The Torridge Undoes the Plans of Men Timelines: All, Georgian (1714 - 1837)


In 1722 a dispute arose between the feoffes of the Long Bridge and the lord of the manor, concerning rights to a section of the East-the-Water foreshore on which their tenant wanted to construct a quay. Thus confirming that the manor exercised rights over part of the eastern shore.

About the same time a more significant row was erupting, between Bideford and Barnstaple, concerning responsibility for trade through Appledore. In the Commissioners For Customs report to the Treasury is found Barnstaple’s petition, accompanying which, as evidence, is ‘a copy of certificate of the Inhabitants in, and near, the port of Bideford.’ The report, minuted on 7 Feb 1722-23 provides a graphic picture of the state of the river, together with evidence that the course of the Torridge could prove fickle. It is worth quoting in some detail “the ‘Lyer’ before the Key in the West side of the sd River is choaked up with sand, mudd, & stones, that ships of eighty tons & upwards, laden with goods, cannot come near the Key, unless on the heigth of a spring tide; and even then are in great danger of damaging both ships & goods by the sands washing away from under their bottoms, as has been often found by experience; and that no part of the ground, near the same key is so safe for any ships, as the ground on the East side of the said River. That for several years last past the river has alter’d its course, and now runs on the East side, as it formerly did on the West side, which has scoured off the sand & mud, and made the ground on the East side, free & safe for ships or galleys of burthen to lie upon with safety, without danger of taking any damage.” They further “certifie that on low tides, the boats from Apledore, with passengers, are forced to land them on the East side, not having water to come near the key on the West side.” In the petition reported in 1716 it is suggested that the southern end of the new key has more water than the “old key,” which, taken with the above report (which implies that c. 1717 the western key had more water than the eastern one) suggests that the key on the eastern side was older than that on the western.