Boats in Brixham Harbour can easily be identified by their BM registration, but this was not always the case. Before 1902 all boats would have been registered DH for Dartmouth. At this time Brixham did not own sufficient property or assets to be classified as a market town and, consequently, its fishing fleet was registered in Dartmouth.
Thomas Lakeman, who owned “Lakemans Brewery” in the town and who was chair of Brixham Council gifted three cottages, which at that time stood on the seashore, to the Council. The cottages can be seen in the foreground in the photograph above. The cottages were primarily used for storage and repair of nets and sails and other fishing gear as well as offices for the Sires of the Harbour.
As a result of this acquisition Brixham was able to assume Market Town status and a market was built at the junction of Bolton Street and what is now New Road. The building still stands today and is known as the Town Hall.
A further bonus was that the acquired status enabled the fishing fleet to be locally registered and vessels to this day bear a BM registration number. This exercise took more than three years and even then thirty-four vessels never transferred and retained their Dartmouth registrations.
The cottages still exist and are known as “The Old Market House” and trade as a restaurant run by St Austell Brewery. No doubt Thomas Lakeman would have approved.