Ghost ships, mermaids and breathtaking homes – the stories that defined Devon in 2021

Over the past 12 months, the headlines of the majority of the media have been flooded with updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

However, despite the doom and gloom that comes with a global pandemic, we have certainly had some defining moments here in Devon over the course of 2021.

From a mobile mansion stuck in a Devon village to a spotted mermaid swimming off the coast, there have been plenty of memorable moments that grabbed the headlines.

Read more here: The family’s heartbreaking first New Year’s Eve after the sudden death of Exeter’s mother from sepsis

And here at Devon Live, we do our best to keep you up to date with all the latest breaking news and local news.

We’ve taken a look at the news we’ve covered this year and compiled a list of our most-read stories for each month.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 stories of 2021, which keep readers coming back for more:

World’s largest fleet of ‘ghost’ cruise ships arrives in the bay

The huge Emerald Princess cruise ship sat next to rocks known locally as ‘London Bridge’ as it was anchored off Torbay

During the coronavirus pandemic, cruise ships have become a very familiar sight off Torbay.

And, in February, Devon Live reported that six huge cruise liners had been spotted in Torbay – the largest fleet seen since the coronavirus lockdown brought the first magnificent ships to the south Devon coast.

Tor Bay and Babbacombe Bay have been popular places for cruise ships to anchor during the pandemic, with their waters sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds.

They became a familiar part of the local landscape, and some got into the spirit of local events, blowing their horns for Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve. In return, local youths made cards for crews skeletons on board at Christmas, and well-wishers were collecting gifts to take on board.

Ships from the Holland America Lines fleet, Eurodam, Zaandam and Oosterdam were all spotted, alongside Arcadia, Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2 – and the locals loved them.

Read the full story here.

Katie Price wanted to adopt baby Olivia, 2, after urgent adoption plea

Earlier this year, a Devon adoption agency said a baby girl named Olivia had just months to find her an adoptive family.

Although Olivia is a beautiful, curious two-year-old girl, she has health issues that mean she will need help and care all her life.

Olivia’s story is incredibly moving, which even touched the heart of celebrity Katie Price.

In May, mum-of-five Katie Price took to Instagram to say she would “love” to adopt two-year-old Olivia, who is at risk of being raised in permanent care.

In a statement on her Instagram story, Katie said: ”I would love [have] her in my family.

The former glamor model also added two heart emojis.

Read the full story here.

‘Mermaid’ spotted swimming off Torbay

In August, talk began of a mythical sea creature after a ‘mermaid’ was spotted off the coast of Torbay.

Over the bank holiday weekend, the ‘mermaid’ was spotted swimming in the sea with a ‘man’, much to the delight of those who witnessed the legendary creatures.

The identity of the ‘mermaid’ has since been revealed to be Pauline Barker, the founder of Devon and Cornwall Wild Swimming.

Devon 'Mermaid' Pauline Barker
Devon ‘Mermaid’ Pauline Barker

The 57-year-old from Plymouth, who describes herself as a part-time mermaid, was enjoying a boat trip to celebrate a friend’s 60th birthday.

She said: “It was purely for fun with friends. We had chartered a yacht in Torquay and decided to play as a mermaid and a man. We left Torre Abbey Sands and went to Ansteys Cove yesterday .

“I went up to a lady floating on an inflatable unicorn and said, ‘Do you know you’re a mythical creature?’ the mermaid said to the unicorn!”

Read the full story here.

Devon station house with carriage and platform for sale

A quirky story that caught the attention of many Devon readers was when Devon Live reported that a converted railway station – which is only accessible on foot for most of the year – has been put in sale near Exeter.

With its living room opening onto the station platform, the former ticket office transformed into a bedroom and a wagon in the garden, the Halte Gare could be the ideal property for railway enthusiasts.

The original station platform
The original station platform

The old Brampford Speke railway station was part of the Exe Valley Railway, a branch line built by Great Western Railway (GWR), and opened on 1 May 1885.

In 1923 the staff was withdrawn and the station became an unstaffed halt. Due to the Beeching Cuts – a plan to increase the efficiency of Britain’s nationalized rail system – the stations were closed in 1963, with Station Halt becoming a home shortly thereafter.

Read the full story here.

Boardmasters campers stuck ‘without food’ for up to seven hours

There was a lot of excitement during the summer months as festivals were given the green light to continue.

However, after a fun weekend there was chaos in Cornwall as Boardmasters campers trying to leave the festival say they faced queues of up to seven hours and that they struggled to access water and toilets.

Thousands of Administrators attendees were stuck in queues as they tried to leave the campsite.

Emily Scott said on Twitter: “No toilets, 7am sat here and your staff told us there were no toilets in this car park and there were none all week so What do we do.”

Twitter user @festerrrrr said: “5 hours without food, water or sanitary toilets, no one knows what’s going on and there are no staff to tell us.

β€œWe saw a steward and she told us to leave the car and go to the beach πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ updates please.”

Read the full story here.

Grand Designs: ‘Saddest Episode Ever’ Devon Lighthouse Still Under Construction

In April, Devon Live reported that construction of a controversial home, which featured in Grand Designs’ ‘sadest episode ever’, is continuing into 2021 – more than a decade after it was created.

The Down End property was designed to be a flagship home for Edward Short and his family, with plans approved in 2010.

The building has since been idle for years, with work not continuing until April 2020. Chesil Cliff House was featured in Grand Designs’ ‘saddest episode ever’, with the family plunging into millions of debt books.

Chesil Cliff House

The project also cost Edward his marriage, causing a split with his wife, Hazel.

The house was to include a four-story rotunda tower, as well as an infinity pool and six bedrooms.

On the show, Edward admitted that the costs to get to this stage had reached around Β£3m, with around Β£2m needed to complete it.

Read the full story here.

Uproar as a ‘mobile mansion’ is trapped in the small street of Slapton village

There was chaos on the roads of Slapton in June after a ‘mobile mansion’ got stuck in one of the small village’s narrow roads.

At around 12.30pm on June 4, local resident Adam Pratt was at work when he spotted a huge queue outside on the main road following the incident.

He said: ”I came out and saw all this commotion.

β€œThe driver had driven all the way from Dartmouth to Slapton ignoring huge yellow warning signs, warning him that the vehicle would be too big.

“He was blocking the road for about 30 minutes.”

Read the full story here.

Tiny Devon pub defends decision to snub tourists in favor of locals-only policy

A historic pub used by generations of Devon families made headlines in June after defending its ‘locals only’ policy.

The sign outside the tiny King of Prussia Inn – known as Proosh to its regulars – is in the quaint town of Kingsbridge.

The A-frame blackboard left on the street outside tells holidaymakers flocking to the area why they are not welcome inside.

The sign outside the King of Prussia in Kingsbridge with Finley Bullen, Matt Bodmin and Jake Langman (left to right)
The sign outside the King of Prussia in Kingsbridge with Finley Bullen, Matt Bodmin and Jake Langman (left to right)

It read: ‘LOCALS ONLY’ and added in a smaller version: ‘Due to Boris restrictions!! He made a little smaller pub.’

And just in case any visitors are unhappy at not being allowed to enter the Grade II listed building, the sign reads: ‘Due to small capacity, we can only accommodate our residents.’

Owner Sara Roberton explained that she was now getting fed up with people taking pictures of the sign, prominently displayed on the King of Prussia corner at the entrance to town.

Read the full story here.

Read more stories here:

Heavy fog leaves visitors to Lundy Island stranded for two days

The family’s heartbreaking first New Year’s Eve after the sudden death of Exeter’s mother from sepsis

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