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.


Victory had come at last after almost 6 years of hostilities and hardship for the nation. Ivybridge in a similar fashion to every other city, town and village in Britain went wild with celebrations as the euphoria swept the country. However, for many families it marked the end of a war in which loved ones and dear friends had been killed or reported missing, seriously injured or held as prisoners of war

In Ivybridge, a Welcome Home Fund was created under the chairmanship of Mr. M.P. Snell of the Council School. Fund raising events were organised and a certificate was produced in preparation for all the returning servicemen and women. The certificate was presented as a token of appreciation by the people of Ivybridge, recognising the sacrifices these brave men and women had made during their years of military service

“By the people of Ivybridge, recording with deep thankfulness the Services you rendered during the World War 1939-1945”

Each certificate was signed by Mr Snell, the Chairman of the Reception Committee, Mr Gilby, the Treasurer and Mr Wilfred Love, Secretary and Ivybridge’s sub postmaster

1500 hours Monday 8 May 1945

At the time of Mr Churchill’s broadcast at 3 p.m. on Monday, the streets of Ivybridge were absolutely deserted – everyone was indoors.

From 6.30 onwards it was the reverse, first with the crowds flocking to churches for the special services.

At the parish church of St. John, Col. the Rev. M.S.C. Campbell conducted a brief, but deeply impressive service, with Mr H.W. Blight at the organ and the choir leading the singing of hymns appropriate to the occasion.

Congregationalists and Methodists combined for a United Service of Thanksgiving in the Methodist Church. It commenced at 6.30 with community hymn-singing, conducted by the Rev. E.D. Bonnar, led by the combined choirs under the direction of Mr. Frank Partington (organist and choirmaster). A scripture reading was given by Mr. Parnell, and the collection was for Red Cross funds.

Festivities afterwards took place both in and outdoors, in all parts of the village.

Away in the distance bonfires could be seen burning on the Beacon, Lee Moor and elsewhere. Surprisingly too was the number of fireworks that had been unearthed. Was it a shopkeeper giving the public the benefit of his surplus stock on the appropriate occasion? Anyway, they were the cause of much merriment.

On Tuesday and Wednesday there were impromptu street dances from 10 p.m. until after midnight. They were arranged by Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Wright, held outside their home in Harford Road, and resulted in £7 10s being collected for the Forces Welcome Home Fund. On Wednesday night a huge crowd congregated there and under the floodlights sang and danced until the early hours of the morning. Staff-Sergt. L. French R.M., did a fine job as M.C. and music came from radiogram and a piano accordion played by Mr Hughes.

The happiest woman in Ivybridge on Thursday morning was Mrs. Barnes of Bridge Park, who had received a telegram saying that her son, Douglas, who had been a prisoner of war in German hands for several years, was in this country and would soon be home. Before the war he was employed by Mr. Baber, saddler, and his sister, Delsia, has since carried on in his place.

Another Ivybridge prisoner-of-war, Oliver Ridge, is safe in England.

Ivybridge Welcome for Released Prisoner of War

Pte. Douglas Barnes, Queen’s Royal Regt., of Bridge Park, Ivybridge, “dodged the column” when he returned on Friday after five years as a captive of the Germans and missed the public welcome that had been arranged!

Everyone was ready at the railway station to meet the down train arriving at 9 p.m., but Pte. Barnes got off at South Brent. “hitch-hiked” home and walked in on his surprised and delighted family.

Douglas Barnes looks fairly well but he has learned what it is to go hungry. His biggest surprise was how his brothers and sisters have grown up during his five years absence. One sister has married and her wedding cake has been kept for his homecoming party.

Captured in Abbeville, in May 1940, he had some rough times but on the whole was not treated too badly. He is full of praise for the Red Cross.

Following his release from the prisoner of war camp, Douglas Barnes did not return to the saddlery business of Mr Baber in Ivybridge but found employment in the market town of Walsall, which is world famous for saddle and harness making. At the turn of the 20th century Walsall was home to nearly a third of Britain’s saddlers and harness makers.

Delsia however, continued working at Mr Baber’s saddle shop in Ivybridge. She is still a resident in Ivybridge.

Private William Oliver Ridge had been liberated from Landshut, near Munich by the American 7th Army. He had been captured at Salerno in September 1943

“Victory Teas” at Ivybridge
Many Parties : Nobody Left Out

Almost every child in Ivybridge must now have enjoyed a “Victory tea,” there have been altogether five parties.

On June 9 about 80 children feasted in the Congregational schoolroom. They came from Bridge Park, Mill Meadow, Charlton Terrace, Exeter Road and Costly Street. Their eyes sparkled when they entered the room and saw strawberries and cream. There was a pleasant surprise later, when ice cream arrived – enough for everyone, young and old.

The guest of honour was Pte. Douglas Barnes, ex-prisoner of war.

Sports were held on the Green at Bridge Park, followed by games in the schoolroom. On leaving, each child received lemonade, home-made sweets, and a new six-pence.

The committee responsible for this successful event was Mesdames Gilbert, House, Hucker and Bastard.

The Green – Bridge Park

The West End

On the same afternoon children of the west end also celebrated in strength, and food from almost every home was sent to Mrs Hawkins and her body of willing helpers who provided tea for 88 in the G.T.C. Hut. Each child under three received a savings stamp for 2s. 6d. and the “over threes” one for 6d.

Mr W. Hilson, of Westover, gave permission for sports to be held in a field off Park Street, and after tea, the children gathered there for a full programme arranged by Mr. Coker. There were races for everyone, from under five to over forty!

At 9 p.m., the children were again taken to the Hut for supper.

Fore Street

Children of Fore Street had their feast in the Methodist Schoolroom, followed by a musical evening and games.

Those who made the arrangements are pleased at the help they received from parents and friends, which enabled them to make the “spread” a lavish one.

At Woodlands, about 20 children were entertained, on a lawn, lent by Mr. W. Dennis.

Thanks are due to Mrs. Turner and Mrs. March for the hard work they put in to ensure success of the little tea party. Everyone in the district contributed food or helped in some way.

Orthopaedic Hospital

The matron of the Orthopaedic Hospital has written expressing appreciation of the kindly thought which prompted the residents of Erme Terrace, Erme Road, Highland Street, Station Road, and Church Street to remember the little patients on the occasion of their Victory tea. She enclosed two letters from the children to say “Thank You”

Reference:  “Ivybridge during the Second World War 1939-1945” by Arthur L. Clamp.

On the evening of Victory in Europe Day, the Ivybridge Young Farmers met at the King’s Arms as normal. Afterwards everyone in the group joined Alec Rogers, a club member, back on his farm at Filham where they took some flares from the Auxiliary Unit’s stores and went to the hill above Penquit. Alec had originally joined the Home Guard during the war but later he was selected for special duty within an Auxiliary Territorial Patrol at Ugborough (Churchill’s Army). These volunteers had access to a range of explosives and other devices.

The more agile members of the Young Farmers group climbed the trees at Penquit and lit the flares. A great blaze of light was briefly followed by the total darkness everyone had been accustomed to for the past 5 years. Then everyone’s eyes became aware of the lights of Ermington and Ivybridge and all around. Little lights were twinkling where cottages and farmhouses were celebrating this great victory. A night never to be forgotten for Alec and his young farmer colleagues.

Shops & Businesses in Ivybridge – 1945

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 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.

Ivybridge Town Council
Devon County Council - Copy