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

The remains of stone-age hut circles can be found on Harford Moor, above Ivybridge, but the ivy-covered bridge, after which the town was later named, was first recorded in 1250; it is possible that it existed as a river crossing prior to the Doomsday Book of 1086. An early ‘King’s Highway’ from Exeter to Trematon Castle near Saltash, the 12th Century crossing may have been constructed by the monks of Plympton Priory (founded in 1121) to give them access to their lands at Wrangaton, Dean Prior and Buckfastleigh.

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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.

We are now into deep winter as far as many wildlings are concerned. The hedgehog, who snores in a ball of dry leaves in a ditch, the squirrel in his drey, the badger in his holt or sett, the bats among the church or belfry rafters, the dormouse in its nest, and such hibernating creatures have arrived at a period of least activity. Truly a new year has begun, but not for creatures who wait for longer daylight and the kiss of a warmer sun

 

Outside the artistry of Jack Frost is plentifully spread over the land. Even humble blades of meadow grass are transformed into jewel-studded splendour. A heron stands disconsolately at the water’s edge, seeming not at all happy, with its head sunk between hunched shoulders, and certainly not appreciating the fairyland of icicles, hoar frost, and icy water.

 

Nature diary 1931

Ivybridge

is picturesquely seated on the banks of the River Erme, where there is an ancient ivy mantled bridge …

The South Devon Railway crosses the valley by a bridge and viaduct, a little to the north, and has a station … It has a post office, several neat villas, and many good lodging houses; three large and commodious inns, two paper mills, a large corn mill, several good shops, an extensive joint-stock tannery and leather manufactory, a district church, and two chapels …The enchanting scenery of the village and neighbourhood attracts numerous visitors in summer and autumn, from Plymouth, Devonport, and other places ; and the inns and lodging houses afford excellent accommodation for all ranks…

History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Devonshire by William White 1850

By 1850, directories were fairly common; Pigot, Kelly and William White provided coverage of the country at fairly frequent intervals. These directories included street indexes, alphabetical lists of inhabitants, miscellaneous information on transport, religion, educations and civic matter along with lists of classified trades and have proved invaluable to historians.

Ivybridge

is picturesquely seated on the banks of the River Erme, where there is an ancient ivy mantled bridge …

The South Devon Railway crosses the valley by a bridge and viaduct, a little to the north, and has a station … It has a post office, several neat villas, and many good lodging houses; three large and commodious inns, two paper mills, a large corn mill, several good shops, an extensive joint-stock tannery and leather manufactory, a district church, and two chapels …The enchanting scenery of the village and neighbourhood attracts numerous visitors in summer and autumn, from Plymouth, Devonport, and other places ; and the inns and lodging houses afford excellent accommodation for all ranks…

History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Devonshire by William White 1850

By 1850, directories were fairly common; Pigot, Kelly and William White provided coverage of the country at fairly frequent intervals. These directories included street indexes, alphabetical lists of inhabitants, miscellaneous information on transport, religion, educations and civic matter along with lists of classified trades and have proved invaluable to historians.

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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 Sportsman’s Arms

Established around 1830 this public house was formerly known as the Grocer’s Arms. It has seen many inn keepers and publicans come and go over the decades. During the Second World War it became a popular with the American servicemen who were billeted at Uphill Camp in Ivybridge from May 1943.

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Ivybridge 1894

“Nothing of any great importance occurred here this year”.

Quote

In May a public enquiry was held with regard to the boundaries of the parishes, and as a result, the County Council have formed a new parish of Ivybridge which includes parts of Ermington, Harford, Cornwood, and Ugborough. The area of the new parish is the same as that of the Urban Sanitary District, and the alteration consequently affected the constitution of the School Board and Board of Guardians. With regard to the former, it was first thought of forming a separate Board for Ivybridge, but this has been abandoned for the time, and the old Ermington Board will order precepts on the rates of both Ermington and Ivybridge. The old Local Board has given place to an Urban District Council, upon which a number of new members have found seats. The Rev. Dr. Lemon has taken up his residence in the town and entered into marriage, but it is understood that he intends leaving the town very soon. The Rev. J. P. Murphy has been chosen and taken charge of the Congregational Church.

The inhabitants of Ivybridge and Cornwood were greatly shocked at Easter to hear of the death of Sir John Rogers, Bart, who on Easter Sunday evening went for his customary stroll before dinner, and as he did not return a search was made and he was found in the park pond at Blachford. At Kingsbridge Road Station an old and familiar face has gone. Mr. Prout, who for nearly fifty years had charge of the station, has retired on a well-earned pension, and has been succeeded by Mr. John. Sercombe, late signalman at Ivybridge. There was considerable excitement in neighbouring parishes consequent of the passing of the Parish Councils Act. The working men entered warmly into the contests, and a large number have found seats on the Councils.

Western Daily Mercury 3 January 1895

The Local Government Act 1894 introduced elected councils at district and parish level thus creating a second tier of local government below the existing county councils. The local boards were reformed, women who owned property were permitted the right to vote and there was also legislation regarding school boards. The new district councils were based upon the existing urban and rural sanitary districts.

The Local Government Act 1894 introduced elected councils at district and parish level thus creating a second tier of local government below the existing county councils. The local boards were reformed, women who owned property were permitted the right to vote and there was also legislation regarding school boards. The new district councils were based upon the existing urban and rural sanitary districts.

The first meeting of the Ivybridge Urban District Council was held on 1 January 1895 where the new committee were selected. John Allen, having served the previous local board so well in the past was unanimously elected at Chairman and Baldwin Holman as vice-chairman.

Committee members at the time were :

John Allen and Edward Allen, owners of Stowford Paper Mill; Baldwin Holman, owner of Ivybridge Paper Mill, William Mackay, Postmaster; George Smallridge, shopkeeper; Samuel Head, proprietor of the tannery; Henry Blight, builder; William Love, Accounts Clerk and newspaper correspondent; James Chamberlain, paper mill engineer; Francis Henwood, grocer and draper; and Rev. Dodd.

Baldwin Holman was a third generation papermaker from the well-known firm of F. H. Holman & Son of Lee Mill and Ivybridge. He was an ardent Congregationalist as well as a speaker on political affairs.

 

William Mackay lived at Sunnyside in his latter years. He held the position of Ivybridge Postmaster for 35 years operating initially from 7 Fore Street and later at other premises within Fore Street. He had been a member of the former  Local Board and School Board.

 

James Chamberlain lived at 1 Moor View having practically lived all his life in Ivybridge. He had worked at Stowford Paper Mill as his obituary describes for ‘a large number of years’. He had been closely associated with Wesleyan Methodism and was superintendent of the Sunday school for over half a century. He also had regularly sat on the Bench as a J.P. He had been a member of the former Local Board in Ivybridge and eventually became Chairman of the Urban Council, a position he held for 3 years. His other positions of office included being on the School Management Committee and a trustee of the Ermington United Charities. He was described as a man ‘of the highest integrity’ and one of his happiest experiences was to receive letter from around the world from former scholars whom he had taught at the Sunday school and he always made a point to answer them personally.

 

George Smallridge was a general ironmonger, saddler and harness supplier. His premises were located at 53 Fore Street although he did own a number of other premises in Fore Street including No.5, 49, 50 and 54. In 1898 he was in negotiation with Mr W. Vincent regarding the building of a new Post Office to replace the old one.

 

Francis Henwood was also a local trader running a grocery business from 24 Fore Street.

 

Various sub committees were created to manage finance, building works, water supply, sanitation, public lighting and the maintenance of the cemetery.

 

The Urban District Council met on the first Monday of each month at 8 Erme Road. Later on, meetings were held at Highland Street and after that in Fore Street in a cottage near The King’s Arms. The Council made significant improvements to the lives of the people of Ivybridge, adding to the amenities and raising the general standard of health. This included upgrading the sewage system, electric lighting, providing cemented pavements replacing the old cobblestones, laying out a recreational ground and widening the roads eliminating dangerous corners and improving their surfaces with tar-spraying. The culmination of their efforts, following the passing of an Act of Parliament, was the provision of a new water supply, with the creation of a reservoir at Butter Brook.

 

The final severance from the four parishes came in September 1895 when the National School in Station Road which came under the Ermington School Board was sold to the District of Ivybridge School Board for the sum of £380, representing the amount of an outstanding loan.

Alterations to the school occurred in 1898, a date recorded within the plaque on the front of the building. It is assumed the building work was conducted by local contractors Gilbert Sincock & Henry Blight. Two years later they were awarded the contract to build the boundary wall ‘topped with forest coping, set in cement of stones alternately 18 inches and 9 inches’ and erect two iron wicket gates.

 

In 1907 the school was enlarged further. The school was split into the Infants, with a School Mistress in charge and other female, mostly uncertified staff, and the Mixed School, for children aged 7 to 14, with a School Master in charge, assisted mostly by men, who were certified teachers.

The Kingsbridge Road Railway Station was originally called Wrangaton Railway Station when it opened on 5 April 1848 as the only intermediate station on the South Devon Railway line between Totnes and the temporary terminus at Laira. Stations at Brent, Ivybridge and Colebrook were opened on 15 June 1848. Wrangaton Railway Station which was located in a deep cutting, changed its name in 1849 to reflect the fact that travellers to Kingsbridge had to alight there and catch a stagecoach for their onward travel. New accommodation was built near to the station for the workers on the railway and within a decade an inn for travellers, the Kingsbridge Road Hotel.

Hotel, Posting-House, and Lodging House

with stabling for 12 horses, and other offices attached.

The hotel is situated at the South Devon Railway, about fourteen miles from Plymouth, and eight miles from Kingsbridge, from whence to the hotel two coaches run daily. Every train to and from Plymouth to London stops at the Kingsbridge Road Railway Station, and on account of that central position of the hotel, and its proximity to the Station, a good posting business is done. The Archery ground is near the hotel.

The situation of the hotel as a Lodging-house is unrivalled; the air of the neighbourhood is exceedingly invigorating and health restoring, and is highly recommended by the medical profession.

Sales particulars – Western Times 25 May 1861

The hotel seems to have adopted a novel approach to attract customers and were certainly located in a prime position for the travelling public as by 1880 there were 36 coaches running between the railway station and Kingsbridge each week, carrying not only passengers but parcels and newspapers.

Image: The railway tunnel at Wrangaton and the Kingsbridge Road Hotel

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Fire causes damage at Kingsbridge Road Station

In February 1891 a fire broke out at the Kingsbridge Road Railway Station which resulted in the total destruction of the booking-office and waiting room. Given its high elevation (said to have been the highest Great Western Station in Devon) a strong breeze added to the fury of the flames and given that the offices were all built of wood the fire soon took hold. The alarm was raised by the Station-master, Mr Prout. The quick action of the men on duty by pouring water on the flames helped to prevent the fire from gaining a hold in the stairs and bridge which lead to the up and down platforms. The origin of the fire was unknown, but it was assumed that it started in the chimney and then to the lamp-room, which is adjacent to the offices.

Thomas Henry Wills Prout had been employed by the Great Western Railway for almost 50 years when he retired in 1894. Practically the whole of his working life was spent at the Kingsbridge Road Railway Station. “His worth and his integrity and straightforwardness won him the esteem of those using the station”. On his retirement he was presented with a testimonial in the form of a purse of sovereigns. After retiring he remained in the district and his obituary in 1912 recorded him as being a farmer.

 

John Sercombe was an Ivybridge man and lived at one of the Railway Cottages on Crescent Road.  He joined the Great Western Railway as a porter in 1874 stationed at Ivybridge and Paignton. He was then promoted to signalman at Plympton before his appointment as stationmaster at Wrangaton. After many years working there he left to take up a similar position at Menheniot in Cornwall and later at Shepherds Station which served St Newlyn East, Cubert and Zelah. He clocked up an impressive 47 years of service before retiring receiving  a testimonial subscribed by the Great Western Railway employees and the public.

In 1895, following the opening of a branch line to Kingsbridge from South Brent Railway Station, which was the next stop on the line,  Kingsbridge Road Station reverted back to its original name of Wrangaton Railway Station.

 

The new 12 mile section of railway terminating at Kingsbridge had intermediate stops at Avonwick, Gara Bridge and Loddiswell. The line followed the narrow Avon valley and became known as the Primrose Line, with a heavy reliance upon leisure travel to remain viable, although during World War II there was an increase in traffic due to the preparations for D-Day.

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Wrangaton Railway Station remained in operation until March 1959 when it closed for all passenger traffic, although goods traffic continued until September 1963, when the ‘Beeching axe’ fell and Wrangaton, along with many other local stations on the line closed.

 

The Kingsbridge Road Hotel over the decades assumed other names. It was known as the Wounded Soldier and also the Coach House Inn before it was eventually sold and re-developed for other use.

Death of Sir John Rogers

As the report from 1894 documented, Sir John Charles Rogers, the ninth baronet was found dead in a pond at his Blachford estate on Easter Sunday, 28 March. He was 73 and suffered from heart disease. One theory was that he had slipped into the pond and died from the sudden shock. Being unmarried his only brother, Edward, succeeded him to the baronetcy and estates. Edward had been ordained in 1843 and became the rector of Odcombe near Yeovil  in Somerset from 1875 to 1890.

 

Sadly, only a year later, Sir Edward Rogers also died, the result of “successive paralytic shocks which had visited him since the death of his brother”. Sir Edward was 75 and was the tenth and last baronet, as he, like his brother John, was unmarried and so the title died with him. The baronetcy had existed since 1698.

 

Sir John Rogers had inherited the title and estates on the death of his father Sir Frederick Rogers, the 8th baronet. On the death of both bachelors the estates passed back to Sir Frederick’s wife Lady Georgina Mary Blachford for her lifetime.

The Blachford Estate

In 1694, John Rogers, a high-ranking Customs official and wealthy merchant from Plymouth, purchased the leasehold for part of the Blachford Estate from the Hele family who had owned it since 1620. At that time, the vast estate extended onto Dartmoor and a number of boundary stones on the moor still bear the inscription ‘BB’, for Blachford Bounds.

 

After the death of Lady Georgina Blachford in July 1900, the estate passed to the Misses Louisa and Margaret Deare whose father was a cousin of Lord Blachford. The majority of the estate later passed to Major Frederick Passy through this part of the family.

Moving towards February

The sight of fluffy catkins provide a welcome sign that spring is on the way. Catkins can be found on a variety of trees including hazel, alder, silver birch and white willow trees. For a few weeks each year, ‘lamb’s tails’ as they are fondly referred to, wave in the breeze releasing their pollen.

 

Violets, snowdrops, crocuses and daphne with its sweet perfume begin to bloom whilst daffodils have blades a good few inches above the ground.

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The sight of fluffy catkins provide a welcome sign that spring is on the way. Catkins can be found on a variety of trees including hazel, alder, silver birch and white willow trees. For a few weeks each year, ‘lamb’s tails’ as they are fondly referred to, wave in the breeze releasing their pollen.

 

Violets, snowdrops, crocuses and daphne with its sweet perfume begin to bloom whilst daffodils have blades a good few inches above the ground.

Birch trees are deciduous hardwood trees in the same family as alders, hazels, and hornbeams. They are often named the

‘ Ladies of the Woods’

due to their graceful forms. The flowers of the birch are monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers (catkins) are found on the same tree. Appearing from April to May, male catkins are long and yellow-brown in colour, while female catkins are smaller, short, bright green and erect.

 

Birch wood was traditionally turned into small objects such as toys, tools, handles and bobbins.

 

In Victorian times if you were naughty at school you would find yourself on the wrong end of a birch switch. Also ancient ceremonies such as ‘beating the bounds’, a tradition which was resurrected in Ivybridge some years ago, involved the ritual tapping of local boundaries with staffs of birch (or possibly willow) .

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We at Ivybridge Heritage would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who contacted us during the past year, whether to make an enquiry, comment on website content, provide supplementary information or submit old photographs to our ever expanding archive. We are always grateful to hear from all those of you who are interested in history and who are able to supplement our knowledge of Ivybridge and the surrounding district. You can contact us at

info@ivybridge-heritage.org

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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 >
Oct21.4

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 >

We’re adding a new page soon

The Sportsman’s Arms

We’re adding a new page soon

The Sportsman’s Arms

thank you

We at Ivybridge Heritage would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who contacted us during the past year, whether to make an enquiry, comment on website content, provide supplementary information or submit old photographs to our ever expanding archive. We are always grateful to hear from all those of you who are interested in history and who are able to supplement our knowledge of Ivybridge and the surrounding district. You can contact us at info@ivybridge-heritage.org

December

December brings the shortest day and longest night; Frosty mornings and the sight of one’s breath as you exhale. The woodland areas are devoid of foliage and colour apart from the evergreens such as the holly with its rich clusters of crimson providing pleasant visions of the coming Christmas. The sky remains grey for the majority of the time and the wind chills the air. We see the footprints of birds in search of treats when we get the first falls of snow in our gardens. Winter has well and truly arrived!

We owe much of the ways we celebrate Christmas today to the Victorians, as it was during this era that many of the foods and decorations that we now commonly associate with this festive period became popular.

Christmas cards came about in the mid nineteenth century as did crackers and the Christmas tree. Victorians exchanged, displayed and collected Christmas cards in vast numbers establishing the now familiar images. Winter scenes of robins, holly and other evergreens, snowy landscapes and country churches; along with indoor scenes of decorating trees, giving presents and children’s games.

Also during the Victorian period there was a renaissance of singing Christmas carols. Many new carols were written at this time including Silent Night which was written in 1816 and translated into English in 1863.

 

What we know as traditional Christmas cakes and puddings only really came into being during the Victorian period with more recipe books being published and the availability of dried fruits and spices, although they remained expensive to the majority. Mince pies and Christmas puddings were originally filled with meat, such as lamb, rather than dried fruits and spices.

With the expansion of the train network travel became easier; so foods such as turkey became more popular. Fresh poultry and seasonal produce could get from rural farms to the towns much more quickly. Having a roast goose was still very popular. Many people belonged to ‘goose clubs’ where money was put aside each week so that come December, enough money would have been saved to buy one. Local people will of course be familiar with the annual Goose Fair held at Tavistock (known in these parts as ‘Goosey Fair’) which dates back to the early 12th Century and retains the old tradition of buying a goose at Michaelmas to be taken home and fattened ready for Christmas Day. Whether you had a goose or turkey, it was normally spit roasted over a fire or on a mechanical spit.

In South Devon the Christmas meal might well have been freshly-shot wild game, like rabbit or pheasants.  Since refrigeration was exceptionally rare in households 100 years ago customers had to receive their fresh food as close to Christmas as possible. To ensure you had a turkey for Christmas dinner you would have had to place an order in advance. Turkeys would be collected or delivered on 23rd or 24th December to ensure freshness.

Robins have a deep rooted association with Christmas with depictions of them on everything from greetings cards and wrapping paper to biscuit tins and now the very popular Christmas jumper!

 

We have to return again to Victorian times, where the tradition of sending Christmas cards started. Royal Mail postmen at the time wore bright red uniforms which earned them the nickname of ‘robin’ or ‘redbreast’. Artists then began to illustrate Christmas cards with pictures relating to the delivery of letters, such as post-boxes or postmen and eventually started drawing the familiar little brown bird with its red breast delivering the letters instead.

Robins are not migratory birds and therefore defend their territory throughout the year. When food is more readily available during the summer, robins are more likely to forage out of sight in the fields, hedgerows and woodland rather than coming to garden bird tables. The robin’s red breast is part of their attraction with us humans, providing a welcome flash of colour on a winter’s day and because they are feeling the cold, they fluff their feathers to look even more endearing than usual. Mealworms, seeds and suet are all firm favourites of robins and will ensure they don’t go hungry during the bleaker winter months.

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Our new publications ‘Ivybridge Researched’ and ‘Ivybridge Explored’ are now on sale from the Tourist Information Desk at The Watermark in Ivybridge. Priced at £3.00 each they provide a wealth of interesting facts about the town.

Mistletoe is a hemi parasite meaning it obtains part of its food by parasitism but it also carries out photosynthesis within its green leaves. By attaching itself to a tree via suckers roots it is able to absorb water and nutrients from its host plant. Trees such as apple, poplar, sycamore, ash and hawthorn are common hosts but rarely oak.

Mistletoe leaves, stems and berries are all poisonous

The white berries appear from around October and form an important winter food source for the mistle thrush as well as winter visitors such as redwings and fieldfares.

 

For centuries, mistletoe has had an association with fertility and vitality. Kissing under a sprig of mistletoe is believed to come from ancient Norse mythology and tradition states that one berry is supposed to be removed for each kiss claimed.

Mistletoe is a hemi parasite meaning it obtains part of its food by parasitism but it also carries out photosynthesis within its green leaves. By attaching itself to a tree via suckers roots it is able to absorb water and nutrients from its host plant. Trees such as apple, poplar, sycamore, ash and hawthorn are common hosts but rarely oak.

Mistletoe leaves, stems and berries are all poisonous

The white berries appear from around October and form an important winter food source for the mistle thrush as well as winter visitors such as redwings and fieldfares.

 

For centuries, mistletoe has had an association with fertility and vitality. Kissing under a sprig of mistletoe is believed to come from ancient Norse mythology and tradition states that one berry is supposed to be removed for each kiss claimed.

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HERITAGE DONOR CARD

To help preserve historical documents, objects and photographs, we have created a Heritage Donor Card for individuals to make donations of such items to Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group. Please go to our ‘Links’ page for further information.

COPYRIGHT

All rights, including copyright, in the content of these pages are owned or controlled for these purposes by Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group.

IHAG2021

HERITAGE DONOR CARD

To help preserve historical documents, objects and photographs, we have created a Heritage Donor Card for individuals to make donations of such items to Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group. Please go to our ‘Links’ page for further information.

COPYRIGHT

All rights, including copyright, in the content of these pages are owned or controlled for these purposes by Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group.

IHAG2021