1681 Robart the son of Thomas Pitt and Jane born ye 18 day of August baptized the eleventh day of September being born in the town of Ashburton in his mothers travill from Plymouth where she arrived in a shipp from the East Indies.

1788 Baptism June 22nd. Walter, son of Thomas and Catherine Palk, born at sea off the Cape of Good Hope 19th April 1788
Parish records

Above: 1806 map published by Laurie and Whittle, London. The roads are measured from Hyde Park Corner.
From my own collection

                                                 Early Roads

1523-1524 '12d the gift of William Leer of Witton in satisfaction for ploughing up the King's highway leading from Awlecomb towards Ayssheberton...'

Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Churchwardens Accounts of Ashburton, 1479-1580, Alison Hanham, The Devonshire Press Ltd., Torquay 1970, p71


'[Leland's]* route to Exeter took him through Totnes; but he expressly states, " Estbrenton (Ashburton) is in the Highway betwixt Plymmouth and Excestre."
.....There are several references to the routes usually taken between Plymouth and Exeter in the latter part of the seventeenth century, to be found in the MS. memoirs of Dr. James Yonge, in the library of the Plymouth Institution; and they show clearly enough that, unless there was occasion to visit Totnes itself, that town was left on one side. The customary road from Exeter to Plymouth was over Haldon to Chudleigh, and thence by Ashburton, Brent, Ivybridge and Ridgeway. Occasionally a more southern road was taken, through Newton Bushel, Dartmouth and Modbury. The Ashburton road must have been an open one; for on one occasion Yonge lost his way between Ashburton and Plymouth during the night, and wandered on the Moor.'
R N Worth, Notes on the Ancient Recorded Topography of Devon, Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol XVII, Plymouth, 1885, p349f
*Lucy Toulmin Smith (1838-1911) edited The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 - accessed 26-09-2022


1716 'This town consists of a good street, of a considerable length from East to West, indifferently well built.'
Notitia Parliamentaria, or an history of the counties, cities and boroughs in England and Wales, Browne Willis Esq., vol II, London, 1716 p358

1754 'Mr Harris of Ashburton reported from the committee to whom the petition of the Gentlemen, Clergy, Freeholders and principal inhabitants residing in and near the Town and Borough of Ashburton, in the county of Devon, was referred...Mr John Dunning, being examined, said that he knows the road from Chudleigh Bridge, in the parish of Hennock, in the county of Devon, through the Borough of Ashburton to Brent Bridge in the Parish of South Brent inthe said county of Devon; and that the same is very rough in several places, very narrow and much out of repair; and that it cannot be sufficiently repaired by the ordinary course of law.

Mr Solomon Earle confirmed the above evidence in every particular.

Ordered, that leave be given to bring in a Bill for repairing and widening the road...'

The Journals of the House of Commons, vol27, May 31st 1754 - November 15th 1757, reprinted 1803, p62


                   The King against the inhabitants of the County of Devon

Indictment stated as follows: That on the 10th day of February in the fourth year of G[eorge] 4 there was, and thence hitherto hath been, and still is, a certain common and public bridge, commonly called Dart bridge, lying and being in the parishes of Buckfastleigh and Ashburton, in the said county, being a common highway leading from the Exeter, unto the over the said bridge to the town of Plymouth in the said county, for all the subjects of the king on foot and on horseback, and with their horses, coaches, carts and carriages upon and over the said bridge, to go, return, pass, ride and travel at their will and pleasure, freely and safely without any obstruction, hindrance or impediment whatsoever; and that the said common and public bridge, on the 10th day of February in the year aforesaid, and continually afterwards until the day of taking the inquisition at the said parishes of Buckfastleigh and Ashburton in the said county, was and is yet ruinous, broken, dangerous, and in great decay for want of needful and necessary upholding, maintaining, amending, and repairing the same, and the said common and public bridge, during all the time last mentioned, was and yet is too narrow.....
Richard Vaughan Barnewall and Cresswell Cresswell, Reports of Cases Argued and Detrmined in the Court of King's Bench, Vol 4, London, 1826, p670

                                                                                                                                                                    Ponies and Packhorses

'To the atheling, 40 mancuses of gold and the wild horses* on the land at Ashburton...'
Will of Aelfwold, Bishop of Crediton c997-1012, amongst the Crawford Charters in the Bodleian Library.
See The Crawford collection of early charters and documents now in the Bodleian Library, ed A S Napier and W H Stevenson, Oxford, 1895, p23. This is believed to be the first written record of ponies on Dartmoor.
*It should be said that H J Hanham argues that the Anglo-Saxon phrase does not specifically indicate horses.
Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol XCIV, 1962, p440-457

There are many farms in that beautiful part of the kingdom [ie Devon] on which there is not a pair of wheels. Hay, corn, straw, fuel, stone, dung, lime, are carried on horseback; and in harvest, sledges drawn by oxen and horses are used. This was probably in early times the mode of conveyance throughout the kingdom, and is continued in these districts, partly from the hilliness of the country, and more from the backwardness in all matters of improvement. Light articles, as corn, straw, faggots etc. are carried in crooks, formed of willow poles, of the thickness of scythe handles, bent as ox-bows and with one end much longer than the other; these are joined in pairs by cross-bars, eighteen inches or two feet long, and each horse has two pair of them, slung together so that the shorter ends lie against the pack-saddle, and the longer stand four or five feet from each other, and rise fifteen or eighteen inches above the horse's back. Within and between these crooks the load is piled. Dung, sand, etc. are carried in pots, or strong coarse panniers slung together in the same way, and the dung ridgeed up over the saddle. At the bottom of the pot is a falling door, and at the end of the journey the trap is unlatched, and the load falls out.'
The Horse, with a treatise on draught, William Youatt 1831, p59

Above: A Packhorse
The life of Thomas Telford, Samuel Smiles, London 1867, p46

The Book of Ashburton has a photograph of a doorway in North Street which curved outwards at the bottom, to allow the packhorses through without the need to unload them. It belonged to one of the houses demolished in 1971.
The Book of Ashburton Stuart Hands and Pete Webb publ Halsgrove 2004, new ed 2012, p63
1st William and Mary c. 32, 1688 was an Act  passed to encourage the woollen trade. It allowed Irish wool to be imported at selected west country ports, of which Barnstaple and Exeter were two. 
P F S Amery, Sketch of Ashburton and the Woollen Trade, Trans Devon Association, vol8, pp 338-250
Transcript by Michael Steer - accessed 30-03-2024
Three years later Exeter was removed from the list by a subsequent Act, and Amery maintained that this resulted in pack-horse traffic travelling from Barnstaple (and Bideford) through Chagford to Ashburton, and thence to Brixham.
The Barnstaple Inn in North Street was where the pack-horses rested.
'This regular traffic from sea to sea through the centre of our county became the means of extensive smuggling from the northern and southern ports to the inland districts, and continued until the present generation.'
P F S Amery, Sketch of Ashburton and the Woollen Trade, Trans Devon Association, vol8, p329

'The Dartmoor ponies, which run wild on this vast waste, are very celebrated. Their appearance is unsightly, but then they are sure-footed, hardy, and in every way calculated for traversing the hills of this county.
The well-known Devonshire packhorse is a larger variety of this pony. It is not many years since the parish roads generally in Devon were almost inaccessible to wheels (in truth this is still the case in some parts of the county), wherefore all farm produce was conveyed on the back of this species of horse. They almost always traversed the roads loose, and in parties of different numbers. By general consent, one horse was ever permitted to be the leader; him they closely followed at a rapid pace, up and down the shingly hills, or occupying, with their unsightly packs, Devonshire crooks, nearly the whole width of the road.'
The Transactions of the Provincial Medicval and Surgical Association, part 2 vol 6, London and Worcester 1838, p187

Left: Dartmoor mare and foal, mid 20th century.
From my own collection

'Breasting a formidable ascent on the south, the road to Ashburton is much better adapted to the packhorse of the last century, than to the carts or waggons of the present day, while the upland track, which the western traveller, to his no small wonder, is admonished by a timely finger post to follow, as the road to Tavistock, scales a precipitous hill...'
A perambulation of the antient and royal forest of Dartmoor, Samuel Rowe, Plymouth and London 1848, p86

'One [track] leading from Ashburton to Tavistock, passed by Hole and the Forest Inn, Hexworthy, across the moor to where Princetown now stands, and thence to Merrivale Bridge...'
Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, Vol37, 1905, p171
Above: Stones still mark some of the old Tavistock-Ashburton packhorse track, with incised letters indicating the direction of the two towns. This one is beside the road leading from Merrivale Quarry up the hill towards the car-park.
My own photograph 2915

                                                                   The Turnpike

As the industrial revolution progressed, fast and reliable roads became essential for trade. The Turnpike Acts, 1663-1836, allowed trusts to be formed on specified stretches of road. These trusts could levy tolls on road-users, the ensuing funds being used to maintain and repair the road in question. A gate, or turnpike, was placed across the road, and this was only opened when the toll was paid. The demand for the formation of trusts reached a peak between 1751 and 1772 - 'Turnpike mania'.

In her will proved in 1794 Patience Taylor left to her daughter Mary her half of a 'messuage or dwelling house with orchard and the appurtenances situate near the almshouse in the said Borough of Ashburton adjoining the turnpike road leading to Plymouth...'
National Archives Ref PROB 11/1242/48

Above: Goodstone Cottage, on the Newton Abbot to Ashburton road (just before the road enters the A38 dual carriageway). It is believed to be an old toll house.
My own photograph 2016

Ashburton to Newton 1802 'An Act for continuing the Term, and altering and enlarging the Powers of several Acts passed respecting several Roads near the Borough of Ashburton...'

For a detailed analysis of the Ashburton Turnpike go to Devon Turnpike Trusts on and click on the Ashburton link

The tolls and tollhouses of the Ashburton Turnpike came up for rent in September 1802. The auction, held at the St Lawrence Chapel, was for the following: Knighton Gate (currently let at £132), Travellers' Rest (currently let at £196), Dartbridge (currently let at £155) and Brent Gate (currently let at £146) 

The advertisement was put in by Robert Abraham jnr., clerk and treasurer.
Exeter Flying Post 17 June 1802 p2 col2


 The 1861 census has Richard Coldridge, a turnpike toll collector, living at Turnpike Gate, the next property on from Fursleigh Mill

The book Buckfast in Bygone Days (Hilary Beard, Devon Books, 1991 p 86) has a photograph of the Toll House Dartbridge. It was demolished in the 1970s.




Two stage coaches pass through here from Exeter about 12 every day on their way to Plymouth; and there are two from Plymouth, which pass through about one, to Exeter. Fare from Ashburton to London 2l 7s 6d. Russel's stage waggon*, from London, arrives here every Wednesday evening, and sets out next morning for Plymouth - carriage of heavy goods from London, 9s per cwt.

The Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce and Manufacture, vol 2, London, late 1700s.

*Presumably Thomas Russell and Co. See Russell's Flying Wagons, - Accessed 14-12-2015

In 1808 an advertisement appeared in the Exeter Flying Post for coaches travelling between Exeter and Plymouth via Chudleigh and Ashburton. T Cousins of the Golden Lion and J Lloyd of the London Inn were two of the operators. The cost was half a guinea inside and seven shillings and sixpence outside.

Exeter Flying Post 31 March 1808 p1 col3


'We continued on our journey, after partaking of some refreshment; and found an additional passenger on top, a young lady who had been on a visit to her friends. I was tempted by the beauty of the day, to experiment, by mounting on top of the stage, and was well repaid by the gratification of seeing the country to the best advantage. This mode of conveyance is perfectly safe, as the roads are fine, the horses sure, and the drivers skilful, therfore accidents seldom occur.'
Travels in England, France, Spain, and the Barbary States in the years 1813-14 and 1815, Mordecai M Noah, Late Consul of the United States for the city and kingdom of Tunis, New York, London, 1819, p27

'Not very short of sixty years ago [ie c1825] the writer of this sketch, when a small child, took his first journey on the outside of a stage-coach from Plymouth to Chudleigh with his father. There, as fresh horses were being put in for the remaining ten miles to Exeter, he remembers that the driver of the "Defiance", the coach by which he had travelled, asked how many passengers there had been on the rival coach, the "Subscription", commonly called, as he called it, the "Scrippy". "Two", was the answer. It was winter time, I believe. "Ah", returned our coachman, a burly, powerful specimen of the old style of drivers, called Harvey, "then we've got two and a half", the "half" being my diminutive self. That, my first journey by such a conveyance, was the more deeply impressed on my memory by one of the leaders falling whilst descending a steep hill between Brent and Ashburton, and, from the harness happily breaking, turning up behind by the time the coach was stopped. He was only slightly cut and was forthwith reharnessed and driven to the end of the stage with, I own, a good deal of thonging - the whole proceeding taking so little time and apparently being a matter of such profound indifference to the coachman that I almost questioned in my youthful mind whether it was not the right sort of entertainment for those who travelled by coaches.
Devonians then, if we may judge from the passengers on that day by the "Defiance" and "Subscription", both of which left Devonport about 9 or 10am, and reached Exeter in about six or seven hours - one going by Totnes and Newton, the other by Ashburton - were not great travellers.

.....There were heavy waggons for goods, which were allowed to carry passengers if they did not travel at more than four miles an hour. These were of great size, and lumbered along with six or eight powerful horses - the leading one having bells; the waggoner, in his smockfrock, frequently riding by the side on a small pony to save his legs, and make each horse do his fair share of work.'
John Manley Hawker, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1885, p450ff


In 1841 the Quicksilver coach was involved in an accident at the entrance to Buckfastleigh. William Taprell, a hair-dresser from Ashburton, was knocked over by the coach and a wheel ran over his body. He sustained extensive bruising and possibly a broken rib, and was said to be 'very ill.' No blame was attached to the driver, owing to the dark and wet conditions of the evening,  the narrowness of the road and the position of houses which meant that the coach had to execute a sharp turn.

Western Times 6 February 1841 p3 col3

Six years later the Quicksilver Mail was about to leave the road. In 1847 the Western Times reported that it was to be replaced by steam.

Many old people, reminisced the article, could remember the Diligence Coach of fifty years ago - if you couldn't afford the premium fare you travelled in a basket fastened behind the vehicle. Other vehicles included the Regulator, the Subscription and Defiance. It took at that time 12 hours to travel from Plymouth to Exeter - by 1847 it was down to 5.

The paper noted that the coach Tantivy had gone on its final journey on this road, and lamented that the bugle of the guard, John Goodwin, would now fall silent. 'The dear old spinsters, who used to warm up into life at the sound of his horn, are thrown into inexpressible grief....'

Western Times, reported in The Times July 28 1847, p7 col 2


The next month the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette noted that George Bate of the Golden Inn, had begun a daily coach service to Newton Abbot Railway Station.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 21 August 1847 p8 col2


                                     Roads in Late Victorian Days

'In those days the roads were poor, dusty in summer and muddy in winter to a degree which present-day children can hardly imagine...In summer time every fast vehicle or flock of sheep sent a cloud of dust into the air, which whitened the hedgerows and the pedestrian. Perhaps this explains why there are so many foot-paths and short cuts across fields; nobody walked on the main roads if they could help it.'
Prof John Satterley, Ashburton in Late Victorian Days, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol 84, Torquay 1952, p25ff

Five year old Emma Satterly was on the way to the Board School when she was knocked over by Mr Hill's omnibus, driven by William Caunter from the Railway Station. The wheel of the 'bus went over her knee and fractured it.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 13 February 1880, p7 col6

                                    Roads in the early 20th Century

Above: King's Bridge and Kingsbridge Lane, showing a surface of stone setts.
From my own collection.
The remains of old surfacing in Stapledon Lane
My own photograph 2016

1905 The Highway Committee, part of the Urban District Council, decided to draw Mr Stanbury's attention 'to the damage done to the roads by the traction engine.'

Western Times 8 September 1905 p14 col3

In 1907 the Highway Committee wanted paving in various parts of the town to be taken up and replaced with concrete. The proposed areas were St Lawrence Lane and from the Capital and Counties Bank to West End House. New kerbs and tar paving was planned from the top of North Street to Great Bridge, and it was proposed that channeling in Bowden Hill be replaced, and that cobblestones in the pavements be replaced with tar paving.
Western Times 10 June 1907 p3 col3
In 1921 the Highway and Lighting Committee of Ashburton Urban District Council recommended that tar macadam be laid instead of the cobblestones on the approach to Hare's Lane.
Western Times 3 September 1921 p4 col5
At a meeting of the Urban District Council in 1924 the state of the roads was discussed. Mr Langler wanted the cobble stones in East Street replaced, but it seemed unlikely that the County Council would provide financial assistance. Mr Langler wanted concrete, because tarred roads were proving slippery for horses, and there had been several accidents. The Council decided to instruct the Surveyor to coat the roads with sand and gravel on a regular basis.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 8 March 1924 p2 col5

In 1924 the Exeter branch of the Royal Automobile Club was compiling information on road conditions to help motorists. The Tavistock to Ashburton road was 'fair' but with very poor stretches as far as Two Bridges. Between Two Bridges and Ashburton care was needed on hills. This was at least better than the Chudleigh to Bovey Tracy road, which was described as 'very poor indeed, and care is necessary to avoid damaging one's car.'
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 8 July 1924 p5 col6

                                          Proposals for Canals

'On Wednesday last there was a meeting of gentlemen, manufacturers and landowners at Ashburton, to consider of a plan for making a navigable canal from Dartmouth to Ashburton in Devonshire, which will save an immensity of land was so well received that another meeting was ordered to open a subscription.'
The London Chronicle vol 71, 1792, Oct 27-30, p401

1792 Stover canal. 'This canal commences at the navigable part of the River Teign, six miles from the port of Teignmouth, and terminates at the great road leading from Chudleigh to Ashburton, towards which town, and others of some note, it is intended to be continued...'
A General History of Inland Navigation, J Phillips, London, 1795, p27

1792 A sketch map of a canal from Totnes to Ashburton via Staverton and Buckfastleigh is held by the South West Heritage Trust. It has a scale of 7.6" to the mile, and limekilns, bridges and the turnpike are marked., ref

'A petition of the Gentlemen, Clergy, Freeholders, Tradesmen and others of the town and borough of Ashburton and its neighbourhood in the County of Devon...was presented to the House and read; setting forth that it appears, by surveys and levels lately taken, that a cut or canal for the navigation of boats may be conveniently made from the navigable part of the River Dart, in the parish of Berrypomeroy to or near the said town of Ashburton, all in the said county of Devon; and that the making such canal or cut, with proper railed and other roads to communicate therewith, will be attended with great benefit and advantage to the petitioners as well as all other persons...the same will afford a cheap and expeditious mode of conveyance for corn, cyder, lime, serges, coals, timber, culm* and other goods...
Ordered, that the said petition be referred to the consideration of a committee...'
Journals of the House of Commons, vol 49, 1794, reprinted 1803, p276
* Culm was a soft, sooty coal which appears to have been used as a black pigment - Accessed 19-2-2016
Transactions of the Geological Society of London, vol 5, part III, London 1840, p680


                                                  The Railway

The Railway section now has its own page - beneath this one in the sub-menu of Gathering Together


                                             Travelling in the 1900s

In the early 20th century much of the travelling that people did was communal - in horse drawn vehicles, (gradually replaced by petrol driven omnibuses) or on the train. As an individual in a rural area, you may well travel by horse, and from the late Victorian era, by bicycle. Unless you were wealthy, a motor car was out of the question - but as the century wore on, many people found that a motorcycle answered their needs for faster (and more exciting) travel.


1907 About 30 cars belonging to members of the Devon District Automobile Association travelled through Ashburton, having met at the Golden Lion. A large number of people gathered at the Bull Ring to watch the cars go by.

Western Times 16 September 1907 p3 col2


'Though the main London to Plymouth traffic passed through the town, it was not busy. The blue bus took passengers to Newton Abbot, and the train ran frequently to Totnes. The charabanc took groups of people on outings to favourite venues, and for many this was the annual day out, anticipated and saved for throughout the year. The town became deserted on a Wednesday in July each year when the schools closed for the annual Sunday School treat. Mothers accompanied their children and it was a day of great excitement. The churchgoers went to Teignmouth by train, the chapel supporters to Paignton.

Gradually signs of change appeared. Occasionally an aeroplane would be heard, and everybody would gaze up to watch this wonderful invention. People still marvelled at the automobile - the possession of the affluent - but insidiously, motor vehicles were replacing the horse and cart. There was increasing concern for the safety of children, and people realised that there was a need for a main road to by-pass the town.

Unemployment was widespread throughout the country and this led to an influx of migrant workers, mainly from Wales where the miners were in a desperate state. Young men with strange accents arrived and found board and lodgings in the town, working long hours in all winds and weathers. The sound of blasting could be heard frequently, a familiar activity to these men who had spent their working lives underground.

For me, an abiding memory is associated with the 'navvies' as they were called, on long summer evenings, seen in retrospect to have been hot and sunny - bedtime came much too soon. I read as long as possible, and then willed myself to stay awake until ten o'clock, when time was called at the Railway Inn. The church clock chimed the hour; I would slip out of bed and creep into my parents' bedroom which was at the front of the house. Easing up the sash window, I would sit on the seaman's chest  which my father had brought home from his time in the navy, a reminder of the three years he had spent on the 'China Station'.

Shortly after the hour had struck I was rewarded for my vigil, the sound of voices could be heard as these young men walked three or four abreast up the street. As a small girl, I was yet to experience the sadness and heartaches that we all encounter at some stage of our lives, but I sensed the pathos and nostalgia in the dignity and solemnity as they walked along.

Never had I heard such beautiful singing: I can recall the haunting strains even now. My favourite song was 'All Through the Night', closely followed by 'Land of my Fathers'. Some nights I returned to bed with the militant sound of 'Men of Harlech' ringing in my ears, reminiscent of strife and war long since gone in far off Wales.

Some of these young men stayed on after the by-pass was completed. They were a welcome addition to a little town which was insular and in need of fresh blood. At first they were viewed with mistrust, but gradually became accepted in the community: they married local girls and settled down to life in Devon. Their politics led to shocking local people when a couple of them refused to stand for the National Anthem, and one man persisted in not only sitting whilst all around him stood, but actually kept his hat on! Time mellows all of us, and he, like some of his compatriots, became valuable members of the community, serving on the town council and holding other public offices'.

Many thanks to Hazel Bray for the above account.

Above: Cars in North Street. 1920s?
From my own collection

1930 J Fogden organized a petition amongst the traders of Ashburton, protesting against the proposed by-pass. They feared the loss of trade, already threatened by buses taking customers to larger towns and cities, and they argued that the existing road was quite adequate.

One of the traders' suggestions was to widen West Street, affecting Haytor House and a neighbouring property, and also some cottages opposite Barnes' Café.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 24 March 1930 p7 col2

The construction of the bypass was going ahead in August 1932. Castle Bridge Road, from the GWR Bridge to the junction with the A38 at Pear Tree Cross was being closed on the 10th until further notice.
Western Morning News 3 August 1932, p1 col3

Major G S S Strode, Chairman of the Roads Committee, Devon County Council. opened the new by-pass on June 17th, 1933. The cost of the road was over £40,000, of which £25,000 was labour: the Ministry of Transport contributed 80% of the cost.
The Portreeve, the Rev E F Ball, said that the by-pass 'would have the effect of restoring something of the ancient peace of the town.'
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 23 June 1933, p14 col6


Above: Ashburton by-pass.
From my own collection

Ashburton Motor Works, proprietor E O Babington, had two advertisements in the Western Morning News in October 1920. One was for a trip in the charabanc 'The Dart', which was going to London for a week (fare £3); another was for a daily bus service running between Buckfastleigh, Ashburton and Newton Abbot. Details could be obtained by telephoning Ashburton 15.
Western Morning News 6 October 1920, p4 col1
See the Virtual Museum 1910s for more on E O Babington

According to Roger Grimley, circa 1922/23 the fleet name 'Blue Cars' replaced Ashburton Motor Works. Fast and comfortable, these buses 'were generally superior to those provided by Devon General.'
Motor 'Buses of Ashburton, Buckfastleigh and District, R. Grimley, Kingsbridge, 2014, p7

An undated advertisement for Ashburton Motor Works and Garage, proprietor E O Babington, states that he is the proprietor of the Blue Saloon Motor Bus Service.
ibid, p11

Above: The Blue Cars, 1924. Unknown location, but the postcard was written (by one of the passengers) from Torquay.
From my own collection

Newton Abbot Urban Council were concerned about overcrowded buses in 1924. A reply by the Devon General Omnibus and Touring company admitted that there was overloading due to the large numbers of visitors from July to August, and said that there would be more cars next season. Meanwhile their officials had strict instructions to bring on more vehicles where necessary.
Mr Babington said he was aware of the difficulty, but maintained that buses on the Ashburton road were only overcrowded on short stretches, and that there was plenty of room once vehicles were past Mile End and Seale Hayne. He was having another bus built.
Western Times 24 October 1924 p3 col3

In February 1925 the body of a man was found in the canal at Newton Abbot, near the goods station of the Great Western Railway. A return bus ticket from Ashburton provided a clue to who he was - he was later identified as Mr Davies of Ashburton, a pensioner of the GWR.
Western Morning News 14 February 1925, p5 col8

According to Leslie Folkard, Devon General Omnibus and Touring Co. Ltd. buses were based in various towns in the county. These included Ashburton: at Dropping Wells between 1925 and 1927, and in West Street (the Blue Saloon Motor Services) between 1927 and 28. These were either in garages or open yards.
Devon General, A Fascinating Story, Leslie Folkard, 2007, p247-266. Quoted by

The website says that Devon General purchased land at Dropping Wells in February 1927, planning to build a garage for four vehicles. Later that month the company leased premises in West Street from James Fogden - these were to be used for a parcels office, waiting room and inspector's flat.
Devon General appear to have bought a business from Mr Babington, together with a freehold house and garage behind 34/36 West Street. 4 or 5 buses could be accommodated in this garage, which became the company's depot from 25th May.
Mr Babington continued to trade from premises in East Street, with a contract for a school run, but had agreed not to run any other bus services. He did, however, act as the parcels agent for Devon General.

In December 2002 the Dartmoor National Parks Authority approved the conversion of a redundant omnibus depot at 34 West Street to two dwellings.
Mid Devon Advertiser 13 December 2002. Many thanks to Alan Lambourne for this.

A green leather handbag was left on the blue bus at Ashburton in March 1927. The finder was asked to hand it in to Babington's office.
Western Times 1 April 1927, p5 col1

Also in March, the steering failed on a blue bus driving between Ashburton and Newton Abbot. The front of the bus was badly smashed after it hit a stationary caravan, and both the occupant of the caravan and a passenger from the bus were taken to Ashburton Hospital. Mr Pearson was the driver.
Western Times 25 March 1927, p10 col5

In 1930, George Margrie, a bus conductor from Cape Cottage, Ashburton, was involved in a motor cycle accident. Whilst riding on the Ashburton to Buckfastleigh main road, he and another motor cycle collided, with the machines locking together. The other cyclist, a sailor, was seriously injured and was taken to Ashburton hospital; Margrie's less serious injuries were attended to by the matron from the hospital, at Dr Ellis's surgery.
Western Times 25 July 1930, p12 col3

Ernest Babington, of Rothley, West Street, (which appears to be between 34 and 36) was a motor engineer on the 1939 register. His wife Audrey, in additional to unpaid domestic duties, did secretarial work at 'Ashburton Motor.'
1939 register, available via

 *                                                      ***                                                     *
Charles A Gayton and his wife appear on the 1939 register at Dropping Wells. Charles was a motor coach and garage proprietor, in addition to being a marine store dealer.

In 1949 Mr C A Gayton, of Dropping Wells, applied for a licence to operate buses between Ashburton and Stover Park for the duration of the Devon County Show. The Devon General Omnibus and Touring Co. Ltd. objected, saying that it was an 'attempt to steal the cream of traffic'. The application was dismissed. Times 8 April 1949, p8 col4

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Above: Coach at New Bridge. Date and company unknown.
From my own collection

Above: A timetable for buses running between Widecombe and Newton Abbot, with stops at Ashburton. This was the winter schedule for 1957, for Wednesdays and Saturdays - Fridays has been crossed out, possibly because the service no longer ran, or because the owner of the timetable had no use for it. The route that went from Newton Abbot via Buckland in the Moor was as follows: Newton Abbot - Ashburton - Ausewell Cottages - Buckland - Pudsum - Cockingford - Beard's Garage - Rowden Cross - Widecombe. It took one hour.
The proprietor was W Beard of Merry Park Garage, Widecombe.
From my own collection

Above: Devon General Bus, travelling between Exeter, Ashburton, Buckfastleigh and South Brent. 1950s?
© Vectis Transport Publications

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Above: Ellen Bligh on a motorcycle, 1930s. There is some debate on the make - I originally thought it was a Brough, but it has been suggested to me that this may not be correct.
From my own collection

Left: Russell Martin outside the Rising Sun Inn, Woodland.
Many thanks to Roy Martin for the photograph

Left: A hire purchase agreement for Mr R H Martin, of the London Hotel, 11 November 1948. He was buying a Royal Enfield motorcycle from P Pike and Co. Ltd., 46, Union Street, Plymouth, for £90. He paid an initial deposit of £50 1s 10d, and the arrangement was for him to pay 18 monthly instalments of £4 5s each - the interest would come to £8 10s.

Other payments that Mr Martin had to pay were:
Purchase tax - £24 6s
Licence - 10s 4d
Windscreen - £2 11s
Painting numbers, oils etc. - 14s 6d

Many thanks to Roy Martin for the above receipt

The basic hire purchase act was passed in 1938, but this was to regularize a system that had existed in the US and UK from the 1800s. According to Subhamoy Das, hire purchase really began in the UK with the hiring out of railway wagons to railway companies, collieries and quarries in the mid 1800s.

Perspectives on Financial Services, Subhamoy Das, Allied Publishers PVT Ltd.,2009 p192

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