A NEW watersports facility for Ilfracombe is officially open, offering a new home for local clubs and a destination for the community.

Ilfracombe Watersports Hub in Larkstone Cove had its grand opening on Thursday, July 13.

The ribbon cutting ceremony saw North Devon Council's Leader, Chief Executive and Dehenna Davison MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Levelling Up, joined by members of three local watersports clubs and the council's Harbour and Property teams, to declare the hub officially open.

The watersports hub gives new homes to three of the town's local clubs - Ilfracombe Pilot Gig Club, Y-Sail and Ilfracombe Canoe Club.

The new facility gives them the opportunity to extend their memberships to the wider community and offer taster events to local residents and visitors, while giving them storage for boats, a slipway for safe and easy access to the water and disabled access and facilities.

For the wider public, commercial operators H2Outdoors, Active Escape and Nick Thorn will be based at the hub, making it a destination for residents and visitors alike who wish to try outdoor pursuits such as stand up paddleboarding, kayaking and coasteering.

National Scouts will also be using the hub as a base for watersports activities. Those using the hub have access to changing rooms and indoor and outdoor shower facilities.

The hub is also home to the Lime Kiln Café, which offers a delicious menu of locally sourced food and gives visitors breathtaking views of Ilfracombe harbour. 

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor Ian Roome, says: "This is a fantastic day for Ilfracombe and North Devon. It has been a long-standing ambition to have a watersports facility that can be at the heart of the community.

"The centre offers fantastic facilities for our watersports clubs and the wider public, while the Lime Kiln Café gives stunning views of the harbour. 

"This has been a complex project, but thanks to the hard work of our property and harbour teams and Pearce Construction, we have been able to manage those tricky elements to bring the hub to fruition and create a facility that Ilfracombe and North Devon can be proud of."

Contractors Pearce Construction have delivered the project after taking on the site in spring 2021.

The centre's location, nestled in Larkstone Cove, and the requirement for a new sea wall and slipway made for a complex build. The bespoke sea wall blocks are uniquely modelled to fit the shape of cove, and could only be installed at certain points of the Ilfracombe tide.

Construction Director at Pearce Construction, Mark Davis, says: “I am very proud of our team and the work we have undertaken to create this Watersports Hub.

"It has been a challenging but rewarding project.  This is a unique facility which we hope will be well used by the local community. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in successfully delivering the project.”

The project has been made possible thanks to funding contributions, including £1.5m from Heart of the South West LEP; £1.35m from the Coastal Communities Fund, and £130,000 from Sport England.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: "It's fantastic to see the opening of the Ilfracombe Watersports Hub; a project we have supported with £1.5m of our Get Building Fund.

"The new state-of-the-art hub will provide numerous sporting opportunities for residents and visitors to make the most of our amazing coastline and help extend the tourism season in the area.”

More information about the operators based at Ilfracombe Watersports Hub, including contact information, is available from their respective websites. Active Escapes: www.activeescape.co.uk; H2Outdoors: www.h2outdoor.co.uk; Nick Thorn: www.nickthorn.com/sup-lessons .