Our History

The Pavilion & The Lime Kilns

The earliest documented reference to the Lime Kilns is 1698. Until the railways were built there was regular trade from North Devon over the Severn estuary with South Wales as lime was required for use on the acid soils of the area.

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Maps of the area from the early and mid 1800s show there was no road where the Esplanade is now and indicate that the Limekilns stood on the beach. The space between the Limekilns and the harbor had a couple of buildings one of which was a store, presumably for the coal and limestone ready to be fed into the kilns, this was roughly where The Pavilion now stands. Anything that predated 1607 was destroyed in a major flood. In Victorian times as people began to take holidays there were ambitious proposals to develop Lynmouth and build a pier, an esplanade and a lift to move passengers and cargo up the cliff. The act of Parliament which was required to permit these works was passed in 1886 and by 1887 the Esplanade was opened. The Cliff Railway followed in 1890.

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It wasn’t until 1931 that a committee of Lynton Urban District Council proposed the construction of a dedicated place of entertainment to benefit both the local population and Summer visitors. Work began in late 1931 and cost approximately £1,500. The building opened in mid 1932. It was used for community events, dances and performances. The Pavilion survived the floods of 1952 but not the changes in society from the mid 20th Century. A brief period housing a zoo (yes, really!) and then for exhibitions of arts and crafts failed to provide sufficient revenue to maintain the building. In 1983 North Devon District Council leased the “under pavilion” which had been an open store area to Somerset County Council to be used as a visitor centre by Exmoor National Park Authority. This closed in 2004 and the site was then primarily used for storage until ENPA acquired the whole building in 2010 and began the process of creating the building we have today.

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