How did Westward Ho! get its name?
Westward Ho! is noted for its peculiar name, which comes from Charles Kingsley’s 1855 novel titled ‘Westward Ho!’ (and he also went on to write the well known fairy tale, The Water-Babies in 1863) , that was set in the neighbouring market town of Bideford. When the book became a bestseller, a group of local entrepreneurs seized the opportunity to develop tourism in the area. In 1863, the Northam Burrows Hotel and Villa Building Company was founded. This company stated that its primary aim was to attract holidaymakers to the beautiful North Devon Coast with “sea bathing, combined with the invigorating breezes of the Atlantic”.
The ‘Westward Ho! Hotel’ and a number of adjacent villas were constructed to accommodate the influx of people who wished to visit the area and discover the area that inspired the book. As the resort continued to expand, the wider community also became known as Westward Ho!, intentionally including an exclamation mark as part of the village’s name (the same as Charles Kingsley’s book). Rumours were that Kingsley had an argument with one of the main directors of the company who were leading the development of the resort about the name (and they never spoke again).