Burgh Island Hotel - Art Deco hideaway in Devon


Burgh Island Hotel - Art Deco hideaway in Devon

Burgh Island is a small island near Bigbury-on-Sea in south Devon, separated from the mainland by a tidal channel. It is notable for being the location of a grand Art Deco hotel, with associations to Agatha Christie, and for the bizarre 'sea tractor' that transports visitors over to the island at high tide. 

Agatha Christie loved the place so much she used it as inspiration for several of her stories, including Evil Under the Sun and And Then There Were None. It is an ideal setting for the archetypal Christie whodunnit, as the tide isolates the cast of characters and provides a dramatic stage for misdeeds.

Several other literary notables, such as dramatist/theatre designer/songwriter-performer Noel Coward, holidayed on the island in the 1930s. It is reputed that Prime Minister Winston Churchill and then General Dwight D. Eisenhower met on Burgh Island just before D-Day in World War Two.

Today the island, which is about 270 yards across Bigbury Beach, remains a popular destination for those seeking a romantic escape in the fantastic Art Deco-style Burgh Island Hotel and the unusual means by which the hotel gets its visitors to the island when the tide is high - a sea tractor which drives across the sand with its wheels submerged whilst the occupants sit on an elevated platform above the water. There have been three incarnations of this unique transport system. In the latest version, power from a tractor engine is transmitted to the wheels by hydraulic motors.

The hotel is a great example of the Art Deco style. It was built in the 1930s with a few subsequent additions, including a room created from the captain’s cabin of the 1891 warship HMS Ganges. There are three private houses on the island and a pub - the Pilchard Inn, a 14th-century smugglers' haunt.

The island and hotel are unsurprisingly a popular filming location. They have been used for the TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's Evil Under The Sun and. several scenes from the BBC’s 1987 dramatisation of Christie’s story Nemesis.. The climactic scene of the 1965 British film Catch Us If You Can (featuring The Dave Clark Five) takes place at the island.

Further reading

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