit, and it has been likened to the much larger St. Michaels Mount in Cornwall.

    In the 1890s, the music hall star George H Chirgwin (1854-1922) built a prefabricated wooden house on the island, which was used by invited guests for weekend parties.

    The whole 28 acre island, complete with its 14th century Pilchard Inn, was sold in 1927 to the filmmaker Archibald Nettlefold of Nettlefold Studios, and the heir to the Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds engineering firm, who built a sumptuous  hotel in the Art Deco style, which became a popular destination in the 1930s. Additions were made through the 1930s, including a room created from the captain's cabin of the warship HMS Ganges (1821).  A hotel by name, in practise it became a free flowing guest house where Archibald welcomed his many friends. The hotel became its star attraction.
    This unique white and mint-green art deco hotel became one of Devon`s most famous hotels. Its décor and ambience accommodated guests, to name but a few, Edward VIII, who wooed Mrs Simpson in the Palm Court bar, Noel Coward who played the piano in the ballroom, and Agatha Christie wrote two of her best sellers in the cliff top gardens, Evil Under the Sun and Then There Were None.

    The Harry Roy band played the Charleston from a floodlit floating platform in the middle of the seawater rock pool.

    During World War II, the hotel was used as a recovery centre for wounded RAF personnel. The top two floors of the hotel were damaged by a bomb during the conflict. Despite being repaired, it suffered a period of post war decline after being converted to self catering apartment accommodation.
    By the mid 1980`s the splendid hotel was in a sorry state of disrepair and was put up for sale. It was bought by Tony and Beatrice Porter, fashion consultants, who set about the task of restoring it. The hotel is now a Grade II Listed Building.

    Although there is no right of way, it is possible to visit most parts of the island. A breezy walk to the crest of the hill brings you to the remains of a huer`s hut, here a workman would be posted to look out for shoals of pilchards and to then raise the `hue and cry` when the pilchards were sighted., evidence of the times when Pilchard fishing was a mainstay of life here. Hence the building of the Pilchard Inn, housed in one of the original fishermans cottage .The islands 14th century inn records these once abundant fish. The ancient hostelry located beside the tiny quay side, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a smuggler, possibly Tom Crocker, who was said to be shot by revenue men. He gave his name to a cave on the island  and was said to have spent most of his non smuggling hours in the Pilchard Inn where his effigy stands by the fireplace.

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