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Memories of Dartmouth

History starts now. Something that just happened is history. When it's gone it's gone, unless someone records it. So let us have your memories. The rules are simple:

By sending us your story (including pictures, videos, etc):

  1. you warrant that you own the copyright and are allowing the Dartmouth Museum Association (DMA) a perpetual licence to publish it on its web site and in the museum or other relevant ways as the DMA considers appropriate.
  2. you understand that, once published, the material will remain published at the sole discretion of the DMA. Reasonable requests for removal will be honoured when this is practical. Where a submission has been used in printed media removal is generally impossible.
  3. you agree that your name, but never your email address unless you specify that the DMA may publish it, will be published under your contribution
  4. you recognise that the DMA will not publish every submission received.
  5. you understand that the DMA may edit your submission when required.

Simply email us your memories. We'd like to know the dates and any key people involved.

Latest memories will go onto this page, and we'll sort them into year groups, too.

To get us started, here are a few examples, latest date earliest. We'll do some sorting when we have more to sort. Now, when you watch to the end of a video, Youtube (if that is where the video is from) usually suggests some extra ones to watch. By no means all of these are relevant to Dartmouth, but there's often a treat there, though you do watch on your own responsibility. We can't be responsible for the content of things that are linked to.

Saturday 15 September 2012, The Tour of Britain comes to Dartmouth. We hoped for Bradley Wiggins, of course we did, but he had gut rot. That didn't stop the crowds from coming, though. The official estimate is over 50,000 people visiting Dartmouth to see the end of Stage 7 of the tour.

Devon Air Ambulance lands on Dartmouth's Coronation Park on Sunday 15 Juy 2102 to perform a patient transfer from the land ambulance
[Image © Melanie Trent, all rights reserved]

Sunday 15 July 2012, The Devon Air Ambulance meets a land ambulance on Coronation Park for an emergency patient transfer just after breakfast. We got to thinking: without Coronation Park as a permanent, flat, accessible open space, where would they go to do this?

The park, granted some protection for recreation and leisure use by the Dartmouth Corporation Act of 1928, is often eyed by developers for some profit making scheme or other.

Frank Allen, NCI Watchkeeper and the Olympic Torch he ran wth in 2012 in Torquay, at Inner Forward Point on Friday 13th July 1012
[Image © Melanie Trent, all rights reserved]

The National Coastwatch station at Froward Point near Kingswear had an unusual visitor on Friday 13th July 2012 - the Olympic Torch. Frank Allen, a newly qualified watchkeeper and former Commonwealth Games athlete, carried the torch in Torquay on Day 2 of the relay.

"Although the Olympic Torch Relay is travelling 8,000 miles around the United Kingdom, I doubt if it will stop at any of our 46 coastal lookout stations," he said. "So I thought I'd put that right by bringing my torch along to do a 4-hour watch with me!"

Frank's run with the torch in Torquay on 20 May made a small piece of Olympic history when he passed the flame to his wife, Jane, who was also selected as a torchbearer for a solo charity walk she did from John O' Groats to Land's End in 2007.

As a qualified watchkeeper, Frank, once Devon 3,000 metre Steeplechase Champion, joins a pool of almost 70 trained volunteers who man Froward Point station, overlooking Start Bay, 365 days a year. They maintain a visual watch over the sea and along the coast, monitor VHF radio channels and radar, and are ready to act in any emergency. Last year alone, National Coastwatch stations around the country were involved in over 300 incidents at sea and along the shoreline.

"Only 8,000 people were lucky enough to be selected as Olympic Torchbearers," said Frank, "but anyone can volunteer their services as a NCI watchkeeper or supporter. Watchkeeping is one of the most worthwhile things I've ever done."

On that note, NCI Froward Point is always ready to welcome new volunteers, with 'taster watches' held almost any day of the year, and two major training sessions, one in the autumn, the other in the spring. "All are welcome, there is absolutely no need to have any marine experience," said Mervyn Balson, Station Manager. "All we need is people who love the beauty of the area, have a few hours a month to share, and who enjoy meeting people and giving something back. It's easy to learn what our watchkeepers need to know."

30 May 2012, Dartmouth and Kingswear celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II with a Devon Cream Tea on the Lower Ferry, half way between Dartmouth and Kingswear. The video is by Love Dartmouth. As they say:

Dartmouth UK and Kingswear councils host a floating street party on the Lower Ferry, in the middle of the River Dart, to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and to honour and thank some of those who have contributed significantly to the two communities.

The BBC Devon News site also covered the event:

Kingswear and Dartmouth each sent about 20 people for the party on one of the three ferries that daily ply their trade across the River Dart.

The ferry was moored in middle of the Dart for an hour on Wednesday evening for the cream teas and entertainment.

The idea was conceived by local people "as a bit of fun".

The Queen Elizabth II Diamond Jubilee Fountain in Royal Avenue Gardens, Dartmouth, running at a gentle trickle
[Image © Tim Trent, all rights reserved]

27 May 2012, the new Jubilee Fountain, running at a trickle. At the opening it was on full, but the four jets out of the lions' mouths weren't perfect. One was a jet, three were a splutter. Dartmouth's looking forward to it running well in time for the Jubilee celebrations themselves.

Plaque to celebrate the tercentenary of Thomas Newcomen's invention of the Atmospheric Steam Engine
[Image © Tim Trent, all rights reserved]

Opening ceremony on 22 May 2012 of Dartmouth's Newcomen Engine House, to celebrate the tercentenary of Thomas Newcomen's invention of the Atmospheric Steam Engine
[Image © Tim Trent, all rights reserved]

The Newcomen Engne, brought to Dartmouth from the canal system where it pumped water for many years, now powered for display by electricity
[Image © Tim Trent, all rights reserved]

22 May 2012, Dartmouth's Newcomen Engine House was reopened after major refurbishment in honour of the 300th anniversary of Thomas Newcomen's invention of the Atmospheric Steam Engine, arguably the first ever piston driven engine. The opening was by Alvin Smith, another son of Dartmouth, and inventor of another piston powered device, the SeaRaser.

As The Dartmouth Directory tells us:

The engine on display in Dartmouth was donated by the British Transport Commission to the Newcomen Society in 1963 and erected within an old electricity sub station. This particular engine was built around 1725 at Griff Colliery, before moving elsewhere. The beam and cylinder are believed to be original; valve gear was replaced in 1821, and used by the Coventry Canal Company from 1821 to 1913 for pumping water from a well into the canal at Hawkesbury Junction.

20 May 2012, the Olympic Torch comes to Dartmouth, from Stoke Fleming the route chose to hit College Way twice rather than come into Dartmouth down Weeke Hill and leave up College Way. The torchbearers are on the London 2012 Web Site, and, because such things are ephemeral, we've archived a copy of that page for posterity. The links in the archive will work while the site they link to remains live.

It's interesting that not that many of those carrying the torch through Dartmouth appear to be Dartmouth residents. Or is that not what "Home town" means?

The video features Torch bearer 045, and, from his picture, we think he is Phillip Rudd, though telling from his official mug shot is hard!

Phillip Rudd, Olympic Torchbearer 045, in Dartmouth on 20 May 2012

Phill's nomination said:

Phill is one of the BTVolunteers in Exeter and has helped deliver the education programme in devon which this year has seen an increase in the number of children seen by the group - approximately 4,500 children in 12 months.

We had to find out what a BT Volunteer is:

The employee volunteering scheme, BT Volunteers, aims to place BT people in schools to deliver aspects of the BT Education programme. Supported by the company, the volunteers run curriculum-led classes exploring effective speaking and listening activities and citizenship. BT Scotland also encourages its people to volunteer as business advisers to groups of young people learning how to run their own small businesses via Young Enterprise Scotland programmes. Work experience and student placements are also available.

[More details on the BT Volunteers Website]

Olympic Torch Bearer number 045 Phillip Rudd carrying the torch on his section of the relay in Dartmouth, along Coombe Road past the Higher Ferry and on down the North Embankment on 20 May 2012, at approximately 11:45
[Image © Melanie Trent, all rights reserved]

The grey togged gentleman and lady runners are part of the official escort provided by Devon and Cornwall Police.

We had to edit out large chunks of 'nothing happening' on the video between the loud vanguard of sponsors and the Olympic Torch Bearer. We wondered at first if they'd somehow whisked the torch past us in the vanguard! Their presence created a substantial feeling of anticlimax and perplexity. It was worth it after the rather pointless hiatus though.

The video is taken from the middle of the row of historic cottages of what was then Coombe Terrace and is now Coombe Road.

Were you one of the torchbearers through Dartmouth? How would you feel about lending us your torch and uniform? We'd love to feature it and your story in the museum for a month or two, longer if you let us. If you were and would let us please email us.

18 May 2012, the unveiling and dedication of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Fountain in Royal Avenue Gardens in Dartmouth.

18 May 2012, the new fountain, dedicated to the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II is unveiled, switched on, and the vicar mentions that the water ought to "cool the ardour of couples nearby" as a part of his blessing. A pleasant yet small crowd gathered to listen to the speeches and to watch the grand switching on. [Image © Melanie Trent and used with her permission. Melanie Trent reserves all rights.]

The plaque to Thomas Newcomen, inventor of the 'Atomospheric Steam Engine', or the 'Newcomen Engine'.

23 March 2012, the plaque to Thomas Newcomen, inventor of the 'Atmospheric Steam Engine', or the 'Newcomen Engine'. This is highly relevant this year, because it is the 300th anniversary of his machine, and he is a son of Dartmouth. The plaque stands at the river edge of Royal Avenue Gardens. [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

Two views of 'Piscatorie', the lovely statue of two fisherboys, presented to Dartmouth by Finch Ingram, and standing quietly in Royal Avenue Gardens.

23 March 2012, two views of 'Piscatorie', the lovely statue of two fisher boys, presented to Dartmouth by Finch Ingram. Cleaned to be sparkling in the summer of 2011, it's a little green around the gills, pun intended. It's the photographer's favourite statue in Dartmouth for its simplicity and poise. More about Finch Ingram may be seen on his descendant, local author Richard Webb's pages. [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

Dartmouth Boat HIre takes to the water for the new season, March 2012

the floral 'clock' that is Britannia Royal Naval College's crest, in Royal Avenue Gardens, Dartmouth, March 2012

23 March 2012, Signs of Spring in Dartmouth. The Dartmouth Boat Hire boats are starting to be launched, ready for the start of their season in April, the floral 'clock' that is Britannia Royal Naval College's crest is looking in needs of a slight haircut; new in 2011, it's been through the winter, and still looks good. And there are plans afoot for another one to join it to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. [Images © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

Dartmouth's fountain in Royal Avenue Gardens in August 2010

[Image © Melanie Trent and used with her permission. Melanie Trent reserves all rights.]

Dartmouth's fountain in Royal Avenue Gardens in March 2012

23 March 2012, something is missing in Royal Avenue Gardens! The top picture shows the gardens in August 2010, in a wet Dartmouth Royal Regatta. The bottom one shows them in a crisp Spring day in March 2012. The Old Dartmothians have 'dismantled' the fountain and are half way to raising the 10,000 to replace it. The old fountain, attractive though it was, had been repaired and patched so many times that it was no longer functional. [Lower image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

Tunnelling under the Coronation Park tennis courts winter 2012,  South Hams District Council

22 March 2012, Dartmouth's 150,000 refurbished tennis courts have been saved from being ripped up a matter of months after they were given their major overhaul amid engineering workings reminiscent of mining tunnels that would not disgrace a remake of the Second World War film epic The Great Escape.

Engineers working on the project had to resort to old fashioned mining techniques called 'timber heading' complete with trolleys on rails to haul out the spoil after seven ancient tree stumps thwarted the massive drilling bit or auger just eight metres short of the 46 metres to cross beneath the Coronation Park courts. In a triumph of collaborative working and innovative engineering between site owners South Hams District Council, South West Water, and their engineers Balfour Beatty it was agreed to try to use a giant laser-guided auger to bore a 150mm hole to carry a new sewer pipe to relieve a flooding problem in Coombe Road.

But like the PoWs in The Great Escape there were risks which curiously dated back to the Second World War. The ground beneath the courts was used by the Americans in 1942 as a base for part of the war effort and engineers had no clear idea what they might find. In another part of the site is buried an early submarine and other smaller one man subs.

Tom King, site manager for Balfour Beatty, said: "It would have been unthinkable cutting up the courts and not necessarily less expensive since once we had broken the concrete slab on which the courts were placed reinstating, and resurfacing that would have been quite difficult and possibly costly." First engineers had to sink a 2.1metre diameter precast concrete manhole, and behind it cast a concrete thrust block to take auger drilling loads of up to 100 tons. The auger was then bolted in position and the drill pushed through. Tom added: "Seven metres from the far edge of the courts we hit an obstruction. We then had to have a three man team tunnelling in the old fashioned way from the other side putting up timber heading and shuttering to support the many tons of earth and courts above the 1.2metre square tunnel.

We installed a rail track to carry out the soil and had all the Health and Safety checks carried out because this is a high risk activity. We even pumped in a fresh supply of air and the men were only allowed to use their air picks for 18 minutes at a time to avoid vibration injuries. We removed 20 tons of soil, seven tree roots and scores of old bottles."

Site foreman Anthony Coles said: "We were lucky to make it across under the courts as far as we did with the auger. There are submarines, including one man subs and other debris buried here we might have come up against. As it is I think those tree stumps were buried in 1942 when the Americans had their base here." Work began in November to make a connection between the Coombe Road sewer to another on the other side of the courts nearer the river that had spare capacity to cope with storm conditions that previously caused flooding in the road around the park.

Councillor Bill Hitchins, South Hams Executive Member for Assets, said: "South Hams District Council is delighted that South West Water has completed the construction of the new sewer at Coronation Park with only limited disturbance."

[Reproduced by kind permission of Dartmouth News, whose copyright this article is. It first appeared in the 22 March 2012 edition. The pictures are the copyright of South Hams District Council, and first appeared as part of their press release]

DH99 Superb-Us unloading crabs at Dartmouth's South Embankment

DH 99 Superb-Us in Dartmouth. Detail from crab haul

19 March 2012, fishing boat DH99 Superb-Us unloading a day's haul of crabs at the South Embankment in Dartmouth. Sea Water is played on the live crabs to keep them as fresh and alive as possible.

The crabs are held in the open cages after the pots have been hauled, and are transferred to the blue buckets for offloading.

[Images © Melanie Trent and used with her permission. Melanie Trent reserves all rights.]



Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority renews pontoon mooring piles with enrmous crane barge

13 March 2012, work progresses on the renewal of large piles securing the pontoons owned by the Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority. Heavy mist, but work goes on. [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

The Dartmouth Newcomen Engine House is revealed after the felling of a large Holm Oak tree

13 March 2012, after intense local debate, the Newcomen Engine House is revealed after the felling of a large Holm Oak tree. This is in preparation for this year's celebration of Thomas Newcomen's 300th anniversary [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

Start of the 2012 demolition of the Dartmouth St John's Ambulance hut by Coronaton Park prior to the potential building of a block of luxury flats

13 March 2012, the start of the demolition of the old St John's Ambulance meeting hut, prior to the potential erection of a block of luxury apartments [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

Dartmouth In Bloom Memorial to Michael Chistianssen March 2012

On Tuesday 13 March 2012, Dartmouth in Bloom volunteers replanted the poignant memorial to Michael Christiansen (29 April 1963 - 2 January 1978) with colourful primulas before its forthcoming summer planting of red and white zonal pelargoniums [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

First section of Dartmouth Town Bridge safely stored on the lifting barge.

29 November 2011 - The old bridge is cut away and lifted. The wind for the operation was extremely fierce, so much that the Lower Ferry and the Passenger Ferry were both suspended. Wind speed readings from NCI Froward Point's weather station show severe gale force 9 gusting storm 10. To translate that to speed you may be more familiar with, the Met Office has a table. [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

Crane barge is in place upstream of the Dartmouth Town Bridge

The crane barge and the first of the twin new Town Bridges are ready. [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

Crane performing test lift of old bridge to allow the engineers to check for issues

The crane barge performs a test lift to let the engineers check for difficulties when they actual lift is performed. The bridge was eased upwards just a smidgen so check what would be easy and what would be difficult. [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

The Edgcumbe Belle as today's Kingswear Ferry berths at the steps on the embankment, quite a tricky operation by comparison to berthing at the jetty

The Edgcumbe Belle berths at the steps on the South Embankment. All river boats will use the embankment for the duration of the works to the bridge and jetty. Berth holders have access by water taxi since there is no pedestrian access this week. [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]

28 November 2011 - Start of the replacement of the South Hams District Council owned bridge to the Town Jetty. The crane barge is in place, the first of the twin new bridges is on a barge alongside the jetty and the crane is linked to test lift the bridge. Much work left to free the old bridge from its mountings and perform the lift.

Dartmouth Higher Ferry, Dressed Overall, Dartmouth Regatta 2011

27 August 2011 - The Dartmouth Higher Ferry dresses overall for the Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta. She also has a light display, on in the picture though hard to see. [Image © Tim Trent and used with his permission. Tim Trent reserves all rights.]



27 August 2011 - Final day of the Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta, a demonstration by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from 771 Squadron, Culdrose and the Dart Lifeboat, showing the professionalism of the crews of the Royal Navy and of the RNLI.



May 2011 - "Sea Cloud" under engine going past Coronation Park to turn up river of the Higher Ferry


May 2011 - Britannia Royal Naval College public rehearsal for the 2011 Brickwood Trophy Field Gun Competition.



26 August 2010 - HMS Quorn entering harbour to perform her duties as guard ship for the 2010 Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta



8 August 2010 - "Ocean Princess" turns in her own length under the command of Pilot David White between Dart Marina and Sandquay Naval Base



5 August 2010 - Dartmouth Lower Ferry, a two minute crossing. The video shows the two ferries exchanging places at Kingswear, the inbound ferry with an emergency ambulance on board.



5 August 2010 - HMS Raider, P275, an Archer Class fast patrol boat, picks her way through harbour traffic on a regular visit to Dartmouth



27 July 2010 - "The World", the largest ocean liner ever to enter Dartmouth Harbour (until this date), comes in stern first under the command of Pilot David White



27 June 2010 - a handheld and somewhat unsteady walk around Dartmouth. "Quick walkabout in historic Dartmouth, England as orchestra plays in park and England does battle with Germany in World Cup match."



August 2009 - Not just buses in Dartmouth. While following the steam train the camera pans past the yacht British Steel, the light blue hulled ketch, at the 2 minute mark. She was built by George Philip & Son at Noss on the Dart and sailed solo by Chay Blythe, now Sir Chay, around the world against the prevailing westerly winds in 1970/71



27 April 2009 - The Dartmouth Higher Ferry, in the last months before she was replaced by a newer, faster, higher capacity model. This one had served the town since 1960. She was built by Philip & Son of Noss. The video is shot from the Noss side of the river towards Coronation Park and The Floating Bridge on the Dartmouth side



6 February 2009 - Snow in Dartmouth



2007 - Dartmouth, a Small Documentary, produced by Ben Hamilton


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