The year has started very well as we can now share the news that the Maritime Heritage Trust, in conjunction with National Historic Ships and Historic England, has recognised Bideford and River Torridge as a heritage harbour. See: https://maritimeheritage.org.uk/uk-heritage-harbours/bideford-river-torridge.
This means we join Exeter as the second heritage harbour in Devon and become one of nine heritage harbours in UK along with three inland ports on canals.
More information from the press release that is going out on Friday 5 January below. Look out for interviews on Saturday on BBC Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight.
Bideford and River Torridge achieve Heritage Harbour status
Bideford and the River Torridge has been granted Heritage Harbour status by the Maritime Heritage Trust, joining eleven other ports whose contribution to Britain’s maritime history has been officially recognised.
The announcement comes as a result of a campaign by ten local heritage charities, led by Bideford-based Way of the Wharves, with input to Town and District Councils, local businesses, the education sector and other stakeholders.
The heritage organisations in the River Torridge Heritage Group (RTHG) partnership represent some 2000 members and supporters and including 200 active volunteers who give up their time to be trustees, stewards, painters, engineers, and restorers on the different projects.
The vision is to see the ongoing preservation and development of buildings and infrastructure along the whole waterfront from Appledore to Torrington, bringing to life stories of the maritime history of the whole Torridge Estuary.
Mike Teare, Chair of the charity Way of the Wharves, said:
‘This decision is of huge significance for our area, not only for highlighting our magnificent maritime heritage, but for developing Bideford and Torridge as an attractive place to live, work, and visit. The award of funding to create the Clean Maritime Innovation Centre in Appledore already shows how important a strong sense of heritage and identity is for attracting new investment with skills and jobs for the future. Heritage Harbour status is good news for anyone who cares about our past and wants to see us thrive in the future.’
In addition to developing its website at www.barthh.org to bring together information about heritage vessels, museums, buildings and heritage sites along the river, the group plans to launch guided walk maps that will help local folk and visitors discover these attractions and use QR codes to provide more detailed information, especially about the lesser-known stories.
There will be a public meeting in the near future to celebrate the heritage harbour status and lay out more plans and vision. We will be looking to the community to help uncover and tell more of the maritime stories from along the river. Mike Teare says:
‘Whether it’s something from your family history or an old boat or artefact you’ve got hidden in your garage or discovered in a field please get in touch with us.’
The members of the River Torridge Heritage Group (RTHG) are currently: Way of the Wharves (lead charity); Steamship Freshspring Trust; The Burton at Bideford; North Devon Maritime Museum, Appledore; Bideford Railway Heritage Centre; Appledore Maritime Heritage Trust; Bideford and District Community Archive; Rolle Canal and Northern Devon Waterways Society; Tarka Valley Railway; East the Water in Bloom.
Heritage Harbours are a joint initiative by the Maritime Heritage Trust, National Historic Ships Shipshape Network and Historic England whereby historic ports and harbours in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can become officially recognised as ‘Heritage Harbours’. This emphasises the great value in sensitively developing their historic buildings, wasteland, mooring and maintenance facilities for both local and visiting historic vessels.
The other heritage harbours in the UK are: Exeter, Ipswich, Bucklers Hard, Sandwich, Faversham and Oare, Maldon and Heybridge, Wells-Next-The-Sea and Bristol and the inland ports are at Shardlow, Stourport on Severn and Chester.
Way of the Wharves charity, based in Bideford, advancing the education and information about the maritime and industrial heritage of Bideford, East the Water and the Torridge Estuary.
Way of the Wharves CIO registered charity 1188912.