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Unless stated, all material © Stover Canal Trust 2017  

Restoration of the Ventiford Basin - 2016

Ventiford   Basin   is   the   Northern   terminus   of   the   canal.   Clay   from   the   local   area   was   brought   here   overland,   loaded   onto   barges and   sailed   down   the   canal   to   the   Jetty   Marsh   sea   lock.   Depending   on   the   state   of   the   tide,   barges   would   then   travel   along   the Whitelake   Channel,   past   Town   Quay   in   Newton   Abbot   and   down   the   River   Teign   to   be   trans-shipped   to   larger   vessels   at   the docks in Teignmouth. In   1820,   James   Templer   II’s   son   George   brought   his   Granite   Tramway   here   from   his   quarries   at   Haytor   to   enable   Dartmoor granite   to   follow   the   same   route   as   the   clay   to   Teignmouth.   This   Dartmoor   granite   was   used   in   the   construction   of   many prominent buildings in London. Following   the   opening   of   the   Moretonhampstead   and   South   Devon   Railway   in   1866,   canal   traffic   gradually   declined   and   the Basin   subsequently   became   redundant   and   steadily   fell   into   disrepair.   Flooding   by   the   adjacent   River   Teign   over   the   decades left layers of silt which gradually built up and buried all evidence of the canal and tramway. For   two   weeks   in   2014,   the   excavation   started   of   an   old   barge   which   had   been   laid-up   in   the   basin   when   the   basin   became redundant   in   the   late   1800’s.   Granite   walls   to   the   basin   were   also   uncovered.   Later   that   year,   whilst   work   was   being   carried   out by   Devon   County   Council   on   the   construction   of   the   Stover   Trail   cycle   and   walkway,   evidence   of   the   Granite   Trameway   was uncovered.   A   further   two   week   excavation   continued   in   2015.      It   was   becoming   evident   that   the   open   grassed   area   that   was ‘Ventiford’ held many surprises in store. Restoration   work   was   greatly   helped   in   the   early   Summer   of   2016   by   the   involvement   of   the   management   and   some   of   the   staff of   the   local   clay   company,   Sibelco.   Hundreds   of   tonnes   of   silt   were   removed   from   the   canal   channel   and   more   hulked   barges and granite ‘rails’ were found. Volunteers   from   the   Waterways   Recovery   Group   later   spent   two   weeks   helping   with   the   work.   They   are   all   members   of   the Inland Waterways Association and give of their free time to restore old canals all over the country. The Waterway Recovery Group attracts a wide range of people, from young volunteers taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme; to waterway enthusiasts who wish to make a contribution to restoring and preserving the system; to people who just want to get outdoors, have fun and learn new skills. www.waterways.org.uk/wrg/
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Our thanks go to all the people and organisations that have made the restoration possible.
Here    we    see    Ventiford    picnic area,    looking    towards    Newton Abbot     and     before     restoration started.    The    first    barge    to    be investigated    was    situated    just beyond      the      bonfire.      Some evidence     of     the     canal     basin granite   walls   can   be   seen.   In   the distance    alongside    the    Stover Trail,   is   the   first   short   length   of the     Granite     Tramway     to     be uncovered.
May 2014 Excavations
Left picture Discovery of the granite tramway November 2014
Right picture Further length uncovered May 2015
Further excavation of the first barge took place in 2016. It was fully documented and photographed prior to being lifted out of the basin. Sadly the wooden structure quickly began to deteriorate on exposure to the atmosphere and just a few small pieces were saved. However, we have enough detail should someone wish to build a replica!
In the Summer of 2016 some serious action took place….
…and two more barges were found
Barge Two
Barge Three
View of the cleared Basin and granite tramway rails which would have led to warehouses. Evidence of clay and minerals was found on site to confirm this.
Members of the Waterways Recovery Group made good progress with grouting the walls.
Some of the items recovered from the silt are shown here. It is thought that the area may have been used as a rubbish tip at some stage after trading ceased. (Picture courtesy of Chris Meathrell)
Before the help from the Sibelco team….                    and after.
The line of the Granite Tramway can clearly be seen alongside the Basin.
Careful work by the volunteers from Sibelco exposed more of the ‘rails’ to the North.
Before and After pictures of the Granite Tramway looking South from the Basin.
Below is a replica of one of the wagons which used to carry blocks of granite from Haytor to Ventiford.

Plans for Ventiford Basin in 2017

- Construction   of   an   earth   bank   with   revetment   faces   at   the   southern   end   of   the   basin   and   lining   the   bed of the basin with a special fabric to enable re-watering. - Introduce interpretation panels, seats and picnic furniture, fencing and safety features
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