Seventieth century Dutch gabled mansions and rows of former dock workers cottages are reminders that this was once Britain’s second busiest port. Formally, Topsham is part of Exeter, but don’t tell the 5,000 residents, most of whom are fiercely determined to keep the estuary town independent and quirky – and to enjoy warm candlelit yin yoga sessions at the new Revitalise studios in what used to be a bar for retired servicemen. Topsham is forging a ‘Let’s have a good time now’ image. Long standing restaurants such as The Galley and Marcellos and historic inns like The Salutation have been joined by newbie enterprises, Nourish, a zero waste shop, Sara’s Petite Cuisine and No.3, which serves gin. Every other year there’s a summer feast with 5,000 people lining the streets for barbecues and Barolo. Traditional purveyors – a butcher, a fishmonger, a greengrocer and the market are thriving. In an attempt to keep this Costa-free zone, the residents have set up Love Topsham, which offers perks for shopping locally in return of a £3 monthly subscription.
The sense of community and the willingness to fund it has saved a waterside plot from developers and set up a £1.8m charity hub. Volunteers also run an open aired heated pool, and yes, it’s open for a New Years Day dip. Then there’s the Exe estuary which ebbs and flows at the centre of things offering salmon fishing and sailing. Paul and Helen Fisher bought a holiday home here 12 years ago, moved permanently in 2015, and can’t see themselves or their dogs Tess and Dexter moving from their listed house 50ft from the water. The only (fluffy white) clouds on the horizon are the implementation of a long-awaited residents parking scheme and over enthusiastic Mamils deviating from the official Route 2 Cycleway.”
Tom and Amelia said, "Topsham is perfectly placed to have the ideal mix of city and sea. We’re not far from Exeter, but we have the water flowing past us. There’s a terrific community atmosphere and we love greeting our friendly regulars who come in for morning coffee, as well as the day-trippers who come for bird watching, fine food and the interesting mix of shops. There’s an abundance of growers here who supply us – mostly family businesses too.
Topsham seems to make people happy, and as a business, we can’t ask for more than that."