Tiverton, Devon

Tiverton, Devon

Infobox UK place
country= England
region= South West England
shire_county= Devon
shire_district= Mid Devon
civil_parish= Tiverton
official_name= Tiverton
population= 18,621 (2001 Census)
os_grid_reference= SS955125
latitude= 50.90249
longitude= -3.48750
post_town= TIVERTON
postcode_area= EX
postcode_district= EX16
dial_code= 01884
constituency_westminster= Tiverton and Honiton

Tiverton is an English town in the County of Devon. The administrative centre for the Mid Devon district, its population is about 18,500. [ [http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadTableView.do?a=3&b=793606&c=EX16+6PG&d=16&e=15&g=436547&i=1001x1003x1004&m=0&enc=1&dsFamilyId=779 Parish statistics] , Neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk. Retrieved on 2007-07-09.]


The town's name is conjectured to derive from 'Twy-ford-ton' or 'Twyverton', meaning 'the town on two fords'. The town stands at the confluence of the rivers Exe and Lowman. Human occupation in the area dates back to the Stone Age, with many flint tools found in the area. An Iron Age hill fort, Cranmore Castle stands at the top of Exeter Hill above the town, and a Roman fort, or rather marching camp, was discovered on the hillside below Knightshayes Court near Bolham, just to the north of the town.

Tiverton owes its early growth and prosperity to the wool trade, which caused the town to grow rapidly in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Many wealthier wool merchants added to the town's heritage: for example, John Greenway (1460–1529) added a chapel to St Peter's Parish Church in 1517, and a small chapel and almshouses in Gold Street which still stand; the Almshouse Trust still houses people today. Peter Blundell, another wealthy merchant, who died in 1601, bequeathed the funds and land to found Blundell's School to educate local children. The school was founded in Tiverton in 1604, and in 1882 relocated to its present location on the outskirts of town, where it functions to the present day as an independent school.

By the turn of the 18th century the trade was peaking, and a century of turmoil followed during the early Industrial Revolution with many riots by the town's societies of Woolcombers and Weavers. By the end of the century, due to imports and the expansion of industrialization elsewhere, the town's woollen industry was in terminal decline.

In 1815 the industrialist John Heathcoat bought an old woollen mill on the river Exe and shortly afterwards moved his lace manufactory to the town, following the destruction of his machinery in Loughborough by former Luddites in the pay of the lacemakers of Nottingham. The factory turned the fortunes of Tiverton around once again, and it became an early industrial centre in the South West. Trade was aided when a branch of the Grand Western Canal to Tiverton was opened in 1848.

It gained a reputation as one of the rotten boroughs targeted by those seeking electoral reform. Although small, it had two MPs representing it. Lord Palmerston, or 'Pam' as he was known locally, was one of these MPs for a large part of the 19th century. In 1847 the Chartists, a radical group seeking to change the electoral system, stood one of their leaders, George Julian Harney, against Palmerston. A large Chartist crowd had assembled and a show of hands from them indicated that Harney had been elected but he withdrew when Palmerston called for a poll, knowing he could not get elected under the restricted franchise that then existed. (Only 400 out of a population of 7000 were entitled to vote at that time, which is one of the things the Chartists sought to change.)

After the Reform Act of 1867, Tiverton had just one MP. The seat has generally been held by a member of the Heathcoat-Amory family, most recently Derick Heathcoat-Amory who served as MP from 1945 to 1960. David Heathcoat-Amory is now the MP for Wells in nearby Somerset.

The town was the last in the Devon & Cornwall area to retain an independent police force, until 1945. In the second half of the 20th century Tiverton once again declined in prosperity, as the Heathcoat factory became ever more mechanised, and the Starkey Knight & Ford Brewery was taken over by Whitbread as its regional brewery, but later closed, becoming just a bottling plant. It then lay derelict for some years before being demolished to make way for a supermarket. The manufacturing industry on Lowman Island in the town died a lingering death, and the Globe Elastics plant in the town also closed down. During the 1990s the town underwent something of a revival and has now become a relatively thriving dormitory town. In 1993 N.W.A. re-formed to perform a small concert in what was the old liberal club of Tiverton; they performed a reworking of their song Straight Outta Compton entitled Straight Outta T-ton. There has been some recent debate about the validity of claiming this as a true NWA performance, as not all members were present. Several photographs of the event are visible in the cd insert from the single Chin Check and one is also featured in the cd insert from The Best of N.W.A. - The Strength of Street Knowledge.

Recent expansion (2005)

Tiverton's revival in recent years began with the construction of the A361 - or North Devon Link Road - in the late 1980s. In the 1990s a new industrial estate was built at Little Gornhay on the north eastern edge of the town, and a new junction was added to the link road, with a distributor road (now the A396) into the town which has fast become its main gateway. Western Way, linking this road to the Exeter Road along the line of the old railway, was also constructed. These two roads opened up a new aspect to the town, and paved the way for expansion.

The demand for housing in the UK and particularly in the South-West has driven house prices up and many now look to towns on the periphery of employment centres. Tiverton has become a popular dormitory town for commuters to nearby Exeter and Taunton and this growth has been supported by large housing projects to the north of the town by most national house builders including Westbury Homes, Barrett Homes and Bellway Homes. The resulting influx of population has led to further development of the town's services and shops. The town now has a newly built hospital, funded by the Private Finance Initiative, which has left the old hospital derelict in the town centre. It has also replaced its out-of-date swimming pool with a new leisure centre (swimming pool and small gymnasium). It also has the main campus of the East Devon College - the largest local Further Education college. Additionally Mid Devon District Council has recently built new offices at Phoenix House at the foot of Phoenix Lane, close to the site of the old brewery. The building incorporates a new public library and has led to a debateVerify source|date=August 2007 on whether the large stained glass feature in the foyer was worth the money spent on it.

In the Autumn of 2005, supermarket giant Tesco opened a new store situated on the site of the old Lowman Works, at the edge of the town centre, vacating their former premises on Fore Street. Around the same time, the Safeway store completed its refit to a Morrisons after the takeover of Safeway. In 2006 the national catalogue chain store Argos occupied the former Tesco high street site. In late 2006, the main Somerfield store (formerly a Kwik Save store) on the old Brewery site closed its doors for the final time, a Somerfield remaining in the centre of town in Market Walk. In March 2007 a new Marks & Spencer Simply Food store opened in its place. The Pannier Market in the town has recently been redeveloped, alongside its car park and minor shopping precinct, increasing market capacity and allowing markets to be held more frequently. In 2007 the only remaining cinema; the Tivoli, closed its doors, and the site was for sale and derelict, the other former cinema, the Electric, was recently bulldozed for redevelopement as housing. After a large campaign, the Tivoli reopened on June 28th 2008 bought from former owner Eastmonds (former owner of what is now called Banburys, an upmarket department store) by Merlin Cinemas; a change to the way the Tivoli was formerly operated by volunteers. There is also a film club in Tiverton.

This continued growth is changing the town, though it remains to be seen if all of these changes will be for the good of the town in the long term.


*Tiverton High School [http://www.tiverton.devon.sch.uk] the local community secondary school and a specialist visual arts college.

*East Devon College a further education college which shares its campus with Tiverton High.


*Tiverton Town
*Elmore Football Club
*Tiverton Rugby Club
*Heathcoat Cricket Club

The Tiverton Gazette

The Tiverton Gazette is a weekly tabloid newspaper for the Mid Devon town of Tiverton and has always been published on Tuesday to coincide with the market day.

It first appeared as the Tiverton Gazette and East Devon Herald in 1858. Founder Robert Were was only 22 years old, and died just five years later. The newspaper split into three editions in 1872: the Tiverton Gazette, the Crediton Gazette and the South Molton Gazette. It was re-merged in the mid-1890s as the Mid Devon Gazette, but then split into Town and Rural editions before splitting three ways again.

It has moved offices twice since its founding, but always within Bampton Street in Tiverton. It is edited in Exeter at the Express & Echo by Marc Astley.

It shares a website with the other two local editions in the Mid-Devon Gazette series, the Culm Valley Gazette and the Crediton Gazette.


The Bristol and Exeter Railway opened a station, known as "Tiverton Road" on 1 May 1844. It was renamed "Tiverton Junction" on 12 June 1848 when Tiverton railway station was opened nearer the town at the end of a branch from the Junction station. A second branch, the Exe Valley line reached this station from the south, branching off the London to Penzance main line at Stoke Canon and following the line of the River Exe; main line trains were occasionally diverted via Tiverton if there was engineering work or damage on the section north of Stoke Canon. Another line was opened which headed north to join the Taunton - Barnstaple line at Dulverton. None of these lines remain.

In 1986, Tiverton Parkway railway station was opened on the main line at the site of the old Sampford Peverell station to replace the old junction station which was a few miles down the line at Willand. As a parkway station, it is located seven miles east of the town, alongside Junction 27 of the M5 motorway. Its proximity to the motorway - and relative inaccessibility of Exeter St Davids railway station means that the station is often used as a coach exchange when the line between Exeter and Plymouth is closed.

See also

*Grand Western Canal
*Tiverton High School
*Blundell's School


External links

* [http://www.discovertiverton.co.uk/ Tiverton's Homepage]
* [http://genuki.cs.ncl.ac.uk/DEV/Tiverton/index.html Genuki Tiverton page]
* [http://www.2ndtivertonscouts.tk/ 2nd Tiverton Scouts]
* [http://www.tiverton-town-council.org/tiverton.htm Tiverton Town Council]
* [http://www.tivertontownfc.com/ Tiverton Town Football Club]
* [http://www.tivertontownyouth.co.uk/ Tiverton Town Youth Development The Youth section of Tiverton Town Football Club]
* [http://www.tivertonmuseum.org.uk/ Tiverton Museum]
* [http://www.tiverton.devon.sch.uk/ Tiverton High School]
* [http://www.eastdevon.ac.uk/ East Devon College]
* [http://www.tjoc.co.uk/ Tiverton Junior Operatics Club]
* [http://www.tivertongazette.co.uk/ Tiverton Gazette]
* [http://www.middevon.gov.uk/ Mid Devon District Council]
* [http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ula2A5-blG8 Tiverton Carnival 2007]

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