Kingsbridge Estuary



he room was at capacity for our last meeting as the Chair asked members to be aware that some

committee members were not standing for re-election in May, notably our longstanding secretary, Sylvia. Tony also, would like a back seat in one of his coaches, so please think hard about giving some time to the running of what is now a highly successful group. To continue to be so, we need your help. After details of various trips and outings and a

mooted “Bristol Residential” in June, Helen ‘Fun with Flowers’; Wendy Bolt ‘Garden Appreciation’; David Chubb ‘Church Visits’ and Jenny ‘Petanque’ (at last) all gave their notice. A noisy coffee/tea break, during which more tickets

for our March speaker, Anne Widdecombe were eagerly claimed – we all settled down, as our Guest Speaker was introduced.

Andrew Thompson MA, described on his CV as an archaeologist and historian, proved to be so much more. His subject, “Tavistock

-1,000 Years of History” was presented with accompanying slides so masterfully, that we hardly realised how much ground he covered.

An aerial view showed the town began as a River

(Tavy) Settlement (stock) back in 974 AD amid 2 valleys. Owned by the Benedictine abbots under King Edgar’s rule, it grew in prosperity. We were shown the remains of mediaeval buildings including the Great Court Gate and monastic ‘guest house’- circa 12th-14th centuries. A fragment of a cloister is just visible, as is the high, narrow and long Abbey Church, next to which the parish church was built, under the Diocese of Exeter. In the 17th century the Abbey Chapel had a Tower

reign of Henry VIII meant that a retainer, John Russell, was commissioned to take over. Eventually he was given land for his ‘feudal’ services in the Reformation. Eventually, in the 1750’s the Dukes of Bedford took

over the estate and John Wynne became their agent. The dwellings allocated to the townsfolk, had long

narrow plots of land attached, called ‘burbages’ such as those which lie behind both sides of Fore Street in Kingsbridge. The next 100 years saw the cloisters and the Chapel House destroyed to make gardens for the moneyed ‘nouveau riche’. In 1820, The Bedford Hotel was built - also, the Canal and a 1.5 mile long tunnel connecting Tavistock to the River Tamar was completed. This has achieved cherished World Heritage Status for its uniqueness. It was built to allow overseas shipment of metal ores, mined on Dartmoor. Sadly it fell out of use in the 1870’s. The Plymouth Road was built in the 1820’s and a

Pannier Market began during Victoria’s reign in 1850’s. Copper was a huge industry and Devon Great Consols supplied copper to the world for 20years, along with tin and the mineral arsenic. Tavistock became a ‘boom town’ and the population

grew from 3,000 to 9,000 inhabitants. Three iron foundries sprang up, producing heavy plant such as beam engines. When the mining declined, the knowledge gained

“What a talk and what a splendid speaker.”

added, which raised its status to that of a ‘Mitred’ Abbey and earned the area a seat in Parliament, and the title of Borough. A mediaeval Corn Market was planned. Then on 3rd of March 1539 came a total reversal of fortune. The dissolution of the monasteries during the

by the miners was distributed throughout the world as they sailed to other lands. Cottages were built for the miners at the behest of Bedford Estates - 6 rows of 6 neat white buildings with plots of land. 40 years of prosperity lasted from the

1860’s until 1901, but in 1911, the then Duke of Bedford, made the decision to sell up due to taxation fears. In concluding his talk, Andrew took

Q’s and A’s and we learnt that the arsenic was used in USA as a pesticide to tackle the Colorado beetle problem. Also the

crates used to transport goods from the canal link that’s 270’ above the river level, down to Morwellham Quay, were probably the earliest form of containerisation! What a talk and what a splendid speaker. Non stop

information delivered without a single note. We look forward to a guided tour soon.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72