“The Cobb”, Lyme’s iconic man-made harbour wall, features in Jane Austen’s Persuasion published in of 1818 and John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman of 1969. It was of great economic importance to the town and surrounding area, allowing it to develop as both a major port and a shipbuilding centre from the 13th century onwards.
The first written mention of the Cobb is in a 1328 document describing it as having been damaged by storms. The structure was made of oak piles driven into the seabed with boulders stacked between them. The boulders were floated into place tied between empty barrels.
The Cobb has been destroyed or severely damaged by storms several times. It was swept away in 1377 which led to the destruction of 50 boats and 80 houses. The southern arm was added in the 1690s, and rebuilt in 1793 following its destruction in a storm the previous year. The Cobb was reconstructed in 1826 using Portland Admiralty Roach, a type of Portland stone.