The Great War Project

The 4th of August 2014 marks 100 years to the day since the Great War started. With such a big event that affected the lives of so many, the Blackdown Archives are pleased to announce plans for a major WW1 research project incorporating the villages of Hemyock, Culmstock and Clayhidon.

The project will focus on two main areas of research. Firstly we will be looking at the lives of fallen soldiers and secondly what life was like for those left behind.

With over 40 fallen soldiers, we plan to uncover as much information as we can on the lives of these young men leading them into to service and subsequently about their time in the forces.

As for the villages mentioned above, we will look at how the war affected village life in areas like farming and agriculture, the local economy and the roles of women in the villages, along with my many more.

The project will culminate in the production of a theatrical performance that we hope to run at the start of August 2014 to mark the centenary of the start of the war. Along with this, we hope to publish a book detailing the lives of the soldiers we have researched along with the effect on the villages.
Its and exciting project and with just under one year until the centenary it is a big undertaking, but one we all feel will be rewarding.

Can I help?

We are always keen to hear from people who may be able to help. Whether it’s volunteering your time or if you have information that you think could be helpful, do get in touch with us.

At present, we could do with volunteers in the following areas:
• Research (both online and local heritage centres)
• Book writing
• Script writing
• General help

If you are keen to volunteer or have information that may be beneficial, please feel free to attend a meeting on Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in the Hemyock Church rooms. Alternatively, you can email us at ww1@blackdownarchives.org.uk.

We will be regularly updating our website with the progress of the project so keep checking back to see how were getting on.

Clock offers link to 1940s Hemyock industry

A special ‘nightwatchman’s’ clock is going on display in Hemyock, offering a glimpse of factory life in the village 70 years ago.

The clock has been put on permanent display at the Blackdown Healthy Living Centre at Millhayes in Hemyock by the Hemyock History & Archiving Association.

The building was once the canteen for the milk factory complex which existed on the site throughout the twentieth century producing cream, spreads and ice-cream powder as well as sending milk to London by rail.

During the 1940s, the factory’s nightwatchman would carry the clock with him on his rounds, inserting keys held at various points along the way which would mark a roll of paper inside. In this way, factory bosses could be sure that he was patrolling everywhere he was supposed to. Today, similar functions are performed by smart phones and GPS technology.

The clock, which was made in France, was donated to the Association by Michael Lowman, son of factory foreman Edgar Lowman. He remembers it being used in his childhood by nightwatchmen Jack Wood and Charlie Northam.

The project to display the clock was made possible thanks to a grant from the Sustainable Development Fund, which is administered by the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership.

To see the clock, visit the Blackdown Healthy Living Centre between 9am – 4pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9am – 12noon on Wednesdays.

Our trip to Longforth Farm

On Friday 12th July, members of the history and archiving society visited Longforth Farm in Wellington. The site, owned by Bloor Homes for redevelopment, was opened to local history societies to explore with talks lead by several of the site archaeologists.

Longforth Farm is an unusual site. Occupied between the 12th and 14th centuries this site was probably bustling with people, quite possibly this could have been the centre of a small settlement. However over the past 600 years there has been absolutely no trace of such a site until the excavation by Bloor Homes and Wessex Archaeology. Bob Davis from Wessex Archaeology said “This [site] is a significant find and therefore very exciting, particularly as there are no documentary records that such a site ever existed here’.

Several glazed ceramic tiles have been uncovered along with decorated floor tiles, thus indicating it may have been occupied by someone important or may have been a religious or manorial site. Some such tiles, as one illustrated with a knight on horseback, has added to the belief that Longforth Farm was a location visited by important people like bishops. The only other site where such tiles have been found is that of Glastonbury Abbey.

“These are our latest finds and the decorated floor-tiles have given us an avenue to pursue – they have raised the importance of this place for us” commented Bob Davis from Wessex Archaeology.

What is equally interesting about Longforth Farm, apart from it not appearing in historical archives, is the lack of evidence that has been left. Again, Bob Davis explains that “At some stage… the buildings were abandoned, the useable building materials were robbed out and recycled and the site was forgotten.”

The dig concluded at the end of July so we are hopeful that a full report will come out in time. For more information on Longforth Farm visit Wessex Archaeology’s website at www.wessexarch.co.uk.

How to search by Surname

Searching for someone on our database couldn’t be simpler. On the right hand side you will see a box that says ‘Help me find’. Type for example ‘Smith’ into the search box and this brings up all the pictures on our online database that has someone with the surname Smith in them.

If you are having issues finding anyone on the site please contact info@blackdownarchives.org.uk where we can help you further. If you are looking for someone specific and cant find them online, please feel free to contact us and we take a look in our offline database.

Open Days – Each Month during the Summer.

Open Sign

The Blackdown Archives project is opening its doors the second

Open Days – Each Month during the Summer.

Open Sign

The Blackdown Archives project is opening its doors the second weekend of each summer month to capture peoples memories and display its collection of more than 2800 local family photographs.

During the second weekend of every month, from April to August, locals and visitors alike will be welcomed by members of the Hemyock History and Archiving Association voluntary keepers of the historic records.

One by one, the fragile photographs have been scanned and added to the collection. Many have been digitally enhanced to capture interesting detail, often missed until now.

Now, these images are being added to the Blackdown Archives website a programme part-funded by the Blackdown Hills AONBs Sustainable Development Fund and Making It Local.

Already, the pictures have locals recalling people, places and memories of yesteryear. By opening the doors to the public, the team hope to capture many more of these fascinating stories and add them to the website, for the Blackdown Hills community to share.

Pictures and documents that anyone would like added to the archive are most welcome all will be scanned and the originals returned while you wait.

Enhanced photo quality print will be available to order and make ideal framed pictures.

The Open Days run from 12:00 – 3:00 at the Blackdown Healthy Living Centre, Sat 9 & Sun 10 July and Sat 13 & Sun 14 August.

Free entrance, donations very welcome. All proceed to the Hemyock History and Archiving Association.

The centre is located at Riverside in Hemyock, Devon, on the site of the old Social Club for St Ivel milk factory employees.

Parking, modern disabled facilities and light refreshments available.

Open Days – each month during the summer.

Open Sign

The Blackdown Archives project is opening its doors the second weekend of each summer month to capture peoples memories and display its collection of more than 2800 local family photographs.

During the second weekend of every month, from April to August, locals and visitors alike will be welcomed by members of the Hemyock History and Archiving Association voluntary keepers of the historic records.

One by one, the fragile photographs have been scanned and added to the collection. Many have been digitally enhanced to capture interesting detail, often missed until now.

Now, these images are being added to the Blackdown Archives website a programme part-funded by the Blackdown Hills AONB Sustainable Development Fund and Making It Local.

Already, the pictures have locals recalling people, places and memories of yesteryear. By opening the doors to the public, the team hope to capture many more of these fascinating stories and add them to the website, for the Blackdown Hills community to share.

Pictures and documents that anyone would like added to the archive are most welcome all will be scanned and the originals returned while you wait.

Enhanced photo quality print will be available to order and make ideal framed pictures.

The Open Days run from 12:00 – 3:00 at the Blackdown Healthy Living Centre, Sat 11 & Sun 12 June, Sat 9 & Sun 10 July and Sat 13 & Sun 14 August.

Free entrance, donations very welcome. All proceed to the Hemyock History and Archiving Association.

The centre is located at Riverside in Hemyock, Devon, on the site of the old Social Club for St Ivel milk factory employees.

Parking, modern disabled facilities and light refreshments available.

June Speaker of the Month

Picture of Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake – High Sherriff of Devon during 1633

Dr David Pugsley gave a very interesting talk on High Sheriffs and Assizes in Devon and Somerset

How the Bible was built

Picture of Launcelot Andrews (1555-1626)

Launcelot Andrews (1555-1626)

The Hemyock History and Archiving Association members welcomed the May ‘Speaker of the Month’, Mr James Bradnock.Given its original purpose, the Church Rooms seemed an ever more fitting place for the topic of Mr Bradnock’s talk – The King James Bible.

The informal gathering was entertained with an excellent presentation on how and why the King James Version came in to being. Often, comparisons were made to earlier fore-runners.

The history [of the work] developed alongside the increasing enthusiasm for the Bible to be accessible to the wider population – and in spite of shock and horror from some quarters, this included women too!

The process was very much steered by the ‘King’s Men’, most notable of which was the Dean of Westminster, Lancelot Andrews – fluent speaker of 15 languages.

During this extremely well researched and presented talk, the group learnt the origin of the phrase ‘to drop off to sleep’ and that an estimated 257 similar sayings, now in modern use, can be found in the King James Bible.

Popular local historian, Chris Dracott, quietly informed a few of the gathering that occasionally, there were misprints in some versions – and that he has a copy without the word ‘not’ in the commandment instructing on adultery!

A collection raised