How pole-arising! South West Water sparks outrage among locals after removing 114-year-old rusty sewer pipe in Exmouth that became a VERY unlikely tourist attraction
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South West Water has sparked outrage among locals after removing a 114-year-old rusty pole that had become a very unlikely tourist attraction.
The pipe – which stood 25ft above the ground and leaned slightly to the right – was first installed in 1909 in the Maer Local Nature Reserve to help with the flow of sewage in the local area.
But in recent years, it has attracted visitors from all over the country thanks to its multiple Facebook groups and rave Google and TripAdvisor reviews.
Last year, one explorer wrote in their Google review: ‘It’s good to see that Exmouth has preserved its rusty pole in authentic rusty condition.
‘So many rusty poles in other locations have been ruined by gentrification (and paint) but this remains as a rare and traditional seaside attraction. I was impressed, don’t miss it if visiting the area.’
The rusty pole of Exmouth in all its glory before it was unceremoniously removed with no warning
The pole was first erected in 1909 and has become a staple of Exmouth community with many flocking from around the country to see it
But on 13 April, the pole was removed by South West Water without any warning or public consultation.
Speaking to ITV, the water company confirmed that they were responsible for removing the pole.
The statement claimed they had ‘agreed to remove it after concerns were raised at a council meeting over the structural integrity of the pole and risk to public safety’.
However, the decision has sparked outrage online – with many arguing that the locals should have been consulted.
Leaving a Google review, one disappointed visitor fumed: ‘Completely devastated that the rusty pole has been removed.
‘Explaining to a toddler (who is obsessed with rust) that we are going to see a rusty pole, only to find it has been removed two days earlier, is up there with root canal.
‘Not sure how we will be able to salvage the rest of this holiday now.’
As a result, Exmouth’s Rusty Pole Society is now fighting to have the pole re-instated.
Before its removal Google reviews for the pole gave it five stars and told other tourists to visit it if they got the chance
Press officer Mike Menhenitt told Femail: ‘I took my dog for a walk by the pole on (12 April) Wednesday evening and it was there.
‘On Thursday morning I drove past and it was gone, so somehow in that quite short space of time they managed to get it out of the ground and take it away.
‘It’s a big pole, it went at least 10ft underground and was around 25ft to 30ft above ground.
‘It seems like some strange clandestine operation to remove it. We want answers, it feels like a cover up. Why can’t they just be transparent about why it was taken.
‘Generations of children have played around that pole.’
Mike and the Exmouth’s Rusty Pole Society are currently campaigning for the reinsertion of the pole.
South West Water have both been approached for further comment.
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