This piece gives a much more full account of ‘the disappearing house’:
[Account taken from the notes of the SVA History Group’s meeting of September 2021 – with thanks to Phil Lee and Brian Golding]
Mr Medhurst of Temple Street Dairy owned an orchard stretching down to the Sid and in 1911 obtained planning permission from Honiton RDC to build a house on land immediately across the Sid. He died in 1939 and Lady Lockyer bought it for demolition. Meanwhile War broke out and the house was used as a hostel for evacuees. It was designated a ‘hostel’ which meant that the evacuees had the house to themselves. They paid for their own coal and food , although milk was cheap or free, but the government paid their rent and rates. Lady Lockyer died in 1943 so was unable to proceed with demolition herself.
In the 1950s a very poor family lived there, even by the standards of the day, and the house was described as having no electricity or running water. The house was two storey, very dilapidated, and surrounded by bushes, especially bamboo right on the river’s edge, and rubbish. The family living there comprised an Italian father, his younger wife and four daughters, ranging in age from toddlers to teenagers. The children went to local schools – two of them attended All Saints school. The family were eventually rehoused – probably in Manstone.
The house was eventually demolished in 1958/9. When it was demolished, it was said that there was no sign of brickwork or rubble, so maybe the house was of wooden construction. The remains of the supports for the plank bridge that Mr. Medhurst used to cross the river are still visible if you know where to look. The building with its footbridge is on the 1933 map (right on the join). The middle of the river was the Urban District boundary and so the house was not in Sidmouth.