Widecombe History Group Minutes March 2002


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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House Widecombe on Wednesday 6th March 2002 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 38 people attended.

See also talk: Archaeology of Devon from the Air by Frances Griffith

The Chairman welcomed four new faces to our meeting and expressed the hope that they would enjoy the evening and become regular members of the group.

Apologies:- Peter and Dilys Harvey, Fred Daw, Bessie French, Rosemary Mortimore, Michael and Jenny Pascoe, Phyllis Pascoe, and Viv Layfield.

The Minutes of the last meeting were read and signed as correct.

Arising and Correspondence.

Archie and Audrey Mortimore thanked the group for their flowers and best wishes on the occasion of their recent Golden Wedding Celebrations.

It was decided to send the group’s best wishes to Mr Jack Simpson who has been unwell recently and wish him a speedy recovery.

Local transport. The copies of the write-up concerning local transport are still circulating and it was decided to take this subject a little further in discussion at our April Meeting. The possibility of looking at bridges, county stones, engraved wayside stones, crosses etc was mooted.

A draft of an article submitted to The Dartmoor Magazine for a future edition, was circulated for members to read. Written by Richard Wells. Entitled "End of the Line", ‘The sad tale of a Dartmoor Branch Line Terminus’ "Mayday Wednesday 1st May 1872 saw the opening of the railway line connecting Ashburton and Buckfastleigh with Totnes.

The last passenger train from Ashburton to Totnes ran in November 1958 and the last freight train ran in September 1962.

This was not the end of the story, for having lain disused and overgrown for seven years, trains once again began to run c1969, as it was resurrected by The Dart Valley Railway. However the 2.5 mile section from Buckfastleigh to Ashburton was relinquished to The Ministry of Transport in 1971 to build the new A38. The line from Buckfastleigh to Totnes still survives and is very popular with locals and tourists alike".

To learn more you will have to wait for the full publication!

Freda immediately brought up "The Mariner’s Way" where seafarers who travelled from South Devon to North Devon are believed to have walk up our valley on that journey. Was that why so many ‘Pubs’ were in Ashburton?

This must not be confused with the present ‘Two Moors Way’. Terry stated that there is a benchmark on Lake Steep/Parklane Head, which is reputed to be the same height as Dartmeet Bridge. The engraved cross just above Higher Spitchwick Lodge where a doctor tipped over his trap and died, was also mentioned. The list will grow and the position of many more will surely come to light.

The Church dropcloth is due to be taken down before Easter. The Group has written to The Widecombe Church House Management Committee to see if it can be stored near The Tithe Map. We await their reply.

Family History material is being gathered together for Ken and Andrew Hamlyn to manage.

Bellever Day. A letter has been received from the Postbridge committee looking into this project thanking our group for its assistance.

Ordnance Survey still being negotiated with regards to a simple licence.

Letter from Barbara Newport, Editor of The Parish Link Newsletter asking all groups that use The Link to publicise their events to consider making a contribution towards the cost of producing The Link. Our Treasurer confirmed that we already do this. The last payment was £30 paid on 12 June 2001 and we currently decide the amount at our AGM. Secretary asked to write and point this out and no doubt we shall do something similar at our AGM in May this year.

It was decided that the secretary should write to P.C.Simon Dell M.B.E. of Tavistock to congratulate him on his most recent bravery award. Simon helped the group with its production of "Dartmoor’s Policeman Poet", (verses of Constable John L. Webber of Widecombe-in-the-Moor 1863-1891), obtainable direct from the group at £4.99 plus p&p or ISBN 0 9536852 1 7 from most bookshops.

Frank Hext of Ashburton asked members of the group for any information they may have regarding the Hext family of Buckland-in-the-Moor. He is currently building up a family tree and the last six or eight generations have all lived in and around the area. Several members examined what he has so far achieved and showed interest in his project, and promised to give him any information they could find. He quoted an old saying "You never went outside the Parish for a wife or a horse", he did however believe that they did on occasions come to Widecombe from Buckland in search of new blood! He thought the lack of transport was one reason for this!

Church Roof scrap lead. The possibility of using this for fund raising for The Tower Appeal is still under consideration.

Ann Claxton stated that our first meeting in 2003 is scheduled for January 1st. It was decided that we should opt for the second Wednesday in January 2003, which will be the 8th, and that meeting will be our ‘Party Night!

The secretary showed the meeting the original "Indenture" dated January 22nd 1814 that set up what is now "The Widecombe Educational Foundation". Chris Mayhead and Anthony Beard have transcribed the document and have given the school a copy. With The Parish Council’s approval the original and a transcription will now be placed in The Parish Chest. A further copy will be added to the minutes.

There will be an Annual Outing to Budleigh Salterton on Saturday 8th June 2002. It is suggested that we visit The Museum and then go on to Bicton Gardens. Ann Claxton has agreed to organise the event as she did such an excellent job for last year's outing. It is suggested that we leave Widecombe at 9.00 a.m. - arrive Budleigh Salterton 10.00 a.m. ‘ish - have coffee and then stroll down to the museum by 11.00 a.m. - an hour to an hour and half to view the museum - then on to Bicton Gardens where members can either eat their own packed lunch or make use of the restaurant - spend the afternoon exploring the gardens - meet back at the restaurant for a cream tea at a fixed time - then on the coach for the return journey. At the museum we will be split into groups of about 10 per guide for touring the building. It was suggested that by going to Bicton for our lunch we would be safeguarding ourselves against inclement weather! Ann will make further enquiries and report to the next meeting.

Advance Notice of Widecombe Church Fete. It will be held at Widecombe on Bank Holiday Monday 6th May 2002. Shall we have a stall selling our books and gazettes for the tower funds? To be decided.

It was agreed that when the secretary purchases materials to use for the groups he should be in future reimbursed.

Mary Pascoe thanked the group for their continued support of Widecombe Primary School. The recent ‘Murder Mystery Play’ raised £350.

The regular tea and biscuits break after our guest speaker’s interesting address was enjoyed by all as usual. Thanks recorded to all those who help with this each month.

Rota :- April, Rosemary and Audrey Mortimore.

Next Meeting Wednesday 3rd April at 7.30 p.m. Non-speaker Evening.

Subject :- A continuation of our discussions looking at Transport in the Area.

The meeting closed at 9.55 p.m.

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