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The name Ivybridge is derived from a small 13th-century hump-backed bridge of the same name. It was the only means of crossing the river until 1819. "Ivy" was used to describe the bridge, because there was ivy growing on the bridge.The bridge was the centre of the village and important to its very existence, it was named the "parish of Ivybridge" in 1894. The bridge spanning the river was only wide enough for pack horses and riders. The first mention of settlement in Ivybridge was the manor of Stowford in the Domesday Book of 1086. The first mention of Ivybridge came in 1280 when it was described as "dowry of land on the west side of the River Erme, by the Ivy Bridge." There was a chapel that was on the site of Saint John's church, since 1402. From the 16th century onwards mills were built in the town, harnessing the power of the river. Records show that in the 16th century there was a corn mill, a tin mill and edge mill. One of the mills, 'Glanville's Mill' (a corn mill), was situated where many of the town's shops are today and gives its name to the shopping centre.
The first church (Saint John's) was built in 1790 as a chapel of ease but 45 years later in 1835 it was consecrated as a district church. In 1819 the Ivy Bridge lost its position as the only means of crossing the river when the 'New Bridge' was built joining Fore Street and Exeter Road.
In the 18th century, Ivybridge was a small but thriving community based around the London Hotel, now demolished, which was used as a stage point on the road from Exeter and Plymouth. The Blatchford Estate (Rogers Family) owned most of the land and included the parishes of Harford, Ugborough, Ermington and Cornwood. The boundaries of these parishes met at the old Ivy Bridge
Ivybridge's earliest known economy relied on the River Erme with a corn mill, tin mill and an edge mill in existence in the town. Later development of the town relied on both the River Erme and the railway, which was part of the Industrial Revolution. The largest employer to the town during this period was Stowford Paper Mill, which lead to population growth in the town. The paper mill is still in use today providing jobs for the town.
In 1977 Ivybridge became a town and throughout the 1980s and 90s underwent a period of rapid growth, due to the A38 road by-pass by-pass.
The town has six schools: Four primary schools, the Dame Hannah Roger's special school, and Ivybridge Community College, which has a sixth form. It has specialist status as a sports college and has recently been given awards in science and mathematics as well as languages.
Ivybridge has six churches. St John's Church (Anglican) is the parish church situated near the Ivy Bridge. Also there is a Baptist Church a Methodist Church and Ivybridge Congregational Church. On the western outskirts of the town is a Roman Catholic church and school — St Austin's Priory. The Salvation Army church is held in Chapel Place — the former town hall of Ivybridge.
South Devon Leisure Centre, with a range of facilities, including indoor and outdoor leisure pools. The centre also has facilities for playing squash and badminton, a fully equipped multi gym, restaurant and bar.
The centre runs many events and activities throughout the year, which is why the leisure centre is one of the best in the South Hams.
Ivybridge Leisure Centre,
Ivybridge, Tel: 01752 896999.
The South Devon Tennis Centre has four indoor and four outdoor courts. Next to the South Devon Tennis Centre are the Erme playing fields (Erme Valley) which hold a cricket field (with a practice net) and two football pitches. There is also a skatepark in the centre of the town and rugby pitches on the eastern outskirts of town at Ivybridge Rugby Football Club, a cricket team, and the Erme Valley Harriers (athletics and road running). The town's football team, called Ivybridge Town F.C. was founded in 1925.
When the By-pass opened in 1973, Ivybridge took on a new lease of life and in 1977 the village became a town. Access to Plymouth and Exeter became easier and Ivybridge became the ideal place to live, the new town began to grow. Glanvilles Mill shopping precinct and a new Leisure Centre was built to meet the needs of the growing population. New industrial estates were built to replace the old style "mills" The Tourist Information Centre opened to attract visitors to Ivybridge, the South Hams and Southern Dartmoor. The new Town Hall, an elegant building on Leonard's Road is much more convenient for visitors. Recently to ease the flow of traffic in Fore Street a relief road has been constructed, pedestrianised shopping is much a more pleasant experience. The new Railway Station, built forty years after the old station closed, provides a large car park and alternative access to the South Hams.
Ivybridge provides a warm welcome to visitors who are guaranteed a varied and unique experience including -
•shopping in specialist shops run by retailers who really care
•enjoying snacks and lunches in the town’s friendly hostelries and cafes
•strolling by the river
•letting off steam at the South Dartmoor Leisure Centre and the South Devon Tennis Centre
….. to name just a few activities.
So why not make today the day that you sample for yourself just what the town has to offer.
Just north of Ivybridge on the Harford Road lie Lukesland Gardens, 24 acres of stunning rhododendrons, azaleas, champion trees and wild flowers, bordering the charming Addicombe Brook as it meanders through pools and tumbles over waterfalls. These gardens, described by one visitor as 'as wee bit of heaven on your doorstep', are open in 2007 from 2pm - 6pm on Sunday, Wednesday and Bank Holiday Monday's from 1st April to 17 June plus all Saturday afternoons in May. In the Autumn they are open from 14 October to 11 November from 11am - 4pm (soup and bread lunches available). A new Children's Trail is devised every year to keep youngsters amused and the home made cakes, served by a log fire in the Victorian Billiard Room, are also very popular.
The River Erme
The Erme is a river which rises in southern Dartmoor on the Abbot`s Way near the source of the River Plym. Near its source is an area of extensive early tin workings. In places the works are over 15 metres deep showing what was done by hand in those days. The river flows in a generally southerly direction past Erme Pound and then through a gorge where it passes Piles Copse, one of the few areas of ancient woodland on Dartmoor. The river continues southward, passes through the town of Ivybridge and becomes a ria shortly downstream near Ermington and Modbury, entering the English Channel near Kingston. At the mouth of the river, on the Erme you will find the beaches of Wonwell and Mothercombe.
The River Erme is a popular site for swimming, kayaking and canoeing, especially just above Ivybridge by the viaduct in Long Timber Woods.
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