Until the 15th Century the River Otter, which today quietly
enters the sea at Otter Head, Budleigh Salterton, was the
scene of considerable activity as the area, and East Budleigh in
particular, played an important part in the continental trade.
The village of East Budleigh, then a thriving town, was
concerned with the production and dyeing of wool and enjoyed
prosperity when Budley Haven, on the left bank of the Otter
operated as a port. There was also some shipbuilding activity.
The decline began with the piling up of the pebble ridge which
eventually choked the mouth of the harbour and river. There
were also salt pans in the marshes, these pans were used as late
as the 18th Century. Another thriving ‘industry’ in the area at that
period was smuggling!
Budleigh Salterton, formerly Salterton or Salterne, derives its
name from the manufacture of salt in large salt pans which were
constructed at the lower part of the River Otter, just before it
emerged into the sea. They belonged to the priory of Otterton,
and the monks had charge of the salt makers and of the packhorses
by which the salt was conveyed to the various townships
and hamlets along the course of the river. Salt was the only food
preservative used at that time.
Between 1897 – 1967 Budleigh
Salterton was served by a railway
line now you can cycle on part of
the track traffic free.