What to see

The North Devon Maritime Museum has lots of different maritime themed exhibits.  We have “hands on” exhibits including films and videos, working models, a panoramic telescope, a ship’s wheel, and knots to tie.  Visitors can also enjoy the outside of the museum, visit the garden, use the picnic benches, view a cannon from HMS Weazle (an 18th century ship-of-the-line), and a photo cut-out panel for a souvenir photograph of your visit. 

The development of ships

We have a wide range of model ships showing their development from early viking craft, through medieval and later sailing ships to 19th and 20th century powered craft. Don’t miss our new exhibit on the “Last gasp of Sail”. There is a section on modern ships built at the Appledore shipyard, including the bow sections of the new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, and a series of coastal patrol craft for the Irish navy.

Ship building

There are several exhibits displaying wooden-ship building tools, sail-making, and rope manufacture. Throughout the museum you will find half-models of locally built ships. In particular there is a magnificent model of HMS Tees, built in Bideford in 1814. There is a section on the history of Richmond Dry Dock, now unused but still on view in Appledore. There is a model of a 19th century local shipyard.


A difficult but critical issue for sailors. We show a range of navigation instruments, compasses, telescopes, sextants, charts and maps. There is a ship’s wheel and engine-room telegraph. Conversely there is an exhibit focussing on local wrecks and lifeboat activity.

Historical perspectives

There is a display about Sir Richard Grenfell, 16th century sailor born in nearby Bideford. We also have a number of tableaux showing historical marine events, and a model of Appledore Quay in the days of sail; many of today’s building are still recognizable.

World War 2

French frogman, René Le Roy (he trained our first naval frogmen at HMS Appledore), stands guard to our “war room” where we exhibit a range of photographs and film of local activities for the preparation of the D-Day landings (COXE – the Combined Operations Experimental Establishment), a section of PLUTO (Pipeline Under the Ocean), and “Hobart’s Funnies” (The work of General Sir Percy Hobart). There is also an exhibit about HMS Bideford.

Maritime Activities

North Devon suffered the predations of Corsair pirates, and was the home of a number of famous pirates and privateers of our own. Smuggling too was a common practice; we have an exhibit of some of the weapons used in these activities. There are also exhibits covering emigration, cooperage, gravel barges on the Torridge and the limestone trade.

Local social history

Throughout the Museum you will find exhibits about local activities: a typical Appledore kitchen at the turn of the 20th century, now disappeared railways, ferries, ancient and modern local pottery, an “Appledore Frock”, and well-known people who made up the community.