Widecombe History Group Talks January 2009

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The Speaker at our January Meeting was Dr Tom Greeves

and he gave the meeting a most interesting illustrated talk on:

"Early Photographic Images of Dartmoor".

Whenever we invite Dr Tom Greeves to talk at our meetings we are always assured of an interesting evening and this talk proved to be fascinating.  He has spent a considerable time researching Early Photographs of Dartmoor, many that were shown to us we had never seen before.  The camera was invented in the mid 1800s and some of the images shown were taken by one of these early cameras, around 1860. The quality of the pictures was quite remarkable, particularly when you consider their age. The thought put into the confirmation of the scenes that were being photographed was of an artistic nature. It was as if the photographer was trying to imitate the artists of the day, and many had a person included in the picture. That all helped create a scale within the image. Many early photographs were used to produce postcards and these cards were sent all over the country by early tourists visiting Devon. There are tens of thousands of these cards produced over the past hundred years or so, and many remain in family albums. These albums are still producing fascinating pictures many that have not seen the 'light of day' for years. Tom showed some pictures of the village of Widecombe, of particular interest to our members, and many showing the industrial activities of Dartmoor, as well as the scenic examples. Tin mining has always been of interest to Tom and some lovely old mining pictures were included in his show. Near to home one picture created much interest. It was a view of the 'Logan Stone' at Rippon Tor, but what really caught the imagination, was there an early image of 'New House Inn' in the background? Could this be the only such picture of 'New House' known to exist? We would like to see it again. Many thatched properties were included in the presentation and the different styles of thatching prompted an explanation from Rodney Cruze. One simple style ‘Hunter’s Coat' was a style used, to extend the period before a full  re-thatch was needed. Views of a great variety were shown including the centre of Chagford, the army at Yelverton, Dousland and Cadover, butchers shops from c1873, castles, farms, bridges and a very interesting picture of the dignitaries of Plymouth celebrating 'Fishing Day' at Burrator Reservoir, held to celebrate the anniversary of water being brought to Plymouth c1590. The variety of the photographs shown was best summed up when the Chairman thanked Tom for an inspirational talk, encouraging anyone who has a family album containing old pictures of the kind shown, to contact Dr Tom Greeves on 01822 617004. He could get them copied and then share them with other people and groups, all this helps people to understand a little more of the history of Dartmoor.

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