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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After the long winter months

when everything is lying dormant, there is a fascination in watching the early growth of the spring flowers. The tender green shoots come creeping out of the ground and gradually the blooms begin to appear.

 

Yellow seems to be the predominating colour in the garden at the present time. There is a glorious show of primroses, the yellow crocus seems to dwarf the white and mauve, and daffodils swaying in the breeze make a mass of golden glory.

 

Even the wild flowers in springtime seem to favour yellow. There are the yellow gorse, celandines, buttercups (a few of which can be seen even at this early period), and dandelions all showing their bright colour.

 

The banks will shortly be crowded with wild violets, but their modest hue cannot compete with the glorious yellow of the other spring flowers.

March 1938

After the long winter months

when everything is lying dormant, there is a fascination in watching the early growth of the spring flowers. The tender green shoots come creeping out of the ground and gradually the blooms begin to appear.

 

Yellow seems to be the predominating colour in the garden at the present time. There is a glorious show of primroses, the yellow crocus seems to dwarf the white and mauve, and daffodils swaying in the breeze make a mass of golden glory.

 

Even the wild flowers in springtime seem to favour yellow. There are the yellow gorse, celandines, buttercups (a few of which can be seen even at this early period), and dandelions all showing their bright colour.

 

The banks will shortly be crowded with wild violets, but their modest hue cannot compete with the glorious yellow of the other spring flowers.

March 1938

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

For some forty miles to the S.W. of the grand old Cathedral City of Exeter, and ten miles to the east of Plymouth, the seaport of the west, lies what must surely be one of the fairest spots in Devonshire. Cornwood and Wrangaton, the G.W.R. wayside stations to the east and west, convey little or no meaning to the traveller; but, Ivybridge, the very name conjures up at least some idea of the charming reality.

For some forty miles to the S.W. of the grand old Cathedral City of Exeter, and ten miles to the east of Plymouth, the seaport of the west, lies what must surely be one of the fairest spots in Devonshire. Cornwood and Wrangaton, the G.W.R. wayside stations to the east and west, convey little or no meaning to the traveller; but, Ivybridge, the very name conjures up at least some idea of the charming reality.

As the express from Paddington to Penzance draws up for a moment at Ivybridge, the traveller sees nothing but a tidy little station, with a steep background of laurel bushes and ivy-clad pines, and away in the fertile valley, far below, a little grey town, with as undulating expanse of green, wooded country beyond it.

Even the cyclist who wheels through the winding main street on his way from Exeter to Plymouth or Cornwall would probably see nothing to attract him. But let the traveller break his journey and the cyclist stable his steed and search out for themselves the beauties of this charming corner of the west. We doubt not they will feel amply rewarded.

As the express from Paddington to Penzance draws up for a moment at Ivybridge, the traveller sees nothing but a tidy little station, with a steep background of laurel bushes and ivy-clad pines, and away in the fertile valley, far below, a little grey town, with as undulating expanse of green, wooded country beyond it.

Even the cyclist who wheels through the winding main street on his way from Exeter to Plymouth or Cornwall would probably see nothing to attract him. But let the traveller break his journey and the cyclist stable his steed and search out for themselves the beauties of this charming corner of the west. We doubt not they will feel amply rewarded.

 

From the station, descending at once, a long flight of steps cut out of a laurel-clad bank, and passing under one of the high arches of the graceful aerial viaduct which spans the Erme Valley, one follows a shady road, with stately mansions, fronted by soft, green lawns gay with rhododendron blooms on one hand and on the other the Erme babbling among its mossy boulders. In a few minutes one reaches the bridge from which the little town takes its names.

 

Originally, this ancient bridge was so narrow that nothing larger than a wheelbarrow could be taken across it; in later years it was doubled, but even now is only wide enough to admit one vehicle at a time. Greened ivy clings lovingly around its hoary piers and parapets, ferns peep out between the moss grown stones, and through its one steep arch the clear, brown water leaps and sings as if in haste to reach the cool green meadow, through which, beyond the little town, its flows more quietly on its way to join the distant sea.

This article is the first part of a visitor’s recollection of Ivybridge from 1904.

Please return next month to read part two!

 

The visitor came from Tomintoul which is located on the northern slopes of the Cairngorm Mountains. Tomintoul is the highest village in the Highlands which probably helps to explain the writer’s clear love of nature.

From the station, descending at once, a long flight of steps cut out of a laurel-clad bank, and passing under one of the high arches of the graceful aerial viaduct which spans the Erme Valley, one follows a shady road, with stately mansions, fronted by soft, green lawns gay with rhododendron blooms on one hand and on the other the Erme babbling among its mossy boulders. In a few minutes one reaches the bridge from which the little town takes its names.

Originally, this ancient bridge was so narrow that nothing larger than a wheelbarrow could be taken across it; in later years it was doubled, but even now is only wide enough to admit one vehicle at a time. Greened ivy clings lovingly around its hoary piers and parapets, ferns peep out between the moss grown stones, and through its one steep arch the clear, brown water leaps and sings as if in haste to reach the cool green meadow, through which, beyond the little town, its flows more quietly on its way to join the distant sea.

This article is the first part of a visitor’s recollection of Ivybridge from 1904.

Please return next month to read part two!

 

The visitor came from Tomintoul which is located on the northern slopes of the Cairngorm Mountains. Tomintoul is the highest village in the Highlands which probably helps to explain the writer’s clear love of nature.

From the station, descending at once, a long flight of steps cut out of a laurel-clad bank, and passing under one of the high arches of the graceful aerial viaduct which spans the Erme Valley, one follows a shady road, with stately mansions, fronted by soft, green lawns gay with rhododendron blooms on one hand and on the other the Erme babbling among its mossy boulders. In a few minutes one reaches the bridge from which the little town takes its names.

Originally, this ancient bridge was so narrow that nothing larger than a wheelbarrow could be taken across it; in later years it was doubled, but even now is only wide enough to admit one vehicle at a time. Greened ivy clings lovingly around its hoary piers and parapets, ferns peep out between the moss grown stones, and through its one steep arch the clear, brown water leaps and sings as if in haste to reach the cool green meadow, through which, beyond the little town, its flows more quietly on its way to join the distant sea.

This article is the first part of a visitor’s recollection of Ivybridge from 1904.

Please return next month to read part two!

 

The visitor came from Tomintoul which is located on the northern slopes of the Cairngorm Mountains. Tomintoul is the highest village in the Highlands which probably helps to explain the  writer’s clear love of nature.

The viaduct described by the visitor leaving Ivybridge railway station was completed in 1894 under the guidance of Sir James Inglis, the General Manager and Consulting Engineer of the Great Western Railway. It replaced the original Brunel structure following the double tracking of the railway line.

 

Messrs S Pearson and Sons of Westminster were contracted to undertake the reconstruction and doubling of the main line all the way from Rattery to Hemerdon. This company was founded by Samuel Pearson in 1844 as builders and contractors at Bradford, Yorkshire, manufacturing bricks, tiles and piping.

 

The design for the new viaduct was to use granite for the arches but owing to a local mason’s strike, with grievances over piecework and the use of externally sourced dressed stone, the contractors had to resort to using bricks.

 

A number of Irish stonemasons came to Ivybridge at this time to help complete the vast undertaking. In all there were around 100 workmen working on the viaduct.

The viaduct described by the visitor leaving Ivybridge railway station was completed in 1894 under the guidance of Sir James Inglis, the General Manager and Consulting Engineer of the Great Western Railway. It replaced the original Brunel structure following the double tracking of the railway line.

 

Messrs S Pearson and Sons of Westminster were contracted to undertake the reconstruction and doubling of the main line all the way from Rattery to Hemerdon. This company was founded by Samuel Pearson in 1844 as builders and contractors at Bradford, Yorkshire, manufacturing bricks, tiles and piping.

 

The design for the new viaduct was to use granite for the arches but owing to a local mason’s strike, with grievances over piecework and the use of externally sourced dressed stone, the contractors had to resort to using bricks.

 

A number of Irish stonemasons came to Ivybridge at this time to help complete the vast undertaking. In all there were around 100 workmen working on the viaduct.

The viaduct described by the visitor leaving Ivybridge railway station was completed in 1894 under the guidance of Sir James Inglis, the General Manager and Consulting Engineer of the Great Western Railway. It replaced the original Brunel structure following the double tracking of the railway line.

 

Messrs S Pearson and Sons of Westminster were contracted to undertake the reconstruction and doubling of the main line all the way from Rattery to Hemerdon. This company was founded by Samuel Pearson in 1844 as builders and contractors at Bradford, Yorkshire, manufacturing bricks, tiles and piping.

 

The design for the new viaduct was to use granite for the arches but owing to a local mason’s strike, with grievances over piecework and the use of externally sourced dressed stone, the contractors had to resort to using bricks.

 

A number of Irish stonemasons came to Ivybridge at this time to help complete the vast undertaking. In all there were around 100 workmen working on the viaduct.

The singularly beautiful view from the town to the station passes between the Park and the Erme, the winding stream is fenced the whole way by large boulders. Warm foliage that clothe the trees on either side makes a union of beauty with sublimity.

Charles Smallridge 1906

The singularly beautiful view from the town to the station passes between the Park and the Erme, the winding stream is fenced the whole way by large boulders. Warm foliage that clothe the trees on either side makes a union of beauty with sublimity.

Charles Smallridge 1906

Primula

The sight of primroses adorning Devon hedgerows with their characteristic clusters of soft pale yellow flowers epitomises the arrival of Spring.

The vernacular name for primrose, prima rosa, literally means first rose, appearing as they do as early as December during mild winters, but more typically in March and April. They often continue to bloom well into May and even early June.

 

The cowslip is also a flower synonymous with spring and though differing in form and habit to the primrose they are congeners and are readily fertilised by each other which can create hybrid varieties.

 

Cowslip flowers are an early source of nectar for various insects including bees, beetles and butterflies such as the brimstone. It is also a food plant for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly who lay their eggs underneath the leaves of both Primrose and Cowslip plants.

 

Cowslips were traditionally picked on May Day to adorn garlands but also for other celebrations, such as weddings. It is known for its sedative qualities and was traditionally used to treat sleeping problems and coughs.

During the 1960s Stowford Paper Mill in Ivybridge, which was then part of the international paper making group Wiggins Teape, began sending bunches of primroses to all of its clients throughout Britain.

 

Each April, local people were able to bring along bunches of primroses to the Congregational Hall on Exeter Road. Each bunch of primroses had to comprise of 50 flowers with 5 leaves wrapped around the posy.

Work at the hall started between 8 and 8.30 with the arrival of the flowers. Temporary staff employed by the paper mill (the majority being mill pensioners and their husbands and wives) would then pack the flowers in small cardboard boxes which were lined to make them waterproof. Each box carried an attractive pre-printed labels supplied by Wiggins Teape which often depicted scenes of Spring. Paper mill staff were permitted to send boxes of primroses to their own family and friends which was greatly appreciated by the sender and recipient!

 

Work had to be completed by lunchtime Monday to Thursday to ensure the fresh flowers could be despatched by the Post Office and then received at their destination (generally offices) the following day.

Bunches that were not used on the day were put in shallow trays of water to keep them fresh. Monday was a busy day as the children had spent the weekend collecting the primroses. There are many stories of families filling their baths with water to store the bunches overnight and prevent them from going limp.

Quote

OPERATION PRIMROSE

Fourth April, D-Day for primroses dawned bright and fair, and brought with it a record inrush of primrose gathers. No less than 18,500 bunches were poured into broke baskets between eight and ten-thirty a.m. and by the evening they were all en route to all parts of England’s suburban and industrial areas. It might be thought that such a vast number of primroses gathered in one day represents the commercialisation of what is mean’t to be a goodwill and cheery gesture and is therefore to be deplored. The fact is that the vast majority of primrose pickers are school children ranging from tiny tots with their four or five bunches to teenagers with anything from 50 to 100, and what is more these children are well enough versed in nature law not to strip the plants and damage their growth.

 

What is remarkable is, that a project that starts with crowds of scrambling noisy youngsters resolves itself into a major feat of organisation and administration resulting, we hope, in bringing a touch of Devon’s Spring to many people who do not have the opportunity of visiting us at this, the most exciting time of the year.

This article from 1965 was taken from ‘Gateway’, an internal magazine of Wiggins Teape. It clearly illustrates just how many local people participated in the annual event. Whilst the article considered that the children appreciated some principles of conservation the practice was soon to come under environmental scrutiny.

Mar21.35

In 1962, ‘Operation Primrose’ had been the subject of a short television documentary. The organisers commenting “such a pity that colour television is still in the future, because it would have revealed that, not only is the water hereabouts good for papers, it is also good for Devonshire cream and roses complexions.”

 

At the beginning of the 1950s, television was only enjoyed by people with money to spare. By the 1970s virtually every home in Britain had one! The first colour broadcast was aired on BBC2 on 1 July 1967.

F21.59

OPERATION PRIMROSE

Fourth April, D-Day for primroses dawned bright and fair, and brought with it a record inrush of primrose gathers. No less than 18,500 bunches were poured into broke baskets between eight and ten-thirty a.m. and by the evening they were all en route to all parts of England’s suburban and industrial areas. It might be thought that such a vast number of primroses gathered in one day represents the commercialisation of what is mean’t to be a goodwill and cheery gesture and is therefore to be deplored. The fact is that the vast majority of primrose pickers are school children ranging from tiny tots with their four or five bunches to teenagers with anything from 50 to 100, and what is more these children are well enough versed in nature law not to strip the plants and damage their growth.

 

What is remarkable is, that a project that starts with crowds of scrambling noisy youngsters resolves itself into a major feat of organisation and administration resulting, we hope, in bringing a touch of Devon’s Spring to many people who do not have the opportunity of visiting us at this, the most exciting time of the year.

This article from 1965 was taken from ‘Gateway’, an internal magazine of Wiggins Teape. It clearly illustrates just how many local people participated in the annual event. Whilst the article considered that the children appreciated some principles of conservation the practice was soon to come under environmental scrutiny.

In 1962, ‘Operation Primrose’ had been the subject of a short television documentary. The organisers commenting “such a pity that colour television is still in the future, because it would have revealed that, not only is the water hereabouts good for papers, it is also good for Devonshire cream and roses complexions.”

 

At the beginning of the 1950s, television was only enjoyed by people with money to spare. By the 1970s virtually every home in Britain had one! The first colour broadcast was aired on BBC2 on 1 July 1967.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS OVER PICKING PRIMROSES

We now live in an age of environmental awareness  but it must be remembered that sixty years ago the activity of picking wild primroses was simply an accepted part of local community life which had been conducted for decades. This however, by the 1970s was to change. The general displeasure surrounding the practice had begun to gain momentum with a groundswell of negative publicity. An eminent naturalist had even cited the practice of primrose picking in South Devon as an example of a threat to native plant species. Wiggins Teape were faced with a paradox, the decades-long practice of sending primroses appeared to be a valuable and generally accepted customer-relations exercise yet it was creating this damaging publicity.

 

In 1977, academics from what was then Plymouth Polytechnic were invited to research the activity and its biological effects alongside a feasibility study into growing primroses commercially to meet this demand. Wiggins Teape certainly did not wish to see the demise of the much loved primrose and imposed restrictive measures regarding their collection to contain the adverse sentiment. Picking was restricted to consenting farmers fields with only local people with permission to carry out the task allowed on the land. This action hoped to remove the problem of uncontrolled picking which was much more likely to damage the plants and their ecosystems.

 

In 1989, Wiggins Teape, perhaps with a degree of reluctance, declared that this year would be the last for the picking and distribution of primroses. The idea of commercial propagation had proved to be cost prohibitive.

Learn more ...

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS OVER PICKING PRIMROSES

We now live in an age of environmental awareness  but it must be remembered that sixty years ago the activity of picking wild primroses was simply an accepted part of local community life which had been conducted for decades. This however, by the 1970s was to change. The general displeasure surrounding the practice had begun to gain momentum with a groundswell of negative publicity. An eminent naturalist had even cited the practice of primrose picking in South Devon as an example of a threat to native plant species. Wiggins Teape were faced with a paradox, the decades-long practice of sending primroses appeared to be a valuable and generally accepted customer-relations exercise yet it was creating this damaging publicity.

 

In 1977, academics from what was then Plymouth Polytechnic were invited to research the activity and its biological effects alongside a feasibility study into growing primroses commercially to meet this demand. Wiggins Teape certainly did not wish to see the demise of the much loved primrose and imposed restrictive measures regarding their collection to contain the adverse sentiment. Picking was restricted to consenting farmers fields with only local people with permission to carry out the task allowed on the land. This action hoped to remove the problem of uncontrolled picking which was much more likely to damage the plants and their ecosystems.

 

In 1989, Wiggins Teape, perhaps with a degree of reluctance, declared that this year would be the last for the picking and distribution of primroses. The idea of commercial propagation had proved to be cost prohibitive.

Learn more ...

Coming next month …

‘A vacation in the South Hams -1904 ‘ continues

The visitor takes a trip to neighbouring Modbury and Ermington enjoying the views of the South Hams countryside aboard a leisurely horse drawn coach.

 

The lady makes time to visit Ermington Church and is highly appreciative of the intricate wood carving of the pulpit and pews, the work of the talented daughters of Rev. Pinwill.

 

We take the opportunity to expand upon the lives and work of the Pinwill sisters who went on to become professional wood carvers.

Coming next month …

‘A vacation in the South Hams 1904 ‘ continues

The visitor takes a trip to neighbouring Modbury and Ermington enjoying the views of the South Hams countryside aboard a leisurely horse drawn coach.

 

The lady makes time to visit Ermington Church and is highly appreciative of the intricate wood carving of the pulpit and pews, the work of the talented daughters of Rev. Pinwill.

 

We take the opportunity to expand upon the lives and work of the Pinwill sisters who went on to become professional wood carvers.

Recreation in the late nineteenth century

Dendles Wood and the adjacent Hawns Wood on the southern edge of Dartmoor were popular destinations for pleasure seekers of the Victorian era. Visitors were able to take the train and alight at Cornwood and then walk for around 2.5 miles passing numerous cottages ‘with tea-tables laid out under the shade of the trees’.

 

Today this area forms part of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation and the wood is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

 

At Ivybridge, “one station further on the Great Western Railway line…the woods on the west side of the Erme are always open to the public, and those on the east by permission of the owners. In spring and summer, trees, and birds, and flowers make the Erme valley a true place of recreation. An hotel and several cottages, which bear the mystic sign ”Tea made and water boiled” prevent the claims of the physical man from being neglected.”

Recreation in the late nineteenth century

Dendles Wood and the adjacent Hawns Wood on the southern edge of Dartmoor were popular destinations for pleasure seekers of the Victorian era. Visitors were able to take the train and alight at Cornwood and then walk for around 2.5 miles passing numerous cottages ‘with tea-tables laid out under the shade of the trees’.

 

Today this area forms part of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation and the wood is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

 

At Ivybridge, “one station further on the Great Western Railway line…the woods on the west side of the Erme are always open to the public, and those on the east by permission of the owners. In spring and summer, trees, and birds, and flowers make the Erme valley a true place of recreation. An hotel and several cottages, which bear the mystic sign ”Tea made and water boiled” prevent the claims of the physical man from being neglected.”

Recreation in the late nineteenth century

Dendles Wood and the adjacent Hawns Wood on the southern edge of Dartmoor were popular destinations for pleasure seekers of the Victorian era. Visitors were able to take the train and alight at Cornwood and then walk for around 2.5 miles passing numerous cottages ‘with tea-tables laid out under the shade of the trees’.

 

Today this area forms part of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation and the wood is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

 

At Ivybridge, “one station further on the Great Western Railway line…the woods on the west side of the Erme are always open to the public, and those on the east by permission of the owners. In spring and summer, trees, and birds, and flowers make the Erme valley a true place of recreation. An hotel and several cottages, which bear the mystic sign ”Tea made and water boiled” prevent the claims of the physical man from being neglected.”

A rambler, whilst walking on the Downs on Easter Monday, 1922, spotted an unfamiliar bird. In an attempt to identify the species, a fairly detailed description was placed in a local newspaper.

 

Can any budding ornithologists amongst you history lovers identify this relatively rare visitor to England from the description submitted? Come back next month and try!

 

Whilst no answer was found in the ensuing editions of the newspaper, a sighting of the same species in Devon from a newspaper some 50 years earlier solves the problem for us!

 

Plus, Bird-watcher or Twitcher? We explain the differences.

A rambler, whilst walking on the Downs on Easter Monday, 1922, spotted an unfamiliar bird. In an attempt to identify the species, a fairly detailed description was placed in a local newspaper.

 

Can any budding ornithologists amongst you history lovers identify this relatively rare visitor to England from the description submitted? Come back next month and try!

Whilst no answer was found in the ensuing editions of the newspaper, a sighting of the same species in Devon from a newspaper some 50 years earlier solves the problem for us!

 

Plus, Bird-watcher or Twitcher? We explain the differences.

A rambler, whilst walking on the Downs on Easter Monday, 1922, spotted an unfamiliar bird. In an attempt to identify the species, a fairly detailed description was placed in a local newspaper.

 

Can any budding ornithologists amongst you history lovers identify this relatively rare visitor to England from the description submitted? Come back next month and try!

Whilst no answer was found in the ensuing editions of the newspaper, a sighting of the same species in Devon from a newspaper some 50 years earlier solves the problem for us!

 

Plus, Bird-watcher or Twitcher? We explain the differences.

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