Ivybridge

took its name from ‘ye bridge which lieth over ye Erme, being much inclined to ivy’.

Sir William Pole, Devon historian.

Welcome to Ivybridge Uncovered

A Mill Town Heritage

The Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

The History of Ivybridge

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J21.62

Ivybridge

Is beautifully situated on the River Erme, in the midst of some of the prettiest scenery in South Devon. It is ten miles from Plymouth, on the edge of Dartmoor. Charming walks and drives abound through picturesque woodland scenes, and for the angler there is good fishing amid the most delightful surroundings.

Tuck Postcard description from around 1904

Raphael Tuck & Sons was started in 1866 initially selling pictures and greeting cards. This later progressed to selling postcards. In 1903, the company introduced their trademark ‘Oilette’ Series designed to appear as miniature oil painting.

 

Tuck’s Picturesque Devon, Series XII, depicted scenes in and around Ivybridge, all printed in this oil painting style. This series was a set of six postcards with images of the Ivy Bridge over the River Erme, the Viaduct, the Woods, fishing on the River Erme, a foot bridge over the Yealm at Hawns and Dendles Woods and Cottages at Ermington.

J21.62

Ivybridge

Is beautifully situated on the River Erme, in the midst of some of the prettiest scenery in South Devon. It is ten miles from Plymouth, on the edge of Dartmoor. Charming walks and drives abound through picturesque woodland scenes, and for the angler there is good fishing amid the most delightful surroundings.

Tuck Postcard description from around 1904

Raphael Tuck & Sons was started in 1866 initially selling pictures and greeting cards. This later progressed to selling postcards. In 1903, the company introduced their trademark ‘Oilette’ Series designed to appear as miniature oil painting.

 

Tuck’s Picturesque Devon, Series XII, depicted scenes in and around Ivybridge, all printed in this oil painting style. This series was a set of six postcards with images of the Ivy Bridge over the River Erme, the Viaduct, the Woods, fishing on the River Erme, a foot bridge over the Yealm at Hawns and Dendles Woods and Cottages at Ermington.

J21.12

aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

The History of Ivybridge

aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

The History of Ivybridge

Candlemas

The snowdrop has a long association with the Christian festival of Candlemas and was often used to decorate churches during the celebration. This earned the snowdrop’s alternative name of Candlemas Bells.

Candlemas – 2 February

is one of the cross-quarter days, falling as the name suggests in between the quarter days. The other cross-quarter days are May Day (1 May), Lammas (1 August), and All Hallows (1 November). It was believed that Candlemas predicted the weather for the rest of the winter.

“ The Primaveral season begins about Candlemas. The increasing day becomes sensibly longer, and the lighter evenings begin to be remarked by the absence of candles till nearly six o’clock. The weather is generally milder, and the exceptions to this rule, or a frosty Candlemas Day, is found generally to be indicative of a cold primaveral period that it has given rise to several proverbs

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another flight;

But if Candlemas day be clouds and rain,

Winter is gone and will not come again.

About this time the first signs of the early spring appear in the flowering of the snowdrops; they rise above ground, and generally begin to flower by Candlemas. The yellow hellebore accompanies, and even anticipates the snowdrop, and lasts longer, mixing agreeably its bright sulphur with the deep orange yellow of the spring crocus, which on an average blows about February 5th, and continues throughout March, fading away before Ladytide”

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 19 February 1831

Candlemas marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox

Primaveral means early springtime

Ladytide historically relates to the period around Lady day (25th March).

Candlemas – 2 February

is one of the cross-quarter days, falling as the name suggests in between the quarter days. The other cross-quarter days are May Day (1 May), Lammas (1 August), and All Hallows (1 November). It was believed that Candlemas predicted the weather for the rest of the winter.

“ The Primaveral season begins about Candlemas. The increasing day becomes sensibly longer, and the lighter evenings begin to be remarked by the absence of candles till nearly six o’clock. The weather is generally milder, and the exceptions to this rule, or a frosty Candlemas Day, is found generally to be indicative of a cold primaveral period that it has given rise to several proverbs

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another flight;

But if Candlemas day be clouds and rain,

Winter is gone and will not come again.

About this time the first signs of the early spring appear in the flowering of the snowdrops; they rise above ground, and generally begin to flower by Candlemas. The yellow hellebore accompanies, and even anticipates the snowdrop, and lasts longer, mixing agreeably its bright sulphur with the deep orange yellow of the spring crocus, which on an average blows about February 5th, and continues throughout March, fading away before Ladytide”

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 19 February 1831

Candlemas marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox

Primaveral means early springtime

Ladytide historically relates to the period around Lady day (25th March).

The snowdrop has a long association with the Christian festival of Candlemas and was often used to decorate churches during the celebration. This earned the snowdrop’s alternative name of Candlemas Bells.

Valentines Day

It was common during the middle of the 18th-century to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes on Valentine’s Day but by the Victorian era, the sending of pre-printed cards gained popularity. The trend was stimulated further by the advent of affordable postage with the introduction of the Penny Post.

 

Ready-made Valentines cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged.

Valentines Day

It was common during the middle of the 18th-century to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes on Valentine’s Day but by the Victorian era, the sending of pre-printed cards gained popularity. The trend was stimulated further by the advent of affordable postage with the introduction of the Penny Post.

 

Ready-made Valentines cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged.

Ivybridge and the River Erme

There is not in the west of England a spot more remarkable for pleasing scenery than Ivybridge … The torrent rushing over massive boulders of rock, and the venerable bridge mantled with ivy, are present in a luxuriance of wild comeliness, marred only by the architectural vagaries of man … beneath the viaduct is a paper mill, with its elongated chimney, that, diverting the river Erme from its natural bed, uses it for its particular wants, and returns it again to the old channel. Despite the blemishes, the townlet of Ivybridge preserves its quaint character of beauty. The river hurries on, foaming between rows of well-built houses; the surrounding villas are tastily planned, and the walks and gardens on the banks of the brawling stream give an original and secluded appearance to this attractive place. Close to the ancient bridge, with its portal almost opening upon the parapet, is situated the London Hotel, the most comfortable wayside hostelry in the South Hams district, with excellent rooms, a terraced garden behind, commanding a fine view of the moor and valley, and furnishing a cuisine plentifully supplied with trout which may be relieved by the adjunct of a bottle of sound old port.

Description 1866

Image: The River Erme flowing over the boulders with the London Hotel and Stowford Paper Mill (left) in the background

There is not in the west of England a spot more remarkable for pleasing scenery than Ivybridge … The torrent rushing over massive boulders of rock, and the venerable bridge mantled with ivy, are present in a luxuriance of wild comeliness, marred only by the architectural vagaries of man … beneath the viaduct is a paper mill, with its elongated chimney, that, diverting the river Erme from its natural bed, uses it for its particular wants, and returns it again to the old channel. Despite the blemishes, the townlet of Ivybridge preserves its quaint character of beauty. The river hurries on, foaming between rows of well-built houses; the surrounding villas are tastily planned, and the walks and gardens on the banks of the brawling stream give an original and secluded appearance to this attractive place. Close to the ancient bridge, with its portal almost opening upon the parapet, is situated the London Hotel, the most comfortable wayside hostelry in the South Hams district, with excellent rooms, a terraced garden behind, commanding a fine view of the moor and valley, and furnishing a cuisine plentifully supplied with trout which may be relieved by the adjunct of a bottle of sound old port.

Description 1866

Situated in the midst of charming scenery, in a high-class residential and sporting neighbourhood, close to a main line G.W.R. station, and 11 miles from Plymouth.

London Hotel, Ivybridge comprising of bar, smoking, commercial, and tea-rooms, 3 private sitting-rooms, billiard and large assembly rooms, 16 bedrooms, a public bar known as the London Hotel Tap, stabling for 24 horses, motor garage, lovely gardens and riverside walks, the whole site covering about 1 ¾ acres.

Sale particulars 1909

Situated in the midst of charming scenery, in a high-class residential and sporting neighbourhood, close to a main line G.W.R. station, and 11 miles from Plymouth.

London Hotel, Ivybridge comprising of bar, smoking, commercial, and tea-rooms, 3 private sitting-rooms, billiard and large assembly rooms, 16 bedrooms, a public bar known as the London Hotel Tap, stabling for 24 horses, motor garage, lovely gardens and riverside walks, the whole site covering about 1 ¾ acres.

Sale particulars 1909

February 1883

Many causes conspire to render early trout-fishing in Devon delightful…to find oneself at the river’s side in February, while a keen wind blows across, a clouded stream runs in front, and a channel, swept free of weeds, in which to throw flies without fear of a foul, extends before us – all this adds to the charm of early fishing… The meadows, as yet, are too bare for kine, the well-loved red kine of Devon; but every here and there are sheltered fields in which sheep with lambs will be found, and there is sure to be a magpie or two hopping round them. The angler looks most eagerly, however, on the river banks for his favourite birds, and he will not look in vain. Of course, it is too soon for the migratory birds, no swallow brightens the prospect; not even a willow wren appears till March; but a couple of kingfishers flit up and down like flashes of emerald light, and he knows the bank wherein these built last year, and will probably do so again this spring.

Further on, the water-ouzel flirts its tail as a greeting to him from a boulder in mid-stream. Yellow wagtails fly about, rooks scold their partners, starlings whisper love notes to each other from the high elm-tree tops. A wren bustles in and out of the ‘wearing’ at the angler’s feet, where the bank is stayed with withies bent round stakes, a delightful haunt for trout. A water hen bustles round a miniature jungle of sedges and (sight which at once reminds him that he is in Devon) a big white owl flaps up and down as it hunts a hedgerow all its length like a pointer missing no chance of game. This sight alone tells of the gloomy soft day. On no other day does the barn owl care to fly, and this is precisely the day on which to catch trout.

Tavistock Gazette 1883

F21.61

Kine is an old term meaning cows collectively.

 

Water-ouzel (or water ousel) is a local name for a dipper, ‘ousel’ being an old word for Blackbird, whilst water hen are more commonly referred to as moorhens today.

February 1883

Many causes conspire to render early trout-fishing in Devon delightful…to find oneself at the river’s side in February, while a keen wind blows across, a clouded stream runs in front, and a channel, swept free of weeds, in which to throw flies without fear of a foul, extends before us – all this adds to the charm of early fishing… The meadows, as yet, are too bare for kine, the well-loved red kine of Devon; but every here and there are sheltered fields in which sheep with lambs will be found, and there is sure to be a magpie or two hopping round them. The angler looks most eagerly, however, on the river banks for his favourite birds, and he will not look in vain. Of course, it is too soon for the migratory birds, no swallow brightens the prospect; not even a willow wren appears till March; but a couple of kingfishers flit up and down like flashes of emerald light, and he knows the bank wherein these built last year, and will probably do so again this spring.

Further on, the water-ouzel flirts its tail as a greeting to him from a boulder in mid-stream. Yellow wagtails fly about, rooks scold their partners, starlings whisper love notes to each other from the high elm-tree tops. A wren bustles in and out of the ‘wearing’ at the angler’s feet, where the bank is stayed with withies bent round stakes, a delightful haunt for trout. A water hen bustles round a miniature jungle of sedges and (sight which at once reminds him that he is in Devon) a big white owl flaps up and down as it hunts a hedgerow all its length like a pointer missing no chance of game. This sight alone tells of the gloomy soft day. On no other day does the barn owl care to fly, and this is precisely the day on which to catch trout.

Tavistock Gazette 1883

F21.61

Kine is an old term meaning cows collectively.

Water-ouzel (or water ousel) is a local name for a dipper, ‘ousel’ being an old word for Blackbird, whilst water hen are more commonly referred to as moorhens today.

Trout fishing on the River Erme

February 1883

Many causes conspire to render early trout-fishing in Devon delightful…to find oneself at the river’s side in February, while a keen wind blows across, a clouded stream runs in front, and a channel, swept free of weeds, in which to throw flies without fear of a foul, extends before us – all this adds to the charm of early fishing… The meadows, as yet, are too bare for kine, the well-loved red kine of Devon; but every here and there are sheltered fields in which sheep with lambs will be found, and there is sure to be a magpie or two hopping round them. The angler looks most eagerly, however, on the river banks for his favourite birds, and he will not look in vain. Of course, it is too soon for the migratory birds, no swallow brightens the prospect; not even a willow wren appears till March; but a couple of kingfishers flit up and down like flashes of emerald light, and he knows the bank wherein these built last year, and will probably do so again this spring.

Further on, the water-ouzel flirts its tail as a greeting to him from a boulder in mid-stream. Yellow wagtails fly about, rooks scold their partners, starlings whisper love notes to each other from the high elm-tree tops. A wren bustles in and out of the ‘wearing’ at the angler’s feet, where the bank is stayed with withies bent round stakes, a delightful haunt for trout. A water hen bustles round a miniature jungle of sedges and (sight which at once reminds him that he is in Devon) a big white owl flaps up and down as it hunts a hedgerow all its length like a pointer missing no chance of game. This sight alone tells of the gloomy soft day. On no other day does the barn owl care to fly, and this is precisely the day on which to catch trout.

Tavistock Gazette 1883

Kine is an old term meaning cows collectively.

F21.61

Water-ouzel (or water ousel) is a local name for a dipper, ‘ousel’ being an old word for Blackbird, whilst water hen are more commonly referred to as moorhens today.

F21.49

The ‘well-loved red kine of Devon’

mentioned in the trout fishing article refers of course to the South Devon, a breed which was practically unknown outside of the region at this time. Their predecessors had been taken from the port of Plymouth to the North American colonies in considerable numbers, including a few on the Mayflower in 1620.

 

In 1890 a meeting was held in Totnes to discuss the merits of establishing a Herd Book for the breed and within a year it was in operation. This essentially formed an official register of the breed where the parentage of each animal was known. Such registers issued certificates for each recorded animal often indicating their lineage. Following this move the breed began to proliferate more widely. The South Devon was valued for the production of beef but also its rich milk and butterfat.

F21.49

The ‘well-loved red kine of Devon’

mentioned in the trout fishing article refers of course to the South Devon, a breed which was practically unknown outside of the region at this time. Their predecessors had been taken from the port of Plymouth to the North American colonies in considerable numbers, including a few on the Mayflower in 1620.

 

In 1890 a meeting was held in Totnes to discuss the merits of establishing a Herd Book for the breed and within a year it was in operation. This essentially formed an official register of the breed where the parentage of each animal was known. Such registers issued certificates for each recorded animal often indicating their lineage. Following this move the breed began to proliferate more widely. The South Devon was valued for the production of beef but also its rich milk and butterfat.

The flies used are very small; so are their fish; and the river is so completely overhung with trees, making a shorter rod indispensably requisite. The best flies that can be used are dark blues and light duns. Get into the middle of the river, amongst the rocks with your short rod and short line, fish up stream, and pitch your flies into the eddies at backs of large stones, you are certain of excellent diversion, although you get no large fish!

Fly fishing in Ivybridge 1835

In comparison to other rivers in Devon the Erme does not witness a large quantity of migratory fish. Trout are more common than salmon and migration begins in March with the larger fish and continues until August, the later runs being the small peel.

 

In 1995, when Stowford Paper Mill was operational, ArjoWiggins the owners, funded a fish pass (weir) on a stretch of the River Erme close by to assist the fish in their journey upstream to their favoured gravel beds. Until then it was one of the last major obstacles to fish migration.

Weir Head

is one of the many delightful shady pools in the woods at Ivybridge. At this point the greater portion of the Erme is diverted for use in the famous Paper Mills and other industries; also the resort for the lads of the town who gather here in the summer evenings for the purpose of bathing or diving from the huge rocks.

Charles Smallridge – 1906

In comparison to other rivers in Devon the Erme does not witness a large quantity of migratory fish. Trout are more common than salmon and migration begins in March with the larger fish and continues until August, the later runs being the small peel.

 

In 1995, when Stowford Paper Mill was operational, ArjoWiggins the owners, funded a fish pass (weir) on a stretch of the River Erme close by to assist the fish in their journey upstream to their favoured gravel beds. Until then it was one of the last major obstacles to fish migration.

Weir Head

is one of the many delightful shady pools in the woods at Ivybridge. At this point the greater portion of the Erme is diverted for use in the famous Paper Mills and other industries; also the resort for the lads of the town who gather here in the summer evenings for the purpose of bathing or diving from the huge rocks.

Charles Smallridge – 1906

What is a truff?

CLUE: they are caught by anglers in Devon

“A gentleman, hailing from Ivybridge, who has fished the Erme for many a season informs what they call a ‘truff’ is a fish as plentiful as the name is common (although upon inquiry in Devon this was found not to be true). It is a fish that varies in size from one foot to the length of a man’s arm; very dark on the back, but very silvery and white below the lateral line, having at the same time from four to five opaque white spots or scales, situate equi-distant apart from shoulder to wrist of tail. The nose is flattened about the width of the two forefingers of the human hand; teeth plentiful and large; tail straight, nearly, not at all inclined to be forked; some seasons more plentiful than others, but there are always some to be had. He states that his candid opinion is that a ‘truff’ is nothing more than a hybrid between a pike or jack and a salmon. These are his own words but it remains a long-standing query as far as Devon is concerned.”

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 18 July 1882

Further research on the topic reveals that a ‘truff’ is a Devonshire name for an adult sea trout but crucially when it is in the second summer of migration and has grown to around 1½lbs (0.7 kgs) and over.

What is a truff?

CLUE: they are caught by anglers in Devon

“A gentleman, hailing from Ivybridge, who has fished the Erme for many a season informs what they call a ‘truff’ is a fish as plentiful as the name is common (although upon inquiry in Devon this was found not to be true). It is a fish that varies in size from one foot to the length of a man’s arm; very dark on the back, but very silvery and white below the lateral line, having at the same time from four to five opaque white spots or scales, situate equi-distant apart from shoulder to wrist of tail. The nose is flattened about the width of the two forefingers of the human hand; teeth plentiful and large; tail straight, nearly, not at all inclined to be forked; some seasons more plentiful than others, but there are always some to be had. He states that his candid opinion is that a ‘truff’ is nothing more than a hybrid between a pike or jack and a salmon. These are his own words but it remains a long-standing query as far as Devon is concerned.”

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 18 July 1882

Further research on the topic reveals that a ‘truff’ is a Devonshire name for an adult sea trout but crucially when it is in the second summer of migration and has grown to around 1½lbs (0.7 kgs) and over.

J21.12

Featured articles coming next month

A vacation in the South Hams 1904

Entitled ‘ Ivybridge, A Beauty Spot in Devonshire’, this charming article describes the first impressions of Ivybridge and the neighbouring district.

 

Travelling all the way from the Highlands of Scotland the visitor alights the train at Ivybridge train station and proceeds to describe what she encounters in ardent detail, revealing her clear love of nature.

J21.12

Featured articles coming next month

A vacation in the South Hams 1904

Entitled ‘ Ivybridge, A Beauty Spot in Devonshire’, this charming article describes the first impressions of Ivybridge and the neighbouring district.

 

Travelling all the way from the Highlands of Scotland the visitor alights the train at Ivybridge train station and proceeds to describe what she encounters in ardent detail, revealing her clear love of nature.

F21.59

Operation Primrose

With the first primroses already adorning our hedgerows and gardens we revisit the annual event which took place in Ivybridge each Spring during the 1960s through to the 1980s. Tens of thousands of bunches of primroses were sent out to the client base of paper company Wiggins Teape, the owners of Stowford Paper Mill at this time.

 

The Congregational Church Hall on Exeter Road became the hub of this brief but intensive activity, receiving, packing and despatching the bunches of primroses to all parts of the country via the Post Office.

If you have any recollections of this event we would love you to share them with us at

info@ivybridge-heritage.org

F21.57

With the first primroses already adorning our hedgerows and gardens we revisit the annual event which took place in Ivybridge each Spring during the 1960s through to the 1980s. Tens of thousands of bunches of primroses were sent out to the client base of paper company Wiggins Teape, the owners of Stowford Paper Mill at this time.

The Congregational Church Hall on Exeter Road became the hub of this brief but intensive activity, receiving, packing and despatching the bunches of primroses to all parts of the country via the Post Office.

If you have any recollections of this event we would love you to share them with us at

info@ivybridge-heritage.org

The old bridge has a single span high round arch, constructed in granite with dressed granite voussoirs. A curved parapet of chamfered granite splays out over the abutments.

 

The basic principle of an arch bridge is its curved construction, allowing vertical load to be transferred laterally along the curve of the arch to the supports on each end, called abutments. The outward lateral compression gives the structure its rigidity and strength. The wedge shaped blocks of stone making up the arch are known as voussoirs and are symmetrically placed around a central voussoir known as the key-stone, without which the structure would collapse.

 

The ivy bridge was historically located on the corner of the four ancient parishes of Ermington, Ugborough, Cornwood and Harford. Two parish stones, inscribed Ermington and Ugborough remain on the downstream side of the bridge suggesting the widening of the bridge resulting in the loss of the other two.

J21.106

It served as the road bridge across the River Erme on the main Plymouth to Exeter route up until the construction of new road and bridge during the 1830s.

J21.78
J21.78

The old bridge has a single span high round arch, constructed in granite with dressed granite voussoirs. A curved parapet of chamfered granite splays out over the abutments.

 

The basic principle of an arch bridge is its curved construction, allowing vertical load to be transferred laterally along the curve of the arch to the supports on each end, called abutments. The outward lateral compression gives the structure its rigidity and strength. The wedge shaped blocks of stone making up the arch are known as voussoirs and are symmetrically placed around a central voussoir known as the key-stone, without which the structure would collapse.

 

The ivy bridge was historically located on the corner of the four ancient parishes of Ermington, Ugborough, Cornwood and Harford. Two parish stones, inscribed Ermington and Ugborough remain on the downstream side of the bridge suggesting the widening of the bridge resulting in the loss of the other two.

J21.106

It served as the road bridge across the River Erme on the main Plymouth to Exeter route up until the construction of new road and bridge during the 1830s.

J21.78
J21.78
J21.12

aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

The History of Ivybridge

aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

The History of Ivybridge

J21.12

As 2020 closes and a new year begins we would like to thank everyone who contacted us during the past year to comment on website content, provide supplementary information or submit old photographs to our ever expanding archive. We are always grateful to receive historical information so please continue to do so by using our ‘contact us’ page or simply emailing us as

info@ivybridge-heritage.org

Throughout 2021 we will be featuring some interesting articles regarding the history of Ivybridge all complemented with creative imagery.

J21.12

As 2020 closes and a new year begins we would like to thank everyone who contacted us during the past year to comment on website content, provide supplementary information or submit old photographs to our ever expanding archive. We are always grateful to receive historical information so please continue to do so by using our ‘contact us’ page or simply emailing us as

info@ivybridge-heritage.org

Throughout 2021 we will be featuring some interesting articles regarding the history of Ivybridge all complemented with creative imagery.

One of the earliest flowering plants and a welcome sign that  Spring is on the way

The Snowdrop

is not native to the UK but has naturalised across the country. Today they can be found in deciduous woodland, parks, gardens and along banks and verges.

 

Snowdrops flower from January to March. The flowers don’t have petals but are composed of six white flower segments known as tepals. Flowering so early, snowdrops do not rely on pollinators to reproduce but spread through bulb division. They may still be visited by the occasional bee and other insect on a particularly warm day though!

 

The snowdrop has a long association with the Christian festival of Candlemas held on 2nd February and was often used to decorate churches during the celebration when the church candles were blessed for the year. This earned the snowdrop’s alternative name of Candlemas Bells. More information relating to the cross-quarter day of Candlemas in February.

One of the earliest flowering plants and a welcome sign that  Spring is on the way

The Snowdrop

is not native to the UK but has naturalised across the country. Today they can be found in deciduous woodland, parks, gardens and along banks and verges.

 

Snowdrops flower from January to March. The flowers don’t have petals but are composed of six white flower segments known as tepals. Flowering so early, snowdrops do not rely on pollinators to reproduce but spread through bulb division. They may still be visited by the occasional bee and other insect on a particularly warm day though!

 

The snowdrop has a long association with the Christian festival of Candlemas held on 2nd February and was often used to decorate churches during the celebration when the church candles were blessed for the year. This earned the snowdrop’s alternative name of Candlemas Bells. More information relating to the cross-quarter day of Candlemas in February.

Western Beacon

is the southernmost point of Dartmoor offering a view across the South Hams to the sea, with the town of Ivybridge a short distance away.

The granite of Dartmoor was formed from molten rock (magma) which flowed out from deep within the earth’s core. As is rose through the earth’s crust it cooled and slowly solidified into the coarse crystalline rock formations.

 

Stone crosses and clapper bridges which are found on the moor are made from large blocks of granite and these date from medieval times, when crossing routes were being developed, allowing monks to travel between the abbeys. In Ivybridge, the original bridge may have been built by the Augustian monks from Plympton, enabling them to reach Dean Prior and Buckfast.

 

Granite is a very hard rock and must have proved very difficult to work with before iron tools became available. Many stone blocks exhibit marks from splitting and shaping the stone by means of ‘feather and tare’. This involved creating holes in a line and splitting it with wedges, hammer and chisel. If you are local to the area, take a look at the granite posts in Longtimber woods at the old swimming pool and see if you can find them.

Western Beacon

is the southernmost point of Dartmoor offering a view across the South Hams to the sea, with the town of Ivybridge a short distance away.

The granite of Dartmoor was formed from molten rock (magma) which flowed out from deep within the earth’s core. As is rose through the earth’s crust it cooled and slowly solidified into the coarse crystalline rock formations.

 

Stone crosses and clapper bridges which are found on the moor are made from large blocks of granite and these date from medieval times, when crossing routes were being developed, allowing monks to travel between the abbeys. In Ivybridge, the original bridge may have been built by the Augustian monks from Plympton, enabling them to reach Dean Prior and Buckfast.

 

Granite is a very hard rock and must have proved very difficult to work with before iron tools became available. Many stone blocks exhibit marks from splitting and shaping the stone by means of ‘feather and tare’. This involved creating holes in a line and splitting it with wedges, hammer and chisel. If you are local to the area, take a look at the granite posts in Longtimber woods at the old swimming pool and see if you can find them.

Southern Dartmoor 1912

“If there is one thing in the world that seems changeless, it is Dartmoor – that mountainous district of uncultivated land which has carried no population for thousands of years, indeed since the time when the valleys were forests and morasses infested by wild beasts, and our primitive ancestors had to take to the mountains for safety. But one of the wildest and more solitary parts of Dartmoor has within the last year or two undergone a most surprising change.

 

Now, if you go along the Abbot’s Way – trodden by monks of old in their journeys from the Abbey of Tavistock to that of Buckfastleigh – as you come within reach of the boggy region between the Erme and the Plym you are very likely to see the white steam from a locomotive floating across the hills, and as you reach the edge of the basin which is called Redlake (or Reed-Lake) you will happen upon numerous signs of human activity.

 

The deepest solitude of Dartmoor has been pierced by the industrial spirit. Here, upon the roof of Devonshire, china clay has been discovered in vast quantities … Underneath the enormous deposits of peat are great stores of wealth in the form of kaolin or china clay, the result of the decomposition of that granite which is the very matter of the hills themselves…”

Western Daily Mercury 20 July 1912

At this time, a large area of the southern quarter of Dartmoor was leased by the Duchy of Cornwall to The China Clay Corporation Limited whose aim was to exploit the large deposits of china clay which had been discovered. The site totalled an area of 1,300 acres and included parts of Harford and Ugborough Moors. The expected yield of china clays was around 2 million tons over the lifetime of the operations. Additionally, the company acquired freehold land from the Torpeek Estate which adjoined the Great Western Railway main line at Bittaford to secure direct access from the production beds to the railway and docks. To facilitate access to the pits an 8 mile-long light railway was constructed and also a pipeline to pump the china clay, suspended in water, back to the settling tanks, drying kilns and railway sidings at Cantrell.

Southern Dartmoor 1912

“If there is one thing in the world that seems changeless, it is Dartmoor – that mountainous district of uncultivated land which has carried no population for thousands of years, indeed since the time when the valleys were forests and morasses infested by wild beasts, and our primitive ancestors had to take to the mountains for safety. But one of the wildest and more solitary parts of Dartmoor has within the last year or two undergone a most surprising change.

 

Now, if you go along the Abbot’s Way – trodden by monks of old in their journeys from the Abbey of Tavistock to that of Buckfastleigh – as you come within reach of the boggy region between the Erme and the Plym you are very likely to see the white steam from a locomotive floating across the hills, and as you reach the edge of the basin which is called Redlake (or Reed-Lake) you will happen upon numerous signs of human activity.

 

The deepest solitude of Dartmoor has been pierced by the industrial spirit. Here, upon the roof of Devonshire, china clay has been discovered in vast quantities … Underneath the enormous deposits of peat are great stores of wealth in the form of kaolin or china clay, the result of the decomposition of that granite which is the very matter of the hills themselves…”

Western Daily Mercury 20 July 1912

At this time, a large area of the southern quarter of Dartmoor was leased by the Duchy of Cornwall to The China Clay Corporation Limited whose aim was to exploit the large deposits of china clay which had been discovered. The site totalled an area of 1,300 acres and included parts of Harford and Ugborough Moors. The expected yield of china clays was around 2 million tons over the lifetime of the operations. Additionally, the company acquired freehold land from the Torpeek Estate which adjoined the Great Western Railway main line at Bittaford to secure direct access from the production beds to the railway and docks. To facilitate access to the pits an 8 mile-long light railway was constructed and also a pipeline to pump the china clay, suspended in water, back to the settling tanks, drying kilns and railway sidings at Cantrell.

It was estimated at the beginning of operations that the site would yield around 45,000 tons of first-grade clays and 10,000 tons of second-grade clays per annum with the prospect of future expansion. The china clays found in Devon and Cornwall are of the finest quality in the world, commanding a premium price and therefore making it an extremely valuable commodity.

 

The light railway was 3ft. Gauge and the railway stock included two locomotives, one of which was called C. A. Hanson, named after the chairman of the company. In addition there were 3 passenger coaches, 12 goods trucks, and 2 timber bogies.

“ The journey of eight miles through some of the wildest scenery of Dartmoor is extremely interesting. The line winds round the slopes of the hills above the valley of the Erme, which plunges through deep gorges in places, and on every side are vast expanses of down land, broken by the characteristically rugged tors of Dartmoor. The line pursues its serpentine course along easy gradients for the main part, turning aside here and there to dodge some prehistoric hut circles …”

Western Daily Mercury. 20 July 1912

Background image: The Sky Tip at Redlake – courtesy of Keith Wellington.

It was estimated at the beginning of operations that the site would yield around 45,000 tons of first-grade clays and 10,000 tons of second-grade clays per annum with the prospect of future expansion. The china clays found in Devon and Cornwall are of the finest quality in the world, commanding a premium price and therefore making it an extremely valuable commodity.

 

The light railway was 3ft. Gauge and the railway stock included two locomotives, one of which was called C. A. Hanson, named after the chairman of the company. In addition there were 3 passenger coaches, 12 goods trucks, and 2 timber bogies.

“ The journey of eight miles through some of the wildest scenery of Dartmoor is extremely interesting. The line winds round the slopes of the hills above the valley of the Erme, which plunges through deep gorges in places, and on every side are vast expanses of down land, broken by the characteristically rugged tors of Dartmoor. The line pursues its serpentine course along easy gradients for the main part, turning aside here and there to dodge some prehistoric hut circles …”

Western Daily Mercury. 20 July 1912

Background image: The Sky Tip at Redlake – courtesy of Keith Wellington.

The locomotive C A Hanson and passenger carriage with members and employees of the China Clay Co. September 1911.

Photograph courtesy of Neil Parkhouse.

learn more about Redlake china clay production >

The locomotive C A Hanson and passenger carriage with members and employees of the China Clay Co. September 1911.

Photograph courtesy of Neil Parkhouse.

learn more about Redlake china clay production >

William Cookworthy

     PLYMOUTH PORCELAIN MANUFACTURER

A fairly local man, William Cookworthy rose to notoriety as a manufacturer of china having been the first person in England to make true hard-paste porcelain similar to that of the Chinese and Germans.

William Cookworthy was born in Kingsbridge in 1705, the son of a Quaker weaver. As a young man he became an apprentice to Silvanus Bevan, a chemist and druggist in London. In 1726, Bevan decided to start a wholesale pharmacy business in Notte Street in Plymouth and William took a job there. By 1735 he became a partner in the business and eventually bought out Bevan and continued to trade with his brother.

 

A chance reading of Chinese porcelain manufacture aroused Cookworthy’s curiosity. This was further enhanced by a visit of a businessmen from Virginia in 1745. He came bearing samples of Virginian clay and porcelain to entice William into importing them. Cookworthy however, decided to look for these minerals in England and found them locally at Tregonning Hill in Cornwall. He began to experiment and shipped the clay from Porthleven to Plymouth, where by 1766 he had set up a small factory. Following success, he took out a patent in 1768.

English potters up until this time were only able to produce what was known as ‘earthenware’. Porcelain was imported from China, where the clay used was known as ‘kaolin’. Following the initial discovery, better quality china clay was found at St.Austell and Cookworthy’s China Works at Plymouth entered into a partnership with the owner of the land, Thomas Pitt.

 

The Plymouth China Works made predominantly tea services, jugs and vases but struggled to make profit. It later amalgamated with a pottery in Bristol before Cookworthy sold the business to his cousin Richard Champion in 1774.

 

William Cookworthy died in 1780 with the wholesale business in Notte Street passing to his young brother, Benjamin. Interestingly, it continued as a pharmacy right up until 1974 when the last proprietor retired.

The earliest known surviving piece of Cookworthy’s hard-paste porcelain is now in the British Museum; a blue decorated mug bearing the Arms of Plymouth and the inscription “14 March 1768 C.F.” (Cookworthy fecit).

The Box in Plymouth holds the largest public collection from Cookworthy’s factory, which ran from 1768-1770. It includes over 480 pieces of domestic wares and ornaments ranging from cups, jugs and bowls to animals and figurines. The Cookworthy Museum at Kingsbridge also has its own small collection of Plymouth and Bristol porcelain.

English potters up until this time were only able to produce what was known as ‘earthenware’. Porcelain was imported from China, where the clay used was known as ‘kaolin’. Following the initial discovery, better quality china clay was found at St.Austell and Cookworthy’s China Works at Plymouth entered into a partnership with the owner of the land, Thomas Pitt.

 

The Plymouth China Works made predominantly tea services, jugs and vases but struggled to make profit. It later amalgamated with a pottery in Bristol before Cookworthy sold the business to his cousin Richard Champion in 1774.

 

William Cookworthy died in 1780 with the wholesale business in Notte Street passing to his young brother, Benjamin. Interestingly, it continued as a pharmacy right up until 1974 when the last proprietor retired.

The earliest known surviving piece of Cookworthy’s hard-paste porcelain is now in the British Museum; a blue decorated mug bearing the Arms of Plymouth and the inscription “14 March 1768 C.F.” (Cookworthy fecit).

The Box in Plymouth holds the largest public collection from Cookworthy’s factory, which ran from 1768-1770. It includes over 480 pieces of domestic wares and ornaments ranging from cups, jugs and bowls to animals and figurines. The Cookworthy Museum at Kingsbridge also has its own small collection of Plymouth and Bristol porcelain.

J21.12

Articles to be featured in the coming months

February

Recollections of trout fishing on the River Erme

Fly fishing on the River Erme enhanced with endearing observations of flora and fauna, from mention of the red kine to the bobbing water-ouzel (don’t worry, all will be explained!). It paints an idyllic picture of Ivybridge of yesteryear, just the place for some quiet recreation. Also, for the keen anglers amongst you history lovers, there is a Devon term to test your knowledge!

March

A vacation in the South Hams – 1904

Entitled ‘ Ivybridge, A Beauty Spot in Devonshire’, this charming article describes the first impressions of the South Hams. A visitor from the Highlands of Scotland alights the train at Ivybridge describing many of the landmarks in ardent detail and revealing a clear love of nature.

April

Preserving our Natural Woodland – Guidance from 1883

Instruction to visitors wishing to enjoy the woods along the River Erme at Ivybridge and Dendles Wood and adjacent Hawns Woods along the River Yealm near Cornwood. Both of these beauty spots belonged to Lord Blachford at this time. Unsurprisingly, many of the same issues we face today in protecting our places of natural beauty were a problem 140 years ago.

We also take a closer look a these woodland areas and find out how Hawns & Dendles acquired their names through the writings of William Crossing, a renowned author who studied Dartmoor and its antiquities in great detail.

February

Recollections of trout fishing on the River Erme

Fly fishing on the River Erme enhanced with endearing observations of flora and fauna, from mention of the red kine to the bobbing water-ouzel (don’t worry, all will be explained!). It paints an idyllic picture of Ivybridge of yesteryear, just the place for some quiet recreation. Also, for the keen anglers amongst you history lovers, there is a Devon term to test your knowledge!

March

A vacation in the South Hams – 1904

Entitled ‘ Ivybridge, A Beauty Spot in Devonshire’, this charming article describes the first impressions of the South Hams. A visitor from the Highlands of Scotland alights the train at Ivybridge describing many of the landmarks in ardent detail and revealing a clear love of nature.

April

Preserving our Natural Woodland – Guidance from 1883

Instruction to visitors wishing to enjoy the woods along the River Erme at Ivybridge and Dendles Wood and adjacent Hawns Woods along the River Yealm near Cornwood. Both of these beauty spots belonged to Lord Blachford at this time. Unsurprisingly, many of the same issues we face today in protecting our places of natural beauty were a problem 140 years ago.

We also take a closer look a these woodland areas and find out how Hawns & Dendles acquired their names through the writings of William Crossing, a renowned author who studied Dartmoor and its antiquities in great detail.

February

Recollections of trout fishing on the River Erme

Fly fishing on the River Erme enhanced with endearing observations of flora and fauna, from mention of the red kine to the bobbing water-ouzel (don’t worry, all will be explained!). It paints an idyllic picture of Ivybridge of yesteryear, just the place for some quiet recreation. Also, for the keen anglers amongst you history lovers, there is a Devon term to test your knowledge!

March

A vacation in the South Hams – 1904

Entitled ‘ Ivybridge, A Beauty Spot in Devonshire’, this charming article describes the first impressions of the South Hams. A visitor from the Highlands of Scotland alights the train at Ivybridge describing many of the landmarks in ardent detail and revealing a clear love of nature.

April

Preserving our Natural Woodland

Guidance from 1883

Instruction to visitors wishing to enjoy the woods along the River Erme at Ivybridge and Dendles Wood and adjacent Hawns Woods along the River Yealm near Cornwood. Both of these beauty spots belonged to Lord Blachford at this time. Unsurprisingly, many of the same issues we face today in protecting our places of natural beauty were a problem 140 years ago.

We also take a closer look a these woodland areas and find out how Hawns & Dendles acquired their names through the writings of William Crossing, a renowned author who studied Dartmoor and its antiquities in great detail.

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