Sloping cobbled streets - why Seaton is special for Martin Shaw

Martin Shaw. Ref ehr 31 17TI 8559. Picture: Terry Ife

Martin Shaw. Ref ehr 31 17TI 8559. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

When Martin Shaw won the Seaton and Colyton seat on Devon County Council for the Independent East Devon Alliance in May he said he was humbled by the trust placed in him by the electorate. Here is why he thinks Seaton is such a great place to represent.

1 What is your favourite memory associated with Seaton?

My grandchildren are still young but they are growing up so fast! I remember, however, the first time the older of them first sat on Seaton Hole beach, near where we live, throwing stones into the sea. He can’t have been more than about 15 months old. Even now it’s still the thing that fascinates him most - apart from the pond in our garden - and it’s become a ritual every time they visit.

2 What do you like most about Seaton?

The best thing about Seaton is that it’s unpretentious. It’s a fishing village which turned into a seaside resort in the 19th century, but it never became fashionable in the way that nearby Lyme Regis is. We don’t have fossils, either, because our striking red mudstone cliffs were formed when the area was a desert in the Triassic period - I learnt that at Seaton Jurassic! People come here from all over the country and beyond, and there are lots of things going on. It’s a comfortable place to live, in a spectacular setting.

3 What is your favourite shop in Seaton?

The old town centre’s sloping, cobbled streets actually have a lot of interesting shops that visitors to the Jurassic centre and Tesco often miss. I’m going to cheat and mention two: Akermans in Fore Street, the best traditional hardware shop in Devon where you can get absolutely everything, and quirky Affär on Cross Street, full of colourful design from all over the world. It’s run by a Swedish friend of ours, Charlotte, and is an unpredictable mixture of old and new. It’s exactly the sort of place that people don’t expect to find here.

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4 How have you seen Seaton develop throughout the years?

As one of my political rivals likes to remind people, I haven’t actually lived in Seaton that long. When I came here, people were still licking their wounds from the closure of the holiday camp and the battle over the Tesco store. There was a sense that Seaton was down on its luck. It’s remarkable how the town has recovered a sense of pride in the last few years. As people have become aware of the Wetlands, the Jurassic Centre and the new gym, our natural attractions like the sweeping beach, the bay, Seaton Hole and the Undercliff are also being appreciated.

5 What is your favourite building in Seaton?

I’m tempted to say Seaton Hospital, which is so crucial to our community. Architecturally and historically, however, I find the Check House the most evocative building. It isn’t just the distinctive brick pattern which gives it its name, but also the sense of a Victorian lodge perched on the top of the cliffs, originally with a stunning garden and sea views, which brought the pre-raphaelite artists to the town, as Seaton’s historian, Ted Gosling, tells in his books. It’s a shame, though, that planners have allowed so many additions to the original building.