Great Torrington

Great Torrington

infobox UK place

static_image_caption=The old Town Hall (now the town museum) in the centre of Great Torrington
country = England
official_name= Great Torrington
latitude= 50.95060
longitude= -4.15106
shire_district= Torridge
shire_county = Devon
region= South West England
post_town= TORRINGTON
postcode_district= EX38
postcode_area= EX
dial_code= 01805
os_grid_reference= SS4919
constituency_westminster=Torridge and West Devon

Great Torrington (generally abbreviated to Torrington, though it should be noted that the villages of Little Torrington and Black Torrington are situated in the same region) is a small market town in the north of Devon, England. Parts of it are sited on a cliff top with steep drops down to the River Torridge below. The centre of the town therefore commands spectacular views, though lower-lying parts are prone to occasional flooding. Torrington is in the very heart of Tarka Country, a landscape captured by Henry Williamson in his novel "Tarka the Otter" in 1927.


There were Iron Age and medieval castles and forts in Torrington, located on the Castle Hill.Great Torrington had strategic significance in the English Civil War. In the Battle of Torrington (1646), the Parliamentarians, led by Sir Thomas Fairfax, swept into the town and defeated Lord Hopton's forces. This marked the end of Royalist resistance in the West Country. Today the town is recognised as an important heritage centre for the history of the 17th century, and its people can often be seen dressed in costume for historical re-enactments, festivals and celebrations. An interactive Civil War Experience, 'Torrington 1646', marks the town's historically important role.

Great Torrington used to have its own railway station. However, the line was closed to passenger traffic as part of the Beeching Axe and to goods traffic in 1984. At the site of the old station there is currently a pub named "The Puffing Billy", a cycle hire shop and an old carriage.atruck and a small diesel engine. A few small sections of track remain, but most has been removed and replaced with a combined foot and cycle path as part of the Tarka Trail. The Tarka Trail continues to Bideford, Barnstaple and on to Braunton in one direction and to Meath in the other making 32 miles of trafic free trail.

Tesco were seeking to open a 30,000 square foot store in the town, however this was opposed by some locals and the planning application was rejected [ [ BBC News] ] .


Mayfair is an annual folk festival believed to date back to 1554 in which the children of Torrington dance around a maypole set up in the town square. The event takes place on the first Thursday in May. The junior school kids elect a May Queen and she is crowned in the town square after a procession with attendants. There is then Maypole dancing after which the kids go off to the fair and the adults wonder around the public houses.

Torrington Common

Torrington Common is an area of common land which surrounds the town on all but the eastern side. The common is administered by a body called "The Commons Conservators". The Common covers 365 acres (1.5 km²) and has over 20 miles (30 km) of public rights of way. The landscape features a variety of habitats and a rich collection of flora and fauna.

History of the common

An "area of waste called the Common" was donated to the town in 1194 by Baron FitzRobert of Torrington. In 1889 the rights to this land were transferred by an act of parliament to an elected Committee of Conservators.

Since October 2 1889 the Conservators have met regularly to fulfil their remit to manage the land. Early activity was mainly concerned with control over the grazing and quarrying of the common, but since 1980 grazing has stopped and instead various techniques have taken its place to prevent the common from reverting to scrub and woodland.

Features of the common

* Taddiport Bridge and Rothern Bridge: Prior to the opening of the Town Mills Bridge, these were the only local crossings of the River Torridge.
* Rolle Road: This is the site of the Rolle Canal which opened in 1827 to help transport clay, lime and other commodities between the boats on the tidal river at Landcross and the lime kilns, clay pits and farms around Torrington. It ran through common land, but was closed in 1871. Later, it was filled in to create a toll road across the Common.
* Waterloo Monument: A stone obelisk erected in 1818 by "the ladies of Great Torrington" to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo.


Other attractions in Great Torrington include:
* Dartington Crystal, A unique Factory, Visitors Centre, Glass Shop and Restaurant of world famous Dartington Crystal - the biggest employer in the town and now the only working glass factory left in the UK.
* Rosemoor Garden, a collection of internationally recognised gardens, woodlands and parkland owned by the Royal Horticultural Society.
* A Victorian pannier market with a glass roof, restored in the early 2000s.
* St Michael's, an Anglican church whose grounds include a mound said to contain the remains of 60 Civil War Royalist prisoners.
* The Plough arts centre, a small theatre, cinema and gallery.
* Torrington 1646 Visitor Centre celebrates the town's role in the Civil War through exhibitions and talks by guides dressed in period costume and using the language of the age.


Torrington has long been a factory town. In the nineteenth century it was a centre of the glove making industry. The major employer today is Dartington Crystal, but the shops in the town centre also provide a source of employment. Most of the shops are locally owned, however there are branches of Somerfield, HSBC, Barclays Bank, Lloyds TSB and Lloyds Pharmacy. Large factories have deserted the town in recent years including the meat factory after a fire, and the milk factory which has moved its production elsewhere.


Local radio is provided by Lantern FM, a station based in nearby Barnstaple which broadcasts across north Devon.

The local newspaper is the "North Devon Journal" also based in Barnstaple. The "Western Morning News" is also widely available. Most households receive a copy of the "North Devon Gazette" every week. "The Crier" is a monthly community newsletter and diary delivered free to most households within the town.


Torrington's local football team is Torrington F.C..


Great Torrington is twinned with the French port town of Roscoff, situated in northern Brittany.

External links


* [ All you need to know about visiting Torrington]
* [ Visitors' website]
* [ Great Torrington (]
* [ Great Torrington Community School]
* [ Great Torrington Junior Schools]
* [ Torrington FC's Official Site]

Local organisations

* [ St Michael's Church website]
* [ Great Torrington Cavaliers]


* [ Dartington Crystal website]
* [ Plough arts centre website]
* [ Rosemoor Gardens]
* [ Torrington Common]
* [ 'Torrington 1646' Civil War Experience]


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