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Beacon Heath

Page updated 9 July 2009

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This area in Exeter was named because there used to be a fire beacon on Beacon Hill. Heath Barton was owned by the 14th century, Hugo atte Hethe, hence 'Heath'.

It is possibly there was a fire beacon in Roman times, as it is known that Stoke Hill was a Roman lookout point. The Romans may have frequented the Beacon Lane area as coins from the period of the Emperor Nero have been found there. Coins from this period are normally found in the Eastern Mediterranean, leading archaeologists to think they may be part of a more recent, lost collection. It would be nice if a Roman had lost them.

In 1688, Celia Fiennes visited Exeter on a tour of England. She rode from Cullompton via Beacon Heath - the city was far smaller then and she had her first view of the city below. She later wrote of what she saw, "the River Exe which runs to Topsham where the ships come up to the bar".

Sapper Frederick Bagwell of the Royal Engineers was the only known casualty from Beacon Lane during the First War. He died on the 12 January 1919, aged 34.

The Modern Beacon Heath

The area is now residential, with a large expansion of postwar housing estates to replace bomb damaged stock. Exmouth Junction, was a large employer after the Second War, serving as the main depot for Southern Region in the south west. The engine works have closed and part of the site was taken by the Co-op, who built a large store and petrol station. In 2009, the store was taken over by Morrisons. The Devon Yeoman is the main public house serving the area, which dates from the 1960's.

St James School dating from 1961 originally opened as a girls' secondary modern school. When Ladysmith Secondary School for Boys closed in 1973, the boys were moved to St James. A new school replacing St James was built in 2005 and the old buildings demolished.

Beacon Heath Beacon Lane in an earlier age.

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