OPINION: Ilfracombe’s Magic Roundabout is emerging from the fields - Dave Griffin

Pillar of the Ilfracombe community Bob Lock

Pillar of the Ilfracombe community Bob Lock - Credit: Contributed

Ilfracombe’s new roundabout at Lynton Cross is emerging from the ploughed fields and is beginning to resemble a road layout. Sadly, hedgerows were removed to accommodate the scheme, but will hopefully be reinstated and repopulated by the temporarily inconvenienced wildlife. 

The circular element of what I’ve dubbed the Magic Roundabout is now revealed, looking like an upturned saucer. I watched a guy placing kerbstones around its edge, and no doubt he’ll be joyfully pointing them out to his grandchildren in years ahead. We’ve waited years for this; it will prevent dozens of prangs, but most of all, save lives. 


Thanks to the hard work of a dedicated committee, Ilfracombe’s Studio Theatre goes from strength to strength. One of its directors, Anne Bacon, tells me that exciting plans are in the pipeline for 2022 that will launch a new year of comedy and drama. 

In spite of all the restrictions surrounding Covid-19, its production crew and actors have kept alive a thespian tradition that Ilfracombe is truly proud of. Studio Theatre was dealt a savage blow in March, 2020, when the first lockdown coincided with their staging of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. 

Cancelling the show was a huge disappointment to its cast and supporters but there are plans to revive Oscar Wilde’s ‘trivial play for serious people’ sometime in the future. 

Sadly, Studio Theatre has recently lost one of its co-founders, Bob Lock, who has died at the age of 93. He was a multi-talented chap blessed with the ability to be energetic and laid-back simultaneously. 

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One minute he was engrossed in fiendishly complex board moves at the chess club he founded, and the next he was knocking up scenery for the Landmark Theatre. 

Many hundreds of Ilfracombers will have benefited from Bob’s teaching biology at Ilfracombe Grammar School between 1961 and 1983 under headmaster John Gale, himself a co-founder, with Bob, of North Devon Coast U3A. Nobody sits around much in this town, do they?  

Plaster Of Parish 

I just happened to be among the mourners at Bob Lock’s funeral at Holy Trinity Church, and like many others attending, was shocked at the seriously bad state of the parish church’s ceiling. Water ingress has caused plaster to fall, and part of the rear of the building has had to be cordoned off. The damage will cost some £80,000 to repair. 

The church won’t get any help from the fabulously wealthy Church Commissioners, one of the UK’s largest landowners. The preservation of England’s ancient churches is left to individuals who care for our architectural heritage literally at grassroots level, and that’s usually funded by the widow’s mite. 

Our Cops At The Cop 

Dashcam footage has been widely circulated of a Devon and Cornwall Police car being driven so precariously that it nearly forced a motorist off the road. 

The police car had joined a motorway via its slip road, but the incident didn’t happen on the M5 in this county, or even in this country. It begs the question, what was a Devon and Cornwall police vehicle with flashing blue lights doing on the M74 just outside Glasgow? 

Perhaps we might get an explanation from Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, who last year promised an extra 232 front-line police jobs across the two counties she represents. 

In the meantime, why are the council tax payers of North Devon funding the policing of Glasgow’s streets? 

Couldn’t the super-rich COP26 delegates who arrived in their private jets have matched their breath-taking hypocrisy with sufficient funds to pay for this wall of protection? 

Is it not the United Nations, which sponsored the conference, that is ultimately responsible for shielding world leaders from a crowd of mostly rheumatic climate change campaigners armed with nothing more lethal than rolled up copies of the Big Issue? 

During the build-up to the COP26 conference, a smash and grab took place at Ilfracombe’s St. James’ Place. 

Where were the officers who could have been dealing with it and catching the culprits? No less than 464 miles away, Jimmy! Apparently, police chiefs have ‘had a word’ with the errant driver.

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