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Looking North to the West-side of Ivybridge
Ivybridge is located in Devon
Population 11,851 (2011)
OS grid reference SX635560
• London 182 mi (293 km)
Civil parish
  • Ivybridge
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PL21
Dialling code 01752
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • South West Devon
List of places
50°23′20″N 3°55′16″W / 50.389°N 3.921°W / 50.389; -3.921

Ivybridge is a town and civil parish in the South Hams, in Devon, England. It lies about nine miles (fourteen kilometres) east of Plymouth. It is at the southern extremity of Dartmoor, a National Park of England and Wales and lies along the A38 "Devon Expressway" road. There are two electoral wards in Ivybridge East and Ivybridge West with a total population of 11,851.

Mentioned in documents as early as the 13th century, Ivybridge's early history is marked by its status as an important crossing-point over the River Erme on the road from Exeter to Plymouth. In the 16th century mills were built using the River Erme's power. The parish of Saint John was formed in 1836. Ivybridge became a civil parish in 1894 and a town in 1977.

The early urbanisation and development of Ivybridge largely coincided with the Industrial Revolution. Stowford Paper Mill was built in 1787 and rebuilt again in the 1860s with extensive investment. In 1848 the South Devon Railway arrived on the northern edge of the village. The paper mill closed in 2013 after 226 years in Ivybridge and the buildings are being converted to homes and shops. Ivybridge is often referred to as a commuter town, although a small proportion of people work in the town itself, and agriculture continues to play an economic role for the surrounding area. The area surrounding Ivybridge is varied and complex, including river valleys, farmland and dense woodland.

While heavy industry diminished during the latter half of the 20th century, the population grew significantly from 1,574 people in 1921 to 12,056 in 2001.


The Ivy Bridge as painted by J. M. W. Turner in 1813.

The name Ivybridge is derived from a small 13th century hump-backed bridge of the same name. Apart from swimming, 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. As the bridge was the centre of the village and important to its very existence, it was named the "parish of Ivybridge" in 1894.

The first mention of settlement in Ivybridge was the manor of Stowford in the Domesday Book of 1086. Although 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 an 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 1977 Ivybridge became a town. Throughout the 1980s and '90s it underwent a period of rapid growth, perhaps due to the A38 road by-pass. Between the censuses in 1981 and 2001 the population more than doubled from 5,106 to 12,056.


Weather chart for Ivybridge
temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm

At coordinates 50°23′28″N 3°55′12″W / 50.39111°N 3.92000°W / 50.39111; -3.92000 Ivybridge is situated deep in the south western peninsula of England, Ivybridge is 182 miles (293 km) from London, 10 miles (16 km) from Totnes and 28 miles (45 km) from Exeter. The main road in and out of the town (the A38) allows fast access to its nearby city Plymouth for many of Ivybridge's commuters.

The topography of Ivybridge is generally hilly. This is because of the River Erme which flows right through the centre of town. To the east and to the west of the river the land is elevated forming a valley. The river first enters the town at 300 feet (91 m) above sea level and leaves the town at 130 feet (40 m) above sea level. At its height the top of the east and west of the valley is 260 feet (79 m) above sea level. The western beacon is a hill that overlooks the town; its peak can be seen from almost anywhere in the town. It is 1,076 feet (328 m) above sea level and 912 feet (278 m) above the town. There is also an area of woodland called Longtimber Woods to the north of the town, which attracts many walkers along its riverside path.

The geology of Ivybridge is varied. Throughout most of the town the rock is Old Red Sandstone (sedimentary) from the Devonian period. To the north of the town Granite can be found as it is situated on the slopes of Dartmoor – a large pre-volcanic area of Granite. Along the River Erme large boulders and rocks can be found deposited on its meandering path brought all the way from Dartmoor; the Ivy Bridge itself is made out of Granite.

River Erme at Ivybridge

The built environment in and around Ivybridge is mainly characterised by its suburban streets plans and houses, although in the centre of Ivybridge it's mainly characterised by Victorian buildings. From the centre of the town most buildings are terraced and now many of these buildings have been converted into retail outlets along Fore Street – the town's central business district. In the middle layer of the town most buildings are semi-detached and built on quite steep roads. More detached houses are found on the outer layers of the city on the east and on the west of the town. Over the past decades the town has been shaped by its two most essential pieces of infrastructure: the railway line to the north and the A38 dual carriageway to the south. No large scaling housing has been built on either side of these boundaries. Due to this Ivybridge has been forced to grow east and west rather than north and south; it stretches approximately 1.76 miles (2.83 km) from east to west and 1 mile (1.6 km) from north to south.


Along with the rest of South West England, Ivybridge has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the British Isles. The annual mean temperature is approximately 11 °C (52 °F) and shows a seasonal and a diurnal variation, but due to the modifying effect of the sea the range is less than in most other parts of the British Isles. February is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between 3 °C (37 °F) and 4 °C (39 °F). July and August are the warmest months with mean daily maxima over 19 °C (66 °F).

The climate of South West England has a favoured location with respect to the Azores high pressure when it extends its influence north-eastwards towards the British Isles, particularly in summer. Coastal areas have average annual sunshine totals over 1,600 hours.

Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection. The Atlantic depressions are more vigorous in autumn and winter and most of the rain which falls in those seasons in the south-west is from this source. Average annual rainfall is around 980 millimetres (39 in). The number of days with snow falling is typically less than ten per winter. November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, with June to August having the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west and, as a result, the air quality in Ivybridge may be reduced by the (proposed) construction of an incinerator southwest of the town (at the New England Quarry) with possible implications for health.


Population change in Ivybridge since 1911

Ivybridge's most recent census indicates that Ivybridge had a population of 11,851. The United Kingdom Census 2011 was carried out by the Office for National Statistics in England and Wales, on Sunday, 27 March 2011. To put that figure into comparison with the area surrounding Ivybridge: it accounts for about 14% of the South Hams' total population (83,140) and it accounts for about 1% of Devon's total population (1,133,800). The town has a median age of 42 (up from 36 since 2001), which is above the national average of 39.

The ethnicity of Ivybridge is predominately white with 98.7% of the population identifying themselves as such. This is slightly higher than the local average of the South Hams (98.3%) and much higher than the national average for England (85.5%). Of the remaining ethnic groups, 0.7% are mixed, 0.5% are Asian, 0.1% are Black and 0.1% are classed as other.


The IvyBridge
The Ivy Bridge in May 2013

The town's natural landmark is Western Beacon; a hill that overlooks the town. People walk up there for the views of Ivybridge and the South Hams. The town's first manmade landmark is the Ivy Bridge; a 13th century hump-backed bridge covered in Ivy. It is still in use today and gives the name of the town – Ivybridge. The two remaining industrial landmarks of the town are the viaduct over the River Erme and the paper mill. The original viaduct was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1848, only the granite piers remain. The operational line alongside was built by Sir James Charles Inglis in 1893 for the Great Western Railway. It still carries the mainline trains. They were key to the town's initial growth in the Industrial Revolution and are still importance to the town today. In the centre of the town a war memorial was constructed and each year on Remembrance Day the town holds a ceremony to those who lost their lives, in recent years another memorial has also been built nearby commemorating the lives of American servicemen stationed in and near the town in 1944. The Watermark is one of the town's modern landmarks, which began construction in 2007 and was completed in March 2008 at a cost of £1.4 million. It functions as a library, entertainment venue, cinema and offers office space.


Ivybridge Railway Station
Facing west towards Plymouth at Ivybridge railway station.

Ivybridge has long been a staging post on the Exeter to Plymouth road dating back to the 13th century and the "Ivy Bridge" was the only way over the River Erme at the time. The bridge itself is still in use to this day taking cars (one-way) and pedestrians across the river. In the 1830s a new bridge was built at the top of Fore Street (approximately 130 yards down the river). It is now used as a 1-way road across the river for vehicles and a separate pedestrian bridge lies alongside it. Another bridge (Marjorie Kelly Way/B3213, built in the 1990s) is situated at the bottom of Fore Street. In 1974 the A38 road was opened linking Ivybridge to Plymouth and Exeter. It was the first major trunk road for Ivybridge and was bypassed at the B3213, which runs through the centre of Ivybridge and connects it to the nearby villages of Bittaford and Wrangaton.

The first railway station at Ivybridge was not complete when the South Devon Railway was opened, but was brought into use six weeks later on 15 June 1848. The building was situated on the north side of the track, immediately to the west of Ivybridge Viaduct. Passenger trains were withdrawn in 1959 and the goods facility closed in 1965. On 15 July 1994 a new station was opened on a new site costing £380,000, outside the town, to the east. It is operated by Great Western Railway who run links to London Paddington via Exeter and also south west to Cornwall. The station is advertised as a Park and Ride for the nearby city of Plymouth, although the level of service is infrequent and sporadic.

The town has a bus service (Gold) to Plymouth, Totnes, Paignton and Torquay operated by Stagecoach South West. It operates a half hourly route with Ivybridge as a primary stop. The X38 bus to Exeter is every 2 hours, and is also operated by Stagecoach South West. Plymouth Citybus operate the hourly 20A service to Plymouth, via Lee Mill and Plympton. This is a popular bus with shoppers, as it calls at the Tesco Superstore in Lee Mill.


Ivybridge Evangelical Church
Ivybridge Evangelical Church

Ivybridge has six churches. St John's Church (Anglican) is the parish church situated near the Ivy Bridge. There is also a Baptist church, a Methodist church, and Ivybridge Congregational Church. On the western outskirts of the town is a Roman Catholic church – St Austin's Priory. The Salvation Army Church is currently held at the former Ivybridge Youth Centre.

In 2011, 65.1% of the population stated that they were Christian, 26.5% stated as no religion and 7.8% did not state their religion. Furthermore, there were a few people stating other religions: 0.3 (31 people) as other religions, 0.2% (18 people) stated as Buddhist, 0.1 (16 people) as Muslim, 0.1% (7 people) as Hindu, and one Jew. Since 2001, there has been a shift from Christian (down 13 percentage points) to non-religious (up 12 points).


Paper Mill, Ivybridge
Paper Mill

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 built in the latter part of the Industrial Revolution of the United Kingdom. The largest employer to the town from 1787 Stowford Paper Mill, which led to population growth in the town. The paper mill closed in 2013. With the expansion of the town in the late 20th century much of the new jobs are in the service sector of industry. Due to the A38 Ivybridge's transport to nearby city Plymouth was made possible as a commuter route. As a result, a lot of Ivybridge's work or "economy" is made in Plymouth and nearby towns. Ivybridge does still have some of its own industry with a small industrial estate at the south of the town and very nearby an industrial estate just to the west at Lee Mill. There have been attempts to brand the town as a walking centre for southern Dartmoor. There is good access to Dartmoor from the town. For example, one route follows the route of the old china clay railway to Redlake in the heart of the moor, another follows the Erme through Longtimber Woods. There are other accesses to the Moor. The Two Moors Way, which crosses Dartmoor and Exmoor starts in Ivybridge and finishes in Lynmouth on the North Devon coast.

The shopping area is mainly along Fore Street and Glanvilles Mill and provides many jobs and services for the town, although the local schools combine to be the biggest employers. There are some out of town jobs at the Tesco Extra superstore at Lee Mill and Endsleigh Garden & Leisure (Wyevale). The town has six traditional public houses: The Sportsmans, the Trehill Arms, the Exchange, the Old Smithy, the Duke of Cornwall and the Imperial.


Playing fields at Ivybridge
Ivybridge playing fields

Each April the Ivybridge walking and outdoor festival takes place. There are various leisure facilities in the town: the South Dartmoor Leisure Centre features an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor sports hall, squash courts and gymnasium facilities. 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), two football pitches and the Erme Valley Harriers (athletics and road running). The town's football team, called Ivybridge Town F.C., was founded in 1925 and play at region level in the South West Peninsula League. The town's flat green bowls club is situated at the end of Bridge Park. 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. Filham Park has a Cricket Club, football pitches and a fishing lake. The other local football club, Manstow FC, play on the football pitches located in Filham Park.


Erme Primary School
Erme Primary School – the town's first school

The town has six schools: Four state primary schools, the Dame Hannah Roger's special school, and Ivybridge Community College, the town's secondary state school, 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. The school has a very large catchment area which stretches from Shaugh Prior on Dartmoor, to Bigbury on the coast and covers many of the villages in the South Hams such as Ugborough, Modbury and Yealmpton. There are no independent schools in Ivybridge, but Dame Hannah Rogers School provides a boarding education for children with disabilities and communication needs. The nearest university is the University of Plymouth. In 2008 a new library and resource centre called the Watermark was opened, replacing the small library on Keaton Road. Notable people from the community college include sports teacher Michaela Breeze who won a gold medal weightlifting in the 2002 Commonwealth Games for Wales and won another gold medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games., Nigel Martin (footballer) was a pupil, Chris Bell, a retired rugby union player with Leeds, Harlequins, Sale Sharks and Wasps, and the school's former principal – Geoffrey Rees now retired, who was given a CBE for his services to education.

Notable residents

  • Born in 1847 in Ivybridge, Edmund Hartley was awarded a Victoria Cross in the Basuto Gun War. Hartley Court in Fore Street is named after him.
  • Hugh Morton, actor, 1903–84, was born in the town.

Images for kids

See also

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