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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Dec22.25

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.

Dec22.25

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.

Dec22.25

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 members of Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who contacted us during the past year to make an enquiry, comment on website content, provide supplementary information or submit old photographs to our ever expanding archive. If you think you have something of interest please contact us via email at info@ivybridge-heritage.org

Thank you for your interest

The members of Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who contacted us during the past year to make an enquiry, comment on website content, provide supplementary information or submit old photographs to our ever expanding archive. If you think you have something of interest please contact us via email at info@ivybridge-heritage.org

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The delightful photograph of children in Fore Street was taken we believe at the turn of the twentieth century. Dating photographs for historians can sometimes prove problematic and identifying landmarks and studying clothing can often help. Here, apart from the children, we only have the public telephone call office sign and a couple of shop fronts to guide us.

Dec22.12

The shop front of No.8 Fore Street in the background was a saddlery business run by William Thomas at this time. A more well-known man Ivybridge man, Robert Baber, is listed at this address in the 1911 census.

 

The shop front next door to the Call Office appears to be the bakery of Alfred William Rice Burls trading at 57 Fore Street.

 

During the War Alfred Burls was granted conditional exemption from military service. Albert Drake a neighbouring ironmonger and Alfred Edwards a grocer were also given exemption. Edwards at his appeal commented that he had offered his services earlier and this had been rejected and as a result he took business premises in Ivybridge on a lease and paid for alterations taking all his savings. If he was called up he would have had to close his premises.

Bermaline Bread

In 1922 a newspaper carried an advertisement for Bermaline Bread which was available from Alfred Burls amongst other bakeries in the area. This bread was developed as a nutritive combination of wholemeal flours and barley malt extract and was a source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. The bread was always baked in a Bermaline stamped tin stamped which helped to capture the malty aroma of the bread.

Dec22.12

The shop front of No.8 Fore Street in the background was a saddlery business run by William Thomas at this time. A more well-known man Ivybridge man, Robert Baber, is listed at this address in the 1911 census.

 

The shop front next door to the Call Office appears to be the bakery of Alfred William Rice Burls trading at 57 Fore Street.

 

During the War Alfred Burls was granted conditional exemption from military service. Albert Drake a neighbouring ironmonger and Alfred Edwards a grocer were also given exemption. Edwards at his appeal commented that he had offered his services earlier and this had been rejected and as a result he took business premises in Ivybridge on a lease and paid for alterations taking all his savings. If he was called up he would have had to close his premises.

Bermaline Bread

In 1922 a newspaper carried an advertisement for Bermaline Bread which was available from Alfred Burls amongst other bakeries in the area. This bread was developed as a nutritive combination of wholemeal flours and barley malt extract and was a source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. The bread was always baked in a Bermaline stamped tin stamped which helped to capture the malty aroma of the bread.

Public Telephone Call Office signs with white letters on a blue back ground or alternatively “You may telephone from here” were affixed to the walls of places where such services were available. They were often  installed in general stores or chemist’s shop, perhaps to attract more custom.

 

The 1911 census also conveniently records a Maria Marsh at 58-59 Fore Street working as an operator for the National Telephone Company. It would appear the Call Office in Ivybridge was merely a family dwelling for the Marsh family.

 

In 1888  a company called the Western Counties and South Wales Telephone Company which had formed in 1884 extended their telephone network in the South West of England. Previously their telephone network had only catered for subscribers in the Three Towns area (Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse). The extension would include Torquay, Paignton, Newton Abbot, Ivybridge, Tavistock and Horrabridge, with each location having a call office. Post were erected locally during 1889 after obtaining permission from land owners and the company having to pay an annual wayleave of 5s. per mile. Any person whether they were a subscriber to the telephone exchange or not, could go to a call office and speak to another subscriber within this extended group of towns on payment of a small fee. At that time the charge was 6d. for a call lasting a maximum of three minutes.

 

This method of communication was transformational. By simply speaking on the telephone you knew your message had been delivered plus the recipient was able to reply immediately. This was far more convenient than the telegraph where messages had to be converted into Morse code and sent to another Post Office where it would be written down before onward delivery.

 

Telephones were of course extremely advantageous for business permitting deals to be made without loss of time and eliminating the uncertainty of whether the person telegraphed had received the message. Communication simply by talking would only be limited by the rapidity with which the telephone users could speak to one another during the three minutes allowed for conversation. Previous telegraph messages were often abbreviated, sometimes to such an extent that although intelligible to the sender, it confused the receiver. As a result of this advance in communication the number of subscribers to the telephone network was expected to increase substantially.

 

On 1 January 1892 the National Telephone Company bought the subscriber lines of the Western Counties and South Wales Telephone Company. Their local central exchange was at Whimple Street in Plymouth.

 

However, by 1896 the Post Office had taken over their trunk lines leaving the company with just the local exchange system and call offices. Then in 1912, under the Telephone Transfer Act, the National Telephone Company was taken over completely by the General Post Office (GPO) and presumably the telephone services were absorbed within the Post Office at 49-50 Fore Street in Ivybridge.

 

Early telephone exchanges often had a single operator, generally responsible for other post office work. Few households in Britain would have had telephones, they were more the domain of business with calls relatively expensive. Lee & Son, the millers located almost opposite the Post Office had the telephone number 4, the single digit number giving an indication of just how few telephone numbers existed. Those lucky enough to have a telephone rented it from the GPO along with the house wiring and the connection to the local network known as a distribution point.

Dec22.31

The first telephone exchanges were of course entirely manual systems requiring human operators to connect a call from one subscriber to another. When making a call you were greeted by the operator asking the customary question “number please?

 

As demand for telephone services increased, particularly after WWII, larger exchanges emerged. These consisted of plug boards, large vertical panels containing banks of jacks, each of which represented a subscriber’s telephone line. The switchboard operators would then make the necessary connections with the relevant cords. Switch board operators, or telephonists as they were referred to, needed to have a good speaking voice and were regarded as having good jobs.

 

Manually operated switchboards were of course both labour and cost-intensive, inhibiting growth and often creating bottlenecks in the network. To alleviate the situation, the Post Office began to introduce automatic switching, rolling out a programme to replace all old exchanges. With Ivybridge growing during the 1960s, local MPs were lobbying in Parliament for new telephone capacity. In response, a new telephone exchange was introduced using the latest technology and housed in a purpose-built building beside the Congregational Church. The normal progression from manual to automatic was through the introduction of a UAX, (Unit Automatic Exchange). In the case of Ivybridge, it was a UAX13 which could be expanded by adding units (racks of equipment) as demand grew. With so many people in Ivybridge requesting telephones, an unprecedented 3 UAX’s were interconnected and by the end of 1962 all the equipment had been successfully installed and was operational.

Dec22.14

Second thoughts are best

A few nights since an extraordinarily fine turkey was carried off from the poultry-yard of the Rev. S. Pearse, of Cadleigh. The bird being, as above stated, the very pick of the flock, and one which the reverend gentleman had specially decreed to grace either his own, or friend’s table at the approaching ‘Feast of Yule,’ was no sooner missed than an immediate search was instituted. By means of a few suspicious-looking footmarks, and here and there a stray feather, the route of the plunderer was traced across some fields to within a very short distance from certain cottages, proving thereby, in the first place, that the unlucky gobbler was not abducted by either dog or fox, and in the second that, in all probability, the whereabout of the parties was not far off. As in this land of liberty, however, “a man’s house is his castle.” and as even that of the poorest cannot be searched (however suspicious may be the adjuncts) without a warrant duly legal, the ‘scent’ could not be followed up, and the chase was obliged to be for a while renounced until the licence in question had been obtained. There was an immediate return to head-quarters; a hurried consultation was held, “then there was mounting in hot haste.” Despatches were sent off to the police stations in the neighbouring towns and villages “to intercept seize etc,” should the article have been removed from the suspected locality, and be offered for sale, but (alas! for the denouement) the noise of the pursuit had already produced its effect and ere the Mercuries of Law were well off, lo! The identical turkey, much tumbled, was clandestinely restored, the thief of thieves evidently saw that detection was inevitable, and, on again stepping into his fowl-yard, doubtless once more, “Renovare dolorem,” the first thing that met the eyes of the Rev. gentleman was his own dear veritable capon, and the first sound that saluted his ears was a well-known gobble, which spoke as plain by as such things can speak. “Here I am again master! And I’ll adorn a spit for you yet.”

The Rev. Samuel Pearse gained particular notoriety for an unusual find. Not far from his home at Cadleigh lies the land of Fardel barton and in the late 18th century it is documented that Pearse as a boy, had noticed a very unusual inscribed stone at Potsan’s bridge. It was forming part of a culvert over Fardel Brook crossing the road between Ivybridge and Fardel. According to local belief, the stone indicated where treasure might be found. An old rhyming couplet, passed down through generations bears evidence to the belief.

‘Twixt Potsan’s Bridge and Fardel Hall lies more money than the devil can haul’

Much later, in about 1860, Samuel Pearse removed the stone to Fardel farmyard. Fardel barton at the time belonged to Captain John Duke Pode of Slade, an upstanding man of the community. He took a great interest in everything connected with local affairs. A great lover of the moors and its antiquities, he apparently, in conjunction with Mr. William Cotton, a learned gentleman of Highland House in Ivybridge, spent many days trying to discover the meaning of the inscription, and though they failed, Mr Pode was induced to preserve the stone and place it in safety.  The preservation of the stone is attributed to Sir Edward Smirke, a well known antiquarian. He provided a description of the stone to the Royal Institute of Cornwall in 1861 and then arranged for its removal from Fardel farmyard and later presented it to the British Museum, where it has remained ever since. This stone was the first to be found in England to bear Ogham inscriptions on it’s edges and it is believed to date back as far as the fifth century, suggesting that Irish settlers had reached South Devon during this period, or at least, the ancient Irish language was not unknown in southern England. The Fardel Stone along with a stone at Tavistock have been the only ones that have been found in Devon with an Ogham inscription.

 

In 1918 John Duke Pode went on to write a booklet entitled ‘Cornwood Notes’ for private circulation giving an interesting account of the parish and its inhabitants from pre-historic times.

More on this subject can be read on the Cornwood online parish clerk pages at

 https://www.cornwood-opc.com/cornwood/parish-history

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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