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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Mar22.14

Our aim is 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.

Mar22.14

Our aim is 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.

Mar22.14

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 >

August’s nature diary

Nowhere in our gardens do bumble bees gather and make more noise than around lavender bushes. The perfume so sweet and essentially English, never fails to attract the bees.

Bumblebees are threatened by habitat loss and intensive agriculture which has significantly reduced wildflower meadows in the UK.

Gardeners can help their plight by planting a good variety of pollen-rich flowers that have different flower shapes and a range of flowering periods from early spring to late summer and even throughout the winter. Honeysuckle and foxgloves are always firm favourites but also think about wildflowers and native species.

Some trees and shrubs are also great for bees as they provide masses of flowers in one place. Consider winter and early spring flowering trees such as apple, wild cherry, willow and hazel.

August’s nature diary

Nowhere in our gardens do bumble bees gather and make more noise than around lavender bushes. The perfume so sweet and essentially English, never fails to attract the bees.

Bumblebees are threatened by habitat loss and intensive agriculture which has significantly reduced wildflower meadows in the UK.

Gardeners can help their plight by planting a good variety of pollen-rich flowers that have different flower shapes and a range of flowering periods from early spring to late summer and even throughout the winter. Honeysuckle and foxgloves are always firm favourites but also think about wildflowers and native species.

Some trees and shrubs are also great for bees as they provide masses of flowers in one place. Consider winter and early spring flowering trees such as apple, wild cherry, willow and hazel.

Fairy Rings

There has always been a sense of curiosity associated with what is termed ‘Fairy Rings’, those circular shapes of dark green grass or dry dead grass which pop up on lawns, within fields and in woodland. Multiple factors influence this characteristic circular growth pattern, including soil type and the amount of nutrients present.

 

 These rings are created when a mushroom spore falls in a favourable spot, grows a mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus, and spreads out an underground network of fine, tubular threads called hyphae. As the nourishment in the soil is exhausted so the ring spreads outwards, each year becoming larger than the previous. The dark circles a result of the mycelium breaking down the organic material in the soil and releasing nitrogen which is essential for grass, creating taller and darker blades in these areas.

 

In folklore it has been traditionally believed that fairy rings are the dwelling places of the fairies, elves and other magical beings. The circles created by the fairies dancing around in a continuous circle and using the mushrooms and toadstools as tables and chairs. Many myths surround fairy rings and should you step into one you may become invisible or become trapped there forever. You have been warned history lovers!

Fairy Rings

There has always been a sense of curiosity associated with what is termed ‘Fairy Rings’, those circular shapes of dark green grass or dry dead grass which pop up on lawns, within fields and in woodland. Multiple factors influence this characteristic circular growth pattern, including soil type and the amount of nutrients present.

 

 These rings are created when a mushroom spore falls in a favourable spot, grows a mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus, and spreads out an underground network of fine, tubular threads called hyphae. As the nourishment in the soil is exhausted so the ring spreads outwards, each year becoming larger than the previous. The dark circles a result of the mycelium breaking down the organic material in the soil and releasing nitrogen which is essential for grass, creating taller and darker blades in these areas.

 

In folklore it has been traditionally believed that fairy rings are the dwelling places of the fairies, elves and other magical beings. The circles created by the fairies dancing around in a continuous circle and using the mushrooms and toadstools as tables and chairs. Many myths surround fairy rings and should you step into one you may become invisible or become trapped there forever. You have been warned history lovers!

Ivybridge is a small market town and civil parish formed in 1894 under the provisions of the “Local Government Act”, from the parishes of Ermington, Cornwood, Harford and Ugborough; it is on the river Erme, which is here crossed by three stone bridges, with a station half a mile north on the South Devon section of the Great Western railway.

 

The town is governed by an Urban District Council of 11 members, which takes the place of a Local Board, established under the Act of 1858; it is lighted by electricity. The temperature is mild and the surrounding scenery very beautiful, with the adjuncts of wood and water, and is much frequented by tourists.

 

The Council Fire Brigade is composed of a captain and 12 men, and has a manual engine. The Masonic hall is in Chapel Place. There are grist and paper mills. Lloyds Bank, erected in 1916, is in Fore Street. There is a hotel here. Markets are held on the third Monday in every month for horses, cattle, sheep etc.

 

Excerpts from Kelly’s Devonshire Directory of 1923.

Ivybridge is a small market town and civil parish formed in 1894 under the provisions of the “Local Government Act”, from the parishes of Ermington, Cornwood, Harford and Ugborough; it is on the river Erme, which is here crossed by three stone bridges, with a station half a mile north on the South Devon section of the Great Western railway.

 

The town is governed by an Urban District Council of 11 members, which takes the place of a Local Board, established under the Act of 1858; it is lighted by electricity. The temperature is mild and the surrounding scenery very beautiful, with the adjuncts of wood and water, and is much frequented by tourists.

 

The Council Fire Brigade is composed of a captain and 12 men, and has a manual engine. The Masonic hall is in Chapel Place. There are grist and paper mills. Lloyds Bank, erected in 1916, is in Fore Street. There is a hotel here. Markets are held on the third Monday in every month for horses, cattle, sheep etc.

 

Excerpts from Kelly’s Devonshire Directory of 1923.

Ivybridge Fire Engine

The first organised municipal fire brigade was established in Edinburgh in 1824 whilst other areas of Britain had volunteer Fire Brigades.

 

In Ivybridge, it was July 1846 before a few local gentlemen agreed that the village warranted its own fire engine. The ever growing population of Ivybridge with its extensive paper and flour mills, woollen manufactory and tan yard significantly increased the risk of a major fire. Ivybridge had also become a tourist destination attracting large numbers of visitors during the summer months.

 

The local community of Ivybridge rallied around and together raised just over £109 permitting a fire engine to be purchased. The vehicle arrived in March 1847 and the Royal Farmers Insurance Office, in recognition of the achievement, donated 12 leather buckets. A modest fire station to accommodate the new engine was built using spare stone from the railway viaduct which was under construction at the time. The station was in the grounds of a house in Fore Street near the present Methodist Church. Given that the engine was horse drawn suitable stabling was also provided alongside the building.

 

Whilst the village now had a fire engine, the water supply unfortunately was far from adequate with the existing reservoir said to be located ‘at least 200ft. too low’ and reported to leak. There was barely a trickle of water in some parts of the village making firefighting extremely difficult. The situation was not improved until the new water supply came on stream during June 1916, with the construction of the reservoir at Butter Brook on Harford Moor which was around ‘400ft. above the Great Western Railway’ increasing local water pressure significantly.

 

It seems by the turn of the twentieth century the fire station was deemed inadequate. The Urban District Council recommended that a store in Western Road be converted to create a new one and around 1904 the local fire service moved to its second location in Ivybridge.

Image: the Ivybridge horse drawn fire engine attending a fire at Lee Mill Bridge Paper Mill. The superintendent of Ivybridge Fire Brigade at this time was Mr. William Henry Full and the captain William Henry Martin both prominent members of the local community. William Full was the Ivybridge Urban Council’s surveyor whilst William Martin went on to hold office with the council during the 1930s.

Image: the Ivybridge horse drawn fire engine attending a fire at Lee Mill Bridge Paper Mill. The superintendent of Ivybridge Fire Brigade at this time was Mr. William Henry Full and the captain William Henry Martin both prominent members of the local community. William Full was the Ivybridge Urban Council’s surveyor whilst William Martin went on to hold office with the council during the 1930s.

A fire at the paper mills of Messrs. J. Henry and Co., (formerly Holman and Co.) at Lee Mill Bridge on the night of 13 February 1908 resulted in serious damage to the older parts of the mill along with three cottages and other nearby buildings.

 

With the paper mill already struggling to survive due to weak trading conditions and cheap paper imports, the incident was to prove the death knell for the business. Later that year the paper mill’s machinery was put up for sale along with a number of the buildings and 30 acres of land. With the sale, paper manufacturing at Lee Mill came to an end.

 

Some people may recall the name Harris of Devon emblazoned across the front of the building in large lettering when it was a centre for horticultural machinery during the 1950s and 60s.

Around this time the Urban District Council decided that a charge needed to be levied for use of the fire engine when attending incidents outside of the district. However, for a time this seemed to have created a degree of confusion, prompting the council to openly publicise the fact to ‘deprive owners of property of the excuse that the regulations were not known’ as Henry J. F. Lee commented. It had been perhaps prompted by an incident at Filham House in November of the previous year. Whilst the alarm had been raised regarding a fire at the property, the superintendent of Ivybridge Fire Brigade was instructed by the council not to attend until a payment was guaranteed. A cyclist was despatched to the owner of Filham House, who unaware of the arrangement, immediately agreed to remunerate the fire brigade. On receipt of the message the brigade proceeded to Filham House only to find on their arrival that local people had come to the house owner’s aid and had already brought the fire under control. The fire brigade’s hose was never used but presumably the charge remained!

Big Blaze at Ivybridge

Allen and Sons’ Paper Mill on Fire

5 May 1914

These were the headlines in the newspaper documenting a fire which broke out at Stowford Paper Mills.

The mill’s own fire engine and the one from Ivybridge were the first in attendance followed by engines from Plymouth and Stonehouse which arrived much later. The fire was eventually brought under control but it was clear by the following morning that major damage had been sustained to the mill. The rag loft was completely gutted. Other adjoining buildings were also damaged, as well as the water turbine and the launder.

It was feared that the incident would close the mill, as was often the case following fire around this time. However, Stowford Mill was one of the lucky ones and was successfully repaired. The total cost of restoration was approximately £14,000, fortunately covered by the mill’s insurance.

During reconstruction the mill workforce experienced reduced hour working, hardship which was to last for almost a year until the mill was re-established. To help these employees during this times the community of Ivybridge rallied together to come to their aid.

Ivybridge Fire Relief Fund

During May a special committee created a relief fund for all those who had been ‘thrown out of work by the disastrous fire’. An appeal made by the Chairman of Ivybridge Urban Council, Henry John Fice Lee, urged the public to be generous given the plight of those affected.

In aid of the fund a charge of 3d. was made to view the scene of the disaster, whilst the gardens were open to the public on payment of an admission fee of 6d.

During reconstruction the mill workforce experienced reduced hour working, hardship which was to last for almost a year until the mill was re-established. To help these employees during this times the community of Ivybridge rallied together to come to their aid.

Ivybridge Fire Relief Fund

During May a special committee created a relief fund for all those who had been ‘thrown out of work by the disastrous fire’. An appeal made by the Chairman of Ivybridge Urban Council, Henry John Fice Lee, urged the public to be generous given the plight of those affected. In aid of the fund a charge of 3d. was made to view the scene of the disaster, whilst the gardens were open to the public on payment of an admission fee of 6d.

The remedial work to the mill of course took place just as the First World War broke out, with men up and down the land conscripting for military service. George Clapperton, with his connection with a number of paper mills reported that typically three quarters of all male workers were enlisting and that it was impossible to get women and inferior labour to conduct skilled work. It is not known exactly what proportion of the men that were employed in Ivybridge left the mill during this time.

 

In 1916, to highlight the mill’s precarious position, it was reported that it had applied for an exemption of the only remaining stoker in their employment on the grounds that they were unable to replace him and without his daily 16 hour shift the mill would have to close. Coal was of course used to fuel the boilers which provided the power for the machinery. Thankfully for the mill the exemption was granted but only on condition that the gentleman concerned remained in his current employment. After such hardship orders for paper remained scarce, even when the armistice was declared, making it a difficult period in the history of the paper mill.

 

In 1928, Mr N. Jasper, Chairman of the fire brigade commented that the fire appliances at Ivybridge were ‘somewhat out of date’ and a firm had been consulted with a view to overhauling them.  A few years later in 1931, the Urban Council were discussing adding a trailer pump to the equipment of the fire brigade, prompted it seems by a well-known firm of fire-engine manufacturers touring Devon and offering demonstrations.

 

In 1938 the Auxiliary Fire Service was created which was shortly superseded by the creation of the National Fire Service (NFS) ensuring uniformity in the basic equipment used by the Fire Brigades.

 

Judging by an article which appeared in a local newspaper in 1947, the original fire engine survived for at least 100 years, although of course not remaining in service. The article read ‘the old Ivybridge Urban Council’s manual engine, bearing the date 1847, its pumping days over…it now cannot even be towed in a carnival procession because its wheels are falling to pieces.’

 

The third and current fire station was built in 1977. The Western Road building was demolished in 2021 to create dedicated car parking spaces for the residents of Western Road who were no longer permitted to leave their vehicles on the kerbside.

Moving into September

Tall Michaelmas daisies begin to bloom beside flowering dahlias in their characteristic array of colours. These two flowers always light the way to autumn with an early hint of colour. Bees and butterflies love the nectar of these big daisy clumps.

Moving into September

Tall Michaelmas daisies begin to bloom beside flowering dahlias in their characteristic array of colours. These two flowers always light the way to autumn with an early hint of colour. Bees and butterflies love the nectar of these big daisy clumps.

NEXT MONTH

We look back at the work conducted on the top two floors of the main building at Stowford Paper Mill, the infamous Rag Loft. Unrest amongst the women in 1852  led to some unsavoury behaviour!

The rather unpleasant work conducted at the Rag Loft involved sorting through old discarded clothing and other materials, removing offending items such as buttons and fastenings and cutting the cloth into smaller pieces ready for the next processes where it was bleached, separated into discrete fibres and transformed into white paper.

NEXT MONTH

We look back at the work conducted on the top two floors of the main building at Stowford Paper Mill, the infamous Rag Loft. Unrest amongst the women in 1852  led to some unsavoury behaviour!

The rather unpleasant work conducted at the Rag Loft involved sorting through old discarded clothing and other materials, removing offending items such as buttons and fastenings and cutting the cloth into smaller pieces ready for the next processes where it was bleached, separated into discrete fibres and transformed into white paper.

NEXT MONTH

We look back at the work conducted on the top two floors of the main building at Stowford Paper Mill, the infamous Rag Loft. Unrest amongst the women in 1852  led to some unsavoury behaviour!

The rather unpleasant work conducted at the Rag Loft involved sorting through old discarded clothing and other materials, removing offending items such as buttons and fastenings and cutting the cloth into smaller pieces ready for the next processes where it was bleached, separated into discrete fibres and transformed into white paper.

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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