The lovely local postal town of Looe is actually separated into two segments – West Looe, which is on the Talland and Polperro side of the river, and East Looe on the other side. There are local legends of great rivalries between the two halves, including families who never cross from one side the other, and visitors often comment with surprise at seeing many local tradesmen such as bakers, butchers and grocers duplicated on each side. If you’re looking for a holiday cottage in Looe, pick your side carefully!
Old legends and rivalries aside, there has been a bridge between the two halves of Looe since about the fifteenth century. The bridge was originally an impressive construction of fifteen arches built a hundred yards closer to the sea than the modern version, and had a chapel in the centre of it as was quite common at the time. The bridge was damaged very badly in the winter of 1547 thanks to spring tides, heavy surges and some violent storms – local churches had to sell their silver plates in order to pay for the repairs! Only a few years afterwards the chapel fell out of regular use and ended up being removed entirely.
The bridge was in dire need of repair again by the seventeenth century and since the town could not afford the work the County purse ended up paying the bill. A plaque, dated 1689, commemorates the County Magistrates’ generosity on the wall of the car park on Fore Street near the chemist. In 1848 the town commissioners were authorised to demolish the wooden bridge and erect and more permanent stone one. The foundation stone was laid in 1854 by John Francis Buller (whose name also went onto Buller Quay and the pub of the same name). The ceremony was said to be extremely merry and rowdy by Looe’s standards even while the trees alongside the river were being planted!
Since its construction the new bridge has been a popular subject on postcards and photographs in the region. In 1996 it was excavated and strengthened to meet new standards for lorries carrying large tonnages, but construction workers at the time commented that the stone was in very fine condition and needed comparatively little work to bring it up to modern standards.
Today Looe is a bustling little town with a wide variety of pubs, restaurants, shops, facilities and things to do, making it a highly popular holiday destination in Cornwall. Its many amenities include the regular fish market and the famously named Banjo Pier (named for its unusual shape) which is an excellent viewing spot as well as popular for fishing. There are also lots of sandy beaches in the area, most of which are safe for families to use whether you want to go climbing around in rock pools or just sunbathe. If you’re looking for self-catering holidays in Cornwall you’ll find something for all the family in Looe - for a range of lovely holiday cottages in Looe take a look at some of the properties on offer at Looe&Polperro Holidays, which caters for everything from small families to large groups of six or seven or more.
How to get here:
Looe is located on the south coast of Cornwall, some 20 miles west of Plymouth (Devon) and 240 miles from London. Liskeard is some 10 miles distant, Polperro 6 miles and Fowey 12.
Looe is most easily reached by car - travel from England via M5 and A38 and cross the River Tamar at Saltash (Plymouth), continue on A38 to Trerulefoot and take first exit at roundabout A374 and after 1 mile turn right on A387 to Looe. An alternative route is to use the A30 to Okehampton (junction off M5/A38 near Exeter). This avoids congestion at the Tamar Bridge (there is work in 2003 on the tunnel under Saltash on the Cornwall side of the bridge).. From Okehampton take A386 to Tavistock, then A390 to Liskeard, then A38 - B3252 - A387 to Looe.
Alternatively you could use the Torpoint Ferry to cross from Plymouth into Cornwall, but expect delays at peak times.