Some of Devon’s tourist hotspot towns have come under fire – from the people who live in them.
The barbs aimed at places across the county have appeared on iLiveHere.co.uk, a website which accepts reader submissions giving ‘honest’ reviews of the places in which they live.
Although none of the 10 worst places to live in the UK are in Devon, these surprising nine Devon towns have been brutally savaged by locals who are not afraid take aim and expose the worst flaws for all to see.
Let’s have a look at the harshest (and probably very unfair) comments thrown at some of our favourite Devon towns…
ILFRACOMBE: Gluten intolerant middle class nightmare
Unlike many towns who get a knocking for their working class credentials – Ilfracombe is criticised for being too middle-class.
The scathing reviewer really hits out at the “whole generation of 16-24 year olds raised by middle class parents” in the town.: “They fill Ilfracombe’s restaurants and cafés, announcing every self diagnosed intolerance. Gluten intolerance or lactose, if it’s trendy to have… They have it. They post on all forms of social media about their wonderful life with photos of them basically naked, or selfies by the ocean or parents backyard. Then tweet about how they suffer from anxiety and depression the next.
“They sneer at men working the harbour, complain everyone is racist when they haven’t even left the confides of mummy and daddy’s white suburb. And are generally awful people to be close to in Wetherspoons – even though they claim to friends they avoid Wetherspoons.”
The post goes on to say that the nemesis of these local lads and lasses are the “entitled teens” who arrive in the summer: “Thank you London girls, we owe you our gratitude. They truly know how to become a victim of food allergies and hogging social media posts away from Ilfracombe’s own brats. With actual good looks and real wealth flaunted on a private yacht. Rather than the Ilfracombe girl posing on the Ilfracombe princess tour, claiming she’s on a friend’s yacht.”
DARTMOUTH: All is not as it seems
“Most incomers as the locals call you arrive into Dartmouth via one of the River ferries, where you will be met with the best kept town centre awash with art galleries and quaint unique shops. All this with Sir Aston Webbs Naval College sitting grandly overlooking the beautifully set postcard image. Dare you creep up the “Hill” into Townstal, then the rot starts.”
Apparently once out of the upmarket harbour area it’s all Spar pasties and Panda pops: “They shun Sainsbury’s as they don’t sell gas and electric tokens and favour the Spar shop which is burgled by the same person every month.”
And the reviewer claims that decent folk “are interspersed with social services cases generally shipped in from Plymouth or Totnes”. and adds “You will never fit in with these people unless you can decorate your garden with ornamental nappies to the annoyance of your decent hard working neighbours.”
OKEHAMPTON: Rotten to the core
A reviewer says all is not as it seems in this north Dartmoor town: “Passing through Okehampton during the day, in a car, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a normal market town on the edge of Dartmoor. You would be very, very wrong. Okehampton is a town truly rotten to the core.
Okehampton is often over looked by the outside world due to it’s location and lack of any thing good there. This is the curse of Okehampton. Too small to be noticed, too big to be destroyed without anyone noticing.”
The lack of anything to do apparently makes weekends “like a scene out of Night of the living Dead”. And it claims that drinking is the only leisure pursuit adding: “Mix all this booze and squadies from Okehamptons army camp in side a 30-foot square box and you have a nightmare comparable only to an Alfred Hitchcock film.”
The green oasis that is Simmons Park does get a mention but only because any attempts by the council to look after it are supposedly “met with the same trademark response DESTROY, DESTROY, DESTROY.”
DAWLISH WARREN: aka Watership Downer
In the summer Dawlish Warren is “full of the cast of Shameless” and in the winter it’s so dead in the pubs that “you expect Clint Eastwood to pull you a pint over the tumbleweed” according to one review.
It goes on with another TV reference saying: “Dawlish Warren is marketed by the tourist board as a traditional seaside resort for family, fun holidays. They haven’t visited in the past 20 years evidently, and failed to notice it is really Royston Vasey in disguise. I swear the League of Gentlemen was inspired by this place.”
And there’s a warning to women who visit: “If you are a female of reproductive age, do not go out without a large dog, a chainsaw or a security guard in this place as you are not safe. It is fair to say the local lotharios are always looking for a new gene pool to water down…run, and run fast….they will never catch up as they are usually alcoholics, or riddled with heart disease from years of cholesterol poisoning.”
AXMINSTER: The worst town ever
At first glance, Axminster appears to be a quiet and pleasant town, with a small shopping area, a pretty railway station, and a large Tesco – but according to this reviewer the truth is revealed “when you dig a little deeper”.
The claim is that it’s the real “local locals” you have to watch out for. They are like Susan out of The Archers: “These people are really something else. You can’t even talk to someone without being approached by strangers at a later date, who know exactly what was said down to the most minute detail.”
The reviewer attended the local school and says it was an “often incredibly violent place, which at the time (1990’s) was put into special measures thanks to it’s crumbling structures and unpleasant atmosphere”.
But don’t try to escape by bus: “The main bus stop in town is actually a traffic island with a bird bath on it, well, i say bird bath, but over the years it’s spent more time being used as a toilet or a sick bucket than it ever did bathing birds.”
BRIXHAM: Once such a happy little town
This reviewer does say that life is generally quiet and pleasant in the small fishing town – if it weren’t for “a few teenage louts”.
They go on to describe the battle to reclaim St Mary’s Square – and in particular the bench that is situated just outside an archway leading to St Mary’s church which became ‘the place’ to hang out in Brixham “and for the life of me I still can not fathom why”, the review says.
Apparently the “Marilyn Manson obsessed” teens were attacking the ancient graveyard before CCTV and a petition was launched to get rid of them. Police moved them on but the review claims: “Well, it would be nice to say that they were no longer an issue for St Mary’s square, but unfortunately the mouthy little townie sods have indeed returned and I fear it’s gonna start all over again…”
TORQUAY: ‘the English Sh*tty-area’
The play on words title of the review for the English Riviera is probably the most polite part. The rest has unprintable swear words and asterixes in every sentence apart from this: “Torquay isn’t all bad. If for some reason you want to pay the town centre a visit, fear not! Stagecoach’s bus services are fast, frequent and can whisk you into the town centre before you have time to contemplate why you visited Torquay.
“Only joking! The local roads are more congested than the bowels of a conservative MP after a roast dinner.”
And it says that trying to escape by train is just as bad: “Don’t be too unhappy though, it’s not like your GWR train service out of Torquay will be any faster.”
PAIGNTON: Crossways shopping centre is like Beirut
Compared to the other reviews Paignton is lucky. The reviewer says: “Some residents are friendly enough, the state of most properties is not that bad for a predominantly low economy area.”
But they add: “Paignton is supposed to be a quiet tourist resort. It is not supposed to be a Northern industrial town. I am not posting this as some moaning old codger, I’m only in my early 40s and usually quite tolerant / realistic… but when you are educated and schooled somewhere with roots, when you watch loads of facilities shut down, your friends move on and a population change, it is both depressing and tragic to experience.”
And a second review adds: “Please save your cash and soul by avoiding this town, if you want any further clarification, look at the latest pictures of Crossways shopping centre, locally named downtown Beirut.
NORTH DEVON: It’s a rip off
“If you were thinking of moving to your over-priced dream North Devon property for a new life, then read on.
“Devon isn’t paradise, it’s Sheffield and Birmingham on Sea, where the local westcountry suppliers and businesses are all waiting to rip you off. We do have Lidl, but you’ll not like the prices down here.
“If you still insist on giving up your nice life and your sanity to live the North Devon fantasy, just don’t do it.”