Death of a village – a parable for our times?

The picture shows Salcombe, a short distance from Hallsands village

Picture the scene. Hallsands, a fishing village by the sea in South Devon. Life could hardly be described as easy, but families have lived, fished and survived there for over 300 years.

Then along come the dredgers – dinosaur-like machines scooping up the sea floor and carrying it away to build a fantastical naval base down the coast at Plymouth. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes, millions even.

The noise, from dawn until late into the night. The impact on fishing. These were bad enough but what was left behind was even worse. For the shingle was the one thing that protected the village and its people from the sea and the powerful Easterly wind which whipped up apocalyptic storms.

Locals felt that the Board of Trade and powerful industrialist Sir John Jackson were in cahoots – certainly a community of interest existed between the two. All too late, pressure from the villagers, their MP (Francis Mildmay) and a belated independent enquiry confirmed that the dredging had left the village unprotected in the face of the storm of storms early in 1917.

The villagers’ fight for accountability and compensation was almost as fraught as their battle to save their homes – too little honesty, integrity, transparency and cash – and all too late.

A parable for our times you might well think.

Playwright David Gooderson captured the story in his play, first performed 20 years ago. The City Lit Radio Drama Repertory Company has brought the drama back to life in our first production which you can access on Spotify at or by clicking on the “play” button below.

I was very happy to be involved in this and hope you enjoy listening.

David himself directed us, recording and editing was by Even Brindle. The company consists of Alvin Daramola-Rose, Philly Desai, Sharron Lane, Lee Malcolmson, Kenneth Mcloone, Terizia Merdinian, Penny O’Brien and Julia Tobias – plus yours truly.

Leave a Reply