Bideford’s Iron Bridge(s).

(“Bideford Gazette”, 17th June 1825).


Mention the ‘Iron Bridge’ and every Bidefordian will know where you mean – but there were once two such bridges. The first and earliest was at Landcross on the Bideford-Torrington road and was a prefabricated structure probably made in South Wales. It was brought to North Devon by boat in 1825 when the present riverside road to Torrington was being constructed. (See above.) It was rebuilt using steel in 1926.

The second ‘Iron Bridge’ is the more familiar one over the Torridge that used to carry the railway to Meeth and is now part of the Tarka Trail (below). This was built when the railway was extended to Torrington in the early 1870s – but its construction was not without controversy.’

In September 1869 the Mayor of Bideford, C.Pedler, wrote to the Board of Trade opposing the ‘construction of a railway bridge by the London and South Western Railway Company across the Torridge‘ on the basis it would impede the river for boats. The Board passed this letter on to Mr.Galbraith engineer-in -charge of the new line who replied ‘Bideford town council could not be serious in opposing the construction of the proposed bridge across the Torridge as it will improve rather than injure the navigation of the river.

In November of that year the council held a ‘Special Meeting’ to discuss the proposed bridge which saw tempers fraying – and when the vote was taken to oppose its construction the vote was split equally between those for and against. A journalist who attended the meeting noted ‘the proceedings were unfit for reproduction in any respectable newspaper.

The railway company merely pushed on with the scheme though in October 1870 councillors reckoned there had been ‘a deviation on the original plans and an encroachment on the river‘ – an allegation repeated in November 1871. Indeed so incensed were they over this presumed illegality they sent the Borough Surveyor up to London to trace the original plans to bolster their argument. Unfortunately the surveyor had to report that ‘from a careful examination he was satisfied that the work was being done according to the plans.‘ By now the bridge was virtually complete and so the councillors withdrew their objections – and the bridge went on to become an iconic part of the scenery on this part of the river.

Peter Christie.

Today. The iron (railway) bridge is now the property of Devon County Council and was recently repainted. The Tarka Trail comes under the management of Martin Caddy of DCC, who is Public Rights of Way Officer for all this end of Devon.




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Shipping notes No. 154 (January/ February).

In port – Bideford Quay.

Celtic Crusader – (ex- Scorpius, ‘98 ; Lamego, ’13); built 1994; flag, Cardiff; owners, British; crew Russian, Latvian, Polish; from Leixoes to Castellon; arrived 18/1, sailed 20/1; loaded 2,100 tons ball clay.


The fourth vessel for the Irish Navy will be floated out from the building dock on the 2nd March at 06.00 (high water). She will be named LE George Bernard Shaw.

Bristol Channel Observations.

19/1 at 07.20 container ship BF Cartagena, 5,218 tons d.w., owners Paula Foroohari Schiffahrts Germany, inward bound for Newport. At 11.05 vehicle carrier Vega Leader, 16,396 tons d.w., owners Nippon Yusen Kaisha Japan (having sailed from Portbury at 07.48).

25/1 at 16.45 bulk carrier Yeoman Bank, 38,997 tons d.w., owners Aggregate Industries UK Ltd UK, outward bound from Portbury (having sailed at 09.49).

26/1 at 08.25 cargo vessel Mekanik Krashovskiy, 2,650 tons d.w., owners Joint Stock Northern Shipping Co Russia, outward bound from Sharpness (having sailed at 00.29). At 14.30 vehicle carrier Grand Hero, 18,085 tons d.w., owners Cido Shipping H.K. Co Ltd Hong Kong China, inward bound for Portbury.

30/1 at10.40 vehicle carrier Ciudad de Cadiz, 3,500 tons d.w., owners Anja 2 SNC France, outward bound from Portbury (having sailed at 05.23).

31/1 at 09.10 vehicle carrier Graceful Leader, 20,986 tons d.w., owners Ray Car Carrier Ltd Israel (in the colours of Nippon Yusen Kaisha Japan), inward bound for Portbury. (At 10.10 1/2 vessel seen again outward bound having sailed at 04.48).

1/2 at 08.25 vehicle carrier Fidello, 30,137 tons d.w., owners Wallenius Wilhelmsen Norway and Sweden, inward bound for Portbury.

2/2 at 08.00 vehicle carrier Virgo Leader, 20,111 tons d.w., owners Nippon Yusen Kaisha Japan, inward bound for Portbury. At 11.02 hrs bulk carrier Aasnes, 7158 tons d.w., owners Hans Martin Torkelsen Norway, outward from from Portbury (having sailed at 05.57). At 13.25 cargo vessel Wilson Calais, 4,450 tons d.w., owners Wilson SA Norway (having sailed from Newport at 07.51). At 14.30 cement carrier Ronez, 1,117 tons d.w., owners Heulin-Renouf Shipping Ltd Channel Islands, inward bound for Port Talbot.

3.2 at 11.40 vehicle carrier Virgo Leader, 20,111tons d.w., owners Nippon Yesen Kaisha of Japan, outward bound from |Portbury (having sailed at 06.43). At 13.42 bulk carrier Neptune, 32,318 tons d.w., owners Briana Shipping Co Pte Ltd Singapore, outward bound from Avonmouth (having sailed 07.54).

6/2 at 11.40 vehicle carrier Grande Roma, 14,900 tons d.w., onwers Grimaldi Line of Italy, inward bound for Portbury. At 13.43 vehicle carrier Grande Napoli, 14565 tons d.w. owners Grimaldi Line of Italy inward bound for Portbury.

7/2 at 11.10 cargo vessel Argos, 3,666 tons d.w., owners Gerhard Wessels Germany, inward bound for Newport. At 16.40 vehicle carrier Grand Hero, 18,085 tons d.w., owners Cido Shipping (H.K.) Co Ltd Hong Kong, inward bound for Portbury.

8/2 at 11.30 cargo vessel Yasemin, 6,830 tons d.w., owners Is Finanstal Kiralama AS Turkey, inward bound for Newport.




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Cinnamon Trust seeks volunteers.

The Cinnamon Trust needs volunteers.

The Cinnamon Trust is the national charity whose wonderful volunteers help people over retirement age and those in the latter stages of a terminal illness by offering all kinds of pet care. We urgently need volunteers who are able to help local residents. If you would like to help we would be delighted to hear from you.

What happens if illness, injury or just the fact that we all get older eventually affects our ability to look after our four-legged companions? A large number of elderly or ill pet owners become very worried about their ability to care for their pets, feeling that their only option is to rehome them. This is where our national network of dedicated volunteers step in to offer support enabling them to stay together.

We’ll walk the dog for a housebound owner, we’ll foster pets when owners need hospital care, we’ll fetch the cat food, even clean out the bird cage or litter trays.

If you would like a chat about volunteering or to request a registration form please call during office hours 01736 758707 or email us at or check out our website for more details

Registered Charity No: 1134680. The Cinnamon Trust is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered Office: 10 Market Square, Hayle, Cornwall, TR27 4HE. Company Number 07004861


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One hundred years ago: February 1918.

During an air raid on London a Gotha bomber was brought down by Captain Hackwell of the Royal Flying Corps. He is the second son of Mr W H Hackwell of Sudden Farm Langtree Torrington and he worked in a Bideford bank before the war. He enlisted in the Royal North Devon Hussars before transferring to the RFC. He was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry.

British Summertime, introduced in 1915, was discussed in the House of Commons and it was agreed that it should continue again this year so that local farmers could make use of the extra daylight hours. However no decision was made regarding its continued use thereafter or its duration this year.

Bideford Borough Food Control Committee desire to purchase on behalf of the Ministry of Food sound potatoes in lots of not less than ½ ton. Bags will be supplied from Bideford Railway station. Also in a Notice to the Public. There is a grave shortage of meat especially in the great centres of population. The Government is considering commandeering cattle and sheep. Farmers are urged to send suitable animals to market.

Property for Sale. A W Cock Auctioneers of Grenville Street has to offer the following :-   The Hoops Inn. Fully licensed for 6 days per week, comprising of a parlour, bar, breakfast room, kitchen and large cellar, wash house with copper furnace, 3 bedrooms and WC. All recently rebuilt. Also included is Stabling and outhouses, gardens, an orchard, in all about ¼ acre. Also for sale the adjacent property known as Coombe Cottage.

At Bideford Borough Sessions on Monday last George Arthur, a youth, was fined 6 shillings for riding a bicycle on the footpath in Mignonette Walk. PC Tuplin stated the facts.

Buyers from a large area attended the Sale of antique furniture at ‘Hazelhurst’, Belvoir Road, Bideford. The following were some of the prices achieved –   An antique oak drawer chest £40, oak wardrobe £30. Jacobean chest £13. Antique oak dresser £15. William & Mary settee £11, Grandfather clock £13, oak corner cabinet £6.7.6d

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714.

Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings or visit our website


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Felicity’s traditional fish cookery; February.

Salmon Netting in North Devon, 1988. (Photo courtesy of North Devon Museum Trust).

Tradition and heritage of our local rivers, Bideford Bay, and beyond will be the subjects of my articles in 2018. I will include a traditional, local recipe each month.

We have a thousand years of salmon fishing on the River Torridge and over five hundred years of courageous fishermen leaving Bideford East wharves for the cod-rich Grand Banks off Newfoundland. Henry Williamson made North Devon fish and fishing famous in his stories of Tarka the Otter and Salar the Salmon, and his accounts of those living and fishing in North Devon. Many local authors have carried on this tradition. If you have any interesting tales of fish and fishing, please contact me at

One of the first fish dishes I demonstrated in the 1980s was this recipe for A Celebration Salmon Pie, which I later called Admiral Sir Donald Gibson’s Salmon Pie. Now it uses farmed salmon, which is fine as it has many rich favours added, and the salmon with more fat is good for cooking encroute (in a pastry crust). Enjoy and celebrate.

Admiral Sir Donald Gibson’s Fish Pie.


One whole (or tail piece of) salmon, or 2 tail fillets. 1lb-3lbs/500gms +


2/3oz -200gms butter.

2/3oz-200gms of fresh ginger (grated).

1 lemon, zest and juice.

2/3oz -200gms sultanas.?1lb puff pastry – ready rolled pastry.

Beaten egg for glaze.

Mushroom and Champagne Sauce –

4 oz/250g button mushrooms.

1 oz/50g butter.

Cream or creme fraiche.

Champagne or sparkling wine – 2 large glasses.


Melt butter, mix all stuffing ingredients.

Roll out pastry in rectangle oval shape

Put 1 fillet in centre of pastry.

Spread 3/4 of stuffing on top and cover with second fillet.

Cut pastry into 1″ (25mm) strips, starting from marking out the tail on thin end of fillets and working up to thick end.

Fold over and secure with beaten egg, from tail end in sequence.

Cook at 220 C for 20 minutes in centre of oven, then 200 C for 10-20 minutes depending on salmon weight.


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Thomas Burton; 1875- 1959.

Everyone in Bideford knows where the Burton Art Gallery is, nicely situated in Victoria Park, adjacent to parking and Hockings’ Ice Cream van. But how many people know why it’s called the Burton Gallery? Was there someone called Burton? Well, there certainly was, and that man was a grocer. Thomas Burton was born in Surrey in 1875, and came to the West Country as an apprentice to Tanner’s grocers, of South Molton. We don’t know the bit in between, but the rest is recorded. Before long he appears as Manager of the International Tea Company in Yeovil, aged 23. He heard there were jobs in Bideford, and arrived in 1898 – ‘with a good stock of clothes, a good character and nothing more.’ He soon became Manager of Tattersill’s, the Bideford grocer. He fell in love, and in 1903 married a Bideford girl, Bertha Bishop, daughter of an Antique Dealer in Market Place. Their daughter, Mary, was born in 1906, but by that time, Thomas had his own grocery shops, one at the bottom of Grenville Street, and another in Mill Street. He was very successful and decided to go to London and seek his fortune. He was both grocer and fishmonger there, and again, made a success. In 1919, at the age of 44, he returned to Bideford, having sold his shops – the London enterprises to Lord Leverhulme, and the West Country shops to Macfisheries.

He was now a wealthy man, and could have sat back and enjoyed early retirement. But Thomas was not like that. He virtually threw himself into Bideford life. Already a Methodist lay-preacher, he became Circuit Steward and Sunday School Superintendent, and was Treasurer to the Bideford Trust, and Secretary to the Methodist Union. He became a Bideford Councillor in 1923, and served on the Finance Committee. He was much respected, and his Directorships were many, such as those of the Area Guardians (the Workhouse), Fire Brigade, Joint Hospital Committee, Gas Company and North Devon Permanent & Terminal Building Society. He was President and Chairman of the Liberal & Radical Club. He enjoyed music and sport, especially rowing, and was Vice-Chairman of the Regatta Committee. Bideford Council elected him Mayor in 1931, and his year of office was filled with engagements. That winter, he sponsored a Soup Kitchen in the Market for over 1000 children, the unemployed, the hungry. He co-founded Sudbury’s Glove Factory, giving employment to hundreds of women. He encouraged young people to take part in activities, both political and communal, and took 100 children from Bideford schools to Devonport, when he was invited, as Mayor, to see H.M.S. Bideford leave for the Persian Gulf.

His daughter Mary attended Westbank School (later Grenville College) while her parents lived in London. At 16, she graduated to Bideford Art School, and became proficient in drawing. Later, she married Jack Meredith, who managed the Hardware Shop in High Street, which Thomas bought in 1938. Mary carried on her love of art, collecting antiques and china. Elected to the Westward Ho! Art Society committee in 1932, she took an active part in its function. But this all ended in the 1940s, when Mary developed cancer, and sadly died on 4th May, 1949, aged 43. Thomas and Bertha were devastated at losing their only child, and wished her artistic talents to be remembered. Thomas anonymously offered £5,000 to Bideford Council for an art gallery, but then admitted that it was his gift to the town. On October 31st, 1951, the Mary Englefield Meredith Art Gallery was opened, and Thomas and Bertha signed the visitors’ book. Thomas died in 1959, and in his memory the name was changed to the Burton Art Gallery. It soon became Bideford’s best asset, filled with paintings and antiques donated from many quarters. Many important exhibitions from galleries all over the U.K. have been shown there.

The Museum was added later when the Gallery was extended in 1994. In 2016 a Trust took over management from Torridge District Council, and the Gallery is now known as ‘The Burton at Bideford’. There have been many changes over the years, but its founder will never be forgotten.

Diana Warmington.


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In this age of man-made global warming it is unlikely that we will see a repetition of what occurred in Bideford in 1894-5 and 1963. Simply put, this was the freezing over of the River Torridge around the Bridge. Both of these happened during a prolonged period of extremely cold weather, but the impacts were very different.

The first, shown here in two contemporary photographs, saw headlines in the Bideford Gazette which read ‘Distress in Bideford – A relief committee formed.’ Many men worked in outdoor occupations and the long period of frost and snow saw many thrown out of work and in ‘distress’.

In response the Mayor and rector hosted a meeting to seek subscriptions to provide soup to families said to be ‘on the verge of starvation’. The Gazette reports the sums donated by the councillors present, which ranged from 52p to £5. Further money came in over the next few days – enough to open a daily Soup Kitchen at the Music Hall in Bridgeland Street, with a second kitchen opening at East-the-Water every other day and another at Old Town also operating on alternate days. In addition Messrs How & Co. announced the distribution of several tons of coal to the poor.

A week later the Gazette could report ‘From all quarters little children were converging upon the Music Hall; some carried jugs, and others swung empty cans, some were warmly clad, many, alas, were thinly clad, but all looked hungry, and there was an anxiety in the eyes of some of the little mothers as they hurried along Bridgeland Street, lest the soup should hold out until their turn came.’

Eventually some £120 was collected and spent on soup, this being enough to tide the poor over the worst effects of the cold snap.

Compare this to the freezing up of the Torridge in 1963 – shown in the photograph below. No-one was starving and no soup kitchen was required – but the Bridge Trust did employ a large group of unemployed men to break up the larger ice floes piled up against the Bridge piers in order to protect the arches from damage. Unfortunately the damage that was caused was later blamed for the collapse of the two westernmost arches five years later. This could never be proved, of course, but suffice to say it seems unlikely that the Bridge and Bidefordians will experience another cold period so extreme that the river freezes over – but we will see.

Peter Christie.


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One hundred years ago; December 1917/ January 1918.

Christmas is coming and in spite of the War, Bideford plans to celebrate the season. The Christmas Market will take place on Friday 21st December. Coles and Lee, trading from the Gazette Office, suggest that handbags make excellent presents, as do wallets, photo cases and pocket books. Prices range from 1/3d to 38/6d, (which would be about £130 today.) Mrs Karslake of London House offers picture books “for the little ones, who must be remembered” and mufflers for soldiers and sailors.

On the food front, Bideford Guardians will increase out-relief for Christmas week; adults will receive 1/6d instead of 1/- and children 1/- instead of the usual 6d. Extra Christmas fare will be provided for the residents, but due to Food Control regulations they would have to do without the usual puddings.

Farleigh’s Stores have received a “very choice” parcel of Government flour, priced at 1/4d for a 7lb bag. They also advertise tinned salmon, which at 1/2d a tin is equal in nutrition to 2/6d worth of meat. The retail price of butter is fixed at 2/4d (weight not specified) and sugar is still strictly rationed.

At Lavington Chapel’s Sale of Work, War Ration Tea will be served at 6d each. The opening ceremony will be performed by the Mayor, Councillor A R Adams.

In other news, Mr Kelly, headmaster of Langtree School, would like to set up a library and appeals for books suitable for juvenile reading. Gifts to the various local hospitals in December include some unusual items – a football, hot-water bottles, pillows with cases and brawn.

On the farming front, Army horses are now in the district and available for ploughing – the ground is very wet and tractors are struggling.

January begins with a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s new film “The Immigrant” at the Palace Cinema.

Bideford Municipal Science, Art and Technical College offers a wide range of courses for the new term including pottery, chemistry, magnetism and electricity. A class for embroidery will be opened if sufficient numbers join. Bideford Grammar School’s next term will begin on 10th January, with Edgehill following on the 15th. Mrs Frank Braund’s elocution classes recommence on 25th January at Friendship’s Hotel.

Stewart & Co. 52 & 56a Mill Street are holding a remnant sale over two days. Mr J Woolf of Barnstaple Street, who attends the Pannier Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, advertises for 1,000 rabbits, any number of new laid eggs – and moleskins. We believe the moleskins were used inside shoes to prevent blisters and also by plumbers. (Does anyone know of other uses?)

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings or visit our website


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Buzz Byte – December.

This month I thought we would start with buying a new PC or Laptop – The Do’s & Don’ts.

1. Do have a clear idea of what you want the computer to do! I know this sounds silly but you’d be surprised how many people buying a new PC are still unsure what they are going to do with it! What programmes or software do you need the machine to run? Is it for business or pleasure? Are there other devices that need to be synced with it?

2. Do decide on a budget and try to stick to it.

3. Don’t just buy a computer based on price. The main differences between on-line retailers and local shops are price and service. A computer is a complicated piece of equipment, so be careful to not just buy the cheapest thing you find! Ask the question, is it such a good deal, what are the return/repair costs if it goes wrong and how long will I be without the machine? Does the company have a good track record for customer service? Did you get recommended by a friend or family member? If you have limited knowledge of computing then saving a few pounds buying on-line may come back to haunt you if they have little or no support! As with everything in life, you get what you pay for.

4. Don’t be baffled into buying things you don’t need! Some sales staff work on commission and will try and sell extras you may never use. If you don’t know what it does, just simply ask, and say no if you don’t want it. Don’t be baffled by computer jargon.

5. Don’t get caught out with illegal software. ALL computers bought (new or old) with Windows software require a license by law. This is normally a small rectangular sticker applied to the side of the PC, or on bottom of a laptop.

Nickie Joy.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery – December.


Many people have asked me about the different smoked versions of Clovelly Herring that are so plentiful in December. Traditionally the herring would be smoked to eat through the winter months, so I have added a very simple recipe for ‘Kippercakes’ that can be made in a batch and use for quick delicious breakfast or supper.

Here are all the types of smoked herring we sell on our stall; more info on Appledore Sustainable Fish facebook.

Kippers – Split and cold smoked Clovelly herrings, either whole on the bone or boned.

Bloaters – Cold smoked whole fish: requires short cooking time.

Bucklings – Hot smoked Clovelly herring: whole fish smoked, ready to eat.

Cold smoked cured kipper fillets; Ready to slice thinly and ready to eat.

Red Herrings: smoked whole, and in the kiln for at least a week!  Combine into a fish dish.

The simplest way to cook our Clovelly kippers is to jug them in a modern way-

Remove the kippers from the packaging and place the kippers – boned or whole in the bottom of cooking pot with a close-fitting lid.

Pour boiling water over the fish until they are totally submerged and replace the lid, thus trapping the steam.

Leave to steep for 5-15 mins, depending on size, turning over if the kippers are large – most Clovelly kippers will only require 10 mins.

Remove from hot water and pour away this water in the drain outside – to stop the fish smell in the kitchen/house.

Dress the kippers with a knob of butter, a squeeze of lemon and freshly ground pepper.

Eat with brown bread-fresh or toasted and a squeeze of more lemon – Delicious!

Mackerel or Kipper Cakes.

Serves 4


455g kipper or smoked mackerel fillets, fresh or defrosted, skinned

Beaten egg. Worcestershire sauce. 170g fresh breadcrumbs, lemon.


Preheat grill.

Place fillets into a food processor or blender. Process or blend until finely flaked.

Stir in egg, dash Worcestershire sauce and breadcrumbs.

Divide mixture into 8 pieces and shaped into 5cm rounds. Chill for 10-15 minutes.

Cook under low grill for 8-10 minutes, turning once.

Garnish with lemon and serve with salad and tomato and onion relish.

Excellent breakfast dish ; recipe from ‘Seafood Kitchen’.


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Bideford’s ‘prefabs’.

During the Second World War huge numbers of houses were destroyed by enemy action, and as early as 1944 Winston Churchill announced an EFM (Emergency Factory Made) housing programme. In 1945 the new prime minister Clement Atlee began implementing the scheme and within six years some one million new ‘prefabs’, as they came to be known, had been built – and I lived in one as a child.

In Bideford some fifty were built at Bowden Green and named the Grenville estate. The rapidly assembled, prefabricated houses were simple but perfectly acceptable constructions and, unusually for the time, were ‘all electric’ with luxurious touches like fridges being available. The first was opened in April 1946 by the Mayor W.H.Chubb, who was accompanied by councillors and some of the first tenants. All this was reported in the Gazette along with some photographs as shown here.

The buildings were only designed for a 10 year life span but residents grew to love them so much they didn’t want to leave and it wasn’t until July 1964 that the town council decided to demolish them. This move immediately led to protests from the prefab dwellers – as shown in the attached cutting from the Gazette.

The tenants lost the battle, however, and their houses were removed and replaced by 3-storey blocks of flats – which in their time have now been demolished and replaced by new accommodation! Nothing ever stands still, but one has to wonder if the concept of ‘prefabs’ should be revisited to help tackle the nation’s current housing shortage?

Peter Christie.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery – November.

Here is a Devon version of ‘Stargazey pasties’ made with Clovelly herrings.

Devonshire Stargazey Pasty.


450g puff pastry.

225g potato (cubed).

4/6 Herrings – filleted and sliced.

rashers of bacon.

1 onion.

50g butter .

1 tbsp. chives – chopped.

1 tbsp. parsley, chopped.

275g clotted cream.

Milk or egg for glazing.


Boil the potatoes for about 15mins.

Grill the bacon until the edges start browning, also slice and fry the onions in light oil until they are softened.

Chop up the cooked bacon and add to a bowl with the cooked diced potato, sliced herring fillets, chopped herbs and the softened onions and mix together.

On a floured surface roll out the puff pastry thinly and then cut rounds out to fit size 7inch/18cm side plates.

Fill the centre of each round with mixture on one half (be careful not to overfill). Add a spoonful of clotted cream on top.

Dampen the edges of the pasty with milk, fold and crimp the edges together carefully so that everything is sealed in.

Glaze with beaten egg and milk mixed, or just milk, and place on a non- stick baking tray.

Bake in the oven at 180C /gas mark 4 for 30 mins. until pastry is a golden brown.

Serve with seasonal vegetables or salad or take out with you on a walk or picnic.

Delicious with tomato chutney!


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One hundred years ago – November 1917.

Children from Bideford schools have collected approximately two tons of horse chestnuts, which will save a ton of cereals in munitions work.

North Devon Appeals Courts: Many columns in every edition are given to reporting the proceedings of employers appealing about their staff being taken to go to war. Farmers are protesting that on one hand they are being asked to increase food production, yet threshing is not being done because engine drivers and the labourers are being conscripted. Another farm instance this month is William Cole (18) of Bucks Cross who works with his father, Edward, breeding and training farm horses. They have 4 agricultural horses and 9 colts to be trained and this cannot be done alone. His appeal was allowed.

At Parkham the continuous showery weather has allowed very little ploughing to be done but an experiment at Melbury using a tractor saw the land turned and cultivated with some success. However rabbits ate everything that sprouted, but continued trapping saw the problem diminished, the crop grew, and now sheep can be seen feeding.

R Dymond & Co is offering for sale: A detached villa formerly called ‘The Ferns’ but now known as ‘Straiton’ at Buckleigh; 2, Nelson Terrace, Westward Ho! house and shop, & ‘East Glen’, Orchard Hill, Northam.

Another agent is advertising: A two-stall stable and Coach House, Torridge Street Bideford, 1 Torridge Street, 33 & 34 Torrington Lane, 35 Clifton Street, (a corner dwelling) & 35 Torrington Lane, which has a large frontage and has been re-roofed.

The Governors of Edgehill College have purchased ‘Kiltrasna’, a large residence with 15 acres high up North Down Road. It will become a hostel for the increasing number of students attending the college.

An alarming accident occurred in Bideford later in the month. The Hartland to Bideford Brake pulled by 2 horses was descending Grenville Street and as it turned down into the High Street the shaft connecting the horses to the coach broke, causing the coach to run into the horses. They started off and the entire assemblage careered down the street, narrowly missing several shoppers. The driver, with considerable skill turned the horses around the National Provincial Bank corner onto the Quay towards the Kingsley statue whereupon the coach rolled over onto its side. The horses were unharmed and the driver proceeded to extricate six passengers from the wrecked coach.


These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings or visit our website

The Archive’s Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 20th November 2017 commencing at 7.15pm in the Council Chamber, Northam Town Council, 1 Windmill Lane, Northam. The Mayor of Bideford will preside. If you would like to consider joining the Archive’s Committee please email There are numerous posts to be filled including Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary.


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Rope Walk – “The Battle of the Posts”.

Rope Walk today is a narrow but well used roadway running parallel to the Pill. Its name obviously records the presence of the ropemaking industry which was once so important to the ship-owning merchants of Bideford – but how many know the odd story behind the disappearance of the industry?

Around 1876 H.M.Restarick, a ship-builder of East-the-Water, took over the Rope Walk and, aware of the need for ever longer ropes, extended his ropemaking yard including some new posts – right across Chingswell Street and into the Strand. This obviously upset the local residents who immediately complained to the town council, who responded by ordering Restarick to take down the new posts as soon as possible.

Unfortunately Restarick was also a town councillor himself and he told his fellow councillors bluntly ‘Horses, carts, carriages, pedestrians etc could only pass subject to the convenience of the rope manufacturers’ and he really couldn’t understand why everyone was getting so agitated!

The council then ordered their Surveyor and his men to physically remove the contentious posts. They arrived at 7 a.m. one morning – only to find Restarick and some 50 of his employees guarding the posts. The shipbuilder then ‘dared the Surveyor to touch the posts’ – at which point the council men retreated.

Local papers satirically termed this ‘The Battle of the Posts’ as they reported a second attempt to uproot the posts at midnight where ‘a big strong fellow by the name of Passmore’ led the council men but as soon as he began work he was seized by Restarick’s men and escorted away. He was lucky as the ropemakers ‘had a bucket of tar and a bag of feathers near at hand and were very anxious to use them.’ To celebrate their victory they erected some ‘triumphal arches’ made of evergreens and topped with triumphant mottoes.

A month or so after this a council election was held where ‘pro-post’ candidates were elected in the heaviest poll ever recorded in town. The new council half-heartedly attempted to reach some agreement but Restarick refused and the posts remained at least until 1906 when, some 8 years after Restarick had died, the owner of the Strand Collar Works, which had replaced the Rope Walk ‘generously decided to forego his rights in respect of the posts on the Strand’ and they were removed. Exciting times in Bideford!

Peter Christie.


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One hundred years ago – October 1917.

The Borough of Bideford announces, under the powers conferred by the Retail Prices Order 1917, the Sale of coal prices for the forthcoming winter months:

Best Lydney House Coal £2.0.0d per ton. £2.2.6d delivered to the customers’ house.

Lancashire House Coal £2.5.0d per ton. £2.7.6d delivered.

Lydney Nuts £1.18.4d per ton or £2.0.10d delivered.

27 Bridgeland Street Bideford, formerly occupied by Mrs Field is now for Sale by Auction. The Bridge Trust own a lease signed on 26th November 1890 for the next 99 years. The Ground Rent has been set at £10 per annum.

Also for Sale 17 Winterbourne Terrace Lime Grove Bideford. Freehold. A W Cock, Auctioneers, 7 Grenville Street acting as agents for both sales.

In the village of Monkleigh two freehold thatched cottages are offered for sale by R Blackmore & Sons. The auction will take place next month.

North Devon Sugar prosecutions. Before the County Petty Sessions in Bideford is the owner of Rowena Boarding house in Westward Ho! for unlawfully obtaining 88 lbs of sugar for the purpose of preserving home grown crops. Upon investigation no jams, conserves or preserves had been found and on interview the owner admitted that she has failed to realise the significance of her actions. The Court felt that a warning needed to be given regarding the unlawful acquisition of goods in acute shortage and she was fined four guineas.

The Arbroath registered schooner ‘Surprise’ with Captain and four hands ran aground and was wrecked off Northam Burrows. She was bound for Rouen from Port Talbot and the Captain, who was unfamiliar with the estuary, was blown onshore by a westerly gale and flood tide. The Appledore lifeboat attended but could not get near to her. One crewman, a Dane, was washed ashore in the Taw estuary 1½ miles from Braunton and another came ashore at Chivenor. The Captain’s body was washed ashore at Woolacombe.

Bideford School Inspectors reporting to the Town Council point out that 33% of the Infants in Geneva school are underweight and across the town’s schools 75% of all girls are undernourished. The War is having an effect upon all levels of the population.

Each month the newspaper records the gifts that are donated to the two local VAD Hospitals at Enderly, Torrington and Commons, Northam. Eggs, milk, vegetables and fruit are commonly given. This month rabbits come from Lord Clinton and pheasants from Lady Gertrude Rolle. Other gifts include playing cards, cake, cigarettes, slippers and the ubiquitous socks.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings or visit our website


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