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Seaton is a seaside town in East Devon on the south coast of England. It faces onto Lyme Bay, to the west of the mouth of the River Axe with red cliffs to one side and white cliffs on the other. Axmouth and Beer are nearby. A sea wall provides access to the mostly shingle beach stretching for about a mile, and a small harbour.

Seaton stands on the 95 miles (153 km) Jurassic Coast of the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Coastline. From here it is possible to visit rock strata dating from three geological periods in a 185 million-year ‘geological walk through time’.

A farming community existed here 4,000 years before the Romans arrived and there were Iron Age forts in the vicinity at Seaton Down, Hawkesdown hill, Blackbury Camp and Berry camp. During Roman times this was an important port although the town’s roman remains have been reburied to preserve them. In Saxon times Seaton was known as Fluta or Fleet, the Saxon word for Creek. The town of Fleet was founded by Saxon Charter 1005 AD. The first mention of Seaton was in a Papal Bull by Pope Eugenius in 1146.

Seaton was an important port for several centuries, supplying ships and sailors for Edward I’s wars against Scotland and France. In the 14th century heavy storms caused a landslip which partially blocked the estuary, and the shingle bank started to build up. In 1868 the arrival of the railway reduced the use of the harbour.

Seaton was served by a branch line from Seaton Junction some 6 miles to the north on the London and South Western Railway main line from London Waterloo and Salisbury to Exeter. The line was constructed by the Seaton and Beer Railway which was absorbed by the L&SWR in 1885. The railway had a small terminus station, goods shed and locomotive depot. The locomotive depot was closed by British Railways in November 1963, and the line closed in 1967. Part of the trackbed has been used to construct the Seaton Tramway to Colyton which has become a tourist attraction bringing in around 185,000 visitors a year.

In the 19th century Seaton developed as a holiday resort and many of the town buildings are Victorian. Seaton lost its largest holiday camp at the beginning of 2009 when the site was purchased by Tesco who opened a major supermarket on the site in late 2011. However, Seaton still has many accommodation providers including guest houses, hotels, a camping site and a caravan park.

The church on the edge of town was built in the 14th century, with a squat tower dating from the 15th century. Seaton is also notable for having one of the worlds first concrete bridges, built over the River Axe in 1877. This is said to be the oldest surviving concrete bridge in the Britain.

Seaton holds an interesting collection of rock on its cliffs. Going East on the coast, there are Triassic rocks with their characteristic red colour; but these rocks are not the best to fossil collect in, as the rocks are crumbly, like dry mud. Keep going East, and there will be chalk Cretaceous rocks, with their characteristic white colour. The cliffs in this area are particularly dangerous, and there are numerous signs warning people of this.

There are 3,300 homes in the parish, of which approximately one third are of single person occupancy. The majority of those persons are of pensionable age. Politically, Seaton is a civil parish and town, in the district of East Devon.

The area around Seaton is rich in wildlife. The agricultural landscape supports areas of ancient woodland (often with displays of bluebells), important networks of hedges, unimproved grassland and springline mires.

Around Beer there are remnants of flower-rich chalk grassland, a rare habitat in Devon. The Axe Estuary, with its areas of grazing marsh, and the River Axe itself, are of international importance for their aquatic communities. To the east lies the Axmouth to Lyme Regis Undercliffs National Nature Reserve. This large area of coastal landslides and cliffs supports important woodland and grassland habitats and is of considerable significance for its geology, as witnessed by its inclusion in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Otters are present on the River Axe, and at the end of 2009 are being seen regularly on Seaton marshes/Colyford Common. Dormice are present throughout the area. To the west, near Beer, are man-made caves of importance for a diversity of hibernating bats, including the very rare Bechsteins bat. The Axe Estuary and its marshes are important for wintering wildfowl and waders, such as Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank, while in the summer butterflies and dragonflies abound.

The bird-watching and wildlife areas of the Axe Vale have been enhanced by the establishment of the Seaton Marshes Local Nature Reserve, work to establish it was carried out by the Axe Vale and District Conservation Society. In 2007, an Audouin’s Gull was seen here – the fourth British record of this bird.

The area to the east of the retail area to the River Axe (mainly floodplain) has been the subject of a regeneration plan formulated in 2003 and approved in detail in 2009, despite local opposition. As of early 2011, the level of the site has been raised above flood level using a million tons of sand brought in by sea. A large supermarket and filling station is to be built on one half of this site: the other half is to be offered for residential development. Plans are being made for a Jurassic Coast Discovery Centre nearby. A further residential development is planned along the riverside.

The Seaton Tramway takes visitors across country to Colyford and Colyton, this used to be the link to mainline services and runs alongside the estuary giving views of the nature reserve on one side and the estuary wildlife on the other.

At Beer, about 2 miles west of Seaton, is the Beer Heights Light Railway; along with numerous model railways, this is part of Pecorama, a tourist attraction provided by the model railway manufacturer Peco.

Its position next to floodplains and hemmed in by hills on either side means expansion is difficult and has hampered growth of local employment. In 2010 redevelopment of a large portion of the town commenced with new business sites providing a much needed surge in non-seasonal employment.

Seaton Devon has been twinned with the French town of Thury-Harcourt in Normandy since 1982.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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