“The Old Bridge, from which Ivybridge derived its name, bears evidence of age, whether it be the structure of De Ponte Hederae or not, who in some remote period held the Manor. It has but one span and is probably unique in the respect that it is shared by four parishes, unfortunately the spoiling hand of workmen has recently denuded it of its beautiful covering of ivy which gave the bridge such a picturesque appearance”.

Charles Smallridge 1906

Tristram Risdon’s ‘Survey of Devon’ written in about 1620 tells its readers that in the reign of Henry III (1216-1272) the land known as Ivy Bridge because of its proximity to the bridge over the River Erme called the Ivy Bridge, was given by Hugh Peverel to Alfred de Ponte Hedera. This gift, Risdon says, was confirmed in the time of Edward I (1272-1307) by Sir John Peverel who followed Hugh as lord of Ermington … Whether Alfred brought the name with him to Ivybridge, or whether he became known as ‘of Bridge’ because of his property there, is not known.

Charles Hankin – Local Historian

Ivy Bridge

The old ‘Ivy Bridge’ has proved to be a popular landmark over the years. It has been the subject for many paintings by artists such as John Inigo Richards, Francis Towne and William Payne. The most famous artist arguably was the English watercolourist Joseph Mallord William Turner, who visited Ivybridge in 1811 and 1814 making sketches which formed the basis for his watercolour of the bridge.

 

The advent of postcards in the early twentieth century provided a new method to depict the bridge and the large number of visitors to Ivybridge meant that even the keenest of deltiologists (collectors of postcards) were not short of ephemera.

A bridge in this location is recorded as early as 1250. The original bridge may have been built by the Augustian monks from Plympton enabling them to reach Dean Prior and Buckfast. These monks were the wealthiest in Devon and the fourth wealthiest order in the country. This crossing was originally a packhorse bridge but it was widened by Sir John Rogers of Blachford, shortly after coach travel became the main mode of transport.

 

The bridge has a single span high round arch, constructed in granite with dressed granite voussoirs. The bridge was located on the corner of the four ancient parishes of Ermington, Ugborough, Cornwood and Harford. Two so-called 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. It served as the road bridge across the River Erme on the main Plymouth to Exeter route up until the construction of a new road and bridge by the Plymouth Eastern Turnpike Trust which was completed in the mid-1830s.

Apart from the parish stones, the bridge also has guard stones, often referred to as chasse-roues (lit. wheel chasers). These were strategically positioned to prevent damage from the unforgiving wheels of horse-drawn vehicles simply by diverting any wheel coming too close to the bridge. They are often found on the sides of old archways and entrances and indeed more can be found along nearby Station Road. On one of the north-western coping stones an old cast-iron flame lamp holder still remains.

more images of the bridge >

Erme Bridge ‘Destroyed’

The London Hotel, Ivybridge, was scheduled as being on fire from incendiary bombs, and a high explosive bomb had destroyed the bridge over the Erme and seriously damaged a water main. Two of the 10 casualties were known to be in a lower room of the hotel, which was filled with smoke.   20 May 1940.

The headline sounds alarming until one reads the full article to realise that this was an A.R.P. training exercise which had been held in many areas in the South West.

Bridge Ceremony.

The Bridge Ceremony

In 1992 Tom Maddock, the Town Mayor, looking for new ideas to engage the local community, embarked upon re-enacting the Bridge Ceremony for the following year. This was a tradition from centuries before when the residents of Ivybridge were asked to pay a fee for the continued use of the Ivy Bridge to cross the River Erme. The fee consisted of a fat duck from the river, some new paper from Stowford Paper Mill and a single red rose.

 

On May 22nd 1993, Tom Maddock recalled the day as being a little dull and wet. However, despite the inclement weather, all the local school children attended, suitably dressed for the occasion. Certificates of appreciation were handed out, signed by the Town Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

 

The first Bridge Ceremony followed on from ‘Beating the Bounds’. The bridge was blocked by a gate festooned in flowers and foliage. A procession of Ivybridge residents paraded to the bridge from Victoria Park to be confronted by the obstruction on the bridge. On the other side were residents of Ermington Parish. After a brief dialogue between the two and the exchange of a duck, a ream of paper and a red rose, the gate was removed and the residents of Ivybridge were permitted to cross the bridge. All those who helped to organise the ceremony were then asked to sign the ‘Book’, amid much joviality, recording the event for posterity.

 

Following its resounding success and the renewal of an old tradition in Ivybridge, the Bridge Ceremony was planned every year and still forms part of the event calendar today.

New Bridge

The new bridge was built in 1833 after several years of planning during the 1820s.  The bridge connected Exeter Road to Fore Street and offered a straight route through the village to Plymouth.  Prior to the new bridge being built, horses and carriages had to manoeuvre across the old Ivy Bridge which entailed an awkward double turn.

this structure cut off the circuitous route over the old Bridge to Exeter Road. The steep descent of the Erme at this point causes the floods of water to rush underneath with a terrific roar and presents a scene of indescribable grandeur

After the bridge was completed it altered the priority route through the village and substantial housing and commercial building work west of the bridge soon followed.

 

William Pym had already been granted permission to establish a second paper mill alongside the manorial flour mills in 1814. This used water diverted from the river via a leat close to this new bridge. Then John Seldon, in 1830, opened his public house, The King’s Arms. Over the years he established it as a commercial inn offering wines and spirits, ‘well-aired beds’ and good stabling for the stagecoach traveller.

 

During World War II conduits were placed under the bridge so that explosives could quickly be put in place if there was an enemy invasion. Members of the Auxiliary Territorial Patrol (Churchill’s Army) met locally at The King’s Arms. These volunteers had access to a range of explosives and other devices, many kept in local barns!

 

Today traffic only flows in one direction over the river whilst a separate pedestrian bridge exists alongside it.

New Bridge modern

Allen Bridge

The bridge was built in 1859 and bears the inscription ‘J.A. 1859’. John Allen, the owner of the paper mill built the bridge to improve access to the railway siding at the station goods yard just a little further along Station Road. Coal and other raw materials were received by rail and transported by horse drawn cart to the paper mill. Previously the route involved a small journey away from the mill site and over the awkward and narrow Ivy Bridge located downstream. Similarly finished paper dispatched from the mill via the railway station could now take this more direct route.

Allen's Bridge Stowford Mill

Factory Bridge

Factory Bridge, located to the south, provided a route out of Ivybridge linking it to the road to Ermington.

 

The exact date of construction is currently unknown but an engraved stone close to the original site of the bridge documents that it was reconstructed and widened in 1929. This explains its differing appearance in old photographs.

This bridge was demolished in 1973 to make way for the new A38 Ivybridge by-pass. Apparently the first detonation failed so a second attempt was required to collapse the bridge.

Marjorie Kelly Way - Relief Road and Bridge

A much later bridge was constructed as part of the Marjorie Kelly Way relief road scheme, enabling this new route to cross the River Erme.

Work commenced in October 1993 with the removal of a number of trees and the establishment of a ‘coffer dam’, constructed from individual 1 ton bags of sand, to control the flow of the river.

By January 1994, work was taking place on the buttresses which would support the new bridge, each consuming around 200 tons of concrete.  By April, the top sections of the bridge were craned into place and in May the new road was surfaced.

Marjorie Kelly Way - Relief Road and Bridge

A much later bridge was constructed as part of the Marjorie Kelly Way relief road scheme, enabling this new route to cross the River Erme.

Work commenced in October 1993 with the removal of a number of trees and the establishment of a ‘coffer dam’, constructed from individual 1 ton bags of sand, to control the flow of the river.

By January 1994, work was taking place on the buttresses which would support the new bridge, each consuming around 200 tons of concrete.  By April, the top sections of the bridge were craned into place and in May the new road was surfaced.

On 13th June 1994 the new Fore Street relief road, Marjorie Kelly Way, was formally opened by Councillor R.G.Ruffle, Chairman of the Highways and Transport Committee of Devon County Council.

Marjorie Kelly was a very active member of the local community for decades, particularly with the badminton club which she ran with outstanding success. The road bears her name in recognition of the service and commitment she gave to the town of Ivybridge.

BRIDGES

The name ‘Ivy Bridge’ was originally reference to the crossing on the River Erme as opposed to any settlement. The 17th Century chronicles of Sir William Pole, a Devon historian and antiquarian records that ‘Ivy brigge’ took its name from ‘ye bridge which lieth over ye Erme, being much inclined to ivy’.
The old ‘Ivy Bridge’ has proved to be a popular landmark over the years. It has been the subject for many paintings by artists such as John Inigo Richards, Francis Towne and William Payne. The most famous artist arguably was the English watercolourist Joseph Mallord William Turner, who visited Ivybridge in 1811 and 1814 making sketches which formed the basis for his watercolour of the bridge.
The advent of postcards in the early twentieth century provided a new method to depict the bridge and the large number of visitors to Ivybridge meant that even the keenest of deltiologists (collectors of postcards) were not short of ephemera.
A bridge in this location is recorded as early as 1250. The original bridge may have been built by the Augustian monks from Plympton enabling them to reach Dean Prior and Buckfast. These monks were the wealthiest in Devon and the fourth wealthiest order in the country. This crossing was originally a packhorse bridge but it was widened by Sir John Rogers of Blachford, shortly after coach travel became the main mode of transport.
The bridge has a single span high round arch, constructed in granite with dressed granite voussoirs. The bridge was located on the corner of the four ancient parishes of Ermington, Ugborough, Cornwood and Harford. Two so-called 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. It served as the road bridge across the River Erme on the main Plymouth to Exeter route up until the construction of a new road and bridge by the Plymouth Eastern Turnpike Trust which was completed in the mid-1830s.
Apart from the parish stones, the bridge also has guard stones, often referred to as chasse-roues (lit. wheel chasers). They were strategically positioned to prevent damage from the unforgiving wheels of horse-drawn vehicles simply by diverting any wheel coming too close to the bridge. They are often found on the sides of old archways and entrances and indeed more can be found along nearby Station Road. On one of the north-western coping stones an old cast-iron flame lamp holder still remains.

THE BRIDGE CEREMONY

In 1992, Tom Maddock, the Town Mayor, looking for new ideas to engage the local community, embarked upon re-enacting the Bridge Ceremony for the following year. This was a tradition from centuries before when the residents of Ivybridge were asked to pay a fee for the continued use of the Ivy Bridge to cross the River Erme. The fee consisted of a fat duck from the river, some new paper from Stowford Paper Mill and a single red rose.
On May 22nd 1993, Tom Maddock recalled the day as being a little dull and wet. However, despite the inclement weather, all the local school children attended, suitably dressed for the occasion. Certificates of appreciation were handed out, signed by the Town Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
The first Bridge Ceremony followed on from ‘Beating the Bounds’. The bridge was blocked by a gate festooned in flowers and foliage. A procession of Ivybridge residents paraded to the bridge from Victoria Park to be confronted by the obstruction on the bridge. On the other side were residents of Ermington Parish. A brief dialogue between the two followed:
Ermington:  Stop! You cannot cross the bridge.
Ivybridge:  Why not?
Ermington:  Because Lord Peverell of Ermington says so.
Ivybridge:  Remove the gate because we want to go to the village green.
Ermington:  Then you must pay a token fee first.
Ivybridge:  How much is that?
Ermington:  One fat duck from the river Erme, some new paper from the mill and a red rose.
Ivybridge:  Very well, we will pay the fee and you must sign the book
Once the exchange of the duck, ream of paper and red rose occurred, the gate was removed and the residents of Ivybridge were permitted to cross the bridge. All those who helped to organise the ceremony were then asked to sign the ‘Book’, amid much joviality, recording the event for posterity.
Following its resounding success and the renewal of an old tradition in Ivybridge, the Bridge Ceremony was planned every year and still forms part of the event calendar today.

NEW BRIDGE

The new bridge was built in 1833 after several years of planning during the 1820s.  The bridge connected Exeter Road to Fore Street and offered a straight route through the village to Plymouth.  Prior to the new bridge being built, horses and carriages had to manoeuvre across the old Ivy Bridge which entailed an awkward double turn.
“this structure cut off the circuitous route over the old Bridge to Exeter Road. The steep descent of the Erme at this point causes the floods of water to rush underneath with a terrific roar and presents a scene of indescribable grandeur”
After the bridge was completed it altered the priority route through the village and substantial housing and commercial building work west of the bridge soon followed.
William Pym had already been granted permission to establish a second paper mill alongside the manorial flour mills in 1814. This used water diverted from the river via a leat close to the new bridge. Then John Seldon, in 1830 opened his public house, The King’s Arms. Over the years he established it as a commercial inn offering wines and spirits, ‘well-aired beds’ and good stabling for the stagecoach traveller.
During World War II conduits were placed under the bridge so that explosives could quickly be put in place if there was an enemy invasion. Members of the Auxiliary Territorial Patrol (Churchill’s Army) met locally at The King’s Arms. These volunteers had access to a range of explosives and other devices, many kept in local barns!
Today traffic only flows in one direction over the river whilst a separate pedestrian bridge exists alongside it.

ALLEN BRIDGE

The bridge was built in 1859 and bears the inscription ‘J.A. 1859’. John Allen, the owner of the paper mill built the bridge to improve access to the railway siding at the station goods yard just a little further along Station Road. Coal and other raw materials were received by rail and transported by horse drawn cart to the paper mill. Previously the route involved a small journey away from the mill site and over the awkward and narrow Ivy Bridge located downstream. Similarly finished paper dispatched from the mill via the railway station could now take this more direct route.

FACTORY BRIDGE

Factory Bridge, located to the south, provided a route out of Ivybridge linking it to the road to Ermington.
The exact date of construction is currently unknown but an engraved stone close to the original site of the bridge documents that it was reconstructed and widened in 1929. This explains its differing appearance in old photographs.
This bridge was demolished in 1973 to make way for the new A38 Ivybridge by-pass. Apparently the first detonation failed so a second attempt was required to collapse the bridge.

MARJORIE KELLY WAY RELIEF ROAD & BRIDGE

A much later bridge was constructed as part of the Marjorie Kelly Way relief road scheme, enabling this new route to cross the River Erme.
Work commenced in October 1993 with the removal of a number of trees and the establishment of a ‘coffer dam’, constructed from individual 1 ton bags of sand, to control the flow of the river.
By January 1994, work was taking place on the buttresses which would support the new bridge, each consuming around 200 tons of concrete.  By April, the top sections of the bridge were craned into place and in May the new road was surfaced.
Marjorie Kelly Way & Coffer Dam
Groundwork on the new relief road and coffer dam
Marjorie Kelly Way Buttresses
Buttresses under construction during bleak winter
Marjorie Kelly roundabout in progress
New roundabout taking shape
On 13th June 1994 the new Fore Street relief road, Marjorie Kelly Way, was formally opened by Councillor R.G.Ruffle, Chairman of the Highways and Transport Committee of Devon County Council.
Marjorie Kelly was a very active member of the local community for decades, particularly with the badminton club which she ran with outstanding success. The road bears her name in recognition of the service and commitment she gave to the town of Ivybridge.