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Current Issues

A Tribute to Christine Porter

Members, officers and volunteers of the Town Council were deeply saddened to hear the news of the untimely death of Christine Porter.  Christine was instrumental in setting up the GTTC Dementia Friendly Community Working Group, striving to improve all aspects of day-to-day living within the community for those living with dementia as well as their Carers.  Christine was passionate about this initiative and worked extremely hard “on the ground” and alongside other members of the group.  Christine was an inspiration to so many and will be greatly missed by everyone who worked with and had the privilege to know her.  Our thoughts are vey much with Christine’s family and friends at this sad time.

Karen Chapman (Town Clerk)

Great Torrington Town Council Marketing Working Group

We reported last December about the newly formed Marketing Working Group.  Since then, the group has been busy and you will note from the front page of the CRIER, one of the main pieces of work has been updating the “Town Map” and John Wardman’s “Civil War Trail”.  These will join the new “Heritage Trail” map which was finalised at the end of last year, created by Emily Wapshott and the Futures Group. By mid-April, we will have 3 maps available in paper form and will distribute these far and wide, but would also like to encourage our local residents to grab copies and either have a look at what the town has to offer in respect of a unique shopping experience and/or take in one of the history trails and learn more about the wonderful heritage of your amazing town!

Last Autumn, the CDT asked the Town Council if we would take over the membership of the North Devon Marketing Bureau (NDMB). Members agreed  and we have ensured that we have maximised the quota of  photos we are able to display on the Visit Devon website as well as populated the site with appropriate information about Great Torrington.  In addition, we have also subscribed to a half page advert in the “Visit Devon” booklet which is distributed nationally.

We have spent some time boosting the One Great Torrington website by adding in various community groups.  It is envisaged that the “OneGreatTorrington” website ( will be the portal for the town and will point people to various activities, shops, groups etc.

Closer to home again, we are looking at other activities and opportunities. The working group is currently planning a History Alive weekend in September 2022, which was reported on last month and there is talk of designing a heritage calendar for 2022. We are also looking for local treasure hunt style activities throughout the town which can be added to the One Great Torrington website to be used by a whole host of people, including children.  If you have any such trails, and you are happy to share them, please contact the Town Council.

What continues to be evident throughout all of this work is the plethora of volunteers who work tirelessly and passionately for the community of Great Torrington. We are very fortunate!

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any ideas as to how we can promote the great things our town has to offer and keep an eye out in future editions of The Crier for updates on how we are progressing.

History Alive

We know we live in a historic town when our “New” Street was built in the 12th century, but how much do we really know about our town’s history and the lives of the people who lived here before us? Wouldn’t it be something if the past could come to life?

That’s the whole idea of “History Alive”. The event will be part of a national heritage weekend 10th-11th September 2022. Alongside the Town Council’s newly formed Marketing Working Group and using the inspiration of other local groups in our town and groups of friends and individuals, we aim to recreate some of the events that have shaped our town and the nation’s history. We could portray anything from Great Torrington’s role in making the nation’s favourite tinned rice pudding, and fashionable gloves, through to the transport innovations of the canal and railway. The town has been no stranger to conflict. There have been conflicts over Great Torrington cemetery, the fencing-in of common land, with the lepers, the destruction of two castles, and national conflict between Cavaliers and Roundheads that was fought out on our streets in 1646. More recently the impact of the First and Second world wars on the town.

As a town, over the years, we have showcased our history: the Cavaliers re-enacted the explosion of Great Torrington church in 1646 at one of their famous bonfires, the informative work done by the Rolle Canal and Tarka Valley Railway groups, the role of the old Torrington 1646 centre, and the work of the local history society. Plus, the local history work done in our schools, and by the Commons Conservators, the Plough and its musicians and players, local historical authors and the Taddiport Lepers. The Mayfair Carnival is a yearly witness to the creativity of local groups and groups of friends. Let’s bring it all together on a weekend in 2022, with talks, demonstrations, guides, re-enactments etc. Starting the planning now, gives us the time we need to formulate ideas and by Autumn this year we could be ready to go to press for inclusion in national and regional tourist publicity literature. We really want to involve as many local people and community groups as possible so to learn more and get involved, please contact one of us.

Town Council:; 01805 626135

John Wardman:; 01805 622622

Dave Gibbons: 

Peter Hood:       01805 622433

How to contact the police in a non-emergency

If you need to contact the police, and it’s not an emergency then follow these simple steps to make sure you get the help you need: 

  1. Are you wanting to report a breach of Covid 19 restrictions?
    If you are reporting a breach of restrictions then you can do this using the national reporting form on the website –
  2. AskNED – the non-emergency directory
    Need to ask a question but not sure who to ask for help, then AskNED –  
  3. Go online – On the force website you can find the answers to many of the questions people ask when calling the police plus lots of helpful information and advice.
  4. Report Crime Online If you need to report a crime or tell the police something, then why not report online using WebChat or the Crime Reporting Form.  Alternatively, you can email
  5. Call – 101 Non-emergency number

Remember in an emergency, always call 999.

You are never too young to make a difference

Last year the Town Council received a letter from a young man, Elliott Ashelford aged 5 requesting the provision of litter bins along lower Caddywell Lane. The District Council provided a bin and a delayed opening ceremony, (Covid19 restrictions), took place in early December. Elliott was joined by the Mayor and the Beadle, along with his mum, dad and younger brother, Reece. Elliott proudly cut the ribbon to officially launch a newly positioned litter bin at the end of Lower Caddywell Lane. It was great to receive this representation from someone so young in our community and we commend Elliott for his enthusiasm to help make a difference in his community!

Which Council does What?

At the start of another new year we thought it might be helpful to give a reminder regarding which tier of Council is responsible for main services within the community of Great Torrington.  We hope you find the below information helpful.

Devon County Council is responsible for the following services;

Education and schools, Highways including potholes, tourism signs, gritting, social services, child protection, libraries, recycling centres, waste management, and trading standards. Your local County Councillor is Andrew Saywell.

Torridge District Council is responsible for the following services;

Rubbish collection and recycling, council tax administration and collection, housing, planning applications, car parks, electoral services, sport and leisure, housing benefit and council tax support, business rates administration and collection, environmental protection, economic development, street cleaning, fly tipping and licensing. Local District Councillors are Cllrs Chris Bright, Margaret Brown, and Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin.  All of these District Councillors are also Town Councillors.

Great Torrington Town Council (GTTC)

GTTC is responsible for grass and hedge cutting, town maintenance, including benches, bus shelters, and the town clock. Acting as consultees for Planning matters, maintenance of GTTC owned parks (Trafalgar Drive, Greenbank and Jubilee Close), and facilitating and participating in working groups for the benefit of the community, (for example, “The Marketing Working Group” and the “Dementia Friendly Community working groups), receiving applications and awarding grants to local organisations, lobbying where appropriate, managing allotments, providing Christmas lights and bunting, events organising, footpaths and verge maintenance under contract, providing Snow and Road Wardens, overseeing Jubilee Wood/Meadow and statutory issues in relation to administration and finance of a Town Council.

GTTC endeavours to work with the above authorities, voluntary groups and individuals where possible when the outcome is for the benefit to the community of Great Torrington. Examples of these collaborations over the past 12 months include working with Devon County Council on an ongoing  project to improve signage. Working with Torridge District Council on “opening up the town centre post lockdown. Working with local volunteers from the community at Jubilee Wood, and community through the GTTC Covid19 support group. The list goes on, but Members are keen to be involved in local matters which do actually, “make a difference” to the town in one way or another.

In more normal times, the Mayor also represents the Town and attends a large number of events throughout the year and endeavours to keep good relations with our local neighbours as well as serve those within the community as and when possible.

A list of Town Councillors is held on the Town Council’s website along with contact details.  There is also a list in the Notice Board at GTTC offices, Castle Hill.

Jubilee Wood

Despite the restrictions we lived with last year, volunteers continued to be busy at Jubilee Wood. As we headed towards autumn, we saw the installation of a new land drain at the Stonemans Lane gateway so to accommodate more of the water coming down the hill when there is heavy rain. This should now help prevent the path and steps being washed away and reduce the amount of mud at that point. In addition, gravel was put down to help stabilise the path. Monitoring of this situation will be continued.

There were struggles cutting the grass due to inclement weather conditions which may mean that the longer grass will hinder the growth of flowering plants. The team has tried to rake out the thatch and sow seed, but we are not sure how effective it will be. We are hoping to have success at the School Lane end as we managed to strim the long grass there.

Volunteers have sowed the wildflower seed into pans and will plant out the resulting individual seedlings during this year.

The Town Council Technicians cut the grass triangle in the middle of the site and as a result the team was able to plant out approx. 80 “Bluecoats” trees. We are hoping to invite the Bluecoat School down next year to “adopt” the area – and maybe plant a few additional trees. It was lovely to have more people offer to help plant out these trees, which widens community involvement.

Ground has also been levelled for a new pathway to the first bench we hope to install in the New Year.

Alan Williams managed to secure plants from the Woodland Trust so we will see more trees and shrubs being planted in 2021.  In addition, we are looking to improve footpaths, including addition of steps to improve accessibility and have an ongoing programme of sowing and planting wild flowers to improve biodiversity and make the meadow more attractive.

During last year we estimate approximately 200 hours of volunteering took place at Jubilee Wood and the Town Council would like to say big thank you to Alan and his team of volunteers for all they have done and continue to at Jubilee Wood.

Please note that all of this work has been done in accordance with Covid19 precautions.