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A North Devon Chronology

By Peter Christie

From

The Heritage Album: 175 years in North Devon (1824-1999)

Reproduced courtesy of the North Devon Journal

1824

  • A meeting is held in Barnstaple by the British Gas Light Company to discuss lighting the town with gas.
  • A new lace factory is begun at South Molton by Maunder & Son following a pattern set two years earlier in Barnstaple when lace manufacturers from the Midlands, fleeing an outbreak of machine-breaking by mobs fearful of losing their jobs, came to the more peaceful North Devon.
  • Lord Rolle lays the foundation stone at Beam House for an aqueduct designed to carry his new canal from Bideford to Torrington.
  • A dog-fight at Bradiford, just outside Barnstaple attracts nearly 200 people to view this barbaric 'sport'.
  • 'The Circus of Mr Powel and the Amphitheatre of Mr Samuel' appear at Barnstaple Fair.
  • A new Baptist chapel is opened in Boutport Street.
  • Lee's Company of Comedians play in the Corn Market in Bideford.
  • At South Molton a Public Reading Society is founded 'the design of which was to procure a collection of Books of acknowledged merit, and on general subjects, by the subscription of one penny per week from each of the members.' This appears to have been the first public library in North Devon.

1825

  • The foundation stone of the North Devon Infirmary, the first public hospital in the area, is laid on a site opposite what later became Rock Park.
  • The spinning factory of Mr Reed, at Red Bridge is completely destroyed by fire.
  • At Bideford an area of marshland that was later to become Victoria Park is embanked.
  • The Journal recounts how a 'strata of bones, of a dimension much larger than those of any animal at present inhabiting this country', had been found at Baggy Point near Croyde.
  • In Bideford 300 men and horses of the 14th Regiment of Dragoons board their transport ships en route to Ireland.
  • A subscription list is started to build a new chapel at Newport in Barnstaple.
  • A 'Grand Match of Cock-fighting' was held at Atherington.
  • Tenders were invited for the rebuilding of South Molton church.
  • At Bideford the pannier market is roofed over for the first time 'which will afford great accommodation to the public.'
  • Also at Bideford a new road is to be constructed between Orchard Hill and the building that until recently was the Convent.
  • Torrington is visited by a migration agent seeing how many glovemakers might be 'induced to accompany him to the South America settlement of Rio de La Plata, where a most extensive trade in the glove business is in contemplation, in consequence of the great number of cattle with which that region abounds.'
  • A field in Barnstaple near the new Derby lace factory of about an acre is sold to a speculative builder 'at the astonishing price of £2,000.' This later became Union Street.
  • Clovelly pier is washed away thus throwing the future of the village's thriving herring fishery into doubt.

1826

  • The Bideford Bridge Trust erect lights along the Quay.
  • Sir John Williams of Clovelly announces he is to rebuild the pier 'to the great joy of the inhabitants of that place.'
  • An odd folk belief is exposed when a man is committed to gaol in Barnstaple 'for begging pence, under pretence of having epileptic fits, for which a ring purchased with money so obtained, is held by some superstitious people as an infallible cure.'
  • The foundation stone of the new enlarged South Molton church is laid.
  • John King of Welcombe is fined the immense sum of £150 for smuggling brandy and gin.
  • Lord Rolle is pushing ahead with his new canal from Bideford to Torrington ordering that '500 trees that are in the line are to be taken down, and two lime kilns, for the service of the farmers, are to be built.'
  • In opening a family grave at Frithelstock to inter a new body a skeleton is found in its coffin 'but with its face downwards' suggesting that the unfortunate person had been buried alive. The reporter commented very oddly 'Happily for those who assisted at the obsequies... length of time removed them from the possibility of any painful reflection.'
  • The new Barnstaple Guildhall is 'opened for business'.
  • Whilst a steam ship was under construction to run a regular service between Bristol and Bideford, it is noted that many seamen at Appledore were 'left in a destitute state' owing to the decline of sailing craft.

1827

  • A call goes up in Barnstaple for street lighting 'for the prevention of vice and immorality.'
  • Grace Bowden of Tawstock has her third illegitimate child - and is gaoled for six months as 'a loose and disorderly woman'.
  • The Exeter-Bideford coach crashes at Huntshaw and one man is killed.
  • Bray Mills at Chittlehampton are burnt down by an unknown arsonist.
  • A woman called Maddix comes to Bideford Market from Lundy and gives birth to twins at Hoops Inn on her way home.
  • Six new bells cast by Mr Taylor of Buckland Brewer are installed at Combe Martin church.
  • Public notice is given that boys playing with a bat and ball in Barnstaple's streets will in future be put in the stocks.
  • A cricket match is held between the North Devon Club and the 'Gentlemen of Teignbridge' - which the latter wins.
  • Richard Pugsley a worker at the Rawleigh Lace Mill in Barnstaple is sentenced to one month on the treadmill as an example 'in order to repress the spirit of insubordination, which is so dangerously prevalent among the junior classes.'
  • Hot and cold seawater baths are built in Bideford where the Town Hall now stands.
  • At Combe Martin a marriage between 64-year-old John Irwin and 18-year-old Elizabeth Gubb attracts a huge crowd with some people wearing 'huge ram's horns, the tips whereof were glittering with gold.'
  • It is decided to build a new market hall at Appledore.
  • A baby is abandoned in Barnstaple and christened with the name Chance.

1828

  • The new market at Appledore is opened.
  • Smallpox is spreading in Torrington after being brought in by the child of a blind beggar. In Barnstaple the same disease is killing many children.
  • The body of a Mr Parr is exhumed at Winkleigh to prove that his widow had not sold it to a surgeon for dissection.
  • The 'Rout Beggar' of Barnstaple - whose job it was to move vagrants on - is dismissed for inefficiency.
  • The foundation stone of a new prison costing £1,000 is laid by Mayor at South Molton whilst the town band plays during the ceremony.
  • A ship moored alongside Bideford Quay tilts over and its mast smashes the roof of Mr Wickham a sail maker.
  • Bideford parish officials are to stop poor relief payments to any recipients found in a pub.
  • At Torrington the dead body of a man is dug up and taken to prison to pressurise his family into paying some debts the deceased never paid. The Journal article is headed 'Caution to Debtors.'
  • Maunder's Wool and Lace factory at South Molton is completely destroyed by a huge fire which could be seen 20 miles away.
  • The North Devon Infirmary announces the construction of a ward for 'infectious or offensive patients.'

1829

  • John Gibbon marries Maria Couch at Braunton - after he had been arrested and brought forcibly to the church in order to save the expense of looking after her illegitimate child.
  • A passenger boat travelling from Appledore to Barnstaple sinks and William Oatway and four others drown.
  • A Coroner's inquest hears how two boys, Conebier and Ward, were burnt to death in a lime kiln at Chittlehampton.
  • A Welshman attends the committee meeting of the North Devon Infirmary claiming to be a bodysnatcher and offering bodies for surgeons to dissect.
  • Prixford Methodist Chapel is opened as is another in North.
  • Mr Giddings begins building the new Braunton to Barnstaple road and at Beaford Lord Rolle's new road is opened.
  • The annual inspection of the Barnstaple fire brigade finds it to be decrepit and with no buckets. The 17 fire fighters are paid £1 a year but do very little.
  • At the annual licensing court the magistrates 'took occasion to animadvert in strong terms on a demoralising system which prevails in almost every village in this neighbourhood, namely of holding a Revel annually on Sunday, and expressed their determination to withhold the certificates of those landlords, who, in future, promote or encourage such scenes of disgrace, riot and intoxication.'
  • At Roborough George Cudmore and his lover Sarah Dunn are arrested for murdering George's wife Grace with poison.
  • Watermouth House in Berrynarbor is offered for letting.

1830

  • The shop window of Mr Launbridge of Torrington is smashed and watches stolen by unknown thieves.
  • The first estate agency is established in North Devon when J. Ormond opens his office in High Street, Barnstaple. He had 14 sets of lodgings and 10 houses on offer.
  • Two rustlers are apprehended at Mariansleigh, one of whom is dressed in women's clothes in an effort to avoid suspicion.
  • New iron gates are erected at the entrance to St Peter's churchyard in Barnstaple.
  • The new Braunton-Barnstaple road is opened.
  • The old workhouse in Bideford (today's Royal Hotel) is put up for sale.
  • George Tucker the warrener of Braunton Burrows charges Francis Drake with poaching.
  • All the wheeled vehicles in Bideford are used to carry electors to Exeter to vote - including a hearse.
  • The newly built church spire at Torrington is completed and one of the builders, Squire, does a handstand on top of it.
  • Tenders are invited to build a bridge over the River Yeo at Sherwell.
  • Lord Rolle is to build a sea wall alongside his land at Pottington.
  • An arson attack at Pilton stokes fears of rioting over wages spreading from the Midlands. In Barnstaple 120 special constables are sworn in whilst the Rawleigh lace factory workers go on strike. Riots occur in various parts of North Devon.

1831

  • George Goff and Thomas Roughcliffe of Swimbridge are sent to Exeter prison for leading the local riots.
  • Many new beer shops and pubs are opened in North Devon following the relaxation of the licensing laws.
  • A Mr Bussell dies whilst in the North Devon Infirmary but after anonymous letters are circulated his grave is opened and shown to be empty. His body is found being dissected in the hospital theatre.
  • Mr Slooman's farmhouse at Ruge in Tawstock collapses during a storm and two occupants are killed.
  • Two ships carrying 202 emigrants to North America set off from Bideford to the cheers of 5,000 people lining the Quay.
  • A parliamentary election is held in North Devon but the electorate is still extremely small.
  • The Barnstaple postmaster Mr Jones complains of the inconvenience from houses not being regularly numbered. The Corporation order that numbering is to be done from the East end of each street.
  • The North Devon Races are established at Youlston Old Park and F Hodgson MP gives a silver plate worth £50 as a prize.
  • A series of well-attended meetings in favour of the reform of Parliament is held in South Molton, Torrington, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple and resolutions and petitions sent to the King. The first Reform Bill presented to Parliament is defeated.
  • Cholera breaks out in Britain and at a public meeting in Barnstaple a Board of Health is formed whose first job is to clean up the streets of the town.
  • A smuggler's boat is captured at Ilfracombe after a local man gives information to the Customs Officers. His neighbours make an effigy of him and publicly burn it

1832

  • A duel takes place in Barnstaple when two solicitors, Charles Roberts and Mr Clay meet at Pottington Marsh and fire pistols at each other. Clay is wounded in the knee. This is the last duel in North Devon.
  • George Furze is put in the stocks for six hours at South Molton for 'disorderly conduct' on Christmas Day.
  • A packed meeting in Northam protests about the attempt by Augustus Willett, Lord of the Manor, to take over Northam Burrows. At Torrington another meeting is held to raise funds to defend men accused of cutting wood on Torrington Common which Lord Rolle claimed as his - the case is dismissed.
  • Three men from Appledore are transported to Australia for seven years for burglary which is said to be very common in the village owing to the want of Christian education and a resident magistrate.
  • The Reform Act is passed giving the vote to a lot of new (male) voters and celebrations are held across North Devon - except in South Molton where a public meeting censures the corporation for their refusal to provide any money for the rejoicings.
  • A new church is opened at Stoke Rivers replacing the old one which has been demolished.
  • An American timber ship arrives at Barnstaple with 'striking masts' which lower as it goes under the Bridge - the first time this has ever been seen in the town.
  • The first election with the new enlarged electorate approaches and 'Householders of the Labouring Class' in Barnstaple allegedly promise not to patronise any Tory shopkeepers
  • A meeting is held at Winkleigh to discuss the plans for a Bideford-Okehampton railway.

1833

  • New Wesleyan chapels are opened at Torrington and Braunton.
  • A new Baptist chapel erected by John Miller of the Derby lace factory is opened in Boutport Street near Pilton Bridge.
  • Gas pipes are laid throughout Barnstaple.
  • The Surprise of Chepstow is wrecked at Lynmouth and looters are driven off by armed Customs Officers.
  • The new Barnstaple-Bideford coastal road through Instow is opened.
  • The warehouse, barns and stables of Mr Hitchcock, a woollen manufacturer of East Street, South Molton, are destroyed in a possible arson attack - a second fire breaks out there a week later.
  • The Eclipse steamer arrives at Lynton and is said to be the first such vessel to do so.
  • After a robbery in Barnstaple the thief James Knill is trailed to Littleham where he is arrested at his wedding breakfast.
  • Mr Graham an aeronaut fails in his attempt to take to the skies in his balloon at Barnstaple. He claims that the town gas works could not provide enough gas for his needs.
  • Tenders are invited for the building of a new theatre in Barnstaple.
  • Also in the town four vagrants are gaoled 'from those filthy haunts, the lodging houses of Green Lane.'
  • The Derby lace workers go on strike complaining about their 10¾-hour day (for a six-day week); they return after several weeks after having formed North Devon's first trade union.
  • Street lamps are erected in South Molton by order of the Mayor.
  • The Elizabeth of Liverpool, an East India Company ship, is wrecked on Northam Burrows and its cargo is protected by Customs Officers backed by local Yeomanry Cavalry. The crew are rescued by the Appledore lifeboat.

1834

  • William Jenkins of Marwood dies and his wife is widowed for the third time in six years yet she is still only 26.
  • The herring fishery of Clovelly fails so the Rev Kingsley (father of Charles) declines to take any tithe payments from the fishermen.
  • Christopher Lock, a stonemason from Marwood, attempts to sell his wife in Barnstaple Market. He is gaoled and his wife is thrown out of the town.
  • The tailors of Barnstaple strike for more money as the new fashions demand more work and their pay hasn't risen in line with this.
  • The foundation stone of a new Independent chapel is laid at South Molton.
  • The Torridge steamer is launched at Appledore.
  • A man called Tyte stands up in St Peter's church in Barnstaple during a service and announces he is the messiah - which causes many women to faint.
  • Bickington revel features a 'greasy maypole' with a joint of mutton at the top; in trying to climb it a man falls off and is injured.
  • New school rooms costing £900 are opened at South Molton.
  • The new theatre opens in Barnstaple during Fair Week with a production of Speed the Plough.
  • A labourer at Witheridge drinks 144 pints of cider over six days whilst mowing grass.
  • Martha Burnard a widowed businesswoman at Bideford goes bankrupt owing £15,000.
  • The foundation stone of a 'British School' is laid at Torrington.
  • It is noted that 'the fashionable boroughs of Pilton and Newport' both now have post-offices - as does Swimbridge.

1835

  • Mr Huet, a dancing teacher of Barnstaple married a Miss Collier. Her parents object to the marriage and hold her captive after the wedding but her new husband rescues her with the help of two constables and a solicitor.
  • A daily penny post is established between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin.
  • A shop burglary in Barnstaple gives rise to the comment 'This event has revived the often agitated question of the establishment of a nightly police in this town, a protection which its enlarged population imperiously demands.'
  • Large areas of Arlington and Loxhore are flooded during heavy rain.
  • A young woman of South Molton offers herself as a wet nurse - she has a 'good Breast of Milk.'
  • A new 'British and Foreign' School is opened at Torrington.
  • A large fire in the 'Beehive' in the Square, South Molton kills one man.
  • Lectures are held in Barnstaple on phrenology (reading a person's character from the bumps on their head).
  • Two men sinking a new well at the Fortescue Arms Hotel in Barnstaple blow themselves up with their own gunpowder.
  • John Parkin applies to open a wineshop in Braunton but is turned down as the parish already has eight pubs plus 'an immense number of beer-shops'.
  • The Combe Martin and North Devon Mining Company is to erect a new steam engine at their mine.
  • November 5th is celebrated in Barnstaple by rolling lighted tar barrels down the High Street.
  • The setting up of allotments in Combe Martin has been very successful with 96 families now working them.
  • Tenders are invited to build a new workhouse in Barnstaple to hold 300 paupers.

1836

  • Barnstaple Town Council decide to employ three men as 'general police officers' (watchmen in all but name) and to set up a police station in one of the shops under the Guildhall.
  • A riot takes place at Sheepwash over the workings of the new Poor Law following which five ringleaders are taken to Exeter gaol under a guard provided by the North Devon Yeomanry Cavalry. They are each gaoled for three months. Riots also occur in other places.
  • Bideford is lighted with gas lamps and Torrington votes to do the same.
  • The Bideford Mendicity Society is established to help distressed travellers and 'unmask impostors'.
  • The child of a local vicar falls ill and two doctors fail to cure it so the father calls in a 'seventh son' to use white witchcraft.
  • A Barnstaple Town Council committee reports on the possibility of building a new riverside road - Taw Vale Parade.
  • The foundation stone of a new Church of England chapel at Appledore is laid.
  • An early tourist to the area, Miss Mary Webster, topples off the donkey she is riding near Watersmeet at Lynmouth and after hanging over a 60ft drop for some time falls to her death in the River Lyn.
  • Roe and Facey's steam mills at Westeombe, Bideford are put up for sale.
  • At Berrynarbor the local clergy lock the churchyard gates to prevent wrestling and bowling taking place there - the locals are enraged.
  • South Molton Town Council cuts the wages of its officers in order to save money.
  • Barnstaple Town Council apply to Parliament for an Act to cut a canal from the Long Bridge to Fremington Pill - and to build a railway along the same route.
  • The first Registrars of Births, Marriages and Deaths are appointed in North Devon.

1837

  • George Thorne - aged 9 years - is transported to Australia for the theft of just under £2. The judge in sentencing him said it was for his own good as he would 'be led on to further crimes, till he came to an ignominious end.'
  • A pauper woman in Pilton, Ann Lock, dies of starvation; the inquest jury blames the Poor Law officers for their heartlessness.
  • The authorities in Barnstaple print a list of paupers receiving 'parish relief' and put it on the church doors for all to see.
  • All three lace factories in Barnstaple are closed owing to a lack of orders - 'It is painful to see so many industrious mechanics strolling about the streets unemployed.'
  • Seventeen-year-old Fanny Acland of Torrington attempts suicide after being rescued by her mother from a brothel in Barnstaple.
  • The Journal is published with black borders to mark the death of William IV. The accession of Victoria is marked by local councils handing out free drinks - which leads to drunkenness at Appledore and South Molton.
  • The Ilfracombe Hot and Cold Baths (with their own tunnels to the sea) are offered for letting.
  • Thomas Welsford, a lunatic, murders 4-year-old Thomas Ray at Marwood.
  • A coroner hearing a case of suicide at Atherington orders the body to be buried between the hours of 9 and 12 at night.
  • The Ilfracombe mail coach is involved in an accident near Blatchford Mill owing to the drunkenness of the driver.
  • The Mayor of South Molton refuses to let the Barnstaple Theatre Company perform in his town. The Journal reports 'It would be well for the cause of public morals if this conduct of the chief magistrate of South Molton were more generally adopted.'

1838

  • An inaugural meeting for a Total Abstinence Society is held in Barnstaple - 40 people turn up. Within a month it has 123 members and a branch in Appledore. A shop underneath Barnstaple Guildhall is let to the Society as a coffee shop.
  • A teetotallers' meeting held in Derby, Barnstaple, is broken up by objectors.
  • The Shakespeare Tavern in Barnstaple is sold along with its 'commodious Racket Court'.
  • Horse racing on Northam Burrows is advertised in the Journal.
  • James Oakew of Shebbear is arrested in Bideford with two live ducks and five chickens hidden in his trouser pockets.
  • Tenders are invited by the Combe Martin Turnpike Trust to run its tollgates.
  • Queen Victoria is crowned and celebrations are held throughout North Devon.
  • Edward Davie, Secretary of the North Devon Infirmary and North Devon Friendly Institution hangs himself in his office just before his 'irregular' accounting methods are exposed.
  • The new Appledore Church of England chapel is consecrated.
  • The Barnstaple cattle market occupies the whole of Boutpart Street and extends half way up High Street.
  • The 'calculating prodigy' son of Mr Hogg, a druggist of Bideford, goes to school in Manchester.
  • Two hundred men attend the inaugural meeting of the South Molton Working Men's Association.
  • A new Wesleyan chapel is opened at Instow taking the place of one at Worlington.
  • Mr Scott 'the celebrated American diver' dives off the top mast of ships in Barnstaple harbour and thrills the crowds who watch.
  • Ilfracombe is lit by gas and gas lamps replace the feeble light at Ilfracombe lighthouse.

1839

  • Four hundred teetotallers parade through Barnstaple accompanied by their own brass band. The report notes that 'as they paraded the streets it was gratifying to make out among them many whose decent and healthful appearance contrasted strongly with the wretchedness and want which were betrayed in their circumstances but a few months ago, while they all were under the influence of intemperate habits.' A similar march in Ilfracombe is booed.
  • Barnstaple Town Council send in a letter of support for Rowland Hill's idea of a penny postal system.
  • The seamen of Appledore go on strike for higher wages.
  • At Bideford a fight in the Market Place over politics leads to the death of one man.
  • Devon cattle are exported from Appledore to the USA.
  • The Rev Henry Luxmoore, vicar of Barnstaple, is charged in a breach of promise case. He had courted Elizabeth Irwin for 13 years and then married another. She wins damages of £400.
  • A special meeting of Barnstaple Town Council hears that their police force is inefficient and that proportionately the town has more prostitutes than London.
  • A poor man in Barnstaple asks the Overseers of the Poor for £20 to emigrate to Australia with his wife and six children - the Overseers give him £25 as they are so keen to lower pauper numbers.
  • William Prust of Westleigh is awarded a prize for bringing up 12 chilidren without any parish relief money.
  • A letter from the USA arrives in Barnstaple after just 16 days - a new record.
  • A school for children of non-conformists is established in Ilfracombe.
  • The new Cross Street Chapel in Barnstaple is opened.
  • The Ilfracombe gaslighter fails to light the town lamps as he is drunk.
  • Two surgeons Francis Ridd of Barnstaple and James Lister of South Molton are bound over in sureties of £100 not to settle' a point of medical etiquette' by a duel.

1840

  • At Bideford 'young fellows' lift all the paving stones in Grenville Street and pile them up in the middle of the road.
  • Eight houses are burnt down in an arson attack at South Molton but no-one is arrested.
  • Supt Steele of Barnstaple charges John Ellis of the Bull Inn with allowing 'the worst scene of vice he had ever witnessed in the town.' Ellis is fined £3.
  • A fire on Codden Hill threatens Bishops Tawton but is stopped just in time.
  • A new market house is to be erected at Hatherleigh.
  • Anonymous threatening letters are sent round Chulmleigh and 'a watch' is to be instituted to catch the writer.
  • Some 172 members of the Bratton Fleming Sick Club march through the village on their way to the Bratton Down 'sporting ground'.
  • At a wrestling match at Ilfracombe, Collings throws Jewell 'with so much violence to the ground that his neck was dislocated.'
  • The Journal reports on a riot in Barnstaple when a 1,000-strong mob of women threaten to destroy a merchant's house unless he sells his stock of potatoes to them cheaply. The Mayor buys all the vegetables and sells them to the women at cost price.
  • Joseph Hodge of South Molton dies after his illness is treated by 'an irregular practitioner' (a white witch).
  • A new North Devon Cricket Club is formed at Instow.
  • Lundy Island is sold for 9,400 guineas and is said to be famous for its butter.
  • A vein of quicksilver is discovered under Torrington Square and a local man 'silvers' a mirror with it.
  • Copper and gold are discovered at North Molton.
  • Gangs of knife wielding boys are said to be infesting Ilfracombe.
  • A vagrant crawls into the limekiln in Barnstaple Square for warmth - his roasted body is found the next moming.

1841

  • In a period of high seasonal unemployment labourers are employed on repairing the walls and riverbanks in Barnstaple to give them money for food.
  • Roger Leach, Governor of the South Molton Workhouse, is sacked after he impregnates one of the inmates, Elizabeth Holmes.' Rumour attributes to him several other similar cases of disgusting misbehaviour.'
  • The Postmaster of Barnstaple John Harding is declared bankrupt.
  • Moses Roper, an escaped American slave, talks about his experiences in a crowded meeting at Cross Street chapel in Barnstaple.
  • Jane Willis, a thief, escapes from Bideford prison with help from her family. She is re-arrested at her father's house in Yarnscombe and transported to Australia.
  • The foundations of Bishops Tawton school are laid in a corner of the churchyard.
  • Watersmeet Cottage at Lynmouth is offered for sale.
  • A letter to the Journal suggests Lundy would make an ideal prison.
  • William Gabriel, one of the Barnstaple beadles, is fined five shillings (25p) for being so drunk he had to be taken to the police station in a wheelbarrow.
  • Thomas Chanter builds his 50ft high 'signal tower' at Northam.
  • William Litson, William Morris and Elizabeth Leverton of Barnstaple are charged with blackmailing a 'respectable inhabitant' with charges of being a homosexual. The two men are transported to Australia for 20 years and the woman for 15.
  • The foundation stone of Torrington's Pannier Market is laid.
  • The Ilfracombe Vestry meeting ends in uproar after an attempt to stop payments for the lighting of the town is defeated.
  • A meeting of the Braunton Teetotallers' Society ends in a fight between pro and anti drinkers.
  • Jane Miller, wife of the owner of the Derby lace factory in Barnstaple, dies aged 40 giving birth to her ninth child.
  • South Molton hire their first policeman, Supt Fowler, direct from the Metropolitan Police.

1842

  • Tenders are invited to build a new three-arch bridge South of Torrington.
  • The National Working Men's Association in Barnstaple circulate a petition demanding votes for all 1,400 signatures are collected.
  • At Torrington 'A vast number of families in this town and neighbourhood are making preparations to emigrate to America.'
  • Supt Steele of Barnstaple investigates the theft of the church plate at Tawstock.
  • A traveller from Ilfracombe manages to arrive in London in just 11 hours.
  • In Barnstaple the North Gate is to be demolished and the Blue Coat School housed there given new premises.
  • A plate weighing 5lbs made of Combe Martin silver is displayed to prove the mines are flourishing.
  • The Mayor and council of Barnstaple go on an 'Aquatic Excursion' down the Taw and have a picnic - the leftovers are given to the poor.
  • The new iron gates to Torrington Market are made by Richard Baker, a blacksmith in the town.
  • Barnstaple Town Council write to the Queen pledging their loyalty after an unsuccessful assassination attempt.
  • A new bridge is being built over the River Mole and the South Molton to Tiverton road to replace a damaged one.
  • A service at the Wesleyan chapel in Barnstaple is disrupted when a 'trickster' lets a black cat loose.
  • A subscription is opened at Ilfracombe to build a promenade around Capstone Hill.
  • Torrington Town Council decide to establish a police force.
  • Scarlet fever sweeps Holsworthy and many children die.
  • A photographer is at work in Barnstaple, he offers coloured portraits if required.
  • Clay pits at Petrockstow are re-opened, the clay being taken to London.

1843

  • Agnes Priscott does 'penance' by standing in a white sheet during church service at Heanton Punchardon for slandering Elizabeth Martin of Heanton Court.
  • George Puddington, a 16-year-old worker in the Rawleigh lace factory has his arm ripped-off in an accident with a machine - he runs home carrying his severed limb.
  • At Ilfracombe prizes are given to the maid servants who had stayed the longest with the same master and never attended any place of nonconformist worship.
  • At Torrington there is uproar over an allegedly 'Roman Catholic' stone cross erected on St Michael's church.
  • Henry Phillips, a 22-year-old wrestler from Bratton Fleming, dies after a match at Landkey revel.
  • The children of non-conformist parents are expelled from Taddiport Charity School.
  • Queen Victoria sends £5 to James Vernon, a poet of South Molton, to help pay for an operation on his spine.
  • The women who unload the limestone boats at Appledore go on strike for more money - and win.
  • John Pearce the sexton of Broadwoodkelly tries to commit suicide by leaping off the church tower, he lives but later cuts his throat.
  • A diving bell is used to raise a wreck off Northam Bar.
  • A new chapel is opened in Bear Street, Barnstaple to house a breakaway group from the Baptists.
  • A new Baptist chapel is opened at South Molton.
  • Another storey is added to the South Molton Workhouse to provide a sick ward.
  • Sarah Rew prostitute is fined five shillings (25p) for being drunk and disorderly at North Molton but being unable to pay is put in the stocks for six hours.
  • James Slader, the 15-year-old apprentice of Isaac Start of Collacott, Fremington, dies of neglect.
  • William Bouchier sues the Landkey Friendly Society for 14 shillings (70p) 'sick money' but they refuse, reckoning him to be a hypochondriac.

1844

  • Amongst the payments listed in the annual report of the North Devon Hospital are 'leech bills'.
  • At Torrington a new road to Plymouth with a bridge over the River Torridge is opened.
  • A display of hypnotism is given in Barnstaple Theatre by Mr Davey. He repeats it at Appledore Bethel but the Rev Clapp decries it all as 'nonsense'.
  • Henry Drake, Town Clerk of Barnstaple, is declared bankrupt.
  • A patient in Barnstaple has a tooth removed whilst hypnotised.
  • A man is gored to death by a bull in Barnstaple Cattle Market.
  • A boy is gaoled for two weeks in Barnstaple for picking a flower from a local garden.
  • At Ilfracombe Mayday is celebrated with the blowing of rams' horns.
  • A mob carry an effigy through Derby, Barnstaple - it is meant to represent and shame an adulterous woman living there.
  • The Rawleigh lace factory closes and the machinery is taken to Tiverton.
  • Local coach drivers in North Devon are accused of exceeding the speed limit of 4mph.
  • At Barnstaple Fair 'The Devonshire Dwarf' is on show. Just 36 inches high and 35 years old, he comes from Buckland Brewer.
  • Customs Officers from Appledore and Ilfracombe discover 103 'tubs' of brandy sunk at sea and awaiting collection.
  • A talk on the 'modern author' Charles Dickens is given at the Barnstaple Debating Club.
  • A Literary and Scientific Institution is established in a house in Barnstaple Square (it later becomes the North Devon Athenaeum).
  • Jamin Bartlett, a 14-year-old Barnstaple boy, is cited by Thomazin Shortridge as the father of her second illegitimate child.

1845

  • At Chittlehampton a 29-year-old woman becomes a grandmother when her daughter. whom she had aged 14, has a child when aged 15.
  • The prospectus for the Barnstaple and Taw Vale Railway is issued. The North Devon Railway Company issues 31,000 shares but applications total 220,000.
  • A massive landslip occurs at Ilfracombe by the harbour.
  • A letter writer points to the need for a roof over South Molton market to protect the female stallholders.
  • A new road to South Molton is to be constructed alongside the River Taw.
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel visits North Devon to survey the route of the new railway.
  • Seventeen houses are destroyed by fire at South Molton.
  • Holy Trinity Church. Barnstaple is consecrated.
  • A boy called Marshall is accidentally shot on Lundy.
  • In Barnstaple the local Oddfellows process through the town and then hear a sermon in a non-conformist chapel as the local Church of England clergymen refuse to allow them in.
  • Celebrations mark the opening of a new Quay at Appledore.
  • The Mayor comments on 'the misconduct of many of the apprentices in Barnstaple' before locking John Pugsley up for six weeks for absconding from his master.
  • The roof of St Mary Magdalene's church in Barnstaple is made of Combe Martin lead.
  • The house of Mr Mills, an ironmonger in the Square, Barnstaple, is destroyed and his son killed when his stock of gunpowder explodes.
  • At South Molton only a single voter bothers to turn up for the elections to the Town Council.
  • Tenders are invited to build a road from Muddlebridge to Fremington Quay.

1846

  • The first turf is dug on the line of the Taw Vale Railway.
  • The Rev Morrice of Clovelly denounces two of his congregation who marry in the Bideford Registry Office and not in his church.
  • The influx of rail navvies into North Devon threatens to overwhelm Barnstaple's three-man police force so two extra 'specials' are hired.
  • At Abbotsham John Bissett tries to murder Mary Brend. He denies all knowledge of the attack but is sentenced to transportation 'to a penal settlement for the term of his natural life.'
  • At Ilfracombe smugglers manage to land their cargo of brandy on the beach after decoying Customs Officers to another site. Tobacco weighing 1,550lbs and thought to be part of this cargo is seized on the road from Parracombe to South Molton.
  • Mary Parkin of Bratton Fleming is made pregnant by John Britten who then marries her 18-year-old daughter.
  • The Secretary and House Surgeon of the North Devon Infirmary J.Knox commits suicide with prussic acid on the day his accounts are to be examined. He is buried at Landkey as the vicar of Barnstaple refuses to bury him in consecrated land.
  • The Bideford policeman resigns and leaves town; it is later discovered that he has taken £24 of the rates money with him.
  • Barnstaple Town Council try to block the consecration and use of a new graveyard next to St Mary Magdalene's as it is surrounded by the houses of workers in the Derby lace factory - they lose.
  • James Williams of Tawstock is killed whilst working on the new railway cutting at Fremington on the same day his wife Ann gives birth to twins to add to her other six children.
  • Winkleigh Steeple Chase is advertised with a list of prizes.

1847

  • The Playford paper mills at Pilton are burnt to the ground.
  • Mr Borlase, a dentist of Barbican Terrace in Barnstaple carries out the first extraction using anaesthetic in North Devon.
  • The Matron of the North Devon Infirmary resigns after she is caught stealing the hospital's money.
  • At Bideford a coach crashes over the Quay and eight passengers drown. In the same month Bideford's new fire engine crashes into a coach on its way to the town.
  • A second postman is to be employed in Barnstaple.
  • At Yarnscombe a large public meeting votes to erect a school in this 'neglected parish.'
  • A barge carrying 144 barrels of Guinness sinks in the River Taw, 40 barrels disappear and are thought to be secreted in the area.
  • Sam Harbour and two other young men are fined 5s.6d (27½p) for playing football on Good Friday in Abbotsham.
  • John Leech, a shoemaker of Barnstaple, sues his ex-fianc&eacutee Ann Veney for the return of £3.10s.0d worth of gifts he had given her - and wins.
  • Rioting over the price of food breaks out in Barnstaple. At Bideford, South Molton, Northam, Torrington and Ilfracombe special purchases of flour defuse the situation.
  • A Mrs Chappell of Honeywell, Marwood gives birth in a quarry on her way home - it is her 18th child.
  • A bailiff, Lewis Pinkham of Barnstaple, is charged with horse whipping his wife. She drops the charge when he agrees to pay her 2s.6d per week maintenance.
  • The Barnstaple fire engine takes only 17 minutes to arrive at a fire at Collacott, Fremington - only to find no water available so the house burns down.
  • Councillor Arter of Barnstaple Town Council, who is being charged with non-payment of rates, moves a motion to do away with all borough rates.

1848

  • At Brendon 87-year-old Thomas Bale has his leg amputated in three minutes whilst anaesthetised with chloroform. The same drug is used during a childbirth at Bideford.
  • A 'mutual protection' society is formed at Landkey by farmers anxious to tackle cattle thieves.
  • A human skull and coffin boards are found in Gaydon Street, Barnstaple on the same site as earlier similar discoveries - they are thought to be plague victims.
  • Queen Victoria purchases items made of Combe Martin silver.
  • The tradition of 'Lent Shards' (throwing broken pottery at front doors) leads to fines for seven young men of St Giles and three from Atherington.
  • Braunton appoints its first policeman. John Ockford, who comes from the Exeter city force.
  • Mary Ann Cutcliffe, aged 11, is transported to Australia for seven years after being found guilty of stealing money in Barnstaple market.
  • Queen Anne's statue in Barnstaple is vandalised.
  • News about the French Revolution is pasted up on the walls of Barnstaple. The Rev Mules of Woolsery suggests the Revolution should serve as a warning to greedy local landlords.
  • Owing to a spate of arson attacks in Chittlehampton the parish decide to hire a policeman.
  • The culm mines at Bideford are reopened under John Maxwell.
  • A Poor Law Commissioner arrives in Barnstaple to discuss the forced emigration of girls aged 13+ from the Workhouse to Australia.
  • A Mormon 'prophet' appears in Ilfracombe and is accused of 'fanatical impudence.'
  • In Torrington an effigy dressed as a 'papist priest' is found suspended from a cross on the church roof in an anti-Catholic gesture.
  • Two cases of 'negative equity' are reported in Fremington - a problem said to be 'fearful' in North Devon.

1849

  • Amongst the Barnstaple beadle's jobs is the locking of the gate to Butchers' Row at 11 pm every night.
  • The removal of babies and infants from mothers in North Devon Workhouses is suggested so that the women can be put to 'useful and remunerative work'.
  • The newly rebuilt 'Market Place' in Chulmleigh is opened.
  • Mrs Isaac's house near Huntshaw Cross is burgled and her servant visits the 'White Witch' at Chulmleigh to see if she can locate the stolen property.
  • At Ilfracombe May Day sees all the girls in the town parading with dolls 'frizzed out in the best style' whilst the boys play 'cow's horns and tin trumpets' all day.
  • The repeal of a law which guaranteed jobs for British merchant seamen is greeted in Appledore by the public burning of an effigy of the Prime Minister.
  • The Ilfracombe Revel with its 'accustomed orgies' is held. A little later chaos and drunkenness reign during a day trip of 400 tourists from South Wales.
  • Torrington celebrates the abandonment of attempts to enclose the Common.
  • At Braunton Peter Coats strips off and begins preaching in the street - he is removed to Exminster Lunatic Asylum.
  • A Barnstaple councillor suggests that 'aged paupers' from the Workhouse could sweep the streets thus saving money for the Council.
  • The widening of Bideford Bridge is thought necessary owing to the many omnibuses crashing on it.
  • At Braunton the sexton in digging a new grave exposes some human bones - an old lady takes a tooth from a jawbone believing it will protect her from toothache.
  • An Inquiry into the 'Public Health' of Barnstaple opens, the evidence it hears is horrifying.
  • A writer suggests that there are so many 'Old Maids' in Ilfracombe that some should be sent to the USA to look for husbands.
  • A miner named Williams falls 130ft down the shaft of the Bideford culm mine but survives as he falls into 7ft of water at the bottom.

1850

  • A brothel in Queen Street, Barnstaple, run by Elizabeth Williams is closed by the police after she annoys the neighbours with noise.
  • John Lillycrap, a servant at Fremington House (now a nursing home), shoots his fellow servant Robert Symons and then commits suicide.
  • A Mr Hanham forms a congregation of the Mormons in South Molton. The Journal reports on their 'orgies... and their filthy and obscene conversation' which 'must not be represented on paper'.
  • William Yeo a ratcatcher of Yolland, Swimbridge is accidentally shot by his blind nine-year-old son.
  • The first plate-glass shop windows appear in Bideford.
  • Pilton decides to culvert over the open sewer that runs down the middle of the main street.
  • The foundation stone for Bideford's new Town Hall is laid.
  • The seven-year-old son of William Denbow of the Castle Inn, Allhalland Street. Bideford, is said to be a 'calculating prodigy'.
  • The old stocks kept in Barnstaple churchyard are so decayed that someone burns them as useless lumber.
  • A 70-ton sloop is launched from Mr Geen's yard at Pottington - it is the last boat to be built there.

1851

  • The present school at Abbotsham is built on the site of the old poorhouse.
  • Dennis Kingdon, a lawyer of Torrington, appears at the County Assizes charged with bigamy having married both Anne Stock and Anne Shear. He is fined one shilling (5p) after evidence is heard that his first wife had been blackmailing him for some time.
  • A Mrs Franklin gives a public lecture in Bideford on the need for reform in women's dress - specifically promoting the wearing of 'bloomers'.
  • A woman dies of complications following childbirth in Braunton, The only help her friends called in came from self-proclaimed 'white wizard' John Harper.
  • A public meeting votes to lay sewers from Lake to Ladywell and through Bradiford.
  • A group of local farmers around Barnstaple club together to buy two bloodhounds to track down cattle rustlers.
  • High Bickington beats Bishops Tawton at skittles - 20 ruts to 15.
  • Barnstaple Town Council spend £9.18s on building a hand cranked treadmill in the borough gaol.
  • A fire which burns for 24 hours guts the sail lofts and rope manufactory of Thomas Evans at Chircombe near Bideford.
  • A massive hailstorm hits North Devon on the first day of July leaving a 3ft deep deposit of hailstones at South Molton.

1852

  • Matilda Boswell, who claimed to be the daughter of the 'King of the Gypsies' dies in a tent by the roadside at Lilford in Abbotsharn. She is apparently buried on the site. George Boswell, who claimed to be the 'King', dies and is buried in Swimbridge churchyard.
  • The first paid policeman is appointed at Appledore. He is sacked two years later after defrauding a local miller.
  • The first sod of the North and South Devon Railway is cut at Copplestone.
  • A subscription is collected to widen Sandy Lane in Ilfracombe from Montpelier Terrace to Worth.
  • A 50ft long yacht is built in a field at Ilfracombe three-quarters of a mile from the sea. It is taken to be launched on a set of wheels.
  • Georgeham holds a special church service for the dedication of 'a new musical instrument, called the harmonium.'
  • A 6ft long sturgeon is caught in Fremington Weir and is presented to the Duke of Wellington.
  • A new Baptist chapel is opened at Abbotsham. It is said to be 'free of debt'.
  • A serious landslip occurs at Lynmouth on the road leading to Watersmeet.

1853

  • The death of 'the last witch in Bideford' is reported when Martha Lee dies aged 105 in the town's workhouse.
  • A meeting of the Bideford Mutual Improvement Society discusses the question 'Ought Government to educate the people?'
  • Sixty people are about to emigrate to the USA from Swimbridge.
  • Siamese twins are born at Bishops Nympton, they are joined at the abdomen.
  • The basement of the clock tower in Ilfracombe High Street is converted into a lock-up. The first prisoners to be placed in it are two drunken sailors.
  • The North Devon Railway bridge over the Taw at Bishops Tawton is built.
  • The first ceremonial sod is cut of the railway extension to Bideford from Barnstaple. The work is expected to take nine months.
  • A beaked whale some 23 feet long is beached on Saunton Sands.
  • James Leach, the 87-year-old beadle of Torrington, attends his 65th Mayor choosing ceremony in his official capacity.
  • The two successful candidates in the recent Parliamentary election for Barnstaple are unseated on charges of bribing the electorate.
  • A 'sportsman' on Northam Burrows brings down 34 plovers with one shot.
  • Cholera appears in Barnstaple.

1854

  • A young glovemaker from Langtree called Mary Richards is murdered at Cross Hill, Taddiport, by Llewellyn Harvey a chimney sweep from Buckland Brewer. He is hung in public in front of Exeter gaol where 10,000 people turn up to see his execution.
  • Charles Kingsley comes to live in Bideford. He hires the house that later becomes the Stella Maris Convent School.
  • A new and much more powerful steam engine is erected at the Derby lace works in Barnstaple and a celebration dinner is held for the workers.
  • Eastacott farmhouse at Knowstone is burnt down and some £300 in banknotes destroyed.
  • In Ilfracombe Sandy Lane 'the ancient way by which our grandfathers approached the town' is renamed Highfield Road.
  • The first telegraph message to reach North Devon is sent in March.
  • In April a National Day of Humiliation and Prayer is held throughout North Devon as the nation embarks on the Crimean War.
  • Messrs Amoll and Hodge open a new factory in Barnstaple to produce fancy biscuits.
  • A lecture at the Strand in Bideford by an American temperance speaker attracts 3,000 people.
  • The North Devon Railway, which links Barnstaple to Fremington, opens on July 12th.
  • The Parliamentary election held following the bribery case sees R. Guinness of the famous brewing family returned as MP for Barnstaple.
  • Cholera spreads throughout North Devon and kills many.
  • Benjamin Disraeli visits Moreton near Bideford as a guest of Lewis Buck MP.

1855

  • In October the first Roman Catholic church in Barnstaple since the Reformation is opened - 'The town was immediately placarded by some zealous Protestants' attacking both the idea of Catholicism and the ceremonies associated with the opening.
  • Charles Kingsley, then living in Bideford, publishes Westward Ho! The book is a huge best-seller and generates a tourist rush to Bideford and North Devon to see the places mentioned in the text (which is very anti-Catholic).
  • The Pannier Market and the 24 shops of Butcher's Row in Barnstaple are opened. The architect is R.D. Gould. The idea to build a new market was first put forward 40 years previously.
  • Edward Lancey, a 45-year-old lunatic of Bratton Fleming, is found locked away on his brother-in-law's farm where he has been held in a tiny room for 18 years.
  • James Smith of Green Lane, Barnstaple is gaoled for one month after exhibiting an obscene image at Barnstaple Fair.
  • The first telegraph message is sent from Bideford to Exeter. It asks 'Is there anything new from the Crimea?' The answer comes 'No'.
  • The railway reaches Bideford and usage soon outstrips even the most optimistic estimates.

1856

  • The Bideford Gazette is started under the name Devon and East Cornwall Gazette and Commercial Advertiser by Thomas Honey who dies less than a year later. His widow Eliza keeps it going.
  • A fire at Brannam's pottery in North Walk, Barnstaple nearly wipes out the young potter who hadn't kept up his insurance payments.
  • A reporter in the Journal reckons that there are 300 prostitutes in Barnstaple - out of the 4,800 females then living in the town.
  • Owing to a very harsh winter a soup kitchen is set up in Barnstaple and is used sporadically for the next 85 years, eventually even feeding evacuees in the Second World War.
  • Dr Britton dies in Barnstaple after 25 years as physician at the North Devon Infirmary. He was at Trafalgar and caught Nelson in his arms after he was shot.
  • The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visits North Devon incognito. He eats at the London Inn in Parracombe and stays at the Castle Hotel, Lynton and the Britannia Hotel in Ilfracombe.
  • A meeting at Instow decides to buy 'a powerful steam tug' to serve Bideford, Appledore, Braunton and Barnstaple.

1857

  • The Howe Congregational chapel is begun at Torrington. A public tea for 300 in the new market follows.
  • A large meeting in Barnstaple decides to petition the Government to do away with income tax. Speakers reckon the tax 'had been productive of great hardship, inequality and injustice' and was 'un-English'.
  • Caroline Clevland of Tapeley House, Westleigh marries E. Beach MP. The whole village is decorated and £20 is distributed amongst the poor whilst tea is served 'to the ancient women of the village.'
  • The foundation stone of a new Baptist chapel is laid at Ilfracombe opposite the Clarence Hotel.
  • The church of St Phillip and St James in Ilfracombe is consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter. Its cost was £6,000 and it had taken six years to build.
  • Thomas Mortimer of Franklin Cottage, Braunton erects a 30ft high tower surmounted by battlements to 'mark the triumph of Free Trade principles.'
  • At Bideford £300 is subscribed to widen the river bank along what is now the river frontage of Victoria Park. Trees are to be planted and seats provided.
  • PC Sweet of Braunton is the subject of 'a murderous attack' by four men. It is later shown that he faked the assault and had, indeed, soon afterwards absconded with a young school teacher who was not his wife.
  • A branch of the YMCA is formed in Barnstaple.

1858

  • The Gospel Hall is built in North Road, Bideford on the site of old pottery kilns.
  • T.L. Pridham, surgeon of Bideford, is presented with a silver fruit basket by 200 poor people 'in recognition of his services' to them during a fever epidemic.
  • John Barwick is sentenced to death for the murder of his sweetheart Maria Blackmore at Lynton. His sentence is commuted to life imprisonment.
  • Two cannon are recovered from Bideford Bar. They are 7ft long and are thought to be from HMS Weazel which sunk some 60 years before. Another five guns are seen but not recovered.
  • The North Devon Building and Investment Society of Bideford is wound up after 12 years 'all the objectives which it had contemplated having been accomplished.'
  • A new Bible Christian chapel is opened at Woolfardisworthy.
  • The new market at Holsworthy is opened with 'great rejoicings.'
  • The Bideford Bridge Trust employ Mr Page, who designed Chelsea and Westminster Bridges, to draw up plans for widening their bridge.
  • The Rev Joseph Lloyd Brereton of West Buckland is about to open his 'Farm and Country School' for middle-class pupils in his parish.
  • William Burgess, a miner on Exmoor, murders his six-year-old daughter Hannah and throws her body down a disused mineshaft. At his trial he admits 'I murdered my child for the purpose of saving 2s.6d (12½p) per week that I might be enabled thereby to indulge myself in more drink.' He is hanged.
  • Water pipes are laid throughout Barnstaple starting at the Bridge Buildings.

1859

  • The Bath and West Show is held in Barnstaple and attracts a then record attendance of 30,399 people and makes a huge profit.
  • John Seldon erects a factory in Alexandra Road, Barnstaple to produce long-stemmed clay pipes known as 'churchwardens'.
  • The first letter boxes are erected in Bideford. In Barnstaple the four letter carriers are given uniforms of a red coat and 'a hat with a cockade.'
  • The Challacombe policeman is denounced as inefficient by the local parishioners but is supported by the County Police Commitee.
  • A Congregational Church school is opened in Cross Street in Barnstaple.
  • Barnstaple Town Council decide to rebuild Queen Anne's Walk. The work will include some public baths and wash-houses behind the Walk.
  • Volunteer Rifle Corps are raised at Ilfracombe, Barnstaple and Bideford.
  • The Lavington Independent Chapel is opened in Bridgeland Street, Bideford. The cost is £1,610.
  • Flooding occurs at Lynmouth 'owing to heavy rain and the melting of snow on the moor.' The Lyndale Hotel is flooded to a depth of four feet.
  • Many ships are wrecked along the North Devon coast during a huge storm. In the aftermath many unknown sailors are buried including nine in one grave at Northam.

1860

  • Dornat's Mineral Water Works is established in Barnstaple.
  • The Bideford Rifle Corps expands. Its Sergeant Instructor is William Rogers, father of Inkerman Rogers later a prominent historian of North Devon.
  • Weare Giffard School (now the Village Hall) is erected at a cost of £400.
  • A Bible Christian chapel is opened at Dyke, Clovelly.
  • A police station is built in Steppa Lane, South Molton. It is to have two cells and accommodation for a policeman.
  • The baths and wash-houses erected behind Queen Anne's Walk are opened. There are six 'private baths for ladies and gentlemen' and a 'wash house for the poor.'
  • Bideford Post Office moves to the building now housing the New Look store.
  • In Ilfracombe the 'opening of a wider road at the Millhead from Fore-street has given convenient access to the Parade for the first time for wheeled chairs.'
  • A Volunteer Rifle Corps is established at Lynton.

1861

  • A new infant school is opened at South Molton at a total cost of £800.
  • The foundation stones of new Wesleyan chapels are laid at Fremington and Westdown.
  • The first section of the recreation area later to be known as Rock Park is opened to the public at Barnstaple. At this date it is known as Chanter's Green.
  • A greatly expanded Baptist chapel is opened in Boutport Street, Bamstaple on the site of an earlier one.
  • Another meeting is held in Barnstaple to protest against income tax. It is denounced as an 'abominable and inequitable tax'.
  • A public meeting is called at Lynton to protest against the erection of a gate and the charging of an entrance fee to the valley leading to Watersmeet. It is decided to take the case to court.
  • A scheme is started to build a floating dock at Instow.
  • A new Bible Christian chapel is brought into use at Yarnscombe, It is 'a wooden structure built on six wheels' designed 'to prevent it becoming the property of the owner of the soil, on the expiration of the lease on which it was granted to the lessee.'

1862

  • The Inspector of Constabulary refuses to certify that the Barnstaple police force was 'efficient' and suggests that they amalgamate with the Devon County force.
  • Following the death of Prince Albert the fountain and clock tower in the Square at Barnstaple is erected as a memorial. It costs £216.
  • The Hope lifeboat is presented to Appledore and is soon in action rescuing sailors in the Bay.
  • The foundation stone of a new Town Hall is laid at Ilfracombe. The chairman of the Local Board (council) announces 'We have no selfish or sinister ends to answer in this great undertaking.'
  • Bideford parish church is completely rebuilt with only the tower being left from the original building. Various graves and wall plaques are also retained.
  • Messrs Arnoll and Hodge of the West of England Biscuit Co on the Strand in Barnstaple start selling the first machine-made bread in North Devon.
  • Ilfracombe's new market is used for the first time on July 19th.
  • Eliza and Ellen Lee, aged 10 and 2, are found dead from exposure in West Wood, Clovelly - although there is a suspicion the 'babes in the wood' were murdered.

1863

  • Floods in Bideford leave a live fish in the White Hart Inn in Queen Street. It is mounted and displayed in the pub.
  • At the AGM of the South Molton Royal Albert Temperance Association it is reported that 450 locals had 'taken the pledge'.
  • A new Wesleyan chapel is built at Eastleigh after Mrs Clevland of Tapeley Park gives the land.
  • John May Miller, co-owner of the Derby lace factory in Barnstaple is elected Mayor of the town.
  • A small earthquake shakes the area.
  • The foundation stone of a new Market at South Molton is laid by the Mayor.
  • The Ilfracombe Railway Bill is thrown out by Parliament. Two locals who helped stop it are threatened by a mob and the Riot Act has to be read.
  • Messrs Heard construct a new quay at East-the-Water in Bideford.
  • Mary Jane Yates of Peppercorn dies aged 45 - 'this lady, whilst very warm, put her feet into the sea waters to cool them, became paralysed, and never spoke afterwards.'
  • New walks on Castle Hill, Torrington, are opened 'amid general rejoicing.'
  • A 'Working-men's Club' is opened at Bideford after 49 'gentlemen offer to pay £1 a year for three years to get it going. It lasts two years.

1864

  • Barnstaple Pannier Market is extended.
  • Westward Ho! is developed as a speculative venture. It is named in a ceremony where the Countess of Portsmouth lays the foundation stone of a hotel.
  • A club is founded at Westward Ho! to play 'the fine Scotch game golf' thus making it the oldest golf club in England. The first match is on November 10th.
  • Granite is quarried in large quantities on Lundy for use in building the Victoria Embankment in London.
  • Work begins on Bideford Bridge to widen it to 24ft. It takes two years to complete and several of the original timber uprights are salvaged during operations.
  • The new market at South Molton is opened. The total cost is £10,140. Its use removes the old market stalls from the streets and Square.
  • Barnstaple's parish church is to be refurbished. The architect is the famous Gilbert Scott who remarks on the steeple, 'Though making great pretensions to elegance, it is a most interesting and remarkable structure and gives much character and quaint antiquity to the aspect of the Church'. It is saved for later generations to admire.
  • Eleven thatched cottages behind the school in South Molton burn to the ground.
  • A man is discovered smoking during a church service at Fremington. He pays a 25p fine to the local hospital.
  • Two Barumites die fighting in the Federal Army in the America
  • A diver walks the length of Ilfracombe harbour underwater.

1865

@ It is reported from Bideford that 14-year-old Susan Mock who has not eaten for six months is still alive - though in a state approaching hibernation.

  • Landcross church is re-opened after extensive refurbishment.
  • During heavy fog the 800-ton barque Eclipse of Salcombe hits rocks at Hartland Quay and is wrecked. The ship's cook is the only casualty.
  • At Barnstaple Town Council a resolution is passed 'expressing sorrow and indignation' at the assassination of US President Abraham Lincoln.
  • At Westward Ho! T. Pynsent erects 'a beautiful Chinese Villa' along with 'a refreshment house with 12 rooms for lodging'.
  • Some 500 'pot wallopers and socksmen' of Northam and Appledore turn out to throw pebbles back on to the pebble ridge at Westward Ho!
  • North Devon Horse Races are held in conjunction with Bideford Regatta, the races take place on 'the sands above the Bridge'.
  • The first engine to be used on the Devon and Somerset railway arrives at Barnstaple. It is named Fortescue and its first trip is on April 16th.

1866

  • Alverdiscott parish church is enlarged.
  • A bailiff travels to Lundy to attempt to claim payment of a debt but is stoned off the island by irate inhabitants.
  • The first trawler is built for the Bideford Deep Sea Fishery Company at Mr Johnson's yard at East-the-Water.
  • William Huxtable, a silversmith of South Molton, offers to place a clock in the new Market there. His offer is accepted.
  • The sailors of Appledore who work on the limestone ships between South Wales and North Devon go on strike for an extra 10p per voyage on top of their usual 50p. They win the increase.
  • The 'memorial stone' of a new Bible Christian chapel is laid in South Street, Torrington.
  • After complaints about the stink from the mud, the 'small quay' in Barnstaple is filled in. (The site later houses the Strand bus station).
  • Grace Gorwill dies at Torrington aged 86 after spending 78 years as a servant to the Friendship family.
  • Edward, Prince of Wales, joins the Golf Club at Westward Ho!
  • A 'mock mayor' is elected at East-the-Water, Bideford.

1867

  • The 210 room Ilfracornbe Hotel is opened in May. It is considered to be one of the finest such establishments in the country.
  • George and John Cox of Cleavehouses shipyard at Northam go bankrupt for £16,000 and some 150 men are thrown out of work.
  • Fremington church is rebuilt to the designs of Gilbert Scott the leading church architect of the period. The cost is £1,650.
  • A letter writer to the Journal describes the women of Appledore as being 'fierce and cruel, as starved tigresses; tearing of hair and scooping of eyes being their usual style.'
  • A group of fishermen, out in their boat off Ilfracombe, see an 'unidentified flying object' enter the water near them.
  • A mob of 3,000 people rampage through the streets of Barnstaple during a riot over food prices. The local Volunteer Rifles and 200 special constables bring the town back to order.

1868

  • 400 special constables are sworn in at Barnstaple to help protect the town from 'Fenians' (the forerunners of the IRA) thought liable to infiltrate the area from South Wales.
  • The foundation stone of eight almshouses is laid in Meddon Street, Bideford. They are being financed by James Haycroft of London who was born in Bideford.
  • A new turnpike road is opened between Combe Martin and Ilfracombe and a celebration dinner is held to mark the occasion.
  • On July 17 a new waterworks at Lynton is opened to supply the village with constant clean water.
  • The foundation stone of a new church at Westward Ho! is laid. The total cost is estimated to be £2,000.
  • A fatal accident on the Instow ferry sees Edward Fishley aged 11 being shot.
  • The North Devon Musical Festival is held at Torrington. The singing of a 'processional hymn' is described as a 'highly objectionable innovation.'

1869

  • The vicar of Woolsery begins a school for 'young gentlemen' at his rectory. He draws on his experience as chaplain to both Dartmoor and Portland prisons.
  • A new Wesleyan chapel is opened at Landkey designed by A. Lauder of Barnstaple. The same sect's chapel in Boutport Street in Barnstaple is reopened after a complete rebuilding.
  • Richard Hobbs dies at Bideford aged 81. He had been press-ganged into the Navy from Bideford Quay aged 17 and served at Trafalgar.
  • Barnstaple Town council vote to build a new prison on a site in Castle Street.
  • The east wing of the Raleigh cabinet factory in Barnstaple is completely destroyed by fire. Damage amounts to £7,000 and is said to be the largest conflagration in 20 years.
  • On June 17th a new set of Public Rooms are begun in Bridgeland Street, Bideford. They later become a theatre and later still a cinema.
  • A pier and harbour are opened at Countisbury on June 19th to serve some limekilns built there three years previously.
  • The foundation stone of a new Independent chapel is laid at Northam.
  • A W Hearson of Barnstaple uses a 'velocipede' (an early form of bicycle) to travel to Exeter at a speed of 7 to 8 mph 'without fatigue'.
  • In Chulmleigh 25 houses including two shops and the London Inn are destroyed by fire.
  • South Molton is completely covered by a type of cotton-like cobweb.
  • The 'North Devon Savages', a bizarre family living at Nymet Rowland, are mentioned in national newspapers after some years of notoriety in the area.

1870

  • The Northam Burrows and Landing Pier Company is established to build a pier at Westward Ho! It isn't finished until 1873 and only lasts seven years.
  • Arrangements are made for starting the construction of the railway from Bideford to Torrington.
  • The new church at Westward Ho! is opened and the Bishop of Exeter preaches the first sermon.
  • C Dornat and W Hazell move their soda water factory from Holland Street to a building known as Maunder's Factory in Tuly Street.
  • The new Cottage Hospital at Ilfracombe is opened on April 21st.
  • After heated discussions Torrington Town Council decide not to amalgamate their police force with the Devon County force.
  • The erection of 'villa residences' is begun in what is described as the 'little hamlet' of Orchard Hill, Northam.
  • It is decided to build a new lighthouse at Hartland Point.
  • At South Molton fire destroys 17 houses in South Street.
  • During a gale in October, 50 feet of the Quay wall at Appledore collapses.
  • A start is made on the Bideford-Westward Ho! railway. It isn't actually finished for another 30 years.

1871

  • In July 82-year-old Anthony Clements of Parkham is murdered. Izet Williams a local prostitute is arrested but released as evidence is lacking.
  • The Barnstaple Ragged Free School is opened in Trinity Street under Frank Hammond.
  • A new lifeboat is provided for Mortehoe, it is named Jack-a-Jack.
  • A decision is taken at Chulmleigh to erect a Cottage Hospital.
  • Anne Prevost funds the erection of a drinking fountain at the corner of Montpelier Terrace and Portland Street in Ilfracombe - for the use of both 'man and beast'.
  • A new schoolroom costing £800 is opened at Beaford.
  • Barnstaple Bridge Trust decide to build 'Chambers' at the town end of the Long Bridge.
  • Mrs Mary May retires aged 83 as Mistress of Barnstaple Blue Coat Girls' School. She has worked there 37 years and is given £10.50 by the governors.
  • The first sod of the Ilfracombe-Barnstaple railway is cut amidst great celebrations.
  • In Bideford a factory is set up to make shirt collars - the industry later becomes extremely important to the town.

1872

  • The railway in North Devon is extended both to Ilfracombe and to Torrington. The building of the new 'Junction' station in Barnstaple destroys the old harbour area that used to exist in front of Queen Anne's Walk - new quays are built at Castle Quay to replace them.
  • A new school in Halsdon Road, Torrington is erected.
  • Barnstaple blacksmiths, carpenters and plumbers go on strike for a 54-hour week. The strike crumbles after a few weeks with no movement on the part of the employers.
  • Local schoolmasters meet to form the North Devon Elementary Teachers' Association.
  • John Cann of Bradworthy reaches the age of 100. He fought under Wellington both in Spain and at Waterloo.
  • The first record of any sort of football match in North Devon occurs in February when South Molton plays a team from the Devon County School (West Buckland). The latter loses.
  • A petition is organised at Ilfracombe to stop further excavations at Lantern Hill as it is danger of complete demolition.
  • The still-surviving railway station at Bideford is opened on June 10th.
  • The brick field in Barnstaple behind Trinity Street is laid out as an estate for 75 houses.

1873

  • The promenade pier at Ilfracombe is completed and opened to the public. It cost £10,000.
  • John Lock, schoolmaster of Parracombe and the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, freezes to death in a country lane during a snowstorm.
  • Miss Elizabeth Hutchings, described as 'a young woman of highly respectable parentage' from Barnstaple dies after overdosing on opium and alcohol.
  • A visitor to Exmoor finds local labourers are earning just 35p a week.
  • A Female Rescue Association is operating in North Devon saving 'fallen women' from the streets and sending them to a home in Exeter for training as servants.
  • The vicar of South Molton introduces a new hymn book called Hymns Ancient and Modern which 'occasioned a violent controversy'.
  • A vein of lead is discovered in Buckland Wood, Braunton and plans are drawn up to mine it.
  • A Lynmouth correspondent writes of the 'spiritual destitution' of the place.
  • 91-year-old Thomas Mouse of Hartland reaps three-quarters of an acre of wheat with a sickle hook in just one day.
  • Kingsley Terrace, Westward Ho! is to be converted into a school to be called the United Services College. Rudyard Kipling is its most famous pupil.
  • The first hospital in Bideford is opened. It has six beds plus one for emergencies.

1874

  • The first Catholic Mission to Ilfracombe begins.
  • A new wing is added to the Derby lace works in Barnstaple. Soil from the foundations is used to build the base of the new railway station in town. A damaging strike hits the factory and creates much bad feeling.
  • The railway line to Ilfracombe from Barnstaple is finally completed after many difficulties.
  • The lighthouse at Hartland Point is opened by Mrs Stucley of Hartland Abbey.
  • The Torridge Vale butter factory is established at Torrington by Robert Sandford; it later becomes the milk factory.
  • For their annual 'wayzgoose' 120 workers from the Derby lace factory in Barnstaple go by train for the day to Exmouth.
  • There are said to be more widows in Appledore than any other settlement of its size in England.
  • Only 12 people bother to turn out to vote in Torrington's Town Council elections.
  • Lynton's District Cottage Hospital is opened on May 18th.
  • A new police station is opened in Fore Street, Ilfracombe.
  • The annual Lady Day or 'Gigglet' market is held at South Molton. It acts as a labour exchange as many young people turn up to obtain jobs for the coming year.

1875

  • John Gould offers emigrants to the USA an all-found journey for £3.
  • A noisy meeting is held in Torrington to discuss rights-of-way on the Commons. At the end people refuse to sing the National Anthem but give three cheers for the Mayor, T. Jackson.
  • A petition bearing 500 names is presented to the MP for Barnstaple asking that all pubs be closed on Sundays.
  • The North Molton Inn in Bear Street, Barnstaple is purchased by the Bible Christians as a site for the Thorne Memorial Chapel.
  • A new gas works is opened at West Appledore. To celebrate, the vicar provides a public tea.
  • A Volunteer Artillery Corps is formed at Ilfracombe.
  • Barnstaple Town Council decide to officially change the name of Back Lane to Queen Street.
  • At Swimbridge 40 children march past the Rev Jack Russell's house carrying banners reading 'Many Happy Returns of the Day' worked in holly berries.
  • Foot and mouth disease breaks out in North Devon. Barnstaple cattle market is disinfected.
  • In Bideford the Library and Art School is established in Bridgeland Street in what is now the Masonic Hall.

1876

  • A new golf course is opened at Croyde.
  • The Fremington Annual Ploughing Match attracts 22 horse teams.
  • A new company is set up to work the Combe Martin silver mines, shares are priced at £2 each 'so that is within reach of the many.'
  • In Barnstaple 'midnight marauders' are destroying ornamental shrubs and seats.
  • Much of the pebble ridge at Westward Ho! is washed away. Hundreds of golfers turn up 'because they feel it is the last time they will be able to play there, in consequence of the certain destruction of the links during the coming Winter.'
  • Several houses in Adelaide Terrace, Ilfracombe are destroyed by fire.
  • Boys using catapults smash many windows in South Molton church.
  • An old woman in Barnstaple fills a bottle with pins and needles - to prick the heart of whoever it is who has bewitched her.
  • South Molton Council decide to use money left to them by Hugh Squiers to build a fountain 'of considerable size and height.'
  • A dinner is held in the Music Hall in Barnstaple to celebrate the election of the town's MP, Sir Stafford Northcote, to be Leader of the House of Commons.

1877

  • 'Dr' John Harper, a white wizard then living in West Down is charged over the death of one of his patients - Mrs Sanders of Bishops Nympton. The charge is dismissed.
  • The foundation stone of a new church at Parracombe is laid. Total cost of the new building is put at £3,000.
  • The Bethel Chapel at East-the-Water in Bideford is opened.
  • A 190-ton clipper schooner is launched from Westacott's shipyard in Barnstaple. It is named the Marion.
  • The first school is built at Littleham.
  • West Buckland School directors announce a dividend of 5% to shareholders.
  • A serious outbreak of rabies occurs in North Devon, dogs being shot on sight if they are not on a lead.
  • Parracombe Cricket Club is formed, one of its rules reads that the Captain has to 'admonish any member who may use improper or profane language' on the field.
  • The SS Ethel of Newcastle is wrecked on Lundy and 19 of her 20 man crew are drowned. The mate survives by clinging to wreckage 'until he was dashed ashore.'

1878

  • Hampton House Boarding School, Holsworthy closes after a widely reported civil action concerning its premises being infested with vermin and other allegations about cleanliness.
  • Chulmleigh is struck by a disastrous fire which destroys 25 houses and leads to damage costing £4,000. Some 60 hens and a dog die.
  • In Bideford 24-year-old Mary Perry accidentally poisons herself after using too much arsenic-based spot remover on her face and also spreading some on bread and eating it.
  • 'General' Tom Thumb the world famous midget visits North Devon.
  • Prospect College, Shebbear is built. The architect is a Mr Crocker.
  • A portion of the embankment near the Quay Station in Barnstaple collapses and the Ilfracombe train is derailed but no-one is hurt.
  • A referendum in Torrington is held to close public houses on Sundays: 505 vote for closure, eight against and 22 stay neutral.
  • The pebble ridge at Westward Ho! is breached and 100 acres of the Burrows are inundated. The piles recently put in at a cost of £600 'were torn up like so many pipes.'
  • The Government order that Barnstaple Gaol is to be discontinued from April.

1879

  • A fund is set up in Barnstaple for 'the relief of those shareholders in the West of England Bank who have been ruined by its failure.'
  • The completion of the Okehampton-Holsworthy railway is 'quite an important event for Holsworthy.'
  • Barnstaple reduces its rates from 70p to 55p in the pound.
  • Northam Gas Company agree to light Appledore and Northam for 100 guineas.
  • The Department of Education order the Braunton School Board to be dissolved 'In consequence of the notoriety gained' by it.
  • A new church clock is provided by public subscription at Parracombe.
  • A new lighthouse is erected at Bull Point at a cost of £7,000. It will 'exhibit a powerful white triple-flashing half minute light.'
  • A new Wesleyan chapel is opened at Mortehoe.
  • A new poultry, butter and vegetable market is opened at Holsworthy.
  • W F Rock formally hands over Rock Park to Barnstaple Town council and asks the Mayor not to make any special testimonial for him.

1880

  • The Ilfracombe Hotel Baths are opened in August being the largest indoor seawater baths in the whole of SW England.
  • The Rev Churchward raises enough money to build a Men's Club in the village of Northam. It still stands today, opposite the library.
  • The Seamen's Mission is established at Appledore.
  • In order to stop sand blowing across the road at Instow 100 yards of posts 'entwined with brushwood and furze' are erected along the sand-hills.
  • W F Rock purchases the large house in the Square in Barnstaple as a home for the Literary and Scientific Institution. It now houses a museum.
  • A 'coffee tavern' is started at Torrington under the auspices of the local temperance movement.
  • A meeting in support of 'Female Suffrage' is held at Ilfracombe - it is run by three men.
  • A Reformed Episcopal Church is erected in Summerland Street, Barnstaple.
  • A roller skating rink is built at the Nunnery in Bideford - on the site now occupied by the police station.
  • Tollgates throughout North Devon are sold off now that the old toll road system has been done away with.

1881

  • A fight between villagers from Romansleigh and Kings Nympton leads to the death of Richard Buckingham of the former place. His killer John Hulland is sentenced to a year's imprisonment with hard labour.
  • The Torrington and Marland Light Railway is completed in just seven months.
  • The pebble ridge at Westward Ho! is breached and some houses in Westbourne Terrace are said to be 'untenantable' due to the constant flooding.
  • Anchor Lane in Barnstaple is renamed Market Street after residents petition the council.
  • In Barnstaple a 70-year-old publican Richard Forrest is cited by his 18-year-old servant girl Jane Fry as the father of her newly born son. He is ordered to pay 20p a week to her for the child's upkeep.
  • A poltergeist case occurs at Buckland Brewer when Lewis Withecombe's farmhouse is stoned by unseen hands. The case centres on his 16-year-old servant girl Sarah Ann Budd.
  • Old Town Almshouses in Bideford are empty, one has collapsed and the others are in a very dangerous state.
  • Bideford Town Council purchase the title of Lord of Manor from John Clevland of Tapeley Park. The Manor Court which goes with the title is still held today.

1882

  • The Bideford Bridge Trust open the Bridge Buildings at the end of the Long Bridge, now used by Torridge District Council. The cost of £4,500 virtually bankrupts the Trust.
  • A temperance meeting in the Music Hall, Barnstaple is disrupted 'by an organised band of roughs' who keep up an 'almost continuous stamping and shouting.'
  • The Kingsley Memorial College at Westward Ho! is formally opened by The Earl of Portsmouth.
  • The Ilfracombe Histrionic Club puts on two plays at Oxford Hall.
  • The Bideford Amateur Rowing Club is formed.
  • Joseph Simmons announces that he will cross the Bristol Channel in a balloon. Setting out from Ilfracombe he only gets as far as Hacketts Farm, Swimbridge - 16 miles away.
  • Riflemen attempt to shoot four porpoises that are seen 'frolicking' under Bideford Bridge.
  • The memorial stone of the new Wesleyan chapel is laid at South Molton. It is a 'handsome Gothic building' which replaces 'ugly and almost useless cottages.'

1883

  • The first electricity works are opened in Ilfracombe at Hospital Road.
  • In June North Devon experiences an earthquake severe enough to be noticeable, indeed at Holsworthy 'houses shook to their foundations'. The shock is later tied in with the explosion of Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies.
  • Bideford Town Council start building a new Pannier Market which is not opened for another year. The market is moved to the bottom of Meddon Street in the meantime.
  • A fireworks factory is operating in Weare Giffard.
  • Local clergyman Parson Jack Russell, breeder of the dogs named after him dies and special rains are laid on to bring numerous mourners to his funeral.
  • A packed public meeting is held at Torrington to mobilise opposition to the Hon Mark Rolle who is trying to extinguish commoners' rights on the Commons.
  • The YMCA is established in Ilfracombe and 300 attend the inaugural meeting.
  • Lionel Bencraft, Town Clerk of Barnstaple, retires after 39 years in office.

1884

  • A 'novelty in the district' is announced when the first telephone is set up in North Devon. It runs between two tanning businesses owned by the Smyth family at Swimbridge and Barnstaple. The 'distance of six whole miles was made as nothing by this form of communication.'
  • Plans are drawn up for a new post office in Bideford's High Street. The site is owned by the Bridge Trust and now houses the TSB.
  • The Lundy Island Cable Company successfully lay a telegraphic cable between the island and the mainland.
  • A huge gale hits Clovelly and sweeps away part of the breakwater whilst many boats are sunk.
  • A reward of £1 is offered in a bid to catch the person destroying the inscriptions on the gravestones in Braunton churchyard.
  • South Molton Town Council petition Parliament to 'allow marriage with a deceased wife's sister.'
  • A special train is laid on to carry 300 members of the Fremington Wesleyan Sunday Schools on a day trip to Ilfracombe.
  • At Torrington the Salvation Army is charged with obstruction after parading the town and stopping at various points to preach.

1885

  • C H Brannam wins royal approval and sales for his pottery and renames his product Royal Barum Ware.
  • At a dinner for his tenants Sir T Acland announces a cut in rents of 10% owing to hardship amongst agriculturists.
  • General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, visits Ilfracombe and delivers 'an inspiring address' there.
  • At Clovelly the breakwater still in use today is built.
  • Thomas Western of Prixford dies and leaves eight of his children out of his will as he considers they bewitched him with a bad case of eczema. The will is challenged in court and a compromise reached.
  • Stowford House. Chittlehampton, home of Colonel Chichester burns down.
  • Apps Brewery at Littleham and Horwood Parsonage burn down in the same week which prompts moves to start a Volunteer Fire Brigade in Bideford.
  • The Bishop of Exeter dedicates the new church on Lundy that has been built by the Rev Heaven.

1886

  • The pottery firm of Brannam in Litchdon Street, Barnstaple open their small but ornate showroom which fronts their new works.
  • The Lynton Local Board build a new Esplanade and sea wall costing some £1,195. The report adds 'There is also to be a lift which will work between Lynmouth and Lynton.'
  • A temporary 'iron church' is erected at Combe Martin by its female owner.
  • The first telephone in Bideford is inaugurated in December.
  • Sunflower Road is built in Barnstaple and Fort Street and Sunnybank are also being constructed. The Vicarage Lawn estate 'has fallen into the builders' hands' and is to be developed with 90 houses.
  • WF Rock presents a sports ground to the town. It is an extension to the existing Rock Park.
  • At Torrington the Rolle Arms Hotel in South Street is gutted by fire.
  • Rumours of financial irregularities in the Ilfracombe Local Board (the council) 'enraged a section of the ratepayers' who demand that all meetings are open to the public.
  • A new Post Office is opened in High Street, Bideford.
  • South Molton purchase a new fire engine from Merryweather & Co.

1887

  • Queen Victoria's Jubilee is celebrated throughout North Devon with bonfires and 'monster processions'.
  • Westacott's shipbuilding yard at the Sticklepath end of Barnstaple Bridge is closed following the launch of the ketch Emma Louise.
  • A new Volunteer Fire Brigade is set up in Bideford. Its 10 men are to be paid £I a year plus an extra fee for attending fires. The captain is paid £3.
  • A new hospital is opened in Meddon Street, Bideford; it later becomes a maternity unit and is now a nursing home.
  • In Barnstaple a diphtheria epidemic leads the Medical Officer of Health produce a report which 'condemned many of the old dwellings.'
  • The first electric light is installed in Barnstaple. George Sloman, a baker and confectioner, lights his shop on the comer of Joy Street and Green Lane. A large crowd collects to view this marvel.
  • The Monarch, a 10-ton pleasure yacht, sinks near Tunnels Beach at Ilfracombe, and 14 drown. Licensing and stringent checking of such boats is introduced.
  • In Appledore battles between Roman Catholics and Protestants occur.
  • In Barnstaple, church services are boycotted as being too 'papist' for the Protestant congregation.
  • A coffee tavern and reading room is opened at Combe Martin.
  • The Salvation Amy 'invades' South Molton and builds a new 'barracks' there.
  • WF Rock pays for a convalescent home to be built at Mortehoe.

1888

  • Barnstaple Town Council lay out the embankment gardens lining the river along Taw Vale Parade and erect the dolphin-based lamp standards.
  • Shapland and Petter's Raleigh Cabinet Works in Barnstaple is destroyed by fire, damage totals £35,000 and 250 are thrown out of work. Within nine months a new factory has been built at the end of Barnstaple Bridge.
  • The Victoria Pavilion, made of glass and wrought iron, is opened at Ilfracombe to commemorate the Queen's Golden Jubilee the previous year.
  • Charles Murch, the Recorder or chief judge of Barnstaple and Bideford, is asked to resign by the former's Town Council following his drunkenness in the streets and at church on various occasions.
  • The North Devon Athenaeum is opened in its building in the Square, Barnstaple.
  • Victoria Chambers is opened in the High Street, Barnstaple as a Temperance Hotel (it now houses Fosters' Menswear shop).
  • On the 300th anniversary Barnstaple and Bideford both claim to have sent more ships than the other to join the fight against the Armada. Bideford has the strongest claim.
  • W.Vaughan, owner of a Torrington glove factory, builds 'the finest and pleasantest building in the town' in South Street.
  • A new golf clubhouse is built at the Westward Ho! links.
  • A new shopping arcade and an adjacent Masonic Hall are built in Ilfracombe.
  • South Molton Town Council changes market day from Saturday to Thursday. Local people ignore them and the Saturday market continues.
  • The old market house in South Molton Square is converted to a Post Office.

1889

  • The first elections for the new Devon County Council are held in January.
  • Herbert Harris of Buckland Brewer batters his wife in a drunken rage. Five of his fellow villagers then tie him up, put a placard reading 'Mayor Of Buckland Brewer' on him and parade him around the lanes to general ridicule.
  • Charles Sweet Willshire of Barnstaple dies after being a councillor for 30 years and twice Mayor. A memorial bust is erected in the Square which is still there today.
  • The rail line between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple is being 'double tracked' owing to the amount of business.
  • Shapland and Petter's new factory is lit by electricity.
  • It is noted that there are no empty shops at all in Bideford. Messrs Tardrews in the High Street (now the New Look store) is the first place in town to use electricity.
  • At Ilfracombe new 'villas' are erected at Tors Park.
  • The Great Torrington Commons Act is passed which safeguards the land for the town.
  • Bideford police force is amalgamated with the Devon County force.
  • A branch of the Devon and Cornwall Bank opens in East Street, South Molton.
  • In Bideford the new Higher Cemetery is opened at Handy Cross.

1890

  • John Pine-Coffin a local landowner and magistrate for Bideford dies. His portrait bust is later erected at the end of the Long Bridge where it still survives.
  • The Lynton Cliff Railway is inaugurated.
  • James Tossel is stabbed by James Heale at Bratton Fleming but the offender is only gaoled for four months.
  • Charges of cowardice levelled against the Appledore lifeboat crew 'were clearly refuted in open Court'.
  • The widening of Bideford Quay goes greatly over its estimated cost.
  • The South Molton Shirt and Collar Co. is formed.
  • August was 'the busiest month ever known' for tourists in Ilfracombe.
  • Torrington Town Council decides to stop the cattle market being held in the streets and to provide a proper fixed site for it.
  • Free Reading and Recreation Rooms are opened in Halsdon Terrace, Torrington.
  • St Peter's church at East-the-Water in Bideford is consecrated.

1891

  • An inquiry into the state of the water supply to Braunton reveals that over a third of the houses in the village have no supply at all.
  • A massive blizzard hits the area, closing the railway and blocking many roads for weeks.
  • The Shebbear Bible Christian school celebrates its jubilee.
  • Pilton Park is opened to the public.
  • There is a large muster of the Volunteers at Westward Ho! and the Royal North Devon Hussars visit Bideford.
  • Torrington Pannier Market is roofed over at the expense of the Hon Mark Rolle.
  • The census reveals that Ilfracombe' s population has grown by a third since 1881.
  • Two banks open in Lynton and electricity is brought to the village.
  • A North Devon Footpath Society is established to stop farmers illegally closing paths crossing their land.
  • The North Devon Photographic Society undertakes a photographic survey of Barnstaple.
  • The vicar of Pilton flees the area after a warrant for his arrest is issued over allegations about child sex.
  • A temporary 'iron church' is opened at Woolacombe to provide a place of worship for both locals and tourists.

1892

  • North Devon farmers say their 'position is desperate and that it is imperative that some assistance should be rendered them if the greatest national industry is not to mean ruin to all engaged in it.'
  • All the coastguard stations in North Devon are linked by telephone.
  • An epidemic of flu hits South Molton and Torrington, many die.
  • A fire at the South Molton Workhouse kills three women and causes £100 worth of damage.
  • A vegetarian restaurant is opened in Ilfracombe being the first in North Devon.
  • The Roman Catholic church in North Road, Bideford is opened, This year also sees the erection of the 'Nonconformist Cathedral of North Devon' when the Wesleyan Methodists open their new chapel in Bridge Street, Bideford.
  • Frank Barrington a railway worker of Braunton is fined 25p for assaulting his 90-year-old neighbour Mary Helson after accusing her of being a witch.
  • A heavy plaster ceiling and the gas lamps it supported collapses onto a class of infants at the Bideford Board School in Gunstone. Incredibly, no-one is hurt.
  • At Lynton the local council purchase the water works to ensure a good supply.

1893

  • Mrs Roget of London presents Clovelly with a new lifeboat costing £700. It is named after her daughter Elinor Roget.
  • In Torrington the cattle market moves from the Pannier Market to a new site in School Lane.
  • To celebrate the marriage of the Duke of York to Princess Mary the Mayor of Bideford presents 1,500 local children with medals specially struck for the occasion.
  • John Pratt, a builder's labourer of South Molton, bets he can drink four pints of beer in 10 minutes. He wins his bet but chokes to death on his own vomit.
  • The Benita coach carrying 18 passengers crashes on Direction Hill, Lynton. Three fall into the Lyn ravine and two including the guard, 20-year-old Alfred Sollis, die.
  • The first meeting of the Barnstaple Radical Association, which can be seen as the forerunner of the Labour Party, is held.
  • A Ratepayers' Association is formed in Barnstaple to fight elections on behalf of the 'ordinary man'.
  • In Barnstaple Petter's collar factory is taken over by Symons, Sanders and Huxtable. It employs 500 girls to produce the stiff stand-up collars that are currently high-fashion.
  • A brothel in Fry's Court, Silver Street, Barnstaple is closed by the police and Ellen Leaher and Lena Shaddick are gaoled.
  • A fire at the North Road pottery in Bideford destroys the last link between this area and a centuries old industry.
  • The Journal publishes Rudyard Kipling's reminiscences about his schooldays at Westward Ho!

1894

  • Edward Capern the 'postman Poet' of North Devon dies aged 75. He is buried at Heanton Punchardon.
  • The famous zig-zag paths on Capstone Hill at Ilfracombe are laid out, whilst on the Promenade a large and very ornate bandstand is built.
  • JH Taylor of Westward Ho! wins the first of five British Open Golf Championships. It is announced that a 130 bed 'Golfifarium' Hotel is to be built at Westward Ho!
  • Some 3½ins of rain falls in three days in North Devon and flooding is widespread. Caen Street in Braunton is under 3ft of water and a local boy called Corney is swept to his death.
  • The Sticklepath estate is laid out next to Shapland and Petter's factory in Barnstaple.
  • A factory to produce butter from locally produced milk is opened at Witheridge.
  • The first elections to the newly formed parish councils are held.
  • Barnstaple wins the Devon County Football Championship.
  • The SS Devonia begins operating from Bideford.
  • A new bank is built in East Street, South Molton.
  • A bowling club is opened at Oxford Park Gardens in Ilfracombe.
  • A new Drill Hall is provided for the Braunton Volunteers.

1895

  • Leading agriculturists declare 'that the year has positively been the worst they have ever experienced.'
  • Very severe weather occurs at the start of the year and skating takes place on the River Taw at Barnstaple. In Bideford ice skating takes place on the marshes adjoining the river.
  • Various buildings in Ilfracombe including the Golden Lion pub are demolished to widen the entrance to the pier.
  • A new gun battery is built at Appledore. One hundred local Royal Navy Reservists march to its opening carrying rifles, cutlasses and flags under their officer Mr Martin.
  • An epidemic of scarlet fever breaks out in North Devon and 17 die. Houses are fumigated 'by means of buroing sulphur' but 'this causes such an intolerable smell on the clothing, bedding etc., which remains for many months, that the majority prefer to go without being disinfected rather than subject themselves to such an annoyance.'
  • Lower Litchardon Farm in Fremington is completely destroyed by fire but prompt work by the Barnstaple Bridge Wharf fire brigade saves Higher Litchardon.
  • The Ilfracombe Fire Brigade resign en bloc after a bitter dispute cannot be resolved peacefully.
  • The Belvoir Mission Rooms are opened in Bideford in what is now Lime Grove.
  • An Ilfracombe man invents a machine for producing fried eggs to order in shops.
  • Two lighthouses are under construction on Lundy.
  • A new pier is built at Wooda Bay by a local resident.

1896

  • A new art school is opened on Bideford quay. It bears a very large terracotta plaque recording its building although far greater prominence is given to the Mayor of the day than the architect.
  • St Helena's church on Lundy is built.
  • Thomas Cory Burrow starts the Hartland and West Country Chronicle newspaper which he prints by hand. It runs for 44 years and is labelled the 'World's Strangest Newspaper' owing to its rather eccentric style of production and contents.
  • A major fire in July destroys 34 houses and shops in and around Portland Street in Ilfracombe. Damage is estimated at £50,000.
  • An earthquake hits North Devon on December 17th.
  • A new gasholder is erected at Barnstaple Gas Works to meet rapidly increasing demand.
  • A children's ward is built at the North Devon Infirmary in Barnstaple.
  • The Mayor and council 'beat the bounds' of South Molton for the first time in 40 years.
  • A new police station is built at Parracombe.
  • The Rev Edward Reynolds of Appledore dies after 53 years in the post.

1897

  • The cairn at Bone Hill, Northam is erected to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
  • The foundation stone of a new Methodist chapel is laid at Swimbridge.
  • A huge storm hits North Devon blowing down various buildings and the pinnacle of Holy Trinity church in Barnstaple.
  • In October the first telephone exchange in the area is opened in Barnstaple - it has just 12 subscribers.
  • In Bideford the Pill, an arm of the estuary, is culverted.
  • At Torrington the Town Council buy out the private owners of the town's Water Company.
  • An attack of vandalism at Braunton churchyard is traced to a lunatic ex-soldier.
  • Sir George Newnes offers a town hall, a mechanics' institute and a library to Lynton - 'Sir George's princely offer was heartily accepted' by local people.

1898

  • Barnstaple Town Station is built, replacing an earlier one near Queen Anne's Walk. Construction of the rail link to Lynton sees the in-filling of a formal pleasure ground laid out on what is now the site of the Civic Centre.
  • At Bideford the present police station is built on a site that overlooks the river whilst a new Cattle Market is opened in Honestone Street.
  • Torrington uses money raised to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee to fit out a house in New Street as the town's first Cottage Hospital.
  • In Barnstaple two fields between Gloucester Road and Victoria Street are bought by house builders whilst C. Youings buys Litchdon House and begins enlarging it to form the Imperial Hotel.
  • The Lynton and Barnstaple railway is opened and all schoolchildren in the latter place receive a specially struck medal to mark the occasion.
  • At Challacombe a small bog breaks away and slides half a mile.
  • A new 'mission church' is opened at the bottom of Calf Street, Torrington.
  • A newly rebuilt Arcade is opened in Ilfracombe, it is said to be 'far superior to the original one.'
  • Saunton receives its first post office.
  • At Lynton a new Volunteer Corps is established and 40 men join.

1899

  • Stanbury and Son open their steam-powered Victoria Flour Mills on Rolle Quay. They can produce 100 sacks of flour in just 24 hours.
  • The new Masonic Temple at Ilfracombe, with its strong Egyptian influence, is opened in December.
  • A new steamer is specially built to serve the Fremington-Liverpool run.
  • At Lynmouth Trinity House officials are constructing a new lighthouse at a cost of £10,000.
  • Bideford Town Council complete the culverting of the Pill.
  • Sticklepath officially becomes part of Barnstaple.
  • A polo club is started in North Devon in August.
  • Castle Hill, Torrington is planted with trees 'and as they grow up they will afford considerable shelter.'
  • In South Molton the Cottage Hospital closes but a Local Nursing Association takes its place.
  • The Boer War breaks out and Ilfracombe raises over £500 for the 'victims' of it.

1900

  • The Tome Stone is set up in its present position in Queen Anne's Walk in Barnstaple.
  • The old pottery kilns in North Walk, Barnstaple where the firm of Brannam's first started are demolished.
  • Work begins on construction of the Market Hall in Market Street and Avenue Road, Ilfracombe, Building takes a year and the cost is £4,900.
  • A massive storm hits North Devon, the church tower at Braunton is stripped of lead and timber and two large boats are beached at Fremington Quay.
  • The new parish of Queensnympton is established.
  • The Devon County Show is held at Pottington but visitors are fewer than anticipated - probably due to the Boer War.
  • Lynton's new town hall, which cost £20,000, is opened.
  • A 'Steam Laundry, equipped in the most modern fashion' is opened at Rawleigh, Barnstaple.
  • Robert Chapman is the oldest preacher in North Devon - he is 98.
  • A new tennis and croquet club is opened in Chanters Road, Bideford.
  • South Molton church is restored at a cost of £2,000.

1901

  • The first public telephone in North Devon is opened in the Post Office in Cross Street, Barnstaple. A local call costs 1p for 3 minutes which rises to 5p up to 100 miles plus 2p for every 40 miles over that.
  • The Miller Institute is opened in Barnstaple. Designed for the recreation of the workers in the Derby lace factory it now houses Yeo Vale School.
  • Members of the North Devon Yeomanry who fought in the Boer War are presented with medals in Barnstaple Guildhall.
  • Barnstaple Town Council decide to spend £27,000 lighting the town with electricity.
  • Ilfracombe is linked to Barnstaple by telephone in August.
  • Benjamin Lake JP and owner of Wooda Bay is gaoled for 12 years for the theft of trust money.
  • A new waterworks is opened at Torrington to serve the whole town.
  • At the proclamation of King Edward VII a ceremonial gun explodes killing Thomas Lee, Barnstaple's Foreman of Works.

1902

  • A 600-seat Kursaal or theatre is opened on Ilfracombe pier in March to cater for the thousands of tourists arriving annually in the town. It is removed only four years later.
  • Bonfires are lit across the area to celebrate King Edward's coronation - unfortunately it is not held as he is taken ill.
  • The first 22 houses of the Yeo Vale Estate in Barnstaple are built.
  • Peace Day, to mark the end of the Boer War, is held at Ilfracombe. Medals are given to the schoolchildren 'as a permanent memorial of the happy event.'
  • A new post office is built and opened in Cross Street, Barnstaple.
  • North Devon is linked into the national telephone system via Tiverton.
  • A French sailor is murdered by a compatriot on board their ship at Appledore.
  • A new Conservative Club is opened in Broad Street, South Molton.
  • It is decided after long debate to completely resewer Ilfracombe at a cost of £31,200.

1903

  • October is the wettest month ever known with over 10ins of rain falling. The whole Taw valley is under water.
  • The telephone service in North Devon becomes a 24 hour one.
  • Smallpox breaks out in Braunton; John Basset aged 31 dies.
  • The memorial stone of a new Bible Christian chapel is laid at Buckland Brewer.
  • The Lynton and Barnstaple railway is opened and all schoolchildren in the latter place receive a specially struck medal to mark the occasion.
  • At Challacombe a small bog breaks away and slides half a mile.
  • A new 'mission church' is opened at the bottom of Calf Street, Torrington.
  • Much of the sea wall at Instow is washed away in a huge storm in September.
  • The still imposing building at the corner of Gammon Lane and Tuly Street in Barnstaple is opened by Glidden and Squire as an agricultural implement workshop.
  • The Barnstaple Electricity Company opens its generating buildings in the Strand. The building with its imposing plaque is still in place today. By the end of the year it has 158 customers. Electricity is also brought to Ilfracombe in May.
  • General Sir Redvers Buller unveils a memorial in Barnstaple Guildhall to those who served in South Africa.
  • Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show visits the area.
  • The clock on South Molton Town Hall is illuminated at a cost of £50.
  • Ilfracombe decides to begin advertising itself as a tourist resort.

1904

  • Westleigh is hit by a diphtheria epidemic, 26 cases are recorded and two die.
  • A section of the Royal Naval Volunteers is begun at Barnstaple.
  • The iron foundry at the bottom of Newport is closed after 80 years and 30-40 men are made unemployed.
  • The US philanthropist Carnegie offers Ilfracombe £3,000 towards the cost of a new library, the local council, however, cannot decide on a site.
  • A community of Ursuline nuns travels from France and settles in Bideford where they open what later becomes the Stella Maris Convent School.
  • The United Services College leaves Westward Ho! for Harpenden.
  • The use of cars has spread: two Barnstaple doctors and a vet are now using them.
  • The Liberals take over the old post office in Cross Street for their HQ.
  • General Booth of the Salvation Army visits Bideford and South Molton.
  • The Ilfracombe Chronicle is 'bought out' by its foreman J. Moore who enlarges and considerably improves the paper.

1905

  • The foundation stone of a new Rechabite (teetotallers) Hall is laid at Ilfracombe. The building is completed in July.
  • Mixed bathing is allowed for the first time at the Tunnels Beach in Ilfracombe.
  • A sale of the Portsmouth Estate in North Devon sees 43,000 acres change hands.
  • A new secondary school is built in Ashleigh Road, Barnstaple.
  • Princess Christian, sister of King Edward VII visits the area staying at the Imperial Hotel in Barnstaple.
  • As income does not match expenditure a special meeting of the Board of the North Devon Infirmary decides to cut the number of beds.
  • The Master of the Cheriton Otter hounds and his servant were heavily fined for torturing cats in Barnstaple whilst 'training' his dogs.
  • A new gas works said to be 'one of the most up-to-date in the country' is built at Hele near Ilfracombe.

1906

  • The statue of Charles Kingsley on Bideford Quay, that has been paid for by public subscription, is unveiled by Lord Clinton.
  • The Carnegie Free Library, named after the American philanthropist who paid for it, is opened in Bideford.
  • Lundy is offered for sale at £19,250.
  • The De Forrest Wireless Telegraphy Syndicate set up a station on Hartland Point.
  • Prideaux & Son, coachmakers of Bear Street, Barnstaple add a 'motor department' to their works.
  • In December Henry Ash of Sticklepath murders his lover Lydia Brown, stabs a man who tries to stop him and then throws himself in front of a train at Barnstaple station.
  • The Mayor of Bideford plus the council all attired in their robes go to the Pannier Market to check the weights being used by the stallholders.
  • HMS Montague, a new battleship, runs aground on Lundy.
  • An earthquake hits Ilfracombe on June 27th.
  • Lynton is linked to Ilfracombe by telephone.

1907

  • A vein of silver is discovered at Harford in Landkey by a local water diviner J. Gabriel. Further excavations peter out.
  • Trinity House agree to place a 'light' at the entrance to Barnstaple Bar.
  • A new Wesleyan chapel is opened at Bucks Mills. The 'moveable' chapel at Yarnscombe is replaced by a permanent structure.
  • The Ebenezer Baptist chapel in Vicarage Street, Barnstaple is demolished and replaced with three cottages.
  • In November an Ambulance Corps was started in Barnstaple - the first in North Devon.
  • The Devon County Agricultural Show is held at Moreton near Bideford.
  • Glovemaking, the chief industry of Torrington, has a profitable year.
  • Ilfracombe Town Council examine the viability of buying a 'destructor' or a 'manipulator' to help get rid of their rubbish. They decide to buy the Pier and Harbour for £43,750.
  • The residents of Orchard Hill and Raleigh in Northam ask to join Bideford; Northam Town Council fights this strenuously.

1908

  • Joseph Becklake of Woolsery dies after living for 23 years in the fireplace of a large chimney which was all that had remained after his farmhouse was burnt down around 1885.
  • Parracombe church tower is struck by lightning and tremendous damage done.
  • The Castle Flour Mills at Landkey are completely destroyed by fire.
  • A new road giving acccss to Lynmouth from Minehead is opened to the public.
  • The first detachment of 'Baden-Powell Boy Scouts' is set up in Barnstaple. Troops soon follow in Swimbridge and Braunton.
  • The foundation stone of a new Cottage Hospital is laid at Torrington.
  • The Territorial Army is set up in place of the Volunteers. The Barnstaple Volunteers march through the town at midnight and sign up to the new force en bloc thus becoming the first Territorial unit in the British Army.
  • The Bideford-Westward Ho! railway is extended to Appledore at a cost of £10,000. A return fare to Bideford costs 3½p though a special workman's early morning fare costs just 2p.
  • A 'large and unsightly gap directly opposite the entrance to the town from the Railway Station' in South Molton is filled with new houses.

1909

  • The first ever old-age pensions - worth 25p a week - are paid out in North Devon. Those recipients at Clovelly are so grateful they club together to send a telegram of thanks to the local MP.
  • During a storm in December the steamship Thistlemor sinks in Bideford Bay and 21 of its 31 strong crew are drowned.
  • The foundation stone of Barnstaple's Public Secondary School is laid. The school later becomes Park School.
  • A mysterious fast-moving airship bearing a searchlight is spotted over Ilfracombe by a local policeman - at a time when no such machines existed.
  • The first council-built school is erected at Appledore.
  • Bideford is visited by 'a band of militant Suffragettes' seeking 'an interview with Mr Asquith, the Prime Minister' who was staying at Clovelly Court.
  • An international polo match between England and Wales is held at the Hotel Baths in Ilfracombe.
  • The telephone continues to spread in Ilfracombe and has 25 subscribers by the end of the year.
  • A new bridge over the River Mole links South Molton and Chittlehampton.
  • Torrington Town Band are revived after the original one faded away.

1910

  • St Anne's chapel in St Peter's churchyard in Barnstaple is finally closed after serving as the town's Grammar School for many years.
  • A gale in February upsets the Instow ferry boat and three men drown.
  • At Ilfracombe Copp' s Coaches become one of the first companies in North Devon to change from horses to motor charabancs.
  • A massive gale hits Ilfracombe and causes extensive damage. A 'tidal wave' hits the pier destroying much of it. Westward Ho! pebble ridge is pushed 9 yards back and is lowered in height by 4 feet.
  • The Braunton Electric Lighting and Power Company is set up to light the village.
  • Miss Chichester of Arlington Court presents 50 acre of Morte Point to the National Trust in memory of he parents.
  • Albert Kingdom is charged with speeding in his car doing 24mph going through Fremington - he is fined 50p.
  • Sir George Newnes, founder of Tit-Bits and the $trand Magazine and great benefactor to Lynton dies in the village.
  • The first labour exchange is set up in North Devon when an office is opened for one day a week in the shop under Barnstaple Guildhall.

1911

  • In Bideford a noisy political meeting is dispersed by a charge of mounted police, 'Men and women were roughly knocked down and nervous people who had taken shelter in doorways were roughly pulled out.'
  • Nine people die in an outbreak of typhoid fever in Barnstaple. The local Medical Officer of Health cannot identify the cause as there are so many to choose from in the insanitary town at this period.
  • The South Molton Show hires Captain Clayton and his aircraft to thrill the record crowd of 4,298 people. He is forced to land after only 400 yards of flight and then crashes and destroys his aircraft in a hedge. A 'flying man' also visits Combe Martin fete but does not take off.
  • Coronation celebrations for George V take place all over North Devon. In Barnstaple a triumphal arch near the Square collapses, a woman is killed and dozens injured. In South Molton 1,500 schoolchildren are presented with a 'large souvenir box of chocolates'.
  • Ilfracombe prints 6,000 copies of its publicity brochure.
  • Two new coastguard 'huts' are erected at Clovelly and Westward Ho!
  • At Torrington the 'skin factory' of Chapple Bros, is operating on short time and the town is going through a 'period of depression.'

1912

  • The motor car and horse carriage works of Prideaux and Son in Bear Street, Barnstaple are burnt down and 11 cars and 25 carriages are destroyed.
  • Bideford is infested with tramps attracted by 'the softness of the stones given to them to crack' and the fact that they can spend 36 hours in bed over the weekend in the Workhouse.
  • The Devon Farmers Union discuss the desirability of employing 12-year-olds for one day a week on their farms - the day to count as school attendance.
  • A gale and high tides lead to severe flooding in many areas of North Devon in March. Ilfracombe Quay and Broad Street are under water.
  • A new lifeboat, the Robert & Catherine is launched at Bideford prior to it being housed at Appledore.
  • A fatal car crash is recorded at Lynton when Charles Marshall's car runs out of control on Beggar's Roost Hill.
  • In Bideford the High Street Methodist church is built to resemble a castle.
  • Victoria Park is opened in Bideford with some 'handsome entrance gates'.

1913

  • The mounted Town Crier of Ilfracombe Robert Martin is fined £1 after being arrested for 'being drunk while in charge of a horse on the highway.'
  • Two men are killed in an accident on the Lynton-Barnstaple railway.
  • A new Wesleyan chapel is opened at Shebbear at a cost of £700.
  • The Church Institute and Grenville Memorial are built in Lower Meddon Street, Bideford.
  • 200 building workers strike in Barnstaple - they win an extra penny per hour.
  • A suspicious fire at Lynton is blamed on actions by the Suffragettes campaigning for votes for women.
  • A meeting is held of the Barnstaple Women's Suffrage (NonMilitant) Society.
  • In Ilfracombe the Suffragettes open a shop in Church Street 'arousing considerable interest and some amusement.'
  • In Torrington the council demolish the Old Plough Inn and the Vernon Inn Cottages - both are condemned properties.
  • South Molton replaces the cobbles in the Square with asphalt.

1914

  • The Barnstaple Co-operative Society is wound up after 46 years of business. It has 250 'working-class' shareholders.
  • In April Lieut Gould of the Royal Flying Corps lands at Barnstaple and then gives 'brilliant displays of airmanship'.
  • At Torrington the new Drill Hall is opened in Fore Street.
  • South Molton opens a new cattle market thus removing cattle from the streets.
  • The declaration of war on August 4 sees the rapid mobilisation of North Devon's reservists after Boy Scouts are used to spread the news to the area's isolated farms. At Ilfracombe, Lynton and Westward Ho! 14 German and Austrian waiters and musicians are arrested as enemy aliens.
  • The first local casualties are reported when Captain Thomas Wickham a Bideford Territorial serving with the Manchester Regiment is killed in the first week of September. Pvt. Collins from Barnstaple is killed at the battle of Mons in August.

1915

  • The Strand bowling club pavilion in Bideford is burnt down, rurnours claim that this was an arson attack connected to the Suffragette movement.
  • In February a recruiting drive through the villages of North Devon produces just 13 volunteers over two days. One youth is quoted as saying 'We bain't going till we be fetched.'
  • A Belgian refugee who was being treated in hospital at Ilfracombe dies and her funeral is attended by huge crowds.
  • Engineering factories in Barnstaple switch to munitions manufacture.
  • Local woodworkers and bakers go on strike for better wages - both groups win.
  • In Bideford 980 men join the forces - there are 'comparatively few eligibles who have not come forward.'
  • Twelve men from Torrington have already been killed in action.
  • Water is rationed to four hours a day in Bideford in the autumn due to shortages in the town's reservoir.
  • The South Molton Agricultural Show is cancelled because so many farm horses have been commandeered by the Army.
  • The SS Bengrove of Liverpool is torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine 5 miles north of Combe Martin. The crew of 33 are saved and landed at Ilfracombe pier.

1916

  • The last traditional pottery in Bideford, at East-the-Water, closes due to lack of demand for its products.
  • At branches of banks in South Molton 'part of the clerical work was performed - with great efficiency - by lady clerks.' In addition 'Postwomen patriotically took the places of '. men called to the colours; young men left their bread, carts in the hands of girls, and a few women workers, though not many because of a low rate of wages, appeared on the land.'
  • The Mayor of Ilfracombe presents to the town 10 large frames each containing 55 photographs of local men then in the forces.
  • British Summer Time is introduced which 'proved a great boon for all holiday-makers' in the area.
  • The old age pension was proving insufficient for wartime conditions so the Mayor of Bideford sets up a special fund to help needy cases.
  • In December Barnstaple bakers go on strike, they win their case - and bread rises in price a halfpenny.
  • Moves are made to restart the Barnstaple Co-operative movement.

1917

  • The Government establishes a War Loan Fund and Barnstaple subscribes £500,000.
  • A Miss Croft of Minehead is appointed the first health visitor for Barnstaple under the new Child Welfare Scheme. She sets up the first School Clinic.
  • John Bale of Littleham is elected churchwarden for the 60th consecutive year.
  • In August A L Christie of Tapeley Park, Instow purchases Lundy.
  • Ilfracombe council uses one of its empty shops in the High Street as a Food Control Office to ensure fair distribution of supplies.
  • Edgehill College in Bideford buys an adjoining house called Kiltrasna 'to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of scholars.'
  • The National Egg Collection in Ilfracombe gathers 21,321 eggs to send to injured troops.
  • The Bideford-Westward Ho!-Appledore railway is taken up to be used in France as an ammunition train.
  • No excursion steamers are running to or from Ilfracombe and the tourist industry has virtually disappeared.

1918

  • A bizarre experiment in building concrete ships occurs on the site now housing the concrete works in Barnstaple. They are not a success.
  • The Mayor of Barnstaple F A Jewell is elected for a record seventh successive term.
  • In Bideford 'a particularly sad drowning' raises the need for a swimming pool following the war. 'A site is being prepared.'
  • Ilfracombe council supports the idea of building a secondary school as 'the benefits to the town will be considerable in every way if the suggestion materialises.'
  • At the declaration of peace huge celebrations break out all over North Devon.
  • An epidemic of influenza begins and kills many.
  • The old Bible Christian chapel in Silver Street, Bideford becomes a glove factory - but only provides jobs for women.
  • 'Speedy replacement' of the Bideford- Westward Ho!-Appledore railway 'would be much appreciated.'
  • A 'large part of Hillsboro' field' at Ilfracombe is given over to allotments and planted with potatoes.

1919

  • The Hansen Shipbuilding and Ship-repairing Company is established at Cleavehouses near Bideford.
  • Bideford Town Council purchase the prominent site of the English Civil War Fort at Chudleigh as a war memorial.
  • The only conscientious objector from Bideford, Harry Guard, is forced out of his teaching job after protests by the Comrades of the Great War group and the parents of his pupils.
  • The first Peace Day is held. A free dinner for 900 demobilised servicemen is held in Bideford Pannier Market, a sports tournament in Rock Park, Barnstaple is attended by 8,000 - and the local Christy Minstrels parade through Bratton Fleming at 5.30am 'with bugle, mouth organs and various other instruments.'
  • A garage is opened in Lynmouth by Mr Watts, this and other improvements 'have changed the decadent appearance of that part of Lynmouth.'
  • Saunton golf links undergo great alterations and extensions.
  • A new Village Institute is opened in Heanton Punchardon as a very practical war memorial. Its cost of £200 is raised by public subscription.

1920

  • Barnstaple Rotary Club publish a shocking report on the state of housing in the town. In one case four children and two adults, one of whom had TB, were living in just one room.
  • Hugh Strong, an ex-editor of the Journal, dies aged 59.
  • On September 16th a disastrous fire breaks out at the Royal and Fortescue Hotel in Barnstaple, damage totals £10,000.
  • Fire also completely destroys Edgehill College in Bideford. All 140 scholars are saved.
  • Excursion steamers begin to operate to and from Ilfracombe again much to the delight of the tourism industry.
  • Bideford town council decide to 'proceed with all speed' on the Jennet Stream Scheme designed to create a new reservoir for the town.
  • Many new 'road motor services' are provided in North Devon.'Increased railway fares helped the development of these convenient services.'
  • Potters in Barnstaple go on strike for higher wages and, after a month, win their case.
  • A new road 1,100 yards in length between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin replaces that section destroyed in a 'serious landslip' in 1918.
  • The first steel ship built in Bideford, the SS Hubbastone, is launched from Hansen's yard.

1921

  • The whole of Britain is plunged into 'extreme depression' with short time working and unemployment common. North Devon does not escape the effects. Derby lace factory in Barnstaple is closed for nine months.
  • Unemployment in Bideford, Appledore and Northam reaches 1,000.
  • In October the Barnstaple borough police force of 14 men is merged with the Devon County force.
  • A strike in the building trade in Bideford is soon settled but there is a shortage of skilled labour in many trades.
  • A drought 'protracted to phenomenal length' hits the area but the crops do not suffer unduly.
  • Combe Martin's war memorial to its 35 dead is unyeiled by the Bishop of Exeter. Torrington's memorial to its 83 dead is unveiled by Colonel Radcliffe.
  • Some 23 redundant steamers, mainly from South Wales, are moored in the River Torridge as there are no cargoes for them.
  • A fire breaks out in the motor works of Goodenough & Co behind the North Devon Infirmary in Barnstaple. Damage is put at £2,000.

1922

  • In an effort to tackle massive unemployment in the town, Barnstaple undertakes the Strand Improvement Scheme which widens the road and generally enhances the area.
  • A strike of printers means the Journal is not published on August 3rd - the first ever 'break' since it began in 1824.
  • The Torrington-Halwill railway link is opened. Its construction 'has done and is still doing much to lessen the volume of unemployment' in the area.
  • Wilfred Hewitt of Combe Martin aged 11months is killed when his four-year-old brother throws a poker at him.
  • Edgehill College is rebuilt and opened after its disastrous fire in 1920.
  • In July Lord Fortescue unveils a memorial tablet to the 6th Devon Regiment in Barnstaple Guildhall.
  • The collar factory on the Strand in Bideford closes throwing many women out of work.
  • The Rev H H Lane is appointed Rector of Lundy - the first one in 300 years.

1923

  • Lord Portsmouth opens Chaloner's Road in Braunton that links the central crossroads to the Ilfracombe road. It has been built by unemployed ex-servicemen hired specifically for the job and relieves traffic from Church Street.
  • Bideford Long Bridge is reconstructed and widened.
  • Edmund Davie, landlord of the White Hotel, Ilfracombe dies after falling through the deck of the pier onto the rocks below.
  • North Devon teachers hold a mass meeting to protest about a proposed cut in salaries being brought in the County Council.
  • The Vicar of Braunton demands the key to the Parish Room where the parish council meets. The council refuse but six councillors resign in protest.
  • Fremington's war memorial is unveiled on Armistice Day by Major Arundell Clarke.
  • The first ever three-cornered fight in North Devon between Liberals, Conservatives and the Labour party occurs at the general election this year.
  • The first annual dinner of the Barnstaple and North Devon Bank Officers Guild is held.
  • Jennett's waterworks is opened in Bideford at a cost of £40,000.

1924

  • At Ilfracombe H Macey, headmaster of the Church Boys School retires after 44 years of service.
  • Hansen's shipyard in Bideford closes after launching eight steel ships.
  • The centuries old May Fair is revived in Torrington.
  • A public inquiry is held into plans by Ilfracombe to extend its boundaries to include Mortehoe, Combe Martin and Berrynarbor.
  • On July 3rd the Journal celebrates its centenary.
  • The Revenge one of the 'old wooden walls of England' is brought to Appledore to be broken up for scrap.
  • Braunton's first parade of ex-servicemen since the war leads to the formation of a well-supported club.
  • The new path to Hangman's Hill at Combe Martin is opened on June 2nd.
  • The foundation stone of a new hospital is laid on the Abbotsham Road site in Bideford.
  • Bideford Amateur Athletic Club open their new clubhouse.

1925

  • The Victoria Pavilion at Ilfracombe has its central glass portion removed and replaced with a new concert hall to seat 750 at a cost of £8,000.
  • In Bideford a heavily laden petrol lorry rolls backwards down High Street and crashes into Boyles' shop on the comer of Allhalland Street.
  • The new Mayor of Barnstaple, Dr John Dixey, revives the Mayoral banquet.
  • Inkennan Rogers reconstructs Pilton church clock.
  • Barnstaple Parochial Church Council embark on building a new parish hall which is 'not to cost more than £2,500.'
  • Workers at the Derby lace factory in Barnstaple go on strike over shortening of their hours and a consequent reduction in pay.
  • Martin Harman buys Lundy Island for £16,000.
  • Bideford Rotary Club is founded.
  • Extensive works are carried to widen Bideford Bridge to 30 feet. Whilst work is going on a lorry crashes over the parapet but luckily no-one is killed.

1926

  • Bideford's Old Town Boys School is gutted by fire and damage is put at £4,000. The site now houses Bideford's fire station.
  • Barnstaple Manufacturers stage a large Exhibition of their products at Castle House. Amongst the goods on display are those of the Lorna Doane Rustic Works who produced seats and tables using disabled ex-servicemen for their labour force.
  • Basil Peto MP for North Devon sues the ex-MP J Tudor Rees for libel but the case is withdrawn following an apology.
  • Barnstaple Town Council purchase the Castle and the large house in its grounds for £4,500.
  • The top floors of the Grand Hotel in Wilder Road, Ilfracombe are gutted by fire. Bus loads of people travel from Barnstaple to view the spectacle.
  • The General Strike hits Britain, the Journal does not appear and emergency services are provided by volunteers. The railwaymen stay out so long that the tourist industry in Ilfracombe is badly affected.
  • Some 748 people are unemployed in North Devon and their weekly benefits total £1,620.
  • Newly-built council houses at Handy Cross in Bideford are to be let at 40p a week.

1927

  • Bideford takes delivery of its first motorised fire engine in June. It is named Grenville and costs £1,700.
  • Martin Hannan, owner of Lundy, lays out a 50-acre golf course on the island to increase tourism. It only lasts 18 months.
  • A new scheme for a secure water supply system for Combe Martin is made possible 'by the generosity of Michael Snell'.
  • Ifracombe decides to press the Government for incorporation so that they officially become a town.
  • On January 28th Braunton's new parish hall is opened.'It is proving a boon to the town.'
  • Some £27,000 is spent on building 'Parracombe' s new deviation road'.
  • Powerful opposition was expressed at Lynton over plans to 'utilise the Recreation Ground in the Valley of the Rocks for a burial ground.'
  • A total eclipse of the sun in June 'aroused great interest' but 'was not visible in the neighbourhood.'
  • A new bye-law in Barnstaple means all abattoirs have to use a humane killer.
  • Bideford stages a huge Historical Pageant on the same day that the new Kingsley Road is opened.

1928

  • A mother and daughter are arrested in Combe Martin after 'riotous and violent behaviour' in the local church. This follows a seance at which the daughter received instructions from the vicar's late wife to marry her widowed husband - who rejects her.
  • Newbridge Causeway is opened in May. The 600-foot long construction crosses the Taw valley in Bishops Tawton and is still in use today.
  • H Pearce retires as foreman of the print room of the Journal after 58 years working on the paper.
  • Braunton Silver Band are involved in a bad road accident and suffer many injuries.
  • St Anne's Museum is opened in St Peter's churchyard in Barnstaple.
  • The first stone of the new Westward Ho! sea defence wall is laid.

1929

  • A major fire breaks out in the Motor Works and Dance Hall in the Square at Barnstaple. Both buildings are gutted.
  • The Town Crier of Torrington becomes the Champion of the United Kingdom in a national competition.
  • The firm of Small and Tidmas of Nottinghamshire purchase the Derby lace works in Barnstaple.
  • The French Ursuline nuns running the Convent school in Bideford are replaced by the Sisters of Charity.
  • Sir Alan Cobham lands an aeroplane at the old airfield on Northam Burrows to show that Bideford could have its own airport.
  • Sam Parker, aged 76, goes to the bar of the Crown Hotel in Ilfracombe, orders a drink, writes some letters and then shoots himself.
  • A speech on unemployment by Lloyd George in Devonport is transmitted to Bideford Pannier Market where 4,000 listen to it via 'Marconi phone speakers.'
  • The Mayor of Biddeford, Maine, USA visits Bideford and opens a new 'parking ground' near the Kingsley statue.
  • Saunton Golf Club opens a new clubhouse.
  • Henry Williamson apologises to the vicar of Georgeham for vandalising the village sign, saying it was just a joke.

1930

  • F Brokenshire head of Ashleigh Road Junior School in Barnstaple retires after 50 years as a teacher.
  • The Ilfracombe Anglers' Association decide to give free fish to the 'needy'.
  • Barnstaple celebrates its Millenary and is 'besieged' with visitors.
  • Magistrates order the closure of the Gallery in the Theatre Royal in Barnstaple. The theatre, which is also the town's only cinema, closes almost immediately.
  • A new company, the Savoy Theatre (Barnstaple) Ltd is set up to build 'a first class and well appointed Theatre and Picture House' in the town.
  • A local councillor suggests Fremington should be developed as a port to rival Avonmouth - and that Bideford and Barnstaple ports should be closed.
  • Two timber mills - Bradiford and Lion near Barnstaple, are gutted by fire within weeks of each other.
  • North Devon's first 'night bank' is installed at the Midland bank in Barnstaple. :
  • The R100 airship flies over North Devon on its test flights. It is described as 'a huge sea leviathan in the sky.'
  • Reports carried in the Journal of a contentious council meeting at Lynton are described as 'grossly unfair' by councillors - but the minutes support the paper.

1931

The Knowle Engineering Works are burnt to the ground and much alarm is caused in the nearby village, but the blaze is contained.

  • A councillor puts a motion to construct a 'floating dock' at Fremington. It is described as 'Fantastic', 'Mad' and 'Ridiculous' but is only narrowly defeated.
  • Lynton council decide to construct a car park near Watersmeet to relieve local unemployment.
  • During construction of new municipal offices at the Ilfracombe Hotel a balcony collapses and three men are killed.
  • Fish caught in the Torridge near the outfall of the Bideford Mineral Carbon Black Company are stained black by pollution.
  • A new X-ray machine costing £800 is installed at the Tyrrell Cottage Hospital in Ilfracombe.
  • Lady Rosamund Christie contests her late husband's will and succeeds in holding on to Tapeley Park at Instow.
  • Visitors to Ilfracombe out of season 'found the shops closed up'.
  • The collecting boxes in Combe Martin church are broken into and the thieves escape in a stolen van.

1933

  • Moves to establish the first Birth Control Clinic in Barnstaple are attacked by the church, but the council allows the scheme to go ahead.
  • Braunton Council purchase Braunton Quay for £50 from Messrs Isaac & Son.
  • Unemployment payments in North Devon in December are £11,379 a week - £200 up on the previous ycar.
  • Ilfracombe Town council vote not to build a car park in the middle of town as they have enough parking provision already.
  • Bideford sets council house rents at 25p a week for 'small' houses and 30p for 'rather larger' ones.
  • University students who support pacifism are denounced by North Devonian Colonel Oerton as 'effete, effeminate, side whiskered, no good to God nor man.'
  • Frederick Pow of Barnstaple shoots and kills John Small, a gypsy in Derby, Barnstaple, after an argument over a £1 debt. He is gaoled for eight years.
  • Sir Alan Cobham brings his 'Great Air Display' to Heanton, the Journal offers 12 free flights to whoever guesses the correct height of a plane that is to fly over Barnstaple trailing smoke.
  • Members of the British Union of Fascists turn up in Buckland Brewer to help a local farmer fight the 'tithe war.'
  • Blackmore & Sons establish a shipbuilding yard at Ford in Bideford.

1934

  • Castle Hill at Filleigh, the seat of the Fonescue family, is badly damaged by fire. Two people are killed: a 49-year-old housekeeper and a 17-year-old servant. The Journal carries an aerial photograph of the scene.
  • Harold Youings opens his new shop at the corner of Boutport and High Street in Barnstaple. His first customer William Copp was the firm's first customer when the business began 50 years before.
  • The BBC at Bristol broadcast the first ever programme specifically for farmers. Tom Dunn of Heanton Court appears to represent farming interests.
  • Miss Halliday, the owner of Watersmeet, offers to sell it to the Lynton Association for Preservation of Local Natural Beauties for £6,000. The Journal organises a subscription and the money is raised.
  • The Barnstaple and North Devon Aerodrome is opened at Heanton. It is described as 'The Perfect Aerodrome.'
  • Harold Macmillan MP talks in North Devon on the need to tackle unemployment.
  • Dornat & Co completely re-equip their mineral water factory in Barnstaple. The whole operation is now automated.

1935

  • Amongst the attractions at Barnstaple Fair is 'The Freak Pit' where various human freaks are exhibited including Titania the Fat Girl and Colourado 'the human fresco'.
  • The new Bideford Grammar School is opened in Abbotsham Road at a cost of £18,000.
  • The Recommended System at the Noth Devon Infirmary is abolished. This was where rich donors to the hospital could 'recommend' deserving poor people for treatment.
  • The Lynton to Barnstaple Railway is closed as 'traffic receipts did not justify the expenditure in keeping up the line.'
  • A 'Peace Ballot' is held in North Devon; 15,779 vote for 'All round reduction in armaments'; 519 vote against.
  • The Journal publishes a special Royal Silver Jubilee edition using royal blue printing ink.
  • During the rebuilding at Castle Hill, Filleigh, a workman is killed by the collapse of an arch.
  • The Old Cross Tree in the centre of Braunton is removed 'owing to the inexorable demands of modern traffic regulations.'

1936

  • It is proposed to build a 'water grid' in the area to overcome supply problems during droughts.
  • George V dies and Edward VIII is proclaimed King in all the towns of North Devon.
  • A Combe Martin councillor, S Gubb resigns on the grounds that the council is 'squandering the ratepayers' money.'
  • The North Devon Tithepayers' Association decide to redouble their effons to get tithes abolished.
  • The Mayors of Bideford and Barnstaple meet to discuss a Regional Planning Scheme for the future development of the area.
  • Cdr R Marston RN meets with the local authorities in the area 'for the purpose of considering air raid precautions.'
  • An application to build a cinema in Boutport Street, Barnstaple, is rejected four times during the year by the local magistrates.
  • The oldest British ketch still operating, the Ceres sinks off Baggy Point.

1937

  • The Barnstaple Electricity Company's works in the Strand are extended into the adjacent building.
  • Braunton parish council decide to look into the possibility of becoming an urban area.
  • Schools are closed throughout the area owing to an influenza epidemic.
  • The local Conservative Association nominate the first ever woman Parliamentary candidate for North Devon - Miss Marjorie Graves.
  • Barnstaple Guildhall is the headquarters for a worldwide organisation of young people called The Three Fold Cord.
  • Lynton council introduce an egg-timer to ensure members' speeches are not too long.
  • A new cinema called The Regal is opened in Barnstaple.
  • The Hon David Fortescue is injured in a plane crash at Filleigh.
  • Barnstaple Town council decide to grant free parking for one hour in North Walk to encourage shopping in the town.

1938

  • An inquiry is held into 'Ribbon Development' of housing along the roads of North Devon. Plans are made to stop this type of growth.
  • H Cope is appointed the North Devon Air Raid Precautions Organiser.
  • A new motor ambulance is introduced into Bideford.
  • A scheme for a new RAF base at Chivenor is hotly debated. At a public meeting in Braunton one audience member asks 'Which do you think is best, Hitler or an aerodrome?'
  • Appledore's new lifeboat, the Violet Armstrong, is named.
  • In Swimbridge a new Jubilee Hall is opened.
  • Haile Selassie, the exiled Emperor of Ethiopia, opens a church fete at Hartland.
  • The Pilton by-pass which cost £28,000 is opened.
  • The first ever woman councillor is elected to Braunton parish council- Miss C Huxtable.
  • The luxurious new Strand cinema is opened in Bideford at a cost of £20,000.
  • Kipling Tors at Westward Ho! are taken over by the National Trust as a memorial to Rudyard Kipling who went to school in the village.

1939

  • Lord Fortescue opens the new BBC West Region transmitters at Clevedon and Start Point.
  • A new daily service by Western Airways links Swansea, Barnstaple, Newquay and Penzance.
  • Barnstaple St John's nurses win the All-England cup in a competition in London.
  • A Lynton councillor wants the Town Hall to be closed at 8pm on weekdays and all day on Sundays in case the IRA try to blow up the building.
  • Barnstaple's Rhythm Boys Dance Band are Champions of the West of England after winning a Melody Maker competition at Bristol.
  • A concert is put on in Barnstaple by Spanish children who are refugees from the Spanish Civil War.
  • War is declared on September 3rd. Bideford is allocated 2800 children and teachers as evacuces whilst the first Barnstaple air raid shelter is opened in disused wine and spirit vaults under the Queen's Hotel in Boutport Street.
  • On the outbreak of war all schools in North Devon are closed 'Owing to the National Emergency' - but re-open a few days later.
  • Sixty European Jewish refugees are being trained at Swimbridge to serve as pioneers for the Zionist state in Palestine.

1940

  • At Braunton school instructions are issued as to what to do in case of an air raid: 'Infants to go to the lavatories and caretaker's house and the rest to lie down in the lane adjoining the school field.'
  • In Bideford 1,800 men answer the Prime Minister's call for Local Defence Volunteers, later renamed the Home Guard. Their first weapons are rifles borrowed from a school that had been evacuated to Westward Ho!
  • In Barnstaple the Mayor opens a fund to purchase an annoured car for the Home Guard.
  • Invasion scares electrify North Devon on the nights of June 19/20 and September 7/8 this year.
  • The Air Ministry invite tenders to build a new, enlarged airfield at Chivenor.
  • A factory is opened at Raleigh in Barnstaple to make clothing for troops. The girls are putting romantic messages in the bundles - several romances are reported.
  • Boys of Barnstaple Grammar School dig trenches in the school grounds and cultivate allotments.
  • At the request of the War Office the Journal publishes silhouettes of German troop-carrying aircraft. Citizens are to report any sightings to the police.
  • Bombs are dropped on Instow and Barnstaple.
  • A dog-fight over South Molton sees a German plane crash. One flier is killed and the other three are captured by farmworkers and handed over to the Home Guard.

1941

  • Eleven 'public shelters' are constructed in Bideford whilst those shops which have a bombproof basement are identified by notices in their windows.
  • Joan and Jackie Collins are pupils at Hereford House School in Ilfracombe.
  • Britain's only official mounted postman, who works at Parracombe, retires.
  • The local paddle steamer Lorna Doane has been commissioned as a minesweeper and during an attack by seven German aircraft manages to shoot down three of them.
  • The Barnstaple YMCA mobile canteen is destroyed by a bomb during the Plymouth blitz. Its all woman crew is rescued from a nearby hotel that was also hit.
  • Schoolchildren in Barnstable, Massachusetts stage a concert and raise £13 to buy sweets for their counterparts in Barnstaple.
  • The Albert Hall in Barnstaple is completely gutted by fire.
  • A German bomber crashes on Lundy. The crew surrender to islanders and are brought to Appledore on their way to PoW camp.
  • Lilian Shaddick, aged 18, saves a 5-year-old child who falls into the Taw at Rock Park. She also saves an airman who gets into difficulties trying to save the child.
  • A football match between the RAF and Bristol City is held in Barnstaple to raise funds for the North Devon Infirmary. City win 4-1.

1942

  • A 'British Restaurant' providing cheap food is established in Bideford Pannier Market.
  • Bishops Tawton organises a huge tea and entertainment for all the evacuated children living in the village.
  • A memorial tablet is dedicated in Holy Trinity Church, Westward Ho! commemorating the 141 Old Boys of the United Services College who gave their lives in the First World War.
  • Several local residents and Army personnel are convicted of stealing Army stores from an unnamed North Devon depot.
  • Sir Richard Acland, MP for North Devon, resigns from the Liberal Party. He immediately becomes vice-chairman of the new Common Wealth Party.
  • A Bideford man, serving with the US Marines, becomes the Champion Shot of America. His score is only two short of the alltime record for the Marine Corps.
  • Lieut Thomas Platt DSO, commander of the motor launch flotilla at the St Nazaire raid, marries a North Devon Wren at Clovelly.
  • In Bideford, Frank Bright alleges that the local Workers' Educational Association is spreading 'anti-Soviet propaganda' via its evening classes. This is denied.
  • Sydney House near Torrington which is being run as a school for 'delicate children' catches fire and five children perish.

1943

  • Police issue an appeal not to shoot carrier pigeons after a local farmer shoots a bird carrying a vital message. Police recovered and forwarded the message.
  • Sir Richard Acland presents his estates at Killerton and Holnicote to the National Trust.
  • The BBC broadcast Workers Playtime from Barnstaple. Jeanne de Casalis and Jack Warner are the stars of the show.
  • In Ilfracombe a man found feeding his sandwiches to seagulls is charged with wasting food. The magistrate dismisses the case.
  • A North Devon railway depot is making reinforced concrete goods such as sleepers and cable ducts. Forty of the 100 workers are women.
  • NAAFI offer full training for women to serve as cooks and canteen manageresses. Free board and lodging and a uniform is offered along with a wage of £1.12 a week for cooks and £1.35 for manageresses.
  • Miss Mary Miles, a professional singer from Barnstaple, tours Malta and is dubbed the 'Forces Favourite' by servicemen on the island.
  • George Lambert, MP for South Molton, suggests that the Minister of Agriculture should institute measures to find husbands for Land Girls as good farmers' wives would always be needed.
  • Some £2,500 is raised by a sports day in Rock Park, Barnstaple between US and British service teams organised by nurses from the North Devon Infirmary.

1944

  • Three landing boats containing American troops in training for the D-Day landings capsize off of Baggy Point and 24 die.
  • The United States Army stage a party for evacuee children in North Devon.
  • Lance Corporal J P Harman, Royal West Kent Regiment, whose home was on Lundy, is posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for an action at Kohima.
  • Barnstaple YMCA collect enough money to purchase a mobile canteen to serve with the forces in Normandy.
  • A team from the J Arthur Rank Company film George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra at Saunton.
  • Southern National Bus Company are employing six female bus drivers in North Devon.
  • Cpl Johnson of the US Army rescues a young woman from the sea at Croyde. A woman looking after his watch makes off with it. People are so disgusted they quickly subscribe to buy him a £40 gold watch plus a cheque for £42 towards his college fees when he returns to America.
  • The Appledore lifeboat coxswain is awarded the RNLI bronze medal for the rescue of seven men off Ilfracombe. The men were on a phoenix, a caisson from the Mulberry Harbour, being towed to Normandy.
  • American enlisted men give and plant a tree in Braunton churchyard.
  • On the last day of the year the various Home Guard units in North Devon are 'stood down' from active service. Parades mark the occasion in the towns and villages.

1945

  • Winter is very severe with 28 degrees of frost recorded. Roads are blocked with 12-foot drifts and the Army is called in to deliver bread to outlying villages.
  • The Lynmouth lifeboast, one of the last 'pulling boats' in the RNLI leaves and the station is closed.
  • VE (Victory in Europe) Day is celebrated with street parties in every town and village in North Devon.
  • Colonel J Trump Dunn, a former Mayor of Barnstaple and J Dixey, a medical student volunteer from Barnstaple, describe the horrors they had seen at Dachau and Belsen concentration camps.
  • The Journal reports how the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment march into Berlin.
  • Southern Railways carries out trials of a new class of powerful West Country class locomotives between Exeter and Ilfracombe.
  • Frogmen of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines are continuing to be trained at Appledore by a local man who is an ex-bosun in the Merchant Navy.
  • RAF Chivenor holds the first post-war Open Day.
  • A visitor to Combe Martin, fishing with a conger line, hauls in a tope measuring five and half feet long.
  • Two thousand people watch a rugby match betwcen Barnstaple and a New Zealand Services XV. The latter win 22-5.

1946

  • A 'colony of tramps' is found living in a wood in Fremington, Their 'shacks', built out of waste dumped by the US Army, are burnt down on council orders.
  • Moves to close eight village schools in the South Molton area are strenuously fought as their disappearance is seen as a threat to village life.
  • Barnstaple Rural District Council apply for German PoWs to complete the Westdown water supply scheme.
  • It is alleged that prefabricated houses being erected in the area to help tackle the housing shortage are 'neither windproof nor waterproof.'
  • The 999 telephone system is inaugurated in North Devon.
  • Combe Martin changes from gas to electric street lighting but progress is slow owing to a shortage of materials.
  • Arlington Court is presented to the National Trust by Rosalie Chichester.
  • Two US Army deserters are captured after living rough in Spreacombe Wood, Georgeham, for two years.
  • Three new rail engines are named Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe.
  • The speaker at the opening of Braunton Young Farmers Club says 'In spite of atomic energy the horse still retains its place in the life of the community and I hope it will be a long day before it is superseded by anything else.
  • Typhoid hits Woolacombe and 22 people are ill. The cause is infected ice-cream.

1947

  • A German PoW on a walk near Annery discovers the corpse of a vagrant.
  • Food parcels arrive in North Devon from Australia and the Bahamas.
  • North Devon is 'Snowed Under' by a huge blizzard which sees ice packed against Barnstaple and Bideford's bridges and a snow plough lost under 10 feet of snow at Lynton, Two Barnstaple doctors travel to a woman in labour at Challacombe by horse and skis.
  • A vote in Ilfracombe on the Sunday opening of cinemas sees 2,219 vote in favour and 1,679 against.
  • Braunton council denounce the centralisation of power to Exeter. A member reckons 'It is the beginning of Totalitarianism.'
  • The dance hall of the NALGO Holiday Camp burns down on its opening night following closure during the war.
  • A Martinet aircraft from RAF Chivenor crashes into the River Taw near Fremington and the pilot is killed.
  • A disastrous fire hits New Quay Dock at Appledore owned by P K Harris. Many men lose irreplaceable tools.
  • An escaped prisoner from Dartmoor prison is recaptured 'after a struggle' at Challacombe on his way to South Wales via Ilfracombe.
  • BBC radio reception in North Devon is said to consist of 'Squeaks and Noises' but there is no prospect of improvement.

1948

  • Two demobbed soldiers build their own houses at Raleigh in Barnstaple to help beat the housing shortage.
  • At Ilfracombe the Sanitary Inspector, talking about the shortage of houses, says 'A frequent source of trouble is the situation created when a young couple are obliged to live with their in-laws.'
  • Two planes from Chivenor, including a Spitfire, crash near Eastleigh, three pilots die.
  • Mine clearing operations at Saunton are being undertaken by Polish troops and German PoWs - amongst whom there are several casualties.
  • Bideford Chamber of Trade press for doubling of the Exeter Bideford rail track but are warned it 'might come about by 1990.'
  • A councillor from Stoke Rivers bemoans rural depopulation reckoning 'Children are being enticed to Barnstaple and elsewhere by education.'
  • North Devon Infirmary is taken over by the National Health Service on July 5th.
  • Swimbridge Sunday Film and Cultural Club has eighty members. It exists to 'bring the best type of films to the small villages without the background of commercialism.'
  • The Candar Hotel, Ilfracombe, is fined £60 for having 4,492 eggs 'most of which bore no official stamp.' Officially they had only been allocated 140.
  • Barnstaple British Legion ask their HQ if 'membership of the Communist Party was compatible with membership of the Legion?'

1949

  • Mrs Andrew of the Post Office at Combe Martin erects a stained glass window in the local church as a memorial to herself. The inscribed tablet below is to be unveiled after her death.
  • Mortehoe council house tenants complain about having no electricity - 'and it did not seem as if they were going to get it.'
  • The housing shortage in Combe Martin means young people are putting off getting married according to one local councillor.'
  • Bideford Town Council introduce a charge of 6d (2½p) for parking on the Pill - it is 'to help the ratepayers.'
  • Sweet rationing ends in April. The variety most in demand is said to be chewing gum - 'a habit copied from American troops stationed here during the war.'
  • Nonconformists in Bideford demand 'that all racing news be obliterated in the newspapers used in the public library - so as not to encourage gambling.
  • Torrington council co-opt two housewives on to its Housing Committee 'to assist in the planning of houses.'
  • The Victoria Pavilion in Ilfracombe is destroyed by fire, only the two glass wings survive.
  • There is a massive effort to eradicate rats from Lundy using poison.
  • The National Amateur Rowing Association championship fours are staged on the River Torridge at Bideford.
  • The Methodist minister at Lynton reckons young people are tired of 'hot', 'swing' and 'rebop' music and really want waltzes and veletas.

1950

  • Electric street lighting replaces gas lamps in Bideford.
  • The North Devon Water Board plan 'the virtual disappearance of that ancient country institution, the village pump.' Pumps at Tawstock and Fremington 'mysteriously disappear overnight.'
  • Civil Defence personnel train in preparation for nuclear war. Evacuation centres in North Devon have already been selected.
  • Wistlandpound reservoir is begun on Exmoor.
  • A new cemetery at Northam is consecrated.
  • Extensive foundations for the new Yelland power station are excavated.
  • Ilfracombe Pier has a range of new extensions built on to it.
  • Mrs Gregory of Combe Martin wins the prize for the best kept garden in the parish: she is 90 years old.
  • Richard Dimbleby visits Brannam's Pottery in Litchdon Street, Barnstaple to record Down Your Way for the BBC. He also goes to Bideford and Ilfracombe.
  • A new secondary school is constructed at South Molton.
  • In Bideford the new Burton Art Gallery is under construction, it will house a collection of paintings given to the town.

1951

  • The first event celebrating the Festival of Britain in North Devon is a 'Trade Exhibition' at Bideford organised by the Chamber of Trade. It attracts 12,000 paying customers.
  • At Torrington a torchlight procession is held while Taddiport holds a 'tub race' down the Torridge
  • Barnstaple Town makes it through to the First Round of the FA Cup.
  • At AppIedore the Gaiety Cinema is closed as new safety measures could not be met. It re-opens in 1953.
  • A. McTaggart Short presents Bideford Town Council with a set of robes for its members to wear on ceremonial occasions.
  • The Albert Hall in Barnstaple is under reconstruction after being burnt down in 1941.
  • Sticklepath Primary School is being built in Barnstaple to provide education for the large number of children on nearby estates.
  • Barnstaple Fire Brigade take delivery of a new, more powerful, fire engine.
  • Triplets are born to Mr and Mrs Waring of Barton Tors, Bideford. They are the first such in the area for 21 years.

1952

  • Chanter's Folly overlooking the River Torridge is finally demolished as being unsafe, some 111 years after it was erected as a 'lookout' for a rich local merchant.
  • A new sewage works is opened at Torrington at a total cost of some £45,000.
  • Bideford has its first ever woman Mayor when Mrs E M Cox is elected by her fellow councillors.
  • A Vampire jet from RAF Chivenor crashes at Woolacombe and the pilot is killed.
  • A new traffic island is erected in Barnstaple Square to help the flow of cars and lorries.
  • Rollerskaters are banned from using the pavement along the Ilfracombe Promenade.
  • George VI dies and Elizabeth II is proclaimed to the sound of trumpets in Barnstaple Guildhall. At Bideford the proclamation is made from the Town Hall balcony and 'Art students looking on from windows of an adjoining building made sketches of the scene.'
  • The Albert Hall in Barnstaple is renamed the Queen's Hall and the manager is paid £700 a year.
  • The Lynmouth flood disaster occurs: 29 are killed and four are missing. The dead range in age from three months to 80 years.
  • Barnstaple Town council vote to use the Pannier Market for car-parking on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

1953

  • Ronald Duncan organises the Taw and Torridge Festival held over a week in July. Benjamin Britten, Humphrey Lyttelton and the Harlem Rhythm Stars are among the performers.
  • The first two generators at Yelland power station are commissioned, whilst later in the year the first cargo of coal is unloaded at Yelland Quay.
  • Women are enrolled as jurors for the first time at the Bideford Manor Court.
  • The Coach and Horses pub in Swimbridge experiences a damaging fire.
  • Street parties and other celebrations are held throughout North Devon to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The first 'Belisha beacon' in North Devon is set up in Ilfracombe to allow pedestrians to cross the road more easily.
  • A 'Waitress Race' is held at Ilfracombe - competition is stiff.
  • Post is still being delivered by a mounted postman in the area around North Molton.

1954

  • Bideford and Barnstaple Trades Councils condemn modern films as 'pretty horrible' and 'degrading' saying that they encourage 'brutality and violence'.
  • The new traffic islands in Barnstaple Square are reckoned to be like a 'Chinese puzzle' by a local councillor. The removal of the Alben Clock Tower is suggested to help the traffic flow.
  • The Rivers Taw and Torridge freeze over in February.
  • A serious decline in the bird life on Lundy is blamed on rats and oil pollution.
  • Dr Soper (later Lord Soper), President of the Methodist Conference, visits Bideford and announces his view that compulsory military service 'makes more hooligans'.
  • The Government rejects moves to build a new secondary school at Blackmoor Gate.
  • Meat is taken off ration and this becomes the subject of various floats in the Chulmleigh Fair Children's Carnival.
  • Torrington Secondary Modern School sends a party of 26 students to Paris even though the school does not teach French.
  • A proposal to allow Sunday opening of shops in Lynton for the benefit of holiday-makers is turned down on religious grounds.
  • A new Methodist chapel is opened at Sticklepath.
  • A four-bedroom, detached bungalow at Newport, Barnstaple, is for sale at £2,600. It boasts a 'TV aerial'.
  • Six hundred houses in Barnstaple are identified for demolition as slums. A spokesman says 'Barnstaple is a black spot so far as overcrowding and sub-standard houses are concerned.'

1955

  • Bideford Town Council discuss the purchase of land in Kingsley Road for use as a 'Helicopter Drome'.
  • Ilfracombe replaces its gas street lights with electricity at a cost of £9,282.
  • The smithy at Mortehoe is closed after 80 years of continuous operation.
  • Death watch beetle is discovered at Instow church, repairs are to cost £800.
  • A woman who called a Westward Ho! holiday camp a 'slum' is taken to court and settles after paying £200 in costs.
  • The proprietor of Ilfracombe Zoo, C Trevisick, is attacked by a lion when he goes to clean out its cage.
  • For the first time since first being published in 1824 the Journal carries news rather than advertisements on its front page.
  • The foundation stone of St Paul's church at Sticklepath is laid. The building costs £14,000.
  • The only woman on Torrington Town council, Florence Lake, is elected the first ever female Mayor of the town.
  • A mink farm is opened at Northam Burrows by two local men.
  • Special police patrols are out in North Devon after a warning that the IRA is targeting local military bases.
  • 'Nude shows' and striptease are banned from Barnstaple Carnival after complaints the year before.
  • Yelland Power Station is opened on 21st April, its final cost is £11 million.

1956

  • Bideford Trades Council request that 'Elocution' be made a compulsory subject in local schools as 'workers speak so badly'.
  • The Queen visits Barnstaple. The streets are awash with flags with some people having turned up at 4am to ensure a good vantage point.
  • A Barnstaple councillor asks that the council 'should oppose any move to prevent courting couples from walking along the footpath from Bickington to Anchor Wood.'
  • A plan is announced to build a 'miniature pocket railway' along the old line of the Bideford-Westward Ho! railway.
  • The Journal announces that 'Coloured Nurses' from Barbados will be training in Barnstaple Hospital.
  • A factory, set up in 1943 in South Molton by Small & Tidmas to mend mosquito nets and lace, closes with the loss of 12 jobs.
  • A new supply boat is bought for Lundy the old one (Lerina) having been sold as a derelict for just £1.
  • Some 1,700 'obscene' and 'suggestive' postcards are seized by the police in Ilfracombe and ordered to be destroyed.
  • An official police denial is issued that 'a well organised call-girl racket' had been built up in Bideford using an 'ingenious code system.'
  • A freak storm destroys fishing boats at Combe Martin. A special hardship fund is set up to help them re-equip themselves.
  • At Swimbridge a 10-waggon goods train is derailed and 100 yards of track ripped up. No-one is hurt.
  • The showmen who run Barnstaple Fair ban rock and roll music saying: 'We do not believe in the rubbish.'

1957

  • Skiffle groups are all the rage in North Devon though few are very successful.
  • A new, more efficient and handier bus station is proposed for Barnstaple.
  • The North Devon Journal moves into its specially constructed new buildings in the High Street which replace some far older offices on the site.
  • M Blackmore & Sons build a new shipyard at Southcott just below Bideford Bridge.
  • People in Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Combe Martin spot the newly launched Russian 'Sputnik' satellite with their naked eyes.
  • Ray Ellington appears at Queen's Hall with his 'glamorous singing star Marion Ryan.'
  • A protest against the H-bomb at South Molton attracts 200 people.
  • A 'flying saucer' is seen over Ilfracombe. It is described by four witnesses as a 'long cigar shaped golden object.'
  • Plans are announced to turn Watermouth Castle into a major tourist attraction.
  • Bideford Town Council clears slums in Hart Street, Vinegar Hill and Bull Hill.
  • The manager of the Ilfracombe Holiday Inn warns 'teddy boys' and 'youthful spivs' that they would be banned from local dances.
  • A knife throwing craze breaks out amongst youths in South Molton. Headmasters and Scoutmasters are to be asked to help stamp it out.
  • Foot and mouth disease is found at Lynton. Destruction orders for affected cattle are applied to the whole of Exmoor.
  • Asian flu affects hundreds of schoolchildren across North Devon.

1958

  • During repairs to the pavement in Barnstaple Street, South Molton an 18-foot deep well is discovered which opens out into a 30-foot square cavern.
  • An effigy of a local staghunter is hurled into the sea at Ilfracombe Pier as a protest against hunting. It follows a challenge to a duel using riding crops.
  • The head of the North Devon Teachers Association attacks 'modern teaching methods' because 'the habit of obedience is lost and from lack of routine a feeling of insecurity arises.'
  • Lynmouth's Memorial Hall is opened.
  • The abattoir and cattle market in Honestone Street, Bideford is sold by the council to the North Devon Meat Marketing Society for £7,500.
  • The derelict iron mines at North Molton are tested to discover if workable deposits of uranium exist in them.
  • Mark Bonham-Carter wins a Parliamentary by-election for the Torrington constituency - the first such victory for the Liberals in 29 years.
  • Ten more villages are connected to the National Grid including Landkey, Tawstock and Burrington.
  • The Queen Mother visits Lundy: the island's first ever Royal visitor.
  • Appledore's Gaiety cinema is up for sale owing to competition from television.
  • Bingo is introduced at the Plaza Cinema in Braunton in an effort to boost income but the police close it down.

1959

  • Cary Grant pays a secret visit to a pantomime at the Regal Theatre in Barnstaple.
  • Ilfracombe Town Council is to be investigated following an overspend of £9,500. Its financial records are said to be inadequate.
  • The Post Office in Bideford moves to its new building on the Quay. Its old premises are offered to Marks & Spencer by the Bridge Trust.
  • The County Industrial Development Officer admits he finds 'considerable difficulty in attracting new industries to North Devon.'
  • A new relief road is built in Barnstaple to connect Queen and Boutport Street. Half of the Horse and Groom Inn at the road junction is demolished.
  • A move to build a new secondary school at Hartland is defeated as there are said to be too few children in the area.
  • Swimwear firm Jantzen and engineers Hobart both open new factories on the Braunton Road in Barnstaple creating 250 jobs.
  • Smells from the Torrington sewerage works are 'wafting over the town' and are said to be very objectionable.
  • The Braunton-Barnstaple road is made into a dual carriageway at a cost of £50,000. This is done to provide work 'for the area's unemployed.'
  • The Post Office purchase Nos. 9 and 10 East Street in South Molton as the site for a new office.
  • The Barnstaple Electricity Station in the Strand is closed and the machinery sold for scrap as its role has now been taken over by Yelland.

1960

  • Victoria Road Station in Barnstaple is closed and all passenger traffic diverted to the Sticklepath station.
  • A 'radar speed meter' is used for the first time in the area when police set up one on Sticklepath Hill, Barnstaple.
  • A fowl pest outbreak at Holsworthy spreads to Milton Damerel and Pyworthy. Large numbers of birds are destroyed.
  • Barnstaple Football Club 'slash' their staffs wages by 50% to keep the club going. The total weekly wage is now £28.10s.0d (£28.50).
  • Two amphibious tanks sink at Westward Ho! during training. Three soldiers die.
  • The Queen Anne statue in Barnstaple is festooned in white cloth as part of the local Grammar School's Rag Day.
  • The rector of Bideford denounces 'juke box teenagers' and says that 'Godlessness is rampant in the Little White Town.'
  • A Brigitte Bardot film is banned in Barnstaple on Good Friday as being 'not appropriate entertainment.'
  • A car on the Lynton Cliff Railway leaves the track and its 20 passengers are shaken. It is the first accident in 70 years of operation.
  • Huge floods hit North Devon. Emergency kitchens are established to feed those who have been flooded out of their houses.
  • A woman from Combe Martin claims to have been carried into space on board a Martian space ship.
  • A new Isetta three-wheeled 'bubble car' is on sale in Bideford for £299.19s.6d (£299.97½p).

1961

  • Ilfracombe sends tourist brochures to North Country hairdressers attempting to target 'women who spend long hours in hairdressing salons'.
  • Lightning hits Yelland power station and most of North Devon is blacked out.
  • Foot and mouth disease breaks out at Chulmleigh. All animal markets in a 10 mile radius are closed.
  • Construction of the Moreton Park estate in Bideford starts. It is the biggest new development in the town since the war.
  • Woolworth's demolish two shops in Barnstaple High Street to make way for their new store.
  • A 13-year-old boy drowns in Bideford's Jennett's reservoir. Some 16 million gallons are drained off and the town experiences water rationing.
  • Complaints are made about 'rowdy teenagers' who gather under the arches of Torrington Town Hall. They indulge in 'shouting, swearing and singing.'
  • The area's first supermarket, Burtons, opens in the High Street, Barnstaple. The 400 women queuing for the opening are told how 'Shoppers collect a mesh basket when they arrive, walk around the store collecting their goods, and pay at four cash desks as they leave.'
  • The County Education Chief is burned in effigy at Hartland in protests over the failure to provide a secondary school for the village.
  • The new cattle market at South Molton is opened. It covers six acres and costs £32,000.
  • Windows are smashed in Braunton when a 7-foot long wartime land mine is exploded on Saunton Sands.

1962

  • The bailey bridge that crossed the pebble ridge at Westward Ho! is removed by the army.
  • The Aetherius Society, whose members believe they can contact extra-terrestrials, stages a major ceremony to 'charge' a hill on Exmoor with spiritual energy.
  • Building work begins on the new North Devon Technical College at Sticklepath, Barnstaple.
  • Planners decide there is to be no more building on the river side of the main Fremington-Instow road.
  • Barnstaple Town Council suggest demolishing the Pannier Market and replacing it with new office accommodation.
  • A farming family of Black Dog, Witheridge, construct an H-bomb shelter underneath their property.
  • An English teacher from Edgehill College becomes a comedian at the Windmill Theatre in Soho; his act appears between the strippers.
  • The Palace cinema in Bideford closes owing to competition from television.
  • Ilfracombe Town Council rejects a suggested cable car between Capstone and Hillsborough.
  • Plans are announced for a modern arcade of shops opposite the war memorial in Fremington.
  • Chulmleigh Secondary School teachers and pupils build a new swimming pool in under nine months.
  • The Fleet Auxiliary ship Green Ranger is wrecked at Hartland. Seven crew members are rescued after a rocket line is fired to the stricken ship.

1963

  • The 'Bitterest Snow-up in Memory' hits the area. Hamlets are isolated for days at a time and six helicopters are brought in to distribute food. Three crocodiles freeze to death at Ilfracombe Zoo.
  • A furniture shop in Well Street, Torrington is gutted by fire.
  • South Molton Chamber of Commerce vote to oppose 'trading stamps' in the town.
  • Extreme low tides between Woolacombe and Putsborough reveal three-quarters of a mile of underwater anti-submarine obstacles.
  • Appledore Shipyard is closed and 350 men are made redundant. Only a minute's notice is given. The yard later revives after a local consortium buy it out.
  • Ilfracombe asks that one of Britain's new universities be sited in the town. It is reckoned that local guesthouses could become student hostels.
  • Barnstaple Bridge is widened by building a new concrete bridge faced with local stone on the upstream side of the old one.
  • Blackmore's shipyard just above Bideford Bridge closes but later re-opens after being purchased by a London company.
  • Passenger services are withdrawn from the Barnstaple-Taunton line after the route loses £94,000 in one year.
  • Holsworthy decides to have two market days: Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Rolle Quay in Barnstaple is closed - the last remnant of the town's once important port function.

1964

  • A new Catholic church is opened in Torrington - 34 years after the first Mass was said in the town. In the same year a new Catholic chapel is opened at Hartland.
  • Beatle-style haircuts are banned at Barnstaple Grammar School - a writer reckons that 'Now that girls wear jeans it is difficult to differentiate the female sex from the male when they have full Beatle haircuts.'
  • The Beatles travel to South Molton railway station to do some filming for their new film. Only Ringo gets out of the rail carriage.
  • Through-trains from North Devon to London are stopped; all passengers have to change at Exeter.
  • Braunton Burrows is set up as a Nature Reserve by the Nature Conservancy.
  • South Molton Town council asks Woolworth's to open a shop in the town's Square but they refuse.
  • Ilfracombe' s last private school, Adelaide College, closes and the site is given planning permission for flats.
  • A new Baptist church is opened in Bideford's Mill Street at a cost of £27,000.
  • A plan to turn Pilton Park into a car park is rejected by Barnstaple Town Council.
  • The first 'topless' dress to be sold in North Devon is purchased from a Bideford shop; two elderly ladies on seeing it displayed said 'they did not know what the world was coming to.'

1965

  • The mystery of a black beast seen in North Devon is said to be solved when it is 'identified' as a two-year-old, 100lb Great Dane.
  • The last steam train to cross the River Taw at Barnstaple makes its way over the line in April. Passenger traffic from Halwill to Torrington is also stopped.
  • A new 'shopping crescent' is built at West Cross in Braunton on what was a temporary car park.
  • Torrington Council take over the running of the May Fair from the Chamber of Commerce who have organised it since 1924.
  • A huge fire destroys four factories at Taw Wharf. Barnstaple is 'rocked by an explosion like a bomb.'
  • Appledore Shipbuilders are taken over by Court Line.
  • Dartington Hall Trustees announce they are to open a glass factory at Winkleigh Aerodrome.
  • Copps Close sheltered housing scheme is opened in Bideford at a cost of £75,000.
  • A 'beat service' in St Peter's church in Barnstaple attracts 500 people - a greater number than turned up for Churchill's memorial service.
  • The Beatles are awarded the MBE and 67-year-old Fred Crow of Croyde returns his war medals to the Queen in protest.
  • Near Chudleigh Fort in Bideford a huge hole opens up in a house garden, it is thought to be a remnant from the days of culm mining.

1966

  • A wrestling match held in the South Molton Assembly Rooms features women wrestlers for the first time in North Devon.
  • Barnstaple is nominated as the site to receive up to 50,000 Londoners as 'overspill'. The plan is defeated after a referendum is held in the town.
  • Henry Williamson, author of Tarka the Otter, writes to the Journal saying 'if I had my way I would disband all pop groups and send them down the mines to work.'
  • The first plans are put forward for a North Devon Sixth Form College that is later to become North Devon College.
  • Coutant Electronics opens a factory in Ilfracombe. Initially they employ 20-30 men plus some 'unskilled female labour'.
  • Twenty housewives wash down derelict buildings in Ilfracombe's Portland Street as a protest against inaction by Devon County Council over clearing the site.
  • Permission is given to cinema owners in Barnstaple and Bideford to show X-rated films on a Sunday.
  • Two massive grain warehouses are burnt down on Rolle Quay, Barnstaple. Six fire brigades fight the blaze unsuccessfully.
  • A zoo is opened at Bideford by Mrs Kathleen Tottenham.
  • A 40-foot high waterspout is spotted off of Lynmouth.
  • A plan for a 'New Town' at Winkleigh is put forward by planners in an effort to provide both housing and industry for the area.
  • Prisoners from Dartmoor are used to clear wartime equipment abandoned on Braunton Burrows by the US Army.

1967

  • Jeremy Thorpe becomes the leader of the Liberal Party.
  • Boys at Barnstaple Secondary School build an 8-foot long hovercraft.
  • A new cross for the churches of Warkleigh and Satterleigh is made out of scrap material from local farms.
  • South Molton's first discotheque opens at the Goose and Gander Hotel. It is organised by the local Young Conservatives and 240 people attend.
  • The sea wall at Appledore is smashed by mountainous waves. A 25-foot gap is opened up and three gardens disappear into the Torridge.
  • Parishioners at Pilton complain about a sermon on 'Sex and Morality' saying it is 'not suitable' for a Sunday.
  • A new abattoir at Torrington built for the North Devon Meat Marketing Society is badly damaged by fire.
  • The first 'political' candidates stand in local elections at Bideford when two men declare they are Liberals.
  • The Instow Post Office is held up at knife point. The three robbers escape with £361 but are captured at Umberleigh after their getaway car crashes.
  • Sir Francis Chichester returns to Barnstaple after his single-handed voyage around the world. He is given the Freedom of the Borough.
  • Twenty five Swedish master glassblowers arrive in Torrington to get the Dartington Glass factory running.
  • A £25 million plan to build a hydro-electric power station between Bucks Mills and Clovelly is abandoned.
  • The Kathleen and May is brought to Appledore for refitting after being found derelict in Southampton Water.
  • Barnstaple Fair moves to its new site on Seven Brethren Bank after centuries on North Walk.
  • A new TV mast is erected at Huntshaw for the ITA.

1968

  • Work is underway on construction of the Civic Centre in Barnstaple. It takes two years to complete and is described by a noted architectural historian as 'an alien imposition' and a 'brutish tower'.
  • The two arches of Bideford Bridge nearest to the Town Hall give way and the interruption of traffic brings chaos to a large area. A crane driver working on its repair is killed when his crane topples over.
  • An amphibious car is purchased by Jim Venus of Appledore Shipyard to help him cross the River Torridge whilst repairs are done to Bideford Bridge.
  • The top half of the Ring o'Bells in Winkleigh is destroyed by fire. Villagers form a human chain to save cases of beer and spirits.
  • A Sea Vixen jet from Chivenor crashes on Braunton Burrows and its two naval pilots are killed.
  • The Combe Martin Carnival is cancelled through lack of interest.
  • Ratepayers in Ilfracombe demand action to tackle the problem of empty shops in the town's High Street.
  • Braunton council pays £15,500 to provide a free car park in the centre of the village.
  • The replica 16th century ship the Nonsuch, built to mark the 300th anniversary of the Hudson Bay Company, is launched from Hinks' boatyard at Appledore.
  • New pylons reaching 165ft in height are erected in North Devon as part of the National Grid.
  • The Prime Minister Edward Heath visits North Devon and travels to Bideford to view repairs to the bridge.
  • S & J Engineering open the first factory on the new industrial estate at Pottington in Barnstaple.
  • Plans are announced by Sussman's to open a shirt and pyjama making factory at Pottington to employ 300 women and girls.

1969

  • North Devon industrialists fear a massive shortage of labour as so many new factories are moving into the area.
  • Plans to build a Sixth Form College next to the Technical College in Barnstaple lead to five departmental heads at Barnstaple Grammar School resigning in protest.
  • Christopher Utting, the Public Health Inspector for Northam, gets planning permission to construct a nuclear shelter in his garden at Westward Ho!
  • The Royal Hotel at Bideford is offered to the Bideford Theatre Arts Club for £10,000 as a 'cultural centre'. Within weeks the Brend Hotels buy it.
  • Rumours that the new Civic Centre in Barnstaple is sinking are strongly denied by a council spokesman.
  • Appledore Shipyard announces it intends building a massive new slipway which will be completely enclosed.
  • Some 70 feet of the main cliff road on Lundy subsides and tourists can no longer be landed.
  • A French trawler, the Goliath, is wrecked at Hartland and two fishermen drown.
  • The appointment of a traffic warden at Holsworthy on £800 a year is called 'an irresponsible use of public money' by a local councilIor.
  • Torrington Town Council sponsor a mini-skirt competition in the town. It is run by a local vicar's wife who says 'We must keep up with the times you know.'
  • Lundy is put up for sale. Various people including 'casino tycoons', 'holiday camp barons' and the Scientologists all express an interest. It is finally bought by the National Trust with the help of a massive gift from 'Union' Jack Haywood.
  • The Palace cinema in Bideford is to become the biggest supermarket in the West Country with the area's first escalator.

1970

  • Work begins in Braunton on a new drugs and toiletries factory at Wrafton for the International Chemical Company. Some 400 jobs are promised.
  • Protests are made at Ilfracombe against 'long haired beatniks' who 'sit about on pavements, piers and the seafront' in the town. Many are said 'to have no work.'
  • Caroline Thorpe dies in a car accident just days after her husband Jeremy retains his North Devon seat in the General Election.
  • A new chipboard factory is set to come to South Molton. Ulster Chipboard Company Ltd say there will be at least 100 new jobs for the town.
  • Barnstaple's Derby lace factory ceases production of lace and begins manufacturing knitted textiles.
  • The owners of the Pilton glove factory announce its closure with the loss of 11 jobs.
  • Students at the Bideford Art School protest that the authorities at the North Devon Technical College are 'snooping into their private lives.'
  • The rail link between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple is closed in October even though massive protests are organised.

1971

  • The Bridge Street Methodist chapel in Bideford, known as the 'Nonconformist Cathedral of North Devon' is put up for sale.
  • There is opposition to the siting of new factories at Dartington Fields in Torrington.
  • The 11+ exam is scrapped in North Devon after many years of campaigning against its unfairness.
  • The long awaited Northam by-pass is given the go-ahead.
  • Following a raid on a Barnstaple Post Office, Tom Gent the postmaster is praised for his bravery. The thief is caught and gaoled.
  • The first pub in Weare Giffard for 150 years, the Cider Press, is opened by John and Beryl Yates.
  • The Ulster Chipboard Company open their new factory at South Molton.
  • Welders at Appledore shipyard go on strike for two weeks - and win an extra 7p an hour.
  • 'Militant action' and a bomb scare at Yelland power station see power cuts across North Devon.
  • The International Chemical Company open their new factory at Wrafton.
  • The Derby lace factory in Barnstaple produces its first rolls of nylon netting. A good future is assured say the directors.
  • The keel of the 16th century replica ship The Golden Hinde is laid in September at Hinks' shipyard in Appledore.

1972

  • The Derby lace factory in Barnstaple is severely damaged by fire in September of this year.
  • The local secretary of the National Union of Agricultural Workers condemns the Education Minister, Mrs Thatcher, for stopping free milk for school children.
  • A 68-year-old Chittlehampton woman commits suicide by firing a shotgun into her head three times.
  • A move to close the Exeter-Barnstaple rail line is averted by a Government subsidy of £350,000 over two years.
  • Electricity cuts hit North Devon as a result of a miners' strike.
  • The Bluecoat School on Barnstaple's North Walk is demolished.
  • Plans are put forward to build a barrage across the Taw-Torridge mouth to provide a new bridge.
  • The North Devon Yacht Club moves into Instow's old railway station.
  • Ilfracombe Football Club's grandstand at Marlborough Park burns down.
  • 120 Hell's Angels invade Westward Ho! at Easter and damage the golf club greens for the third time in four years.
  • The raising of the school leaving age to 16 is forecast to create labour shortages in local factories.
  • Ilfracombe Town council support moves to build 'an Alpine style cable car' from Marine Drive to Hillsborough at a cost of £100,000.
  • There is a warning that village life is being changed forever as more and more rural houses become second homes.
  • North Devon's' alternative newspaper' The Snail is saved after an editorial board takeover. Its office on Silver Street, Barnstaple, becomes the area's first 'alternative information centre'.
  • A 14-acre fishing lake is built at Stafford Moor by Col Hugh Turrell.
  • Bideford Town Council apply for planning permission to build a five-storey multi-storey carpark in Bridge Street.
  • Dave Allen, an 'aspiring television entertainer' opens Landkey Horticultural Society Show.
  • One man is killed and two are seriously injured in an explosion at Appledore Shipyard.
  • A party of sixth-formers from Ilfracombe School visit Red China.
  • South Molton stops trying to attract new factories to the town as too many have come and the council wishes to consolidate their position.
  • St John's chapel in Hartland Square is up for sale. The vicar suggests it would make a good striptease club as it 'has such a grotesque interior.'

1973

  • In April the replica wooden sailing ship The Golden Hinde is launched at Appledore under her captain Adrian Small. She is to sail to San Francisco.
  • Pedestrianisation is introduced in High Street and Joy Street in Barnstaple.
  • Colour transmission occurs for the first time from Huntshaw TV mast.
  • Barnstaple Rural District council follows the lead of Torrington Rural District Council and votes not to add fluoride to the water supply.
  • Great Hangman at Combe Martin, consisting of 275 acres of moor and cliff, is presented to the National Trust.
  • Yeo Vale House in Alwington is destroyed by fire some 40 years after its last owner left.
  • A new primary school is opened at Winkleigh.
  • Plans for a new multi-storey carpark at Bideford's Bridge Street are produced.
  • Alenco Industrial Components open a new factory on the Pottington estate.
  • The fire damaged Atlantic Hotel at Westward Ho! is to be demolished and the site redeveloped for a pub, restaurant and 20 holiday chalets.
  • Dr Joyce Youings of Barnstaple becomes the first ever woman professor at Exeter University.
  • An 'Earth Fair' is held at Trentishoe and covers 50 acres.
  • Two brothers, Desmond and Peter Cox, row a salmon boat from Lundy to Appledore in 6 hours 20 minutes.
  • A protest meeting is held in Instow against plans to demolish the Marine Hotel on the seafront and replace it with modern flats.
  • An oil rig is positioned off Hartland Point to carry out exploration in the area.
  • Divers recover cannon from the wreck of HMS Weazel which sank off Baggy Point in 1799.
  • Ilfracombe Zoo closes after 25 years of operation.
  • Devon County Council announce a million pound scheme to transform Bideford Grammar School into a comprehensive.
  • The Torrington Cavaliers build a model of the Nazi battleship Bismarck for their bonfire this year.
  • Work begins on building St Mary's school in Chanters Road, Bideford, to replace the old Church Infants School at the top of High Street.
  • An EEC proposal to bring in milk quotas is strongly condemned by local farmers and the Milk Marketing Board.

1974

  • The two new district councils come into being in North Devon.
  • During renovation works at 55 High Street, Barnstaple, parts of the old town wall are exposed.
  • A report on the state of Ilfracombe Pier shocks the new District councillors, it is suggested that it is replaced by a new marina.
  • RAF Chivenor's Hunter jets fly out for the last time and the station is mothballed. It is estimated that the area is losing £2 million a year in income.
  • The Holiday Inn at Ilfracombe which houses the local council offices is evacuated as it is considered dangerous. Repairs are put at £1 million.
  • It is said that the ordinary person can't afford accommodation costs on Lundy - only the 'gin and tonic' set can.
  • A 20-foot long whale, weighing 5 tons, is washed up on Saunton Beach. Its burial, on Braunton Burrows takes two days.
  • Plans for development in the area up to the year 2001 are filling some councillors 'with deep concern'. They warn that such growth 'could destroy our area'.
  • Barnstaple Rotary Club present a Peace Garden to the town to celebrate their Jubilee. The two-acre garden lies below Pilton House off the Lynton Road.
  • Forty pebble filled steel cages are used to rebuild the damaged Westward Ho! pebble ridge.
  • Exploratory drilling is carried out on the fringes of Exmoor to try to locate seams of copper ore worth mining.
  • The summer is said to be the 'wettest in living memory' and the local tourist industry is badly hit.
  • The US Pentagon buys Torridge beef to feed American troops in West Germany.
  • Local farm workers demand a wage rise to £35 a week.
  • A three-storey building in Bideford's High Street is gutted by fire. It is later rebuilt for the Halifax.
  • A reproduction Viking longboat is built at Hinks' Yard in Appledore for display at the Thorpe Water Park in Surrey.

1975

  • The new Leisure Centre in Barnstaple is opened.
  • Two men and a dog are rescued by helicopter when their Appledore-based trawler the Concord founders off WestWard Ho!
  • The Drill Hall in Torrington is furbished as a multi-purpose centre, and renamed The Plough. In April Dame Edith Evans appears there to read her favourite poetry.
  • Devon Library Services cclebrate 50 years of activity in Barnstaple.
  • Cornish developers announce plans to build 190 houses at Burwood in Torrington. In Woolsery designs are revealed for a £1 million new showpiece village.
  • Following destruction of the old light by a landslide, a new lighthouse is built at Bull Point, Mortehoe.
  • Construction begins of the Gorwell estate site of 38 acres in Barnstaple.
  • North Devon takes part in the national referendum on whether to join the EEC or not.
  • Martin Richards opens his new supermarket in Fremington.
  • Bideford Shipyard open new yards and berths at Bank End and hope to double the number of employees.
  • Starkey, Knight and Fords' Brewery adjoining the Taw Vale Tavern in Barnstaple is demolished to make way for redevelopment.
  • A cable car running from Lynmouth to Summerhouse Hill and costing £475,000 is suggested as a solution to the village's traffic problems.
  • The Emanuel Church in Summerland Street, Barnstaple is sold for £20,000 to a local builder who intends erecting a block of flats on the site.
  • The new Barnstaple Health Centre in Vicarage Street is opened.
  • A £25 million scheme to turn the old Chivenor base into a 'marine playground' and holiday complex with jobs for 700 is put forward.

1976

  • The Ilfracombe Hotel, opened in 1867, is finally demolished after being used for council offices and as a public house.
  • A massive and long lasting drought hits the whole of North Devon and stand pipes are introduced in order to save dwindling reserves, Winkleigh parish pump amongst many others is re-opened after many years closure.
  • A power cut at the Unigate milk factory in Taddiport leads to the blanketing of the area with powdered milk.
  • Mrs Elizabeth Fern becomes the first ever woman Mayor of Barnstaple.
  • A 2,000-year-old Egyptian child's mummy in Ilfracombe Museum develops white mould and is cremated.
  • Sunday lunchtime striptease shows at the Alexandra Theatre in Ilfracombe are banned following protests.
  • Lynton TV viewers are told they will have to put up with receiving Welsh language programmes 'at least until the mid 1980s'.
  • Braunton parish council establish there is a right of way along the American Road on Braunton Burrows - after it is illegally closed by the Nature Conservancy.
  • Alan Ayckbourne produces his new play Just Between Ourselves at the Plough Theatre in Torrington prior to it going to London's West End.
  • The church trustees apply to demolish Lavington Church in Bideford and replace it with shops on the ground floor and a church above - but are rejected.
  • Norman Scott appears in court to allege he had a sexual relationship with Jeremy Thorpe MP.
  • A flu epidemic sees more than 2,000 pupils absent from local schools. A third of Barnstaple's Park School pupils are ill.
  • Discos are banned in West Buckland after windows in the parish hall are broken.
  • Dartington Glass in Torrington embark on a £400,000 expansion scheme to increase the size of their factory by third.
  • Lynton Primary school is remodelled and updated at a cost of £65,000.
  • It is announced that the Sex Pistols are to play at Chequers in Barnstaple - but it is cancelled at the last moment.

1977

  • A public appeal is launched in Torrington to restore the clock tower and fountain in the Square.
  • Exmoor National Park faces the enclosure of 1,000 acres to ensure the future of local farmers. Lord Porchester's report on the future of Exmoor is published.
  • A public inquiry is held into the future of grazing rights on Northam Burrows.
  • Enoch Powell speaks in South Molton on 'Safeguarding Britain.'
  • Objectors to the proposed North Devon Link Road speak of it as 'link-up to disaster.'
  • The newly constructed reservoir at Wimbleball is starting to fill.
  • The old 19th century police cells in Castle Street, Barnstaple, are demolished.
  • Group Captain Leonard Cheshire attends at the opening of a new Cheshire Home in Braunton.
  • The Royal Silver Jubilee is celebrated throughout North Devon and the Journal prints a special Souvenir section.
  • Celebrations are held to mark the 350th anniversary of Penrose's Almshouses in Barnstaple.
  • The Queen visits Lundy but stays very briefly.
  • The author of Tarka the Otter and many other books, Henry Williamson dies.
  • Dutch Elm disease takes hold in the area and many trees have to be felled.
  • The curving railway bridge over the River Taw at Barnstaple is demolished.
  • Beech House in South Molton is bought by a company who intend setting up a museum dedicated to the history and culture of bees.
  • During a strike by local firemen, Royal Navy fire crews are deployed in the area.

1978

  • A huge snowstorm in February sees seven motorists trapped in the Post Office Radio Station at Mullacott Cross for 48 hours.
  • The old railway station site at Ilfracombe is purchased and redeveloped by Pall Europe Ltd.
  • A half-million pound leisure complex for 'millionaires and high powered industrialists' is planned for Milton Damerel by the owner of the Woodford Bridge Hotel.
  • Pay and display parking is introduced in South Molton - at 20p for a day.
  • The first Neighbourhood Watch schemes are introduced in North Devon.
  • Eight early 18th century Portuguese gold coins are found at Rapparee Beach near Ilfracombe.
  • The Consumer Association reckon that Westward Ho! is a 'dreary sprawl' and 'decrepit' whilst Braunton has 'outgrown itself and lost any charm it had.'
  • Chulmleigh residents petition the Queen to keep their mobile library in preference to seeing a new fixed one open at the local school.
  • Devon County Council begin developing a 26-acre industrial site at Clovelly Road in Bideford at a cost of £400,000.
  • Combe Martin beach is sold to a private owner for £28,500 after being offered to the local ratepayers who reject it!
  • An Ilfracombe councillor blames the decline of the resort on 'a dramatic drop in the standard of holiday makers.'
  • The old folk revel based around the 'Hunting of the Earl of Rone' is revived at Combe Martin.
  • A Woolacombe couple see a black UFO travel towards Lundy at 600mph. They take cine film of it.
  • Buttons and Mac Fisheries both pull out of Barnstaple High Street within weeks of each other.

1979

  • An Action Group is formed in Torrington to fight the 'disgusting' smell from a local meat factory.
  • Permission is given to the Church Commissioners to demolish St Mary Magdalene's church in Barnstaple which is 'structurally unsafe'.
  • A wave of strikes sweeps across the area. Local hospitals are put in crisis as staff strike for a 50% increase in their weekly wages of £40. Striking lorry drivers cause shortages of sugar, tea and flour in local shops. DHSS employees picket their own building in Barnstaple.
  • Cox's Pharmaceuticals begin production at their new Barnstaple factory which has created 160 jobs.
  • New sea defence walls are constructed at Ilfracombe at a cost of £660,000.
  • Holsworthy holds the British record for the number of weddings being held in churches - 80% of all couples choose such a service.
  • A five-acre industrial site with housing for the workers is started at Bradworthy.
  • An experimental Park and Ride scheme is introduced in Barnstaple. The scheme, which siphons off cars from the Braunton direction, is said to be a success.
  • The General Election sees eight candidates opposing Jeremy Thorpe. Auberon Waugh stands for the Dog Lovers' Party in an attempt to embarrass Thorpe. Conservative Tony Speller wins with a majority of 8,000, Thorpe, who does not give evidence at his trial, is found not guilty of conspiracy to murder Norman Scott.
  • Brannam's Pottery is purchased by Candy Tiles of Newton Abbot.
  • Salmon catches on the Taw and Torridge are at their lowest ever owing to pollution and over-netting.
  • The Old Corn House in Church Street, Braunton, is destroyed by fire but the museum next door is saved.
  • The last churns are used at Torrington's milk factory. All deliveries in future are by bulk-tanker.

1980

  • Huge floods hit Bideford and Torrington and whole streets are under water.
  • Torridge Council start the Kenwith Valley scheme after 30 years of discussion.
  • Sudbury's Glove Factory in Torrington closes with the loss of 44 jobs.
  • RAF Chivenor is brought back into operational use with two squadrons of Hawk fighters and 1,000 servicemen being based there.
  • International Ball Screws Ltd open a £350,000 factory at Whiddon Valley which employs 114.
  • The 15th century Rothern Bridge at Torrington loses a 7 by 3 metre section during floods.
  • The CEGB announce that Yelland power station will never go nuclear - even though it was listed as a possible nuclear site in one of their documents.
  • Work begins in Barnstaple on the first stage of the Inner Relief Road.
  • Following the death of Henry Williamson, his papers go to the State in lieu of tax.
  • The Mother's Pride Bakery in Braunton Road, Barnstaple, closes and 110 jobs go.
  • Braunton School demands extra funding to meet increased demands associated with children from RAF Chivenor.
  • An experimental Park and Ride scheme based on Seven Brethren Bank is introduced in Barnstaple.
  • Fremington House is sold by the Army and becomes a nursing home.
  • A huge fire breaks out at Kirkham's tyre depot on Bideford Pill - it is the second fire there within six weeks.
  • Tarka Radio begins operations at the North Devon District Hospital.
  • Residents on Lundy receive their first ever rate demand when Torridge bills them.

1981

  • The area between Summerland Street and the Square in Barnstaple is cleared as part of the Road Relief works.
  • Shebbear College agrees to admit girls for the first time in the school's 140-year history.
  • The route of the North Devon Link Road is announced. The fact that it is a single rather than a dual carriageway angers many.
  • The old established draper's shop of Boyles in Bideford closes.
  • The derelict Dornat's mineral water factory in Tuly Street, Barnstaple, is being redeveloped as an 'entertainment centre.'
  • Manchester City play a 'friendly' with Bideford Town Football Club to mark the opening of a new clubhouse. Some 5,000 people turn up.
  • Regular helicopter flights are started between Lundy and Hartland by Castle Air Charters.
  • The first Torridgeside council house is sold to tenants under the 'Right to Buy' scheme.
  • Brian Ford begins conversion of the old Olivers textile factory into a new supermarket on Seven Brethren Bank in Barnstaple.
  • Dartington Glass produce and sell £180,000 worth of souvenir pieces to mark the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
  • The Catholic church in Barnstaple apply to demolish their church and construct a new one.
  • A branch of the Social & Democratic Party is formed in North Devon.
  • Bill Bass, the 69-year-old Mayor of Holsworthy, dies on the dance floor at his own Mayoral Ball.
  • A major fire at Tanton's Hotel in Bideford, which causes £50,000 worth of damage, is investigated by the police as a possible case of arson.

1982

  • A 15-acre industrial site at Roundswell near Bamstaple is given the go-ahead even though local councillors predict traffic chaos.
  • The Rockham Bay Hotel at Mortehoe is gutted by fire despite the efforts of 10 fire engines and their crews.
  • The Barnstaple Women's Group picket the Astor cinema in the town when it shows Michael Caine's Dressed to Kill which features violence against women.
  • Eleven small factory units are to be built at Mullacott to help local industry.
  • A private dustbin service is started in Ilfracombe after complaints by local hoteliers about the expense of the council-run one.
  • The idea of a new library at Barnstaple with a multi-storey carpark on top is put forward by Devon County Council.
  • The largest indoor show-jumping arena in Devon is opened at Mariansleigh.
  • Torrington's Commons Conservators ask for a new by-law whereby glue sniffers can be fined up to £200.
  • Hartland residents complain about being woken regularly at 4am by a local cockerel.
  • A 500-metre long tunnel is dug under Newport in Barnstaple as part of the Coney Gut flood defence scheme.
  • In a protest against the new law on wearing helmets 150 motorcyclists drive through North Devon's towns without one. Fifty are charged by police.
  • The final passenger train from Torrington carries 843 train buffs.
  • Lundy is given permission to erect a £100,000 wind turbine to help generate power for the island.
  • Ilfracombe residents call for seasonal workers to be 'deported' at the end of the holiday season when it is said they become 'window smashing louts.

1983

  • The very last train to run between Barnstaple and Bideford makes the journey in January.
  • The Johanna, a Panamanian coaster is wrecked at Hartland. Looters descend on her and strip everything worth stealing although much is later returned to Customs Officers (see page 34).
  • Work begins in South Molton to repave the Square and provide trees and seats.
  • Huge seas break a 15-foot gap in the 70-year-old sea wall at Combe Martin.
  • The Strand cinema in Barnstaple is re-opened as a snooker club by Mike Deakin.
  • The go-ahead is given for the new high-level bridge across the Torridge, against much public disquiet.
  • Armed marines are brought in to hunt for 'a mystery big cat' that is killing lambs around South Molton. It is later christened the Exmoor Beast.
  • The Journal publishes a 'Special Fire Edition' to record the burning of the Arcade and Candar Hotel in Ilfracombe. One man dies in the huge fire, eight firefighters are injured and 200 people are evacuated.
  • A Consistory Court is held at Torrington to inquire into the placing of a Black Madonna icon in St Michael's church. It is ordered to be removed.
  • In the General Election a candidate highlights his personal grievance by standing as a 'Stop Edgehill College Expelling Sara Campaign' candidate.
  • Final year pupils celebrate at Braunton School by going on an orgy of vandalism and causing damage put at £1,000.
  • The Royal North Devon Golf Club loses £16,000 worth of silver trophies to a thief 'with the nerve of the devil'.
  • Swimbridge Brewery closes after only two years. It specialised in 'real ales'.
  • Two RAF fighters from Chivenor collide in mid-air near Holsworthy. All four pilots parachute to safety.

1984

  • A Boy George lookalike with a white clown face, false eyelashes and dark pencilled eyebrows mugs a woman in Ilfracombe. Police reckon finding him will be difficult.
  • The Lundy supply boat the Polar Bear begins using Bideford port.
  • Parents carrying placards stage angry protests outside Barnstaple's Civic Centre against cuts in teacher numbers in the area.
  • The N W Devon Railway Preservation Company is given 10 months to raise the £313,000 to purchase the Barnstaple-Bideford railway line.
  • The Ilfracombe Harbour Development Group calls for 'positive action' on the 'proposed multi-million pound harbour scheme.'
  • The Prince of Wales visits North Devon and does a 'walkabout' on Bideford Bridge after the crowd chants 'We want Charlie'.
  • The owners of Woolacoombe's three discos agree a voluntary code to tackle the problem of 'late night street rowdies'.
  • A scheme to cull all the wild white goats in Lynton is met with vociferous protests.
  • The Co-op propose building 200 luxury chalets, 3 swimming pools, a theatre and six squash courts at Top Camp, Westward Ho!
  • The 'Milky Way' at Clovelly is established by a local farmer hit by the new EEC milk quotas.
  • Michael Caine and Billy Connolly film Water at Hartland whilst Glenda Jackson and Ben Kingsley film Turtle Summer in Ilfracombe.
  • Sixteen children are receiving treatment for TB in Holsworthy after a carrier is identified in the town.
  • The Exmoor Beast is said to be back in North Devon following a series of lamb killings and sightings.

1985

  • A large block of new flats is opened at Castle Quay in Barnstaple.
  • A huge fire at Ilfracombe destroys the Beacon Castle Hotel in May despite the best efforts of 11 fire crews.
  • Bideford's new Mayor, Peter Christie, becomes the first ever Green Party Mayor in Britain.
  • Measures to ensure the safety of Ilfracombe Pier are costed at £200,000 over the next 20 years.
  • Forty hunt saboteurs cause havoc at Borne Farm, Chulmleigh, and a police helicopter is brought in to maintain order.
  • Young 'break dancers' in Barnstaple High Street are moved on by police.
  • NDDC votes to allow the building of a new Tesco superstore at Whiddon Valley.
  • Summerland Street Post Office in Barnstaple closes after being in the Gent family for 90 years.
  • Council houses built at Clovelly in the late 1940s are found to be suffering from 'concrete cancer' and will have to be demolished.
  • Devil worship is said to be common in North Devon with a coven said to be meeting in Ilfracombe churchyard. This follows local showings of the film The Omen.
  • A plaque is erected at Bucks Mills by the Braund Society to record the family's links with the village.
  • Eight protesters are arrested at the launch of a nuclear waste carrying ship at Appledore.
  • Barnstaple shopkeepers set up a 'Night Security Patrol' to combat an 'epidemic of vandalism and burglary.'
  • Chandler's Way housing estate is opened at Ilfracombe by Prebendary Arthur Chandler. The 30 units cost £¾million to build.
  • The CEGB get permission to bury 700 tons of asbestos at Yelland power station following its demolition. The news is given by the CEGB spokesman Terry Pratchett (who has since become one of Britain's topselling authors).
  • A plan to site an explosives factory at Knowstone is turned down amid fears it could become an IRA target.

1986

  • Guardian Royal Exchange unveil their plans for a 'Crystal Palace' style shopping arcade on the Green Lane site.
  • Lipton's old supermarket in Ilfracombe is reopened as a Presto shop.
  • Appledore shipyard workers strike for a day and 50 of them go to Parliament to put the case for the ailing UK shipbuilding industry.
  • The new NDDC District Plan earmarks Roundswell as the next large development site for Barnstaple. Plans include a new primary school.
  • Unemployment is running high. In Bideford it is 19.6%, Torrington 16.7%, 14.9% in Barnstaple/Ilfracombe and 11.8% in South Molton.
  • The BBC's Antiques Roadshow visits North Devon - and a Fremington couple discover they have a painting by Richard Dadd said to be worth more than £100,000.
  • An entrepreneur is given permission to begin greyhound racing at the Bideford Sports Ground.
  • The owner of Trago Mills is looking seriously at the Yelland power station site as a possible development area for a new shop.
  • Following the successful installation of a wind turbine at Ilfracombe orders worth $5 million are placed for similar machines.
  • Beluga, the Greenpeace ship, arrives in Bideford and the crew declare themselves shocked at the level of sewage pollution in the Torridge.
  • The Journal goes tabloid and celebrates with its first ever colour supplement.
  • Devon County Council approve recommendations to build a downstream bridge at Barnstaple. The cost is put at some £11 million.
  • NDDC planners give the go-ahead for a new shopping centre at Barnstaple Junction goods yard. It will house a DIY store and a garden centre.
  • A new £1 million underground reservoir to serve Bideford, Northam and Appledore is built at Littleham.
  • Operation Cobra by local police leads to 50 arrests for drug possession in Barnstaple, Torrington and Ilfracombe.
  • Moves begin to have the seabed around Lundy declared as Britain's first marine nature reserve.

1987

  • A blizzard hits the area and temperatures of -7¡C are recorded. Hundreds suffer burst pipes in the thaw afterwards.
  • Brian Ford opens a new shop at the comer of Boutport and Silver Street in Barnstaple.
  • Wild Soay sheep are introduced on to Braunton Burrows to keep scrub in check and allow rare plants and animals to flourish.
  • Tons of tarmac are removed from St Michael's churchyard in Torrington and replaced with cobbles. Lime trees are planted on the 'Giant's Grave' mound.
  • A huge fire at Skent's in Cross Street, Barnstaple guts the building and brides-to-be lose their wedding dresses. Fire also destroys a carpet warehouse at East-the-Water in Bideford.
  • Following closure of Hatherleigh' s Gateway supermarket locals discuss establishing a local co-operative store.
  • A Saxon village is erected in Pilton Park as part of a Medieval Fair. Three processions are made through the area over Easter.
  • The new Torridge Bridge at Bideford is declared open. A celebration - New Bridge Day, held about 10 days before the official opening - exceeded all expectations by attracting more than 25,000 people and raising thousands of pounds for charities (see page 35).
  • Prince Edward visits Torrington as part of the town's Day for Youth celebration based around the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.
  • Emma Nicholson is returned as the first ever female MP for Torridge and West Devon.
  • After the Devon and Somerset Hunt corner a stag in Barbrook the villagers call for the hunt to be banned saying they are 'appalled and sickened' by it.
  • NDDC win a Crown Court case to prevent the opening of gaming arcade in the old W H Smith's shop in Barnstaple High Street.
  • Plans are announced to build two supermarkets and a garden centre on the Bideford Sports Ground. The Football Club says it will rip the heart out of the town.

1988

  • A new library and record office is opened in Barnstaple on a site once occupied by the town's workhouse which itself later became Domat's soft drinks factory.
  • Maclin's Quarry in Station Road, South Molton, is taken over by South Molton Recycling as their new base.
  • Two young men drown in the Torridge after attending a party in Appledore.
  • Plans 10 site a filling station and restaurant next to the North Devon Crematorium are turned down as being 'most disrespectful'.
  • A Barnstaple policeman dozing at home during the day arrests an intruder after chasing him for 200 yards in the nude.
  • The parish of Meeth is given £10,000 anonymously to restore the church bells.
  • A house in Eastbourne Terrace, Westward Ho! loses its new roof in a gale.
  • Five AIDS sufferers are living in North Devon and 15 people a week are being tested for the disease.
  • Nigel Brierley of South Molton builds a special trap to try to capture the Exmoor Beast.
  • Plans are announced by Braddicks of Westward Ho! to build a 200-bed hotel costing £6 million in the resort.
  • The Fortescue Estate plans a new 15-acre cattle market at Aller Cross, near South Molton to serve the whole of North Devon.
  • Tragedy as a 20-year-old woman becomes the first suicide from the Torridge Bridge.
  • Clovelly loses its RNLI lifeboat and discusses establishing a privately funded replacement.
  • British Rail warn that the completion of the link road 'could prove the death knell' for the Barnstaple-Exeter line.
  • The Government states that Lundy is not being examined as a possible site for the dumping of nuclear waste following rumours spreading around the area.
  • Both North Devon and Torridge District Councils have to invest in expensive new computer systems to cope with the introduction of the 'Poll Tax'.
  • Devon County Council announce the abandonment of plans to build a downstream bridge in Barnstaple owing to budget cuts. Drivers are urged to 'honk their horns' during rush hour as a protest.
  • Hartland Coastguard station is closed and the work taken over by one coastguard and 87 auxiliaries.
  • Plans to move the rescue helicopters from Chivenor are defeated after vociferous local protests.

1989

  • Plans to build a Formula One race track at Johnstone Moor near South Molton are rejected by planners as being 'out of keeping' with the area.
  • The Duchess of York makes a private visit to RAF Chivenor.
  • The Barnstaple Inner Relief Road between Mermaid Cross and the Territorial Army Centre is opened.
  • A 22-year-old man loses his hand in an accident at a workshop for the handicapped in Barnstaple. It is successfully sewn back on in Plymouth.
  • Charlton Heston and Oliver Reed film Treasure Island in Clovelly with some locals drafted in as extras.
  • A new landing jetty is constructed on Lundy at a cost of £2 million.
  • Torridge District Council hold talks with R&C Marketing over privatising Bideford's Pannier Market.
  • Westward Ho! is totally disrupted by extensive sewer pipe laying by South West Water.
  • The new Gammon Lane shopping mall is opened in Barnstaple.
  • A convoy of 40 'hippies' with 20 dogs camps on Northam Burrows. Local traders fear the sight of 'black-clothed, untidily dressed men and women' will drive holiday-makers away.
  • A Clovelly farmer tries to get planning permission to build a 'tourist village' of 250 'traditional whitewashed Devon cottages' but fails.
  • The first fatal crash occurs on the link road. It is followed by calls to make the road a dual carriageway but MP Tony Speller says the road 'is the safest in North Devon.'
  • Two part-time firemen from Combe Martin are arrested for starting eight fires around the village for 'money and a thrill.'
  • A feasibility study is drawn up to make South Molton Britain's first 'resource and energy saving town'. It studies the reintroduction of three hydro-electric power generators that were working at Mole Bridge up until 1946.
  • A sewage incinerator is built at Yelland by SWW against massive protests.
  • Sainsbury's annouince they are to build a new store at Roundswell.
  • An appeal launched in memory of Roy Evans raises £148,000 to buy a new cancer treatment suite at NDDH.
  • An Ilfracombe woman gives birth to quads - three boys and one girl.

1990

  • The Lynmouth sea wall is battered by huge seas, damage totals £150,000.
  • Parking fees in Seven Brethren car park in Barnstaple are lowered following huge protests.
  • Putsborough beach and seawater are officially listed as the cleanest in Britain.
  • Bogus social workers try to gain access to young children in the area - part of a nationwide pattem.
  • An Ancient Murrelet bird lands on Lundy from Alaska and precipitates a massive influx of birdwatchers from all over the UK.
  • A developer is given permission to build a hotel, 228 houses and 108 flats on land at Knapp House, Northam.
  • The Link Road is said to be turning into a fast escape route for burglars from the Midlands.
  • Reservoirs at South Molton, Torrington and Bideford are closed due to the presence of blue-green algae.
  • An application by The Small School at Hartland for government funding is rejected.
  • Marina Litson of Lynton becomes the first retained firewoman in North Devon.
  • Isley Marsh on the Taw estuary is set up as a 97-acre bird reserve by the RSPB.
  • Keith Apps announces plans for up to 50 wind turbines at Fullabrook Farm, West Down but planners reject his application.
  • Some 40 war evacuees return to Clovelly out of the 145 who were sent there.
  • Thirty armed police descend on the Lee Bay Hotel near Ilfracombe and arrest three men and a 16-year-old girl under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
  • Investigations into 'potentially deadly radon gas' are begun in the area.
  • Edgehill College in Bideford consider moving to the Portledge Hotel site at Fairy Cross.
  • Barnstaple sees a march by 3,000 protesters against the Poll Tax. They are praised by the police for 'the peaceful way in which they conducted themselves.'
  • Diana Princess of Wales visits North Devon to see a friend who has given birth to twins in NDDH.
  • Local farmers call for investigations into the link between sheep dip and illness amongst humans.
  • Corn circles appear in a 145-acre cornfield at Cleave, Newton St Petrock.

1991

  • Eight of North Devon's 11 main beaches fail to reach European Union bathing water standards.
  • Local health staff threaten to go to court to fight plans to set up an NHS Trust in North Devon.
  • Bideford Town Council take over the Pannier Market from Torridge District.
  • A noise pollution notice is served on the Canine Defence League kennels at West Down near Ilfracombe after locals complain about the noise of barking dogs.
  • North Devon soldiers return from the Gulf War to street parties and civic receptions.
  • When Conservatives hold a major conference at the North Devon Leisure Centre and two ministers attend, armed police are posted on the roof to protect them.
  • Animal rights activists daub blood-red paint on the gravestone of Sir Dennis Stucley at Hartland in a protest against game shooting on the Stucley estates.
  • A North Devon clergyman is fined £450 after being arrested for kerb-crawling in Manchester. The Bishop of Exeter stands by his disgraced colleague.
  • North Devon's biggest ever Arts Festival is held to celebrate the Beaford Centre's 25th anniversary.
  • Merton holds its first parish council election in 40 years after nine people stand for the eight seats.
  • Thirty trees are cut down along Bideford's river bank and a huge outcry occurs with more than 1,000 people lining the Quay in silent protest.
  • SWW promise that North Devon will not suffer any more hosepipe bans following a link-up to Roadford reservoir.
  • Six houses at Weare Giffard are jacked up 1.5 metres to take them above flood level.
  • Whitehall Laboratories at Wrafton announce they are to close with the loss of 460 jobs.
  • The pony herd on Lundy is saved from extinction by a last minute breeding programme.
  • South Molton residents stage a protest at moves by NDDC to close the town's swimming pool.
  • The new North Devon NHS Trust investigate the possibility of building a private hospital in the grounds of the NDDH.

1992

  • Following a fight, 200 people become involved in a 'mob riot' at Ilfracombe, 17 are arrested.
  • The Landmark Trust offer a guaranteed 'election-free break' on Lundy.
  • The General Election sees a narrow Liberal win in North Devon by 794 votes on an 84% turnout.
  • Recession strikes hard in the area with half of the staff of Clarks shoes in Barnstaple laid off along with a fifth of Appledore Shipbuilder's workforce.
  • Woolaway and Sons go into receivership after 180 years of operation as the area's main building company.
  • Boots announce they are to move into the old Woolworth's store on Barnstaple High Street.
  • The first unit is finally let in the Candar shopping complex at Ilfracombe.
  • Court hearings are held over complaints about the noise made by Corky the cockerel at Hartland.
  • Charles and Diana, Prince and Princess of Wales, visit Ilfracombe to see the regeneration work being carried out by the town's Civic Trust.
  • Plans are put forward by NDDC to demolish the Victoria Pavilion in Ilfracombe and build a new theatre there.
  • A couple are given permission to transform an underground water reservoir at Braunton into a three-bedroomed house.
  • Conti Products of South Molton embark on a £9 million expansion scheme.
  • Bideford councillor Peter Bullock organises the collection of clothes and electrical goods for shipment to the 'hard pressed Russian people.'
  • The Milk Race stops in Bideford where huge grandstands are erected on the Quay for the thousands of spectators who turn up.
  • A new £¼-million fruit press is installed at Inch's cider factory in Winkleigh.
  • Twelve fire appliances fight a huge fire at Torrington's Dairy Crest milk factory whilst Padfield's furniture store at Pilton Causeway is destroyed in an apparent arson attack.
  • SWW's plans to site a sewage treatment works on Northam Burrows are met with massive protests from local people.

1993

  • A threat to close Shebbear College is defeated by a parents' group led by Mike Saltmarsh.
  • Nine cars are destroyed by fire in one night in Barnstaple from Congrams Close to Victoria Road.
  • The trawler My Josephine suffers extensive damage after entering Ilfracombe Harbour which is said to be full of derelict metalwork and other obstacles.
  • The closure of RAF Chivenor is announced. A 'Fighting Fund' is established to retain it amid fears that the area will become an 'economic wasteland' if it goes.
  • A Bosnian refugee family arrives in Torrington to escape the fighting in the Balkans.
  • North Devon and Torridge District Councils battle over whether the whole of North Devon should be run by one Unitary authority.
  • A travellers' camp at Fremington Quay is raided by 40 police officers with shields and protective clothing. Graffiti on site reads' Fremington Free State'.
  • A family of four die at Milltown near Barnstaple from carbon monoxide fumes which build up due to the chimney being blocked by jackdaw nests.
  • A bye-law is passed in Barnstaple to stop 'open air tipping' following numerous complaints and incidents.
  • A speed camera is set up on Sticklepath Hill on the approach to Barnstaple.
  • A colony of 'semi-wild cats' is 'runnin amok' in Croyde.
  • A governor of Holsworthy Community College drags a model of the substandard huts used for teaching to an Education Committee meeting at Exeter to highlight the need for new accommodation.
  • NDDC comes 402nd out of 414 local councils in Britain following a survey on courtesy, efficiency and customer care.
  • Timothy Harris of Ilfracombe is gaoled for life for the knife murder of a 17-year-old girl in the town. He blames jealousy.
  • Homes in the Kenwith Valley, Bideford are flooded just months after a new flood prevention scheme is put in place.
  • Lundy acquires a new fire fighting vehicle when a 600-gallon tank trailer is adapted for use on the island.
  • An Asian market trader at Bideford's Open Air Market is arrested for the murder of a fellow trader there. Both come from Birmingham.
  • NDDC sell the Albert Clock in Barnstaple to the Town Council for £50.
  • A £175,000 plan is drawn up for the refurbishment of Holsworthy's Market Hall and Manor Offices.
  • Eleven men are arrested on Bideford Quay for drug smuggling - they include local fishermen who were using their trawlers to bring the drugs in to North Devon.
  • Police crack down on male nudists on Braunton Burrows who are 'frightening children and elderly walkers.'

1994

  • Kwik Save, MFI, Currys and SWEB are to open stores at Roundswell. The latter two are to close their shops in Barnstaple's High Street.
  • The old Moose Hall is Bideford is redeveloped as flats by the town's Bridge Trust.
  • Bill Norman retires after 46 years as parish clerk of Pilton.
  • The Royal Marines are to take over Chivenor after a cross-party delegation goes to London to lobby the Ministry of Defence. They eventually arrive in 1995.
  • Welcombe Mouth beach is said to be the cleanest in Britain - but Saunton is amongst the 12 dirtiest.
  • The newly updated Burton Art Gallery in Bideford is re-opened by Rolf Harris.
  • A massive campaign is launched to save Winsford Hospital at Holsworthy.
  • Plans for a new gas-fired power station at Yelland are announced.
  • Buckleigh Laundry at Westward Ho! is gutted by fire.
  • A new fish landing quay is built at Appledore, it is to be run by a fishermen's co-operative.
  • A LETS group is formed in Torrington whose members barter goods and services between themselves.
  • Following her arrest for multiple murders it is revealed that Rosemary West spent her childhood in Castle Street, Northam.
  • A Barnstaple mother gives birth to a baby weighing just 1lb 8 ozs.
  • Torridge District Council begin development of the Caddsdown industrial estate in Bideford.
  • B&S Screw Machines opens a new factory at Holsworthy which brings 80 jobs.
  • Extensive traffic calming schemes are introduced at Newport in Barnstaple.
  • Highampton open a new village hall costing £115,00 after nine years of fundraising.
  • Parracombe and Lynton residents defeat moves to change their spring water supply to water from the mains.
  • Parking along the edge of Bideford Quay is banned following a serious accident suffered by a foreign tourist when helping her husband park.
  • Eighty-year-old Jack Warren of Combe Martin is arrested after blocking the road outside his house in protest at dog-fouling in the village.
  • Suggestions that Torrington Football Club should move to an out-of-town site are quickly thrown out.

1995

  • The four largest schools in the area close due to a teachers' strike.
  • Una Widgery of Combe Martin leaves £10,000 in her will to construct a 10-foot high gibbet at the bottom of Hangman Hill - but the village decide not to accept the gift.
  • Keith Huxtable is stabbed to death in Barnstaple by a 17 year-old boy.
  • Two dozen 'Lesbian Avengers' besiege the Winkleigh home of Emma Nicholson MP in a protest at her refusal to support the lowering of the age of homosexual consent.
  • The building of a new primary school at Landkey begins - 32 years after the site was first purchased.
  • A huge police operation prevents animal rights activists protesting at a Hatherleigh farm involved in the export of live sheep to Europe.
  • The Mayor of Shamwickshire (Bideford East-the-Water) is elected as a spoof on the real Mayor.
  • Cox's Pharmaceuticals in Barnstaple embark on a £1.7 million expansion scheme.
  • The Mayor of Ilfracombe pays migrant dole claimants in the town to return home - as they are damaging the reputation of the resort.
  • A public meeting at Torrington over plans to refurbish the Pannier Market ends in fiasco as 100 traders and residents express their 'vehement opposition.'
  • Two 'superstores' apply to build shops at the end of the Torridge Bridge in Northam - their applications are later turned down following a public inquiry.
  • Helena Howard, a Barnstaple prostitute, is murdered by her lover at Whiddon Valley in Barnstaple. He is gaoled for life.
  • Plans are announced to inaugurate a catamaran ferry between Ilfracombe and Swansea to carry both passengers and freight.
  • A neighbour dispute at WestWard Ho! sees the 'winning' couple spend their entire life savings of £28,000 on legal expenses.
  • A sex scandal on Lundy leads to the resignation of the agent. The Lundy shepherd is also sacked for swearing at his sheep.
  • Anne Adam is murdered by her boyfriend and her body hidden in a space underneath the Castle Mound in Barnstaple.
  • A huge gorse fire threatens the Saunton Sands Hotel but is brought under control by 12 fire engines.
  • NDDC council leader Malcolm Prowse says Barnstaple is in danger of losing its identity due to the excessive growth of Roundswell and Whiddon Valley estates.
  • Sewerage works at Lynmouth disrupt the resort and lead to widespread protests from traders and residents.

1996

  • Emma Nicholson, Tory MP for Torridge, defects to the Liberal Democrats. She promises to resign if enough voters demand it - hundreds do but she doesn't go.
  • Work begins on a new £2.1 million flood defence scheme at Appledore.
  • Ilfracombe announces that its £18 million marina should be completed by the end of 1999.
  • A Barnstaple man deliberately misses the boat back from Lundy and is put up in St Helena's church - which he vandalises. Police in full riot gear are flown to the island to arrest him.
  • The Sea Empress oil tanker is holed off Milford Haven and North Devon is put on alert against a massive oil slick in the Bristol Channel.
  • The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Association announce they are to rebuild 400 yards of the line at Woody Bay.
  • Sussman's factory at Pottington is sold to a London merchant bank for £5 million, All 250 jobs are said to be 'absolutely secure'.
  • Fear of BSE hits North Devon cattle farmers badly. South Molton market tells farmers not to bother bringing cattle to them and at Holsworthy no cattle are sold and the workers are sent home.
  • North Devon Foods of Barnstaple, who sell red meat, close with the loss of 160 jobs due to the BSE scare and downturn in sales.
  • Mortehoe and Woolacombe Football Club appear in a 40-second Carlsberg advert on TV during the Cup Final.
  • Torrington Community Development Trust obtain major grants to address the problems of the town.
  • It is announced that work will begin on Bideford's £2.4 million Quay flood defence scheme in November 1997 - it doesn't.
  • Barnstaple Chamber of Commerce express fears that the town centre could be an IRA target.
  • South West Water's plans to drain the Lower Tamar Lake are scrapped after massive protests.
  • 'Boy racers' are using Barnstaple town centre for races - 40 are caught speeding in Hollowtree Road in one week.
  • Following the Dunblane tragedy, a gun amnesty in North Devon sees many guns handed in including a rare First World War German Mauser.
  • A Victorian-style carousel on Ilfracombe seafront attracts many complaints from local residents driven to distraction by its noise.
  • A plan to build a 'farm shopping village' at Abbotsham is rejected by villagers and local planners.
  • Animal rights protesters picket Chipperfield's Circus when it comes to Bideford.
  • In October work begins on Ilfracombe's new Pavilion and Wintergarden.
  • The remains of a Caribbean hurricane hit North Devon and the torrential rain leads to massive flooding at Appledore, Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Bideford. The Environment Agency is blamed for lack of warnings.

1997

  • Woolacombe beach is voted seventh best in the world - three places ahead of Venice Beach, California.
  • New Year's Eve revellers carpet the end of Barnstaple Bridge with broken glass.
  • Ilfracombe town council attempt to crack down on the use of local hotels as DSS hostels saying they are lowering the tone of the resort.
  • North Devon District Hospital employs a firm of 'clampers' to patrol their carparks.
  • SWW spend £2 million to tackle odour problems at their Ashford sewage plant
  • Murray Kivell, a 69-year-old worker at Holsworthy Market, is trampled by cows and dies of his injuries.
  • The BBC label the Pendle Stairway cinema in Ilfracombe as 'one of the worst in Britain.'
  • South Molton teacher Janice Crompton is murdered at Knowstone and her suspected killer Clifford Harris flees to Austtalia and commits suicide there.
  • A quarter of the workforce of NT Shapland and Petter are sacked due to a decline in orders.
  • A storm uncovers human bones in Rapparree Cove near Ilfracombe. They are claimed to be from shipwrecked black slaves. Bernie Grant MP comes to the site.
  • The first 'league tables' for primary schools put Berrynarbor at eighth in the UK.
  • The Bideford Salvation Army ban yoga lessons from their hall after labelling it a 'cult' practice.
  • Two Ilfracombe grandmothers apply to open a sex shop in the town. There is a massive uproar but neighbouring businesses think it could be a good idea.
  • The Croydex joinery factory at Roundswell is gutted by fire and damage to stock is said to run into millions of pounds.
  • A Bideford couple win £2.7 million on the Lottery after being advised of the winning numbers by a local 'mystic'.
  • The North Devon Show is cancelled following torrential rainfall.
  • The death of Princess Diana sees 'mountains' of flowers left at the gates of Victoria Park in Bideford and outside the cemetery in Bear Street in Barnstaple.
  • The CD-ROM to accompany Steven Spielberg's latest film Amistad is produced by a Bideford firm.
  • Lynton town council hire a marksman to shoot half the herd of wild goats living in the Valley of the Rocks.

1998

  • The BBC drama The Passion is filmed in Bishops Nympton and uses many villagers and other North Devon people as extras.
  • A planning application to build chalets on part of Croyde Burrows is rejected by planners for the fourth time.
  • Bulmers announce the closure of Inch's Cider works at Winkleigh with the loss of 47 jobs.
  • An audit of Ilfracombe Town Council's accounts reveals an overspend of £150,000. There are calls for the councillors to resign as being 'discredited'.
  • Barnstaple tries to introduce a Park and Ride scheme from Park School to the town centre but it is rejected by the public and the council then say they do not have enough money.
  • Owing to an increase in beggars in Barnstaple a plan is put forward to clear them from the streets and channel money to them via a central 'collecting pot'.
  • The last chemist's shop in Chulmleigh closes down after no-one comes forward to keep it going.
  • Following the discovery of termites in two bungalows at Saunton the Government announces it will spend £190,000 over 12 years to wipe them out.
  • A huge storm hits North Devon and town centres in Barnstaple, Woolacombe and Ilfracombe are closed due to the danger of flying glass and debris.
  • Women are allowed to join the Strand Bowling Club in Bideford for the first time in 108 years.
  • An application to build a superstore at Larkstone beauty spot in Ilfracombe is turned down.
  • Helen Macintosh, the 75-year-old Mayor of South Molton, abseils 60 feet down the local church tower to raise funds for charity.
  • Sussman's clothing factory on Pottington industrial estate closes with the loss of 140 jobs; foreign competition is blamed.
  • Some 400 Iranian families hire the Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park to celebrate the Islamic New Year.

1999

  • A public appeal raises £30,000 to provide a new home for the RSPCA in North Devon.
  • Protest meetings are held in South Molton and Barnstaple against the perceived 'U-turn on Europe' by North Devon MP Nick Harvey.
  • 'High profile policing' is brought in at South Molton to stop under-age drinking - some youths as young as 12 have been found drunk.
  • A referendum in Ilfracombe votes overwhelmingly to demolish part of the pier and replace it with a £3.1 million refurbishment scheme.
  • The first ever female district councillor is elected at South Molton.
  • The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe makes a loss of £176,000 in its first year.
  • The go-ahead is given for the building of a biogas plant using cattle dung to produce electricity at Holsworthy.
  • A new bus station is being built in Barnstaple next to the Inner Relief road - 42 years after it was first put forward.
  • Closed Circuit TV in Barnstaple is said to be responsible for 33 arrests. Town centre crime has dropped from 282 to 270 owing to the cameras.
  • South Molton police use CS spray during a disturbance at a private house.
  • Woolsery is to get a new sports and community hall after winning a Lottery grant of £740,000.
  • Torrington Cavaliers erect a model of the Black Horse pub in the town for their annual bonfire display.
  • The six bells of St Mary's church in Lynton are rehung after refurbishment - at a cost of £30,000.
  • Plans to introduce a Park and Ride scheme in Lynton to ease traffic congestion are abandoned as being inappropriate and too costly.