Now closedReopening Saturday 15th February
History and Background
The Exeter Ship Canal was the first canal to be built in Britain since Roman times, the first section dating back to 1566. It enabled vessels to navigate to the wharfs at Exeter Quay for the River Exe was obstructed by shoals and fishing weirs, purposely enlarged by the Countess of Devon, Isabella De Fortibus, so trade would be diverted to the Port of Topsham from which she derived an income!
Over the years the canal was extended and enlarged until in 1824 it was recommended that it should be extended a further 2 miles down the Estuary to Turf. In 1827 the extension was opened along with The Turf Hotel providing accommodation for the Lock Keeper, and the crews of the many sailing vessels that were to enter the Canal.
The canal remains very much the same today as it was then except that the towpaths are no longer used by horses to tow craft the 5 miles from Turf to Exeter.
Coasters continued to use the Canal until the late 1960s with the last commercial vessel finishing in 1998.
During the 70s Exeter City Council closed The Turf, and it was feared that it would be demolished. Thankfully, The Exeter Maritime Museum obtained a listed building order and set about restoring this unique building.
The present owners, Clive and Ginny Redfern, have been at Turf since 1990 and have continued to renovate and improve this fascinating and historical slate hung, timber framed building being careful to retain its many interesting features and ensuring it is still a proper pub.
Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty and protected by The Exe Estuary and surrounding wetlands being deemed by English Nature a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protected Area (SPA), Turf is one of the few pubs in the country that cannot be accessed by car. Walking, cycling and by boat are the means employed. There are also 2 ferries from Topsham and one that operates along the Canal from Double Locks. For places to park and directions see map.