The Inland Waterways Association campaigns for the use, maintenance and restoration of Britain’s waterways. It is a national charity run by volunteers, and has over 18,000 members whose interests include boating, towing path walking, industrial archaeology, nature conservation and many other activities associated with the inland waterways. The Association Vision is to ensure the inland waterways of England and Wales are restored and maintained to the best possible standards, and kept accessible for the benefit of all people. A regular update on all things connected with these aims is published on their website. The South West Region of the IWA has their own section which can be found here.
The Stover Bargee
We produce a quarterly newsletter called The Stover Bargee which is delivered to members. To see a previous issue please click here.
Built by our forefathers, preserved for our grandchildren
outdoor events and our fund raising has taken a huge hit.
Work parties which have been suspended since lockdown resumed in July but with revised working practises in accordance with government guidelines. We have concentrated on clearing the vegetation which has taken hold during the period since March, particularly addressing the problem of Hymalayan balsam which has again taken hold in some areas. This invasive species is relatively easy to pull up and it is important to remove it before the seed heads form. It dies back during the winter and leaves the ground bare and susceptible to erosion.
Plans for the replica crane at Ventiford Basin are with Teignbridge DC planners and we hope for a favourable decision in September. We have secured a suitable, felled oak tree and tenders are out for the necessary ironwork.
In the meantime, construction of a replica tramway wagon is well under way by a small team of our talented volunteers.
The Haytor Granite Tramway was built in 1820 by George Templer of Stover, and its opening celebrated on 16th September 1820. It ran from the family quarries at Haytor to the Canal terminus at Ventiford. Over the weekend of the 19th and 20th September, volunteers held a low-key event at the Basin to mark the event of 200 years before.George was the son of James Templer II, who built the Stover Canal thirty years earlier, and grandson of James Templer I who, in 1777, used part of his immense wealth from constructing the naval docks at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth to build Stover House.Having acquired the Manor of Ilsington and its quarries at Haytor, George Templer built the Tramway to transport granite from his quarries to the head of the Stover Canal at Ventiford. From there the granite could be carried by barge to Teignmouth and shipped by coaster to London where it was used from the 1820’s to the 1850s in many prestigious buildings an structures such as London Bridge, the British Museum and Covent Garden Market and the pedestals of famous statues such as those of King Gorge III in Windsor Park and the Duke of Wellington in Hyde Park.The Tramway was unique, the rails being cut out of freely-available granite – mainly moorstone - instead of costly cast iron. Approximately 7,000 tons of granite were used during the 11 months that it took to build the seven mile-long Tramway. Once built, quarried granite was carried on flat-topped wagons that descended largely by gravity via Yarner Wood to Bovey Tracey and hauled from there by horse to Ventiford. At Ventiford a huge crane on the west side of the basin was used to transfer the granite blocks - weighing up to three tons - from wagon to barge. The Tramway is well preserved from Haytor to Bovey Tracey, its route being followed by the Templer Way footpath. However from Bovey Tracey to the Ventiiford basin the Tramway was obliterated by the construction in 1865 of the Moretonhampstead branch line along its route, bringing to an end the use of this section of the Tramway and the Stover Canal for the transportation of granite.In recent years Stover Canal Trust volunteers have revealed Tramway rails on the east side of the basin showing that the Tramway was also used to transport materials such as coal and flints to Bovey Pottery and micaceous haematite from mines in the Wray Valley. With assistance from the ball clay mining company Sibelco (the Canal was originally built to transport ball clay) , volunteers have removed the silt that filled the basin, carried out archaeological investigation of three barge ‘hulks’ buried in the basin, built a dam to enable water to be held in the basin and have lifted the base of the old crane out of its 9-foot (2.7 metre) pit in preparation for the installation of a replica crane.
Temporary crane and replica wagon
Original crane base
Flooding from the River Teign has again damaged some lengths of the canal bank and towpath but it was good to see water in the lower part of the canal - even if it was flowing! Work parties are suspended under lockdown restrictions but individual members have managed to stabilised the most dangerous sections for safety purposes.
Following the floods came the freeze but the winter sunshine gave photographers the opportunity for some wonderful pictures.
Meanwhile, the oak tree for the Ventiford crane has been sawn to shape and delivered to our yard for finishing.