Newton Abbot Town Trail

Newton Abbot Town Trail

Step Back in Time!

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Trail Map

The War Memorial

The War Memorial

The War Memorial
(Stop 1 of 19)

The War Memorial was
unveiled in July 1922, by Lieut-Gen Sir Charles Louis Woollcombe KCB and designed by Mr Coleridge-White.

The 'Figure of Freedom' was made by Courtenay Pollock, she is sometimes known by the locals as the 'Lady with Sausages'

On it there are the names of 234 Newton Abbot men who died during the Wars.

Do you have a story to tell about a relative who is linked with the war?

Dagenham House

Dagenham House

Dagenham House
(Stop 2 of 19)

Opposite the War memorial, on your right as you head toward Queen Street, is an Indian Restaurant that was once known as Dagenham House This was the home of Dr John Ley who sacked the matron of the workhouse for cruelty and created a better life for the inmates.

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St Josephs Catholic Church

St Josephs Catholic Church

St Josephs Catholic Church
(Stop 3 of 19)

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, is where the Italian Aller Vale potter, Domenico Marcucci, was married in 1890.
Across the road, at the junction with Lemon Road is the building (now CostCutters) where Frank Matcham's grandfather once lived. Frank became the key Victorian Theatre designer with over 20 theatres to his name - (view photo) including the London Palladium, he was born in nearby East St.

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The Pharmacy Cafe

The Pharmacy Cafe

The Pharmacy Cafe
(Stop 4 of 19)

Formerly 'Bibbings the Chemist', the café was designed by John Bibbings, in 1877.

If you enter the shop you will see the original Italian mosaic floor and the “drugs run,” which consists 117 small mahogany drawers.

Biibbings was an accomplished botanist and the curved glass windows once advertised his famous perfumes alongside large display bottles, or 'Carboys', filled with coloured water.

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Madge Mellors

Madge Mellors

Madge Mellors
(Stop 5 of 19)

Madge Mellor's (est. 1927), was the best known café in the town with a reputation for first-class service.

Mr and Mrs Ashworth cultivated and old fashioned image with waitresses in black aprons and white caps.

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Invertere building

Invertere building

Invertere building
(Stop 6 of 19)

The 'INVERTERE' building has ornate architecture and dark green tiles above the doorway. Mr Parkin created a reversible raincoat in 1904. The Invertere raincoat is still available today.

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Union Street

Union Street

Union Street
(Stop 7 of 19)

Union Street was once the scene of a full-scale riot!

In 1908, Mrs Pankhurst, the suffragette, and her daughter Slyvia, came to Newton Abbot to campaign for votes for women, joining forces with the Conservatives. The rival parties' Clubs were on opposite sides of Union Street and caused a riot after the news of the Liberals' defeatwhen supporters of both groups met in Union Street.

Mrs Pankhurst and her supporters provoked angry scenes with the suffragettes beating off the unruly crowd with their umbrellas!

The Police were pelted with rotten eggs and jackets were ripped. After much fighting and pushing, in which Mrs Pankhurst was an enthusiastic participant, she was knocked to the ground and trampled on. The police eventually succeeded in getting the women into the car and back to their Torquay Hotel, but the mob returned to Union Street and attacked the Conservative Club.

The Chief Constable of Devon arrived on horseback leading mounted policemen and 100 police on foot, finally managing to disperse the rioters, but not without cost – the lifeless body of Sergeant Major Reynell was found in the Town Mill Leat the following morning.

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The Market

The Market

The Market
(Stop 8 of 19)

Until the 1850s, the River Lemon ran openly through Market Street, past the Bradley Hotel (now the Jolly Farmer) and served as a common cess-pit.

An open competition to update the trading complex, won by architect John Chudleigh, a revamped market area, sited where the river once flowed, and Alexandra Hall (now the cinema) was opened in 1871 at a cost of £15,000.

The Public Hall was used as a concert venue, lecture theatre, banqueting hall, skating rink, boxing ring, and community centre, hosting a Peace Day celebration lunch for 1,100 ex-service men at the end of the WW1.

It was later fitted with a stage upon which the first public performance was the Newton Abbot Repertory Company's interpretation of the Oscar Wilde play 'The Importance of Being Ernest', in 1920.
The fish market closed during the First World War due to the scarcity of fish, finally being demolished in 1977.

The Market Hall and the Alexandra Hall, despite numerous redevelopments and upgrades, still continue to serve their original purposes.

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The Passmore Edwards Centre Library

The Passmore Edwards Centre Library

The Passmore Edwards Centre Library
(Stop 9 of 19)

The Library and Technical School was given to the town by John Passmore Edwards, after a chance meeting with Cllr Parker, from Newton Abbot Council, as they sat next to each other at dinner in 1901.

Passmore Edwards was keen to build some useful institution in the town in memory of his mother, Susan

Passmore, who lived in Newton Abbot in 1843. The site chosen for the renaissance style building, designed by the well known Victorian architect Sylvanus Trevail, used to be known as Harvey's Corner.

The Public Library was completed in 1904, with many books having been donated from the British Museum and the GWR Mechanics Institute of Newton Abbot.

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Union Bridge

Union Bridge

Union Bridge
(Stop 10 of 19)

The Union Bridge, so named because it formed a link between the towns of Newton Abbot and Newton Bushel, was opened in 1822, built on the site of an old ford over the River Lemon.

The bridge was paid for by public subscription, designed by James Green and constructed by Gregory Weatherdon, a builder from Newton Bushel.

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St Leonard's Tower

St Leonard's Tower

St Leonard's Tower
(Stop 11 of 19)

Possibly the oldest – and certainly the most famous – building in Newton Abbot, the intention of William of Orange to claim the British throne was in 1688 declared from the market cross, in front of the old chapel
(marked on the east side of the tower). Further history the 13th century tower can be found on the adjacent information boards.

During the summer season the Tower is open every Wednesday 10am -12pm, free admission and stewarded by very friendly volunteers.

To the left of the Clock Tower is Austin's toy-shop, once the Drill Hall, and to the right is the Olive Bar, built in 1690 and once used as the Old Court House.

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The Globe Inn

The Globe Inn

The Globe Inn
(Stop 12 of 19)

Previously the site of The Boot, a small Inn, this area was redeveloped during the 1840s by the Earl of Devon and his architect, Charles Fowler, the Globe Inn being one of the principal buildings in the scheme.

1843 saw the arrival of new landlord Mr John Beazley, a popular man with great entrepreneurial flair, who transformed the 21-bedroomed Globe into the top coaching inn of the South West complete with three coach houses, new piggery, poultry yard and dung pit!

Famous visitors include The Archduke Nicholas of Russia (who made a local tailor's day by shaking hands with him!), whilst on a tour of England in 1828, and the Duke of Wellington, for whom the church bells were rung in May 1846. A large crowd gathered to see the great man.

In 1898, a performing bear, being exhibited in the street, slipped its shackles, made its way to a grocer's shop and, after inspecting the Beechwood Hams and Silverbrook Tea, left quietly through a side-door!

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Mr Weatherdon's Academy

Mr Weatherdon's Academy

Mr Weatherdon's Academy
(Stop 13 of 19)

Having relocated from its original site in East Street, this boys' school was well-regarded about the town, counting among its staff the Rev. Jean K'Jean, a French émigré priest who settled in Newton Abbot after fleeing his homeland in the early 1790s.

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The Old Workhouse and Hospital

The Old Workhouse and Hospital

The Old Workhouse and Hospital
(Stop 14 of 19)

Newton Abbot Union Workhouse was built on land known as Shute Park, which has deeds going back to 1745.
At this time, Newton Abbot's 39 parishes had a population of 44,358 people, housed in 8,528 dwellings.

The Workhouse aimed to help the poor from these parishes and in 1840 had spent £15,997 on clothing, food, fuel and grants of money – termed 'out- relief' – to those living in their own homes.

Adjoining the Workhouse, the Hospital was built in 1896. It ran for fifty years on an entirely voluntary basis until the National Health Service was formed in 1948.

Opposite the Hospital is the Cider Bar (S). This building, dated 1838, replaced an earlier farmhouse on this site dating from 1745.

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The Rope Walk

The Rope Walk

The Rope Walk
(Stop 15 of 19)

Once extending for 140 yards into Hopkins Lane, the Rope Walk was built in 1828 by Samuel Yeo.

His son Ephraim invented a machine that improved the efficiency of rope-making. Of great importance to the town and essential to the fishing trade, production continued here until 1959.
Embedded in the wall near your feet is the 1765 Boundary Stone (T) for the Dartmouth to Torquay Turnpike Trust.

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21 Devon Square

21 Devon Square

21 Devon Square
(Stop 16 of 19)

The birthplace of Dr. Ivy Williams, who in 1921 became England's first female barrister.
Devon Square was the centre of the Courtenay Estate's redevelopment of the town in 1840-60.
In 1861, architect Joseph Rowell designed the Church of St Paul, in the centre of Devon Square,to serve the railwaymen of the town.

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The Bandstand

The Bandstand

The Bandstand
(Stop 17 of 19)

Officially opened in 1907, the Bandstand forms the focal point of Courtenay Park, which was laid out by the Earl of Devon in 1864.

The Aunt of Captain Morris – a leading figure in the Charge of Light Brigade in October 1854 – lived in 'Courtlands', Courtenay Park, Capt Morris survived the famous Charge, and died in India in 1858.

Princess Elizabeth visited troops in Courtenay Park in 1952, prior to her Coronation it was a day of great celebration for the town.

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Newton Abbot Station

Newton Abbot Station

Newton Abbot Station
(Stop 18 of 19)

The Railway Station, that you see today as you look across the road, was built in 1927.

Thanks to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, The South Devon Railway and its successor, the Great Western Railway, became the major employer in town, with a workforce of more than 1,000 men during the 1930s and '40s.

Providing a whole community with a social structure, a sense of purpose and pride, a strong connection between the G.W.R. and Newton Abbot, which is no longer a major railway centre, can still be felt in the town today.

New Year's Eve, 1846, saw the dawn of a new era when the first train – 'The Antelope' – arrived at Newton Abbot, welcomed by a large crowd holding banners inscribed 'Brunel and the Broad Gauge' and 'Success to the South Devon Railway'!

Many famous figures have passed through or stopped at the Station including Napoleon III and The Beatles!

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Museum / Town hall

Museum / Town hall

Museum / Town hall
(Stop 19 of 19)

Built in the early 1860s as part of a residential development of land owned by the Earl of Devon, the house, along with most villas on the estate, was designed by Joseph William Rowell.
In 1855 Rowell was appointed Devon Estate architect and in 1862 moved into No.9, Devon S quare – a house that he designed himself. He lived here with his wife Selina and their five children.
The building has had a varied life, being the YMCA during the war years and the Town Hall since the late 1980s.
Please pop in and visit us to find out more about the history of Newton Abbot, its people and the Great Western Railway.

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My Newton Abbot Town Trail Notes

Newton Abbot Town Trail

Newton Abbot Town Trail

Step Back in Time!

Welcome to Newton Abbot Heritage Trail; a chance to discover the hidden stories that lie just below the surface of the bustling town of Newton Abbot.

The Trail can be joined at any point along the way, but finding each marker 1 -16 provides a circular walk which takes you to the museum, well worth a visit!

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