Visitors from Down Under enjoy tales of the Boatmen of Babbacombe

Bygones picture of Torquay boatmen and boat

The 'White Heather' at Redgate Beach, Torquay. Skipper Raymond Badcott is sitting in the boat. Crew members Jack Parsons, Basil Dunstan and Alf are enjoying a cup of tea from the local cafe. - Credit: Submitted

It was back to home territory for members of the Babbacombe and St Marychurch Probus Club.

As a complete contrast to recent talks about the Alpine Pass in WWI, Peru, Romania and Finding Neptune, the Club members at its zoom meeting enjoyed a presentation by ‘visiting’ speaker, Phil Badcott about the Boatmen on Babbacombe Beach between the 1850’s and 1950’s.

At 9pm local time in Tasmania, two of Phil’s sisters were also able to join from their homes in the Southern Hemisphere!

The talk concentrated on three generations of the Badcott family who have now lived in the town for around 250 years. Eight of the family were Boatmen of Babbacombe Bay. In the latter part of the 19th century, John and Sam became fishermen who worked out of Oddicombe and Babbacombe beaches.

Phil’s grandfather, Mark, was listed in the 1911 census as a Babbacombe boatman, and in the 1920’s and 1930’s as well as being a fisherman, he was a pleasure boat skipper and organised cruises from Oddicombe Beach to neighbouring beaches.

This local pleasure boat trade was continued deep into the 20th century when Phil's dad, Raymond, then continued the family tradition of being a Babbacombe Boatman and was a pleasure boat skipper based at Redgate Beach mainly on the ‘White Heather’ through the 1940’s and 1950’s until ownership of the majority of local pleasure boats were bought by Harry Wheaton.