Exmouth Marina evolved from Exmouth docks, which were built in the 1860s when a group of local businessmen devised a scheme to improve Exmouth’s shipping facilities. The group managed to raise the capital required and, after an Act of Parliament approved the scheme, the docks were built and functioning within a year. Overseen by the Devon Dock, Pier and Steamship Company, the docks operated continuously for well over a century, halting only during the two World Wars. The docks had their own railway line, to transport coal, herring and other cargos up to Exeter, and a thriving community of 125 privately-owned chalets grew up around the dock area.
The Carter family acquired Exmouth docks in the 1980s, when the shipping operation was in full swing; in one year, 611 vessels are recorded as having been docked. As the years progressed, the docks struggled to keep abreast of developments in the shipping industry. Built on an increasingly larger scale, ships were becoming too big for the dock entrance, but the entrance could not be widened because the dock basin was too small. In 1989 a survey showed that the walls were in danger of collapse, making them unfit for commercial activities, and in 1990 the 700-ton Star Libra became the final ship to leave Exmouth docks as they closed for good.
Today, the site is home to the Quay Estate, a prestigious waterfront development of more than 300 houses and flats. Exmouth Marina sits neatly within the development, with secure berths and pontoons filling the old dock basin. A working community is still thriving; fishing boats (including Greendale’s own Becci of Ladram) are berthed at the marina, in order to take advantage of its direct access to the waters of the Jurassic Coast, and the Exmouth Mussels Company is headquartered at the dock.