One hundred years ago – February 1916.

At a meeting of the War Agricultural Committee to discuss the shortage of labour, Mr W. T. Braddick, the Honourable Clerk, said “he was confident that despite the prejudice of many farmers, they would have to utilise women’s labour to make up for the shortage.”

Last week the Bideford War Supply Depot sent a bale of 100 pairs of socks, 250 pairs of mittens and 150 mufflers to the Military Forwarding Offices at Le Havre. This week the Depot will be forwarding a bale of felt slippers to St David’s Military Hospital in Malta.

William Hatch, a rabbit trapper, was summoned for setting 120 spring traps without the permission of the landowner, Mr Norman. Mr Hatch was fined 15 shillings.

Lionel E Davis, of Mill Street, has joined His Majesty’s Forces and has disposed of his dental practice to Mr W G Friendship.

Walter J Slee, auctioneer, reports that at the cattle market monthly auction, 100 choice bullocks were sold at good prices; 120 fat sheep were also snapped up. There was a good attendance of dealers.

Privately run Bideford Hospital, at its 66th Annual General Meeting, has elected retired Brigadier General Fanshaw as its new Chairman, to replace Mr F A Searle. Medical reports stated that 272 inpatients had been treated during the last year, 143 outpatients and 197 minor casualties. 288 operations had been carried out. Support for the hospital has continued despite the war and it is seen as an essential service for the Bideford community.

Owing to the recent spell of damp and mild weather, all vegetation is remarkably forward in North Devon. Trees are budding freely and in some cases blossom is appearing on pear trees.

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The Archive started work as a registered charity in 1985 and over 30 years has amassed a fascinating collection of photographs and documents that tell the exciting story of our local past. Some parts of the story are told in great detail; for example, copies of The Gazette newspaper dated from 1856 to the present day give us word by word accounts of shipping disasters, murder investigations, accident inquests, festivals and civic celebrations. We have detailed accounts of badger, fox and otter hunts where the names of the dogs highlight the pace of the game.

Likewise, we have hundreds of photographs and memorabilia donated by families who wish us to be the custodian of their family history. Sadly a number of the photographs are only partly useful to us because the all-important detail, such as date, location and persons present, are missing. Perhaps this is a lesson to us all. To preserve our family histories for future generations we should ensure that relevant information is attached.

In addition we have many other local collections and sources of information:-

  • 280 Ordnance Survey maps of North Devon area dating back to 1884

  • Birth Marriage & Death announcements 1856-1978

  • Prior to 1837 Birth Marriage & Death information was only recorded by the clergy and we have copies of the Bishops Transcripts for the North Devon area.

  • A complete Census set from 1841 for all of Devon on microfiche with the four local areas transcribed.

  • Churchyard plans and memorial inscriptions for St Mary’s Appledore; St Margaret’s Northam; East the Water Bideford & Old Town Cemetery Bideford.

  • Alphabetic lists of WW1 & WW2 casualties, War memorials & Rolls of honour.

  • Over 250 recorded conversations with local prominent people. Some unique insights are revealed!

  • Bideford Buzz back issues, Hartland Times and other village magazines.

  • Original planning applications and drawings for the rural districts of Holsworthy and Torrington as well as Bideford and Torridge back to early 1900s.

The Archive is open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings between 9.30 and 1.00 at the Council Offices in Windmill Lane, Northam, (Tel: 01237 471714) and a warm welcome is extended to anyone who wishes to visit us. It is run by volunteers who may be able to help with family history research or local information. Come and see us sometime!!

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