Council seeks renting partnership with private landlords.

Torridge District Council is calling on private landlords with accommodation for rent in Bideford to come forward to discuss long term leases for their properties. The request is part of the Council’s push to find a more ready supply of housing for when people find themselves temporarily homeless or in need of housing assistance.

Homelessness can occur for numerous reasons: family breakdown, sudden change in financial circumstance, etc, and people often turn to the Council for short term help and assistance. The shortage of readily available affordable accommodation across the district often means that people have to be housed in inappropriate and expensive bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation, during the period in which they need the Council’s help.

Torridge Council is proactively seeking landlords with available properties that it can lease on a 2-4 year basis that can be used to temporarily house people. Properties must be of a good standard with low maintenance and the Council are particularly interested in 1 bedroom and larger 4-5-bedroom homes. In return the Council can offer a secured direct income for landlords and over a longer period than shorter term lets normally afford.

Councillor Michael Clarke, Lead Member for Homelessness and Housing Need in Torridge, said: “Anyone might find themselves in a sudden homeless situation during their lives and while not always the case, maybe in need of the Council’s help to get them back on their feet. Having a list of readily available and suitable properties we can use to house people will be of huge benefit to everyone involved. We hope Landlords will rally to this call for available properties and get in touch with our officers to discuss becoming involved in the project. The upside to all of this will hopefully be to everybody’s advantage.”

Any property owners who would like to explore these proposals further are asked to contact Helen Page on 01237 428843 or email

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Arts Society North Devon virtual events.

The Arts Society North Devon is continuing to deliver its outstanding lectures via Zoom. Enjoy top quality talks from the comfort of your home during the pandemic.

For more information visit , contact the chairman on , or phone 01271 866661.


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The “Freshspring” project.

Steamship ‘Freshspring’ celebrates four years in Bideford.

During the Second World War, a fleet of freshwater-carrying steam ships was commissioned by the Royal Navy to deliver water to warships. These became the ‘Fresh’ class of ships and the last one to be built by Lytham Shipbuilders, in 1946, was named ‘Freshspring’. She served most of her time in Malta before being retired to the Clyde in the late 1970s, where she was decommissioned and mothballed.

While all of her sister ships were scrapped, ‘Freshspring’ was sold into civilian life and was towed to a new life in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. However, all did not go well and in the late 1980s she eventually ended up moored on the banks of the River Severn at Newnham where her machinery was kept in good order by her then owner, though externally she was deteriorating.

In 2012, a charitable trust was set up with the aim of saving ‘Freshspring’, and she was acquired by the Trust in 2013. Major funds for hull repairs were gained in 2016 and on 16th Oct 2016, SS ‘Freshspring’, towed by the tug ‘Severn Sea’, made her way down the Bristol Channel and up the Torridge to a new home in Bideford. It was an amazing journey, managed by a team classed as lunatics by experts for even attempting this remarkable project.

During her early days in Bideford, SS ‘Freshspring’ could not be opened to the public, as she needed further work. Volunteers stepped forward and achieved miracles with the ship, but some things needed funds. The wheelhouse and boat deck were rotten but the team persisted.

Four years later with Heritage Lottery Funding, local financial support and in the safe hands of the people of Bideford, SS ‘Freshspring’ is a very different ship.

Welcoming over 3,500 visitors during 2018/2019, The Trust’s 54 registered volunteers have been working hard to make sure that the visitor experience is truly memorable.

From 2017- 2019, the Steamship Freshspring Trust contributed over £18,000 to the local economy.

With its own brand of beer, sponsored and brewed in a local brewery, and a range of branded clothing, also supplied locally, the Trust is proud to cultivate maritime pride back into Bideford and be part of the community.

SS Freshspring is more than a steamship. She’s a place for volunteers to meet, learn new skills and have a sense of purpose. She’s a classroom for local schools where education involves hands-on activities and learning, she’s a venue for art classes, she helps young people to understand careers in maritime and has potential for so much more.

In recent months, Covid-19 has forced the Trust to review its ways of working. Confined spaces have made it impossible to safely open the ship to the public. However, a virtual reality tour, currently being created in partnership with BMT Global, will provide a valuable education resource and let the public tour the ship without leaving the comfort of the fore deck. This is a really exciting piece of work using cutting edge technologies. With the newly crowdfunded awning in place, tours won’t even be hampered by inclement weather!

The next challenge is to secure funding for two essential studies. Tenders are in for Feasibility and Viability studies and are ready to go. Once funds for this work are obtained, the Trust will learn exactly what needs to be done for SS ‘Freshspring’ to operate and become economically sustainable. These studies are pivotal pieces of work.

There are so many ways that you could help Freshspring, either from home or by helping on board. You are promised a warm welcome and a range of activities to choose from. Visit to find out more.


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Volunteers sought for “Home from Hospital”.


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‘Families for Chidren’ – online information sessions for 2021.

With the current COVID situation we are now running information sessions online via Zoom. I have pleasure in sending the date of our next information sessions.

Are you considering adoption but not sure where to start? Families for Children is holding ONLINE information sessions to give you the opportunity to find out more. You will hear from adopters and talk to our experienced adoption team about how you can adopt, the qualities needed to be a great adopter and of course about the children waiting. Visit us to book today or call 01271 612004


Thursday 20th May – 6.00pm – 8.00pm.



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Plans to transform the heart of Bideford.

Councillors unanimously backed outline plans that could see the heart of Bideford transformed as part of a £9.7m bid for investment and regeneration. The scheme has been developed as Bideford’s bid for a slice of the £1billion “Future High Streets” Fund set up by the government. Both Bideford and Barnstaple are among the final list of 101 towns nationally who have made it through to the final round of bids. The complex funding arrangements mean that Bideford will be asking for the highest figure available of about £4.3million.

The Future High Street Fund is designed to support the transformation of town centres. With vacancy rates increasing nationally and a general shift towards online shopping, report after report has indicated a need for towns to become more focused on providing for the needs of their local community – with a particular focus on both health and experiences. It can’t be used just for painting buildings, upgrading shop fronts or even pot holes, but has to be about creating genuine community change and making people’s lives better.

The project has already seen communities, businesses, trade organisations, and District and Town councillors come together in a once-in-a-generation chance to unlock the potential of Bideford’s town centre as a unique experience for working, living and entertainment – all with a shared goal of creating a carbon neutral development with aspiration at its core.

The properties and land at the heart of the town’s transformation will run from the Heard Brothers garage complex on Queen Street, through adjoining buildings and open spaces, right into the heart of the retail district in Mill Street. This will create an interlinked complex of vibrant workspaces, a Community Hub working in partnership with One Northern Devon (a branch of the NHS), TTVS and 361 Energy, a cultural anchor, street food and micro-breweries and a range of open spaces – all under the working title of “Isaac’s Yard”. The plans also encompass a number of architecturally important buildings whose features will be preserved, enhanced and celebrated. One of these heritage spaces is a walled garden that will be open for the public to enjoy, right in the hustle and bustle of the town centre – an “oasis of calm” protected on all sides not only from the wind but also from the noises of the world around it. A perfect place for a lunchtime catch-up with friends, all the way through to a town centre festival.

Many Councillors spoke with admiration for the package of proposals being put forward, which many of them, along with the public at a host of engagement events, have helped to shape.

An outline of the scope of the project will shortly be available at where the community can also express an interest to be kept informed of and get involved in future stages of the plans.

The next stage in the funding bid will involve a submission to Government by 31st July, with an announcement of successful bids expected in the autumn.


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Bereavement support during Covid-19.

(Scroll down below poster for links).


Tel. 01271-322362.

Website –

North Devon Hospice.

Tel. 01271-347225.

Email –

Website –

Cruse Bereavement Care.

Tel. 0300 330 5466.

Email –

Website –

Families in Grief.

Tel. 01237-479027.

Email –

Website –

Marie Curie.

Tel. 0800 3047 412.

Email –

Website –


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Help with anxiety & depression – ‘TALKWORKS’.

Don’t suffer in silence’ – help at hand for people in North?Devon feeling anxious about leaving lockdown.

For many people across the country, the past few months have been an incredibly difficult time with the COVID-19 pandemic creating a range of pressures and concerns. You might be experiencing job losses and financial worries, be missing loved ones or feeling very isolated. As lockdown eases, many people are also experiencing anxiety about entering the ‘new normal’, and being around more people again.

Many of us have mixed feelings and remain concerned about the impact of the virus on our lives. Perhaps the virus is not your primary concern, maybe you are worried about going back to pre-COVID social situations, such as visiting a restaurant or a pub.

All of these situations are examples of what can lead to an increase in common mental health problems such as anxiety, low mood or depression which can greatly impact on your day-to day-life and leave you feeling exhausted or worried.

We would urge people to seek help from TALKWORKS if they need support.

Part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, TALKWORKS is a free, confidential NHS talking therapy service dedicated to helping people improve their mental wellbeing. They are here to help individuals who may be struggling to cope, feeling low, anxious, stressed or just not quite themselves.

Chris Silman, TALKWORKS Clinical Team Manager for North Devon, says: “There is a real emphasis on taking care of our physical health at this time, but it can mean that people are struggling more with low mood, stress or anxiety. At TALKWORKS, we have adapted our services, meaning we are now offering talking therapies and practical help with your mental wellbeing through online platforms and over the phone.”

Sue Pike, TALKWORKS Service Manager, adds: “Last year we saw almost 19,000 people across Devon. This year we expect to treat even more people. However in common with other NHS services, we have seen fewer people coming forward to get help and treatment since lockdown and social distancing was introduced.

It’s important that those who are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing know that the NHS is still open as usual and that TALKWORKS in North Devon can help you or anybody you know that is struggling. We are able to offer an initial appointment very quickly.”

We all did our bit to protect the NHS by staying at home, but now is the time to look after ourselves, too.

Call TALKWORKS today on 0300 555 3344 or self-refer online at

Take the first step to improving your life and feeling like ‘yourself’ again.


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Help with relationship counselling.

New Local Relationship Counselling Service.

A new Relationship Counselling service opened in Barnstaple earlier this year to help local couples and individuals struggling with their relationships to access support in their local area.

The coronavirus outbreak meant that the service had to be suspended for face to face appointments, but with lockdown restrictions now eased clients can once again have appointments in person.

Following the closure of Relate’s Barnstaple centre in December last year, local people needing help had to travel to Exeter or Taunton to access specialist relationship support. In response to conversations with clients and some local GPs worried about this, Jean Bowerman, a former Barnstaple Relate counsellor until its closure, set up North Devon Relationship Counselling Service in February this year to provide North Devon people with local help. Jean works from The Tarka Clinic in Barnstaple, with strict safety precautions in place, and also offers appointments by telephone or video call, which many clients find really convenient.

Jean said “When people are anxious or stressed by difficulties in their relationships they can feel in real crisis. Being able to talk through their difficulties with an experienced professional can be invaluable. They need to be able to access help easily and quickly and, particularly if they rely on public transport or need evening appointments, do not want to have to travel long distances. The Covid-19 outbreak has brought with it extra pressures such as worries about finances and concerns about future job security. It is really important that local counselling is available for them, particularly if their relationships were already in difficulty before lockdown.”

Appointments can be made, sometimes at fairly short notice, by calling 07887562072 or Tarka Clinic on 01271 373346. For further information see where you can also send an email enquiry.


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Beaford Archive reopens to record Coronavirus.


North Devonians invited to photograph life during lockdown.

April 2020, North Devon.

For the first time in over 30 years, the Beaford Archive – home to the North Devon photographs of James Ravilious and Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins – is being reopened.

James had unrivalled access to North Devon lives, but not even he could have recorded life during lockdown,” said Mark Wallace, Beaford’s Director. “The only way we’ll do that is together – so, for the first time ever, we’re asking everyone in North Devon to add their photos to the Beaford Archive.”

The Beaford Archive contains over 100,000 images of northern Devon from 1850-1990. Over 10,000 of these are now available online at, thanks to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Royal Photographic Society has called it “unparalleled in both quantity and quality”. It has never before been opened for general submission, but the trustees of Beaford see it as vital that the Archive records these times for future generations. As a result, this new chapter in the Archive’s history will be written by the people of North Devon.

More details on how to submit photographs and information on James Ravilious’s approach to photo selection can be found at Curated galleries featuring submitted photos will be displayed throughout the lockdown period.


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Abbotsham – an historical note.

If you have been watching the last series of ‘Poldark’ you will know that the final episodes dealt with the threat of invasion in the West Country by the French. This threat was temporarily resolved by the Peace of Amiens in March 1802, but by May of 1803 the war was back on and the threat of invasion with it.

This threat was perceived very seriously in the area around Bideford, as can be seen from two documents in the North Devon Record office that relate to the parish of Abbotsham. These are what in today’s parlance might be called a ‘contingency plan’.

The first document, dated 4th December 1803, is The minutes of the resolutions entered into at a meeting of the inhabitants of Abbotsham’. There were six numbered resolutions setting out where parishioners were to meet and place themselves under the direction of named persons, where they should take their stock, that various carts were appointed for the removal of sick and infirm people and that the overseers of the poor would supply 6 bushels of meal at parish expense to Mrs Stone to make 4 loaves of bread for each of the poor. The Overseers of the Poor were also to supply materials to enable the livestock to be marked and they even specified how and where such markings we to be placed.

The document then sets out who would conduct and drive the stock along one of two specified routes – one to Dartmoor and the other to Somerton, distances of about 40 miles and 80 miles. They weren’t taking any chances!

The second document details the owners of the stock that was to be moved plus the names of the old and decrepit persons and whose cart they should travel on. There followed details of the routes to be used, with some alterations written in pencil, showing slight differences to those of the first document, which must be the later version.

This shows some forward thinking by the leaders of the parish, although one can’t help wondering how much notice of invasion they would need to put this plan into action.

David Snow.


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Heroine of India honoured with statue in Torrington.

A bronze statue of Sister Nivedita (1867-1911) was unveiled by Great Torrington Town and Torridge District Councillors in Great Torrington Cemetery on Saturday 27th August . Sister Nivedita, who was born Margaret Elizabeth Noble, spent much of her life in India where she is revered as an educationalist and campaigner for India’s freedom movement. Her involvement with India came about after a meeting with Swami Vivekananda in London in 1895 after which she travelled to Calcutta. She was given the name Nivedita meaning “dedicated to god” and opened a girls school in 1898. Her intention was to educate girls who were at the time deprived of even the most basic education. She is also noted for nursing the poor during the plague epidemic in Calcutta in 1899 as well as having a close association with the Ramakrishna Mission until later when she made an active contribution in the field of Indian Nationalism.

She died in Darjeeling in 1911 and following her cremation her ashes were returned to Great Torrington where they were interred in the family grave. The statue and plinth were commissioned and paid for by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Ms Mamata Banerjee to commemorate the 150th anniversary of her birth on July 4th and also in commemoration of her life which she dedicated to India. Torridge District Council provided the plot on which the bronze statue has been sited as a permanent memorial. It is the first statue of Sister Nivedita to be erected outside of India and was unveiled jointly by Deputy Mayor of Torrington Doug Smith and Torridge and Great Torrington Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin who is also lead member for Community, Culture and Leisure at Torridge District Council.

TDC Lead member for Community, Culture and Leisure – Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin said – “I must admit that I was largely unaware of Sister Nivedita’s family connection to the Great Torrington area or of the fascinating and selfless work she devoted herself to in India. Clearly she was a remarkable woman at a time when people (and women in particular) were not given the opportunities that they have today. This makes her achievements even more significant, and I hope that the statue will act as an inspiration to those who see it and bring about a greater recognition of her life which was dedicated to helping those who were less fortunate.”

Mayor of Great Torrington – Councillor Keeley Allin said: “The information in relation to Sister Nivedita’s incredible achievements in India and her connection to Great Torrington have been a revelation to many over these past few months. It is clear that amongst other things, this lady’s life had a major impact in empowering young women in India through the provision of education and learning. It is a privilege to host the statue of remembrance and recognition in our town’s cemetery and hope that many people, young and old, will visit and be inspired by the life and achievements of Sister Nivedita.”

Swami Sarvasthananda said: “We are delighted to be part of unveiling ceremony of Sister Nivedita, also known as Margaret Noble, who gave her all to India at the behest of her spiritual master Swami Vivekananda. She was inspired by his message of Service of God in man and contributed a lot in several fields for the uplift of the Indian masses including that of women’s education. It is a great privilege for the monks and devotees of the Ramakrishna Mission to honour her contribution by installing a bronze statue in Torrington kindly made possible by the help received from the government of West Bengal, India. Our sincere thanks to Torridge District Council for their unconditional help and support.”


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One hundred years ago – May 1919.

Echoes of the war are still evident in some areas of life.

R Blackmore & Sons Auctioneers, of New Road, Bideford, have been instructed to sell agricultural items which are surplus to the requirements of the North Devon Agricultural Committee. These range from tractors and threshing machines to straw trussers and binder twine. Readers are assured that these items are by the best makers and most of them are practically new.

By order of the local Food Committee, milk prices for May have been fixed at 6d per quart delivered, 5d sold at the retailer’s premises. Imported meat will be 2d per pound less than the price stated on the list exhibited in the shop.

Soldiers attached to the Agricultural Corps will not now be moved to join the Army of Occupation until after May 15th, as it was felt that their removal at such a busy time would harm food production.

Mr F A Searle, Honorary Treasurer of Bideford Town Council, has been thanked for his services in connection with the Belgian refugees. Some 200 refugees have been maintained by the town since their arrival in February 1915, the last having now been repatriated.

Germany was to lose 13 percent of its territory and 10 percent of its population. … Pressured by the Allies and thrown into confusion by crisis within the Weimar government at home, the Germans gave in and accepted the terms at 5:40 p.m. on May 23. The Versailles Treaty was signed on June 28, 1919

In other news:

Mr W J Barnes, Clerk to Northam Council, has written to the police calling attention to the excessive speed and dangerous driving of motor cars and motor cycles on the Bideford to Northam Road.

Pebbles are to be raked off the Westward Ho! Coastal path and notices erected prohibiting cycling.

A field at Northam belonging to Mr Penhorwood and occupied by Mr Griffey has been acquired for allotments, as has the field at Westward Ho! opposite Springfield belonging to Mr W S Bourne and occupied by Mr H Braddick.

A hive of bees swarmed in Abbotsham Road on 19th May, believed to be the first of the summer season. The 17th century proverb supports this “a swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly”

Mr Perkins, The Quay, Bideford, agent for the Combe Martin Jam & Preserve Company, will purchase any quantity of fruits, including strawberries, red currants, gooseberries and plums.

And finally:

Bideford Town Crier’s latest call on Friday was “Lost! Bideford Town Water Cart, last seen in the council yard. Anyone returning same to Mill Street in working order will be rewarded with thanks.” The Gazette reports that the much needed rain came on Saturday

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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One hundred years ago – March 1919.

Property for sale:

At an auction held at the New Inn, Messrs Dymond & Son sold Swiss Cottage, Northam, which was knocked down to Mr A Chamberlain for £925; 3 pasture fields [2 adjacent Bloody Corner and 1 at White Horse Lane, Northam] to Mr E Withecombe for £730; 2 fields adjacent Diddywell Rd. to John Steer £500; 3 fields of 9 acres opposite Richmond House, Appledore, to Mr H M Bazeley at an undisclosed price; 2 acre field near Lookout Appledore to George Cork £300. A 6 acre field adjacent to Swiss Cottage was withdrawn at £800 by Messrs Hole Seldon & Ward Solicitors. Messrs R Blackmore have the Castle Inn No. 20 Allhalland Street, Bideford for sale. It is suggested that it can be used as a boarding house. Forrest Hill, the residence plus 10¾ acres is also offered for sale. Offered for sale from Messrs A W Cock is Higher Shute at Littleham in one lot and a field of land which is part of Stanbury Estate, Raleigh, Northam.

Upwards of 40 hands are now employed in the preparation of the new shipyard at Higher Cleave Houses, Bideford.

R Blackmore & Son has received instructions to sell by auction a Ford Touring Car. It has one spare and interchangeable wheel, new cylinders and practically a new hood. The Sale will follow on after the sale of 50 Army horses.

This month sees the Gazette filled with transport related adverts –

Lorries, cars and motorcycles are becoming available to purchase and businesses that were curtailed through staff being conscripted are trying to re-establish themselves.

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 sustainable fish cookery – March.



Finnish Herring Pie – baked herring with tomatoes.


4 /6 herrings.

2 large onions.

oil/ butter.

1-2 ½ lbs of potatoes (6-med/large potatoes).

S &P.

½pt. milk.



Scale and bone the herring and clean by removing the roes and washing inside.

Soak in salted water for several hours before using. Slice up the drained herring fillet.

Fry the onions lightly in the oil until golden.

Grease a fireproof dish with butter.

Put in a layer of sliced potatoes -followed by a layer of sliced onions and sliced tomatoes and slices of herring fillets.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Top with the remaining sliced potatoes and pour over the milk.

Cook in the centre of the oven for 90 mins at Gas Mark 4-180C.

Serve with extra green vegetables or with crusty bread for supper.


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