[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]

"BRIXHAM, (upper and lower) a parish, seaport, and market town, in the hundred of Haytor, in the county of Devon, 42 miles to the N.E. of Dartmouth, and 28 miles to the S. of Exeter. The Dartmouth and Torquay branch of the South Devon railway has a station at Brixham Road, about 2 miles from the town. Brixham is situated in a hilly and beautiful country, on the coast of the English Channel, near the southern extremity of Torbay. It is noted in history as the landing-place of William, Prince of Orange, on his arrival in England, on the 4th November, 1688, the event being recorded on a piece of stone, said to be a portion of the rock on which he first set foot, let into the base of a small granite obelisk now standing on the outer pier.

Previous to the time of the French war, Brixham was a small country village-one part, that immediately round the church, inhabited by agriculturists, the other part, near a small jetty about a mile from the church, by fishermen. During the war the place increased rapidly, and was made a market-town in 1799. The two parts of the town, called Higher and Lower, now nearly united, spread in an irregular manner from the water side up the hills, which approach the coast. There are many modern and good houses, some of which are pleasantly seated about the cliffs; but the greater part of the town is in a picturesque valley opening to the quay, and bounded on the E. by the lofty sea-cliffs and Berry Head, the most eastern point of the bay. On the north side of the bay is the fashionable watering place of Torquay, being distant only 5 miles by water, or 9 by the carriage road, from Brixham.

In the lower town, called also Brixham Quay, are the market-house and the custom-house. This is the larger and more important district, containing, according to the census of 1861, 4,581 inhabitants, with rateable property to the value of £5,000. At the close of 1862, a board was formed under the Local Government Act of 1858, for the better cleansing, draining, paving, and lighting this portion of the town. The public rooms, midway between the harbour and the upper extremity of the town, were built in 1835.

The port, which is subordinate to that of Dartmouth, consists of an inner and outer basin, communicating with each other; the former, constructed by the government in 1804, and the latter by the inhabitants about 1830, at a cost of about £5,300. An Act of Parliament was afterwards obtained for enlarging the breakwater, and building an extensive pier, which was commenced in 1843. The number of vessels belonging to the port in 1862 was 100, of an aggregate tonnage of 18,098 tons, value £181,649, besides 215 decked vessels for trawling. Large quantities of turbot, soles, mackerel, and other fish are taken, and exported to London, Bath, Exeter, and Bristol. The fisheries employ about 1,600 seamen, and yield an average of 20 tons of fish weekly. A small lighthouse was built on the pier-head in 1839. Brixham is a coastguard station. The exports consist of iron ore, sheep, and a little malt; the imports, coal from the North, cider, fruit, and cattle from France and the Channel Islands.

Rope-making and ship-building are carried on here extensively. There are several fine limestone quarries in the neighbourhood; also two iron mines on Furzeham Common-one opened in 1841, and the other in 1852; the ore, which is of a light yellow, crops out within a few feet of the surface, and is mixed with yellow ochre, which is manufactured into an excellent pigment and sold to the dockyards. In connection with the mine is a sewage-pipe and ironstone pottery, which renders available the clay thrown out by the miners.

The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter, of the value, with the perpetual ours. of Churston-Ferrers and Kingswear annexed, of £494, in the patronage of the crown. The church stands in the upper town, and is dedicated to St. Mary. It is a spacious ancient edifice in the perpendicular style, with an embattled tower, and was founded in the latter part of the 14th century by the prior of Totnes. It was repaired in 1852, when a new chancel was added at the cost of £700. The east window is of stained glass, and was presented by Sir J. B. Y. Buller, Bart., and the Rev. Robert Holdsworth. In the church are a richly-carved font of the 14th century, several old family monuments, and the cenotaph of Judge Butler. The register dates from the year 1468. A church was built at Lower Brixham, near the quay, in 1820; it has subsequently been enlarged to the extent of 800 sittings, and recently constituted into a district parish: the living is a perpetual curacy,* worth £280, with house and six acres of glebe, in the gift of the crown. There are three chapels in the town, belonging to the Baptists, Wesleyans, and Independents. An endowed school was founded in 1634, the income from endowment being about £100 per annum.

A new National schoolhouse has been erected, capable of accommodating 400 boys and girls, and a British school supported by voluntary contributions. There is also an infant school in a building hired by the incumbent for the purpose; attendance about 120. All the schools are under government inspection. There are several charities, including one for the ransom of poor captives, which produce about £110 per annum.

Laywell, near the upper town, is a curious intermitting spring, usually ebbing and flowing about ten times in an hour, with occasional interruptions of half an hour. At a short distance from the town is the seat of the Right Honourable Lord Churston. The rocks of the district are of the Devonian, or Old Red sandstone formation. They are generally calcareous and fossiliferous. A very extensive bone cavern has lately been discovered, affording many valuable specimens of bones and flint knives. The discoveries made in the systematic examination of this cave will be found in Sir Charles Lyell's "Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man." Berry Head is conjectured to have been the site of a Roman camp, and old coins have been found there.

Tuesday and Saturday are the market days. A fair is held annually on Whit-Monday for the sale of cattle, and one on the two following days for pleasure. A regatta is regularly held in the month of September, in which from thirty to fifty yachts and other vessels compete.

"BOOHAY, a hamlet in the parish of Brixham, hundred of Hayton, in the county of Devon, 4 miles to the N.E. of Dartmouth. It is situated on the coast of the English Channel."

"WOODHUISH, a hamlet in the parish of Brixham, county Devon, 3 miles N.E. of Dartmouth."

Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003