Wednesday, 28 July 2010

My town!

I live five minutes from the town centre of Newton Abbot.
In fact, I was born in a tiny terraced house in the town.
In fact... it's the house in the screenshot above!
(I did this on Google Street View yesterday and then got carried away and found all the other houses where I've lived!)

Middle house, red door, upstairs room...that's where I made
my entrance into the world! Way hay!! (Or Waaaahhhhhh!)

But look...what a hill to push an old fashioned, heavy pram up and down!
In those days there would have been few, if any, cars in the street.

Do you know, many people don't like Newton Abbot !
Perhaps they don't like what's on offer as far as shops go and I have to agree with that... somewhat! (Although we do have umpteen charity shops!)

Or maybe they remember it as it once was....a charming, market town which the planners
pulled to pieces in the 70s! Boy what a mess they made too!

Here it is,in the photo below, being flattened and I can assure you that it did not deserve this!!
What they then built was nothing short of a disgrace.
And you can't put back what you demolish.
They ripped the heart and the character out of Newton Abbot and I don't forgive them for that.

Go back even further than this and you'll find that it was once a town with class, full of fine things! As many towns were.
Afternoon tea dances and the like!
That's what my mum and dad tell me!
A very civilised town where people behaved.

And of course, there was (and still is) the railway.

My Grandad was a driver on the GWR and I have a special fondness for
Newton Abbot station...they used to sit me on the wall to watch the trains, when I was very young.
The station was bombed very badly in the war,
just as a train had arrived from Plymouth.
Sadly, there were many casualties that day, both inside the station and out.

My mum and dad often talk about that day and where they were at that moment in time.
Both are so lucky to be alive, as they were very close to the station when the bombing
occurred. My mum had just finished playing tennis in one of the parks and my dad was walking towards his house, which was yards from the station.

Historians say that the Germans mistook Newton Abbot for Exeter as they followed the wrong river. (They came up the Teign instead of the Exe)
But that's just one theory...noone really knows.

What I love really about my town is the history.
It is steeped in it.

I've taken classes of children around the town and we've done projects galore on 'Newton Abbot'....
The New Town of the Abbots!
I firmly believe that one should know a bit about the town in which one lives!

Newton Abbot has been important for many things.

Indeed before the railway came to the town, Newton Abbot had a thriving
woollen industry.
Devon was, in Medieval times , an important sheep rearing county.
Newton Abbot had woollen mills as well as fullers, dyers, spinners, weavers, tailors (you can see where people's surnames originate!!)
Apparently, fellmongering (where wool is removed from sheepskin) was well established in the town.
It is also said that Newton Abbot also had a thriving serge industry and sent goods to Holland via Exeter.
The annual cloth fair was the town's busiest fair at this time.

Associated with the woollen industry was the leather.Tanners, glovers, saddlers and boot and shoe makers were all in business and thriving.
These businesses flourished until after the second world war.

In present Newton Abbot, there's a lot going on to try and improve the surroundings and I think they've done a really good job.
They've even admitted that they've made huge mistakes in the past.
So credit where credit is due.

I'm not saying it's the prettiest town
around for isn't.
And of course, only just down the road, we have Totnes, which is like a magnet for me ! ;-)

But Newton Abbot is my home town and it's really not that bad!

It doesn't look run down; there are not loads of shops boarded up and there's a pleasant feel as one walks around.

All you really have to do is open your eyes.

I suppose that you are either a person who looks for the bad or you are the opposite and look for the good.
Half empty or half full etc!

At the Clock Tower end of the town, there's plenty of history for you to read and the rest is all around you.

The present...

The past...the ivy clad tower and the old library!
But take the ivy away and it does not look that different today.

The 'new' library....

My favourite building has to be the Newton Abbot Public Library.

John Passmore Edwards wanted to have a hospital built for the town, in memory of his mother but the town already had a hospital and so he decided to build a public library.
It was opened in 1904 by General Redvers Buller...(that very famous chap
who sits proudly on his horse, at the end of Queen Street, Exeter usually with a traffic cone on his head!!)

And this primary school is in one of the main streets in the town.
Opened in around 1858 , it was the result of an idea by Hannah Maria Bearne, many years earlier and thus named Bearnes School.
There are three primary schools in the town . I know a bit about them as I studied the log books of all of them some years ago, when I was a student working on the History of Education in Newton Abbot, for my thesis.
And if you've ever had the chance to read a school log book...go do it!
It makes absolutely fascinating reading!! Especially the bits about:
a) infectious diseases!!
b) school inspectors!!
(Not forgetting the dreaded cane! OUCH!)

I was never allowed to take the log books away but every school let me read them and make notes.
I recall that one school had nowhere for me to sit and so they shut me in a cupboard to do my studying (the best place for me Mr S would say!! ;-)

It appears that everyone is really doing their bit to try and 'pretty up' Newton Abbot.

Newton Abbot has a twin town but it's not an identical twin!

It's been twinned with Besigheim in Germany, for at least 30 years


Besigheim looks to be a very pretty place no wonder Newton Abbot needs sprucin' up somewhat! ;-)

Actually, Newton Abbot is also twinned with Ay,in Champagne, France.
I need to research that one!

Ah ! The horseshoe fence in Union Street.
It's been there for quite a long time, longer than the bridal shop which now has the premises
behind it...but how apt?!
I bet that people walk by this every day and don't even notice it!

And next love for rows of coloured terraced houses! Newton Abbot has plenty of those!
What is it about them? I just love them!

Below we have the very pleasant setting for council offices...Forde House.
Built in the shape of an 'E' .

Built in 1610 by Richard Reynell, it was built with an 'E' shaped floor plan, which is thought to have been in honour of Queen Elizabeth 1, who had recently died.
Originally, the grounds were very extensive and took in a deer park and the area of Decoy (so named because of the wildfowl decoyed there, to extend the house's larder.)

King Charles 1, Oliver Cromwell and William of Orange have all stayed here (but not at the same time!).

After a succession of owners, Teignbridge District Council bought the house in 1978 and it is now used for offices,conferences, weddings etc

Moving you fancy....

.... a dip?

I can't work out why the photo is slanting...maybe the deep end is on the right!
I snitched it off a site who had previously snitched some of my photos!
At least mine were straight though!
Here we have not the town swimming pool, but the 1938 floods. There have been many floods in the town... all because of the River Lemon.
Floods are a thing of the past in the town nowadays, thanks
to a damn having been built at Holbeam, just outside Newton Abbot.

One of the best things about my town are the numerous parks!

This is Courtenay Park

This park is incredibly beautiful.

If you are wondering what to do with your children during the long summer holidays and live near Newton Abbot, then a walk around the town and a trip to the town museum, coupled with
a picnic in a park (Newton Abbot has five parks at least!) is not to be sneezed at, as we say!

Courtenay Park is my fave!
The parks department excel every year with this park. It's stunning displays wow me every time I walk out of the station and look across at it.
It also has a very special place in my heart too

I might well have mentioned this's where I took my first steps at the age of well over 18 months...towards this band stand as the band started up (walked late, talked early! No surprise there eh?!)

And Courtenay Park has not really altered that much.

Alternatively, you can walk through the town to Baker's Park and take a gentle stroll through Bradley Woods, along the River Lemon.

When I was at Newton Abbot Grammar School, we were sent through
these woods on many a cross country run...until one particular day a 'flasher' jumped out at a group of girls
and that was the end of our pleasurable p.e. afternoons!

Sadly, I was not in that group of girls so could not go home and 'write about it' that evening!
I did, however, leave it to my very vivid imagination ...and you can to yours!!
;-) LOL!

I still reckon it was one of the boys in our year though...and I've a damn good idea who!

Nestled in the woods, is this lovely National Trust property, Bradley Manor.
It's only open on certain days though so check first if you are planning a visit.

That's it at the mo!

That's my town!
Well not all of it... but enough to give you a taster of what goes on here.

Newton Abbot gives you the gateway to the moors and the sea; river walks; parks; woodlands;
loads of history; good rail links upline and down and it's handy for
all those little towns and villages which often appear on this blog.
It's my town and I'm rather fond of it !



Florence and Mary said...

That was such an interesting post, I'm inspired to write one on my town now.

It's funny you talked about General Buller, my dad is obsessed with him and we have more pictures and things to do with him at my parents house than of me or my brother!

Victoria x

Country Cottage Chic said...

What a great introduction to your town Sal - Devon tourist info should be paying you!
The town planners of the 70's have a lot to answer for don't they?


KC'sCourt! said...

I haven't been to Newton Abbot since the mid eighties when we took a photograph of our two eldest sons on the cannons in the square, we used to park the car in a carpark very near the police station is it still there? Must visit again......
Julie xxxxxx

Jane and Chris said...

What a lovely post!
Thank you so much for my England fix.
Jane (in Canada)

galant said...

That was a lovely expose of dear old Newton Crabbit as some locals call it. But I don't think you mentioned that it was once called Newton Bushell? And the building you have shown which is now part of Austins Department Stores (I say that in the plural as it has several outlets in the town) was once the Globe Hotel and what a lovely place that was to have dinner in the 1960s! And I'm glad you mentioned Passmore Edwards, such a wonderful late 19th/early 20th century philanthropist (and a newspaper man - a bit different to the philanthropy of newspaper magnates today, eh?)
All in all, a very interesting, entertaining and informative post, Sal. A five star ***** post, in fact!
Margaret P

Sal said...

Ah...well actually...not quite..

Newton Abbot was created in the 13th century. However originally there were two towns In the 13th century England was divided into areas called manors. One, south of the River Lemon was owned by the Abbey of Torre.

In 1220 the Abbot founded a new town south of the river. He was granted the right to hold weekly markets. In the Middle Ages there were few shops and if you wished to buy or sell anything you had to go to a market. The Abbot was also allowed to hold an annual fair. In the Middle Ages fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year and they attracted buyers and sellers from a wide area. The little town flourished and it became known as Newton (new town) Abbot.

Shortly afterwards, in 1246, the Lord of the manor north of the river created another new town. In that year he was granted the right to hold weekly markets. From 1262 the manor was owned by the Bushel family. So this town became known as Newton Bushel. In 1309 the Bushel's were granted the right to hold two annual fairs.

The two little towns prospered. In them there was a wool industry and an industry making leather goods. However both towns were very small. They only had a few hundred inhabitants each.

Then in 1663 a man named Richard Yarde joined the markets and fairs of the two towns together. The Newton Bushel market was closed and business moved to Newton Abbot. However the two towns continued to be separate entities. The Yarde family also built Bradley Manor House in the early 15th century.

The Weaver of Grass said...

A taster, Sal? I would say more of a marathon! It is good to find someone with such great pride in their home town. So few of us now seem to have stayed in the place where we were born. I must say it looks a lovely spot.

Suzie Sews At DOTTY RED said...

what a great post. Love that you know the house you were born in

galant said...

Thanks for the history of the two towns, Sal. I once wrote about this for a gazetteer on Newton Abbot for Devon Life. Indeed, Torre Abbey owned land far and wide in those days!
Margaret P

Christy@WickedHappy said...

That was just lovely! What a wonderful way to look at your hometown and share it with us. Your love for it really shines through this post. Thank you for sharing such a special place with us.

Linda Gilbert said...

My hometown too and I love it. Thanks Sal

Josie-Mary said...

What an interesting post Sal, I did have to read it in 2 halfs as I ran out of time! I used to spend every Sunday afternoon there when I was a child. We used to visit my great aunt, it was so boring me & my sisters used to walk into town....I can safely say there was nothing to do in the 1970's!!!

Anonymous said...

Until they opened up the entrance to Bradley Lane there were still brass plaques giving Newton Bushel addresses in the lane close to the junction.

P.S. Do you remember Elliots?

Sal said...

Hmm....was that a bakers ?;-)