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Ashburton's unique history is believed to have begun in Saxon times although little is known about this period. Many finds have been unearthed around the Ashburton area, some dating back as early as 3000 B.C. but there is no evidence of a settlement here until around 500 B.C. This spot was most likely chosen for its presence of tin. This fact has shaped the history of Ashburton ever since.

There are many other pages in this site that touch on the history of Ashburton, some of which are listed below. If you are interested in the town history you will find many in depth publications available from the Information Centre.

Churches and Architecture
Ashburton Museum
St Lawrence Chapel

War Memorial/Memories of War
This area of the site is in rememberance of all the service men and women from Ashburton who lost their lives in two world wars and to keep their memories alive through the stories of those that lived through them.

War Memorial
Remembrance Sunday 2011
A quiet pilgrimage to Normandy
War Veterans

Claras Story opens external website
Clara's Story tells the tale of a girl who grew up in the town during the Civil War in the mid-1600s. This separate website includes the story in MP3 format, a walk guided by the story and a film made by local children.

With Thanks
We would very much like to thank Pete Webb and the Ashburton Museum for the use of these unique historical photos. Many of these photos can be found in various publications available from the Information Centre, local book shops. and on Peter Webb's Ashburton History Channel on Youtube.

Stannary Town
The town's past prosperity is based on the tin mining of Dartmoor and the woollen industry with the river providing ample power for the many mills that once lined its banks. Ashburton is one of only four Stannary Towns in Devon and tin was mined in the area as far back as Roman times and considered as recently as the 1970s.

The Stannary Towns were important centres for the trade of tin as all rough smelted tin had to be stamped before it was taken away for use. This process of weighing and checking of quality was carried out at very few towns and Ashburton was designated a Stannary Town as early as 1285 AD. Its importance as the main Stannary Town peaked in 1515 when nearly 40% of Devon's tin was sold through Ashburton. By the early 1700s the trade had all but died out but small amounts have been mined even up to comparatively recent times.

Photo History
These two photos taken in 1957 by the Ruth Brothers show views of North Street, the first looking down the street from the junction of North Street with West Street and East Street now commonly referred to as the Bull Ring. In the forefront of the picture is a large granite lantern which is the original Bull Ring, now sadly removed leaving the junction with its name. The second is looking back up the street from the Town Hall.

Comparing these photos to the similar shots taken today, available in the photo galley section of this site you can see that the architecture of the main town centre has changed very little over the years.

Historical black and white photograph of North Street in 1957

Historical black and white photograph of North Street in 1957

This is another of the Ruth Brothers photos from the 1950s looking up East street from the Bull Ring and depicting Ashburton in flood. This was a fairly regular occurrence in the town up until the addition of the flood prevention scheme introduced in the 1970s.

Historical black and white photograph of Lower East street in flood from 1950s

The friendly 'small town' atmosphere of Ashburton guarantees that when there's somethings to celebrate the local residents will make sure it goes with a bang. This photo shows the street parties in North Street in celebration of VE day in 1945.

You can still find the streets lined with people today for the annual Carnival and Bread Weighing ceremonies, though for less patriotic reasons.

This last photo depicts the triumphal arches erected in Honor of the Jubilee Year of the Reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria in 1897. You can just make out the Bull Ring forming the central pillar of the arches.

Historical black and white photograph of Ashburtons 1945 VE day celebrations

Historical black and white photograph showing triumphal arches erected in the Bull Ring to celebrate the Queens jubilee in 1887

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all content © 2004 unless otherwise stated. No part of this site may be reproduced without written permission from Ashburton Town Council.
With special thanks to John Germon and Peter Webb for their supply of content without which this site would not have been produced.