A Brief History of the Chamber

The Kingsbridge and District Chamber of Trade as it was then known was founded in 1949 and quickly acquired a remarkable record of practical achievement in promoting the interests of local businesses.  Its main publication was the “Kingsbridge & South Hams Official Guide”.

Pride was taken in creating a publication that was  …”very far removed from the usual rather brash commercial booklets, being filled with delightful articles on subjects of local interest ranging from bird watching to the ship building industry of the last century.  It is a frank and often humorous little work and deserves its wide numbers of admirers.”  This is a quote from the Kingsbridge & District Trade Exhibition leaflet of 1955 organised by the Chamber.

The Trade Exhibition held in 1955 was one of many events held to promote local businesses.  Mr Jack Tanner, proprietor of Tanners Ladies and Gentlemens outfitters in Fore Street, was one of the driving forces behind this event and was instrumental in helping to achieve the Chamber’s success for four decades after the war.  Other activities included pressing for improvements to the roads, postal services and organising special shopping weeks before Christmas with competitions and lavish window displays.  The accent has always been on “shop local “.

During that period the Chamber held four public meetings a year and an annual black tie dinner and dance at the Albion Hotel at the top of Fore Street now occupied by Marchand Petit.

In the 1980s a small group of local business people, members of the Chamber, decided that tourists needed a central point in the town where local information could be obtained. Thus the Kingsbridge Information Centre was created, initially in a caravan and later in the excellent purpose built structure seen on the Quay today.

The responsibility for producing the guide passed from the Chamber to the Information Centre, now an independent self funding business.  Today’s brilliant publication “Hello Kingsbridge & South Devon” continues to contain many interesting articles and invaluable information plus the advertising that is vital to the continuation of the service.

In subsequent years changes in the membership led to a lower public profile for the Chamber.  This was reversed from around 2005 with the introduction of the “Business Club” meetings.  In 2007 the Chamber’s image was updated with a change of name and a new visual identity including the logo seen elsewhere on this site.  Some Salcombe businesses have always been members but with the high rate of growth of new enterprises there it became attractive to acknowledge this in the name “Kingsbridge & Salcombe Chamber of Commerce”.

Today the Chamber has never had a higher profile across traditional media and now on social networking sites.  The membership has more than doubled and as this process continues it enables the Chamber to speak with an increasingly authoritative voice.