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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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 at

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 at

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. 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. 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.

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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 Environment – Guidance from 1883

Instruction to visitors wishing to enjoy the woods along the River Erme at Ivybridge and Dendle’s 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.

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 Environment – Guidance from 1883

Instruction to visitors wishing to enjoy the woods along the River Erme at Ivybridge and Dendle’s 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.

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 Environment

Guidance from 1883

Instruction to visitors wishing to enjoy the woods along the River Erme at Ivybridge and Dendle’s 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.

Ivybridge Town Council
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Devon County Council - Copy
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