The Cobb at Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis' harbour wall is called the Cobb and was built as a breakwater to protect ships and the town.
Visitors can find plenty to do, from crabbing in the harbour to fishing off the end of the Cobb. Fishing and boat trips operate regularly.
Visiting the Cobb
To get to the Cobb, you can either walk from the square along the Marine Parade or Cart Road or from one of the two main car parks at Holmbush or Monmouth Beach.
There is only one way onto the main part of the Cobb, entering past the RNLI lifeboat station on the right and the slipway to your left.
The lifeboat station and shop is well worth a visit to appreciate the importance of the charity's lifesaving work and to view the inshore lifeboat, Spirit of Loch Fyne. As you pass the lifeboat station you will see there is a road round the harbour and also steps up to the outward wall.
Commercial fishing boats still operate from Lyme and the slipway is used by all those launching boats into the water and removing them. In winter all the non-commercial boats are taken from their moorings for safe storage on land.
See and Do
Walking the wall is the best way to see the Cobb, providing the weather and sea conditions allow. Stroll along its monumental walls to unearth its rich historic past.
One of the buildings on the Cobb has been converted to house a small marine aquarium. Beyond the aquarium is the Victoria Pier which is used by the working boats because it is the deepest part of the harbour. The Pier is named after Princess Victoria who visited Lyme Regis in 1833 and later became Queen of the United Kingdom.
The end of the Victoria Pier offers the classic view of Lyme Regis, with a panoramic view of Charmouth, past Stonebarrow and Golden Cap to West Bay, and beyond to Chesil Beach.
The steps connecting the lower part of the Cobb to the upper part, are made from protruding stones and known locally as ‘Granny’s Teeth’. It was these steps which feature in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, where the character Louisa Musgrove falls and suffers a concussion.
The Cobb also featured in the film adaptation of John Fowles' novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The late John Fowles was an acclaimed author who lived in Lyme. The adaptation was filmed in the town in 1980 and starred Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons.
History and mystery
The earliest known mention of the Cobb is in 1294, though it probably existed before Lyme received a royal charter in 1284 from King Edward I. It is still unclear why it is called the Cobb!
The Cobb has been destroyed or severely damaged by storms several times. It was swept away in 1377 which led to the destruction of 50 boats and 80 houses. Until 1756, the Cobb was detached from the land at high tide. When a bad storm in 1817 damaged the Cobb, it was virtually rebuilt using local Portland stone.
For centuries Lyme was a major Channel port, attracting ships and traders from all over Europe. It enjoyed a long heyday between 1500 and 1700 with far-flung trade to Africa, the West Indies and the Americas, benefiting rich merchants and sea captains. Lyme’s Sir George Somers, famous for founding an English colony on Bermuda and rescuing the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, is said to have inspired William Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest after being shipwrecked on Bermuda for 10 months.