Exeter Canal and Quay Trust is delighted to announce Quay Words 2020-22, made possible thanks to significant support from Arts Council England National Lottery Projects and continued financial investment by Exeter Canal and Quay Trust itself.

This further two years of Quay Words, celebrates words and stories at Exeter Custom House and continues the development of this iconic Exeter location as a hub for hands-on exploration of literature in all its forms.

Quay Words is a partnership between Exeter Canal and Quay Trust, the charity charged with developing Exeter Quayside, and Literature Works, the literature development charity for South West England. Quay Words showcases literature as an accessible and diverse art form and this hub for literature is a central pillar of Exeter’s successful bid to gain UNESCO City of Literature status.

About Exeter Custom House

The Custom House was built in 1680 at the height of Exeter’s woollen cloth industry. Today it is a fascinating visitor centre and the meeting point for Exeter Red Coat Guided Tours.

Exeter has had a quay since Roman times. During the 13th and 14th centuries, rival merchants built weirs across the river near Topsham to prevent cargoes reaching Exeter. Between 1564 and 1566 John Trew built the first stretch of the Exeter Canal to enable delivery of cargo closer to the city. The increase in trade led to the construction of the Custom House in 1680. Renowned for its sweeping staircase and ornate plaster ceilings, this beautiful building now houses a fascinating visitor centre.

The Custom House Visitor Centre provides tourist information, quayside treasure hunts, an accommodation booking service and a gift shop selling local pottery, replica maps and a wide range of local interest books. Quayside based Red Coat Guided Tours also depart from outside the Centre.