Sidmouth's famous Jacob's Ladder gets a makeover

Jacob's Ladder in Sidmouth was built more than a hundred years ago and has been getting a much needed makeover. Credit: ITV West Country

Sidmouth's famous Jacob's Ladder has received some much needed maintenance. Originally built 120 years ago, it is a popular attraction but has been suffering from the weather.

The Grade II listed staircase is one of the most recognisable man-made landmarks along the east Devon coast. It runs up the cliff face at Sidmouth, connecting the beach with Connaught Gardens above.

The exposed location means that it gets a battering from the elements when the weather is bad. East Devon District Council has found several corroding structural tie bars needing to be replaced. Scaffolding has been put up so the ladder can be repaired and repainted.

Special weatherproof paint is being used on the structure to protect it from the elements. Credit: ITV West Country

The work will prolong the life of the wooden parts of the structure so visitors and locals can enjoy it for years to come.

The ladder has not always looked like this. Local historian Brian Golding says the original ladder, which dated back to the 1870s, was just that - a steep straight wooden ladder down onto the beach.

An old watercolour shows the original Jacob's Ladder. Credit: Devon Archives

Sidmouth was growing in popularity as a resort but this beach was almost inaccessible without clambering over the rocks at low tide. The ladder opened it up for visitors.

Brian Golding says, "Imagine just climbing that ladder. It must have been quite frightening and - if you were a lady with those voluminous skirts the Victorians wore - how they managed it I don't know, but they did".

Jacob's Ladder seen against the backdrop of the Jurassic coastline. Credit: ITV West Country

The name Jacob's Ladder comes from the story of Jacob in the Bible who dreamt of angels ascending and descending to heaven from earth.

Access to the beach is much easier now with a walkway from the town around the bottom of the cliffs and up the hill the other side, but Jacob's Ladder remains a popular visitor attraction and historic landmark. It now has a fresh coat of weatherproof paint ready for winter.