|Population||22,291 (2021 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
Tiverton ( // TIV-ər-tən) is a town and civil parish in Devon, England, and the commercial and administrative centre of the Mid Devon district. The population in 2019 was 20,587.
The town's name is conjectured to derive from "Twy-ford-ton" or "Twyverton", meaning "the town on two fords", and was historically referred to as "Twyford". The town stands at the confluence of the rivers Exe and Lowman. Human occupation in the area dates back to the Stone Age, with many flint tools found in the area. An Iron Age hill fort, Cranmore Castle, stands at the top of Exeter Hill above the town, and a Roman fort or marching camp was discovered on the hillside below Knightshayes Court near Bolham, just to the north of the town.
Tiverton formed part of the inheritance of Aethelweard, youngest son of King Alfred. Countess Gytha of Wessex controlled the town in 1066 and the Domesday Book indicates that William the Conqueror was its tenant-in-chief in 1086. Tiverton was also the seat of the court of the hundred of Tiverton.It was the strategic site chosen by Henry I for a Norman castle, Tiverton Castle, first built as a Motte and Bailey in 1106.
Tiverton has a medieval town leat, built for it by Countess Isabella de Fortibus, who was the eldest daughter of Baldwin de Redvers, 6th Earl of Devon and grew up at Tidcombe Hall, close to Tiverton. Isabella also controlled the Port of Topsham, Devon, through which much of Tiverton's woollen exports were transported, mostly to the Low Countries. Every seven years there is a Perambulation of the Town Leat: a ceremony to clear the path of the leat and ensure it is kept running. The leat can be seen in Castle Street, where it runs down the centre of the road, and at Coggan's Well, in Fore Street.
Tiverton owes its early growth and prosperity to the wool trade, which caused the town to grow rapidly in the 16th and 17th centuries. Many wealthy wool merchants added to the town's heritage. John Greenway (1460–1529), for example, built a chapel and porch onto St Peter's parish church in 1517, and a small chapel and almshouses in Gold Street, which still stand – the Almshouse Trust still houses people today. Peter Blundell, another wealthy merchant, who died in 1601, bequeathed the funds and land for Blundell's School to educate local children. It was founded in Tiverton in 1604 and relocated to its present location on the outskirts of town in 1882, where it functions as an independent school.John Waldron (died 1579) founded Waldron's Almshouses, on Wellbrook Street, and his elaborate chest tomb survives in St Peter's Church.
Around the turn of the 17th century, there were two major fires in the town. The first, allegedly started in a frying pan, was in 1596 and destroyed most of the town. The second, in 1612, was known as the "dog-fight fire" – a dog fight had distracted those meant to be looking after a furnace.The parish registers of Barnstaple reported of the second fire: "In the yere of or Lorde God 1612 in the 5th daye of the month of Auguste was the towne of Teverton burned the second tyme wth fyer to the nomber of 260 dwellynge howses."
During the English Civil War in 1645 Tiverton Castle, held by the Royalists, was the scene of a relatively brief siege by Thomas Fairfax's Parliamentarian forces. The Parliamentarian forces entered Tiverton under Major General Massey on 15 October, the town's defenders fleeing before him towards Exeter. They left a defending force in the castle and church. Fairfax arrived from Cullompton on 17 October, set up his artillery and bombarded the castle for two days, ceasing fire for the sabbath in the afternoon of Saturday 18 October. On Sunday Fairfax had "several great pieces" of artillery brought up, ready for a renewed barrage on Monday, which commenced at 7 a.m. The siege was ended when a lucky shot broke one of the drawbridge chains and an alert squad of Roundheads gained swift entry.
The town enjoyed prosperity from the wool trade in the early 18th century. However, a period of decline followed during the early Industrial Revolution. There were occasional riots, and societies of woolcombers and weavers were formed in an effort to protect jobs and wages. By the end of the century, imports of cotton and the expansion of industrialization elsewhere, along with the effect of the Napoleonic Wars on exports, took the town's woollen industry into terminal decline.In June 1731 another fire destroyed 298 houses, causing £58,000 worth of damage. After this, the streets were widened. In May 1738, riots broke out in the town.
The industrialist John Heathcoat bought an old woollen mill on the river Exe in 1815, and after the destruction of his machinery at Loughborough by former Luddites thought to be in the pay of Nottingham lacemakers, he moved his whole lace-making operation to Tiverton.The factory turned the fortunes of Tiverton again, making it an early industrial centre in the South West. Trade was aided when a branch of the Grand Western Canal from Tiverton to Lowdwells was opened in 1814, with an extension to Taunton in 1838. This was followed by a branch of the Great Western Railway in 1848. Tiverton Town Hall, elaborately designed by Henry Lloyd, was completed in 1864.
Although small, Tiverton had two members of Parliament. As one of the "rotten boroughs" it was often targeted by those seeking electoral reform. Lord Palmerston, or "Pam" as he was known locally, was an MP for Tiverton for much of the 19th century. In 1847, the Chartists, a radical group seeking to change the electoral system, stood one of their leaders, George Julian Harney, against Palmerston. He is widely reported as having gained no votes – but in fact he won the "popular vote" (a show of hands of the people of the town) and withdrew when Palmerston called a ballot, aware that he would lose in a vote by only 400 wealthy and propertied in the town out of a population of 7000. Broadening the franchise was one of the Chartist objectives. After the Reform Act of 1867, Tiverton had a single MP, held for a long period by a member of the Heathcoat-Amory family, who own much of the land and property surrounding Tiverton, most recently by Derick Heathcoat-Amory who served from 1945 to 1960. Up until 2010 David Heathcoat-Amory was the MP for Wells in nearby Somerset.
The town was the last in the Devon and Cornwall area to retain an independent police force, until 1945. In the second half of the 20th century, Tiverton again declined slowly, as the Heathcoat factory became ever more mechanised and the Starkey Knight & Ford brewery was taken over by Whitbread as its regional brewery, but later closed, becoming just a bottling plant located in Howden (now Aston Manor cider makers). The factory lay derelict for some years before being demolished to make way for a supermarket. The manufacture of agricultural machinery adjacent to the River Lowman dwindled, the railway closed in 1964 and the Globe Elastic plant in Kennedy Way closed in the 1980s. However, a few far-sighted individuals, notably William Authers, secured some important assets for the future. Tiverton Museum was opened, the track bed of the old railway was bought to provide footpaths and an adventure playground, and the Grand Western Canal was saved from dereliction as a country park.
Retailing in the town declined further in the 1990s after the opening of the Southern Relief Road (now Great Western Way) led to the closure of Fore Street in the town centre to all but pedestrians.
Tiverton's revival in recent years began with the construction of the A361 (the North Devon Link Road) in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, an industrial estate was built at Little Gornhay on the north-eastern edge of the town and a junction was added to the Link Road, with a distributor road (now the A396) into the town that has become its main gateway. Great Western Way, linking this road to the Exeter Road along the line of the old railway, was also constructed.
Demand has driven up housing prices, particularly in the South-West. Many now look to towns on the periphery of employment centres. Tiverton has become a dormitory town for commuters to Exeter and Taunton, with its growth supported by large housing projects to the north of the town by most national house builders, including Westbury Homes, Barrett Homes and Bellway Homes. The resulting influx has brought further development of the town's services and shops. Tiverton's outmoded swimming pool was replaced by a new leisure centre near the main campus of the East Devon College consisting of a swimming pool and gymnasium. Mid Devon District Council moved in December 2003 to new offices at Phoenix House, at the foot of Phoenix Lane, close to the site of a disused brewery.The town has a newly built Tiverton and District Hospital funded by the Private Finance Initiative, which opened in May 2004.
The Pannier Market in the town was redeveloped at a cost of over £3 million, alongside its car park and minor shopping precinct, increasing market capacity and allowing markets to be held more frequently:the work was completed in April 2006.
In 2007 the former cinema, the Electric, was bulldozed for redevelopment as housing, while the only operative cinema, the Tivoli, which had been mostly run by volunteers, closed its doors and the site was put up for sale. After a well-supported public campaign, the Tivoli reopened on 28 June 2008, bought by Merlin Cinemas.
Tiverton as the venue for the annual Mid Devon Showwon one of 15 positions in the Round 2 pilot scheme as a Portas Town in 2018.
Tiverton has easy access to the M5 motorway. The town's revival in recent years began with the construction of the A361 North Devon Link Road in the late 1980s.
Up till 11 January 2023, Tiverton was served twice daily by the London Superfast Service of Berry's Coaches.
The Bristol and Exeter Railway opened a station known as Tiverton Road on 1 May 1844. It was renamed Tiverton Junction on 12 June 1848, when Tiverton railway station was opened nearer the town at the end of a branch from the Junction station. A second branch, the Exe Valley line reached this station from the south, branching off the London to Penzance main line at Stoke Canon and following the River Exe. Mainline trains were occasionally diverted via Tiverton if there was engineering work or damage on the section north of Stoke Canon. Another line headed north to join the Taunton–Barnstaple line at Dulverton. None of these lines remain.
In 1986, Tiverton Parkway railway station opened on the main line on the site of the old Sampford Peverell station, to replace the junction station a few miles down the line at Willand. As a parkway station, it stands six miles east of the town, alongside Junction 27 of the M5 motorway. Its proximity to the motorway – and the relative inaccessibility of Exeter St Davids railway station – means that the station is often used as a coach exchange when the line between Exeter and Plymouth is closed.
The Grand Western Canal from Taunton to Tiverton opened in 1838.
Most bus services are run by Stagecoach South West and the local Dartline. Stagecoach offers hourly, Monday to Saturday services to Exeter, with a two-hourly service on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Stagecoach also runs a two-hourly service (155) between Exeter, Tiverton and Barnstaple.
The town has a main football club, Tiverton Town, and many amateur clubs, including Elmore and Amory Green Rovers. The town also has a rugby club and several cricket clubs. Tiverton White Eagles is a local women's hockey club with three teams in various leagues.
The Tiverton Gazette is a weekly tabloid newspaper for Tiverton and district, published on Tuesdays to coincide with market day. It first appeared as the Tiverton Gazette and East Devon Herald in 1858, when the founder, Robert Were, was only 22 years old; he died just five years later. The newspaper split into three editions in 1872 – the Tiverton Gazette, Crediton Gazette and South Molton Gazette – but recombined in the mid-1890s as the Mid Devon Gazette. It then split into Town and Rural editions, before splitting three ways once more.
Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC South West and ITV West Country. Television signals are received Stockland Hill and local relay TV transmitters.
The town is served by the local radio stations BBC Radio Devon, Heart West, Greatest Hits Radio South West, Radio Exe, and TCR Radio, a community-based station.
Tiverton lies in north-east Devon 13 miles (21 km) north of Exeter, 46 miles (74 km) north-east of Plymouth and 18 miles (29 km) west of Taunton. The villages of Ashley to the south and Bolham to the north have become suburbs of Tiverton. The River Exe flows through the town.
Tiverton has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb).
Tiverton is twinned with the German town of Hofheim am Taunus.
In birth order:
Barnstaple is a river-port town and civil parish in the North Devon district of Devon, England. The town lies at the River Taw's lowest crossing point before the Bristol Channel. From the 14th century, it was licensed to export wool from which it earned great wealth. Later it imported Irish wool, but its harbour silted up and other trades developed such as shipbuilding, foundries and sawmills. A Victorian market building survives, with a high glass and timber roof on iron columns.
Derick Heathcoat-Amory, 1st Viscount Amory,, was a British Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords.
Blundell's School is an independent co-educational boarding and day school in the English public school tradition, located in Tiverton, Devon. It was founded in 1604 under the will of Peter Blundell, one of the richest men in England at the time, and moved to its present site on the outskirts of the town in 1882.
Cullompton is a town and civil parish in the district of Mid Devon and the county of Devon, England. It is 13 miles (21 km) north-east of Exeter and lies on the River Culm. In 2011 the parish as a whole had a population of 8,499 while the built-up area of the town had a population of 7,439.
John Heathcoat was an English inventor from Duffield, Derbyshire. During his apprenticeship he made an improvement to the warp-loom, so as to produce mitts of a lace-like appearance. He set up his own business in Nottingham but was forced to move away to Hathern in Leicestershire, and after this new factory was attacked by former Luddites in 1816 he moved the business to Tiverton in Devon where it became most successful and established the Tiverton lace-making industry.
Tiverton Parkway railway station is on the Bristol to Exeter line in Devon, England. Despite being named after the town of Tiverton it is actually located in the civil parish of Burlescombe, near Sampford Peverell, 6 miles (9.7 km) to the east of Tiverton, and close to the junction of the M5 motorway with the A361 North Devon link road. It is 177 miles 28 chains from the zero point at London Paddington via Bristol Temple Meads.
Cranmore Castle is an Iron Age earthwork situated on a hillside above the Devon town of Tiverton in south-west England. Its National Grid reference is SS958118. It is an English Heritage scheduled monument, and has been given a National Monument number of 34256.
The Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER) was an English railway company formed to connect Bristol and Exeter. It was built on the broad gauge and its engineer was Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It opened in stages between 1841 and 1844. It was allied with the Great Western Railway (GWR), which built its main line between London and Bristol, and in time formed part of a through route between London and Cornwall.
Tiverton High School is a state secondary school located in Tiverton, Devon, England. It is located on the outskirts of the town, and has a close working relationship with the co-sited Petroc.
The Devon and Somerset Railway (D&SR) was a cross-country line that connected Barnstaple in Devon, England, to the network of the Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER) near Taunton. It was opened in stages between 1871 and 1873 and closed in 1966. It served a mostly rural area although it carried some through services from east of Taunton to the seaside resort of Ilfracombe.
The North Devon Railway was a railway company which operated a line from Cowley Bridge Junction, near Exeter, to Bideford in Devon, England, later becoming part of the London and South Western Railway's system. Originally planned as a broad gauge feeder to the Bristol & Exeter Railway, it became part of a battle between the broad gauge group and the standard gauge railway interests. In this context, standard gauge lines were often described as narrow gauge.
The Exe Valley Railway was a branch line built by the Great Western Railway (GWR) in Devon, England, to link its Bristol to Exeter line with its Devon and Somerset Railway (D&SR), thereby connecting Exeter with Dulverton. The line was in use from 1884 until 1964.
Tiverton railway station served the town of Tiverton, Devon, England. It opened in 1848 as the terminus station of a broad gauge branch line from the Bristol and Exeter Railway main line: the main line junction station four miles away had originally been called Tiverton Road but was renamed as Tiverton Junction when the branch opened.
Tiverton Castle is the remains of a medieval castle dismantled after the Civil War and thereafter converted in the 17th century into a country house. It occupies a defensive position above the banks of the River Exe at Tiverton in Devon.
Benjamin Incledon (1730–1796) of Pilton House, Pilton, near Barnstaple in North Devon, was an English antiquarian and genealogist. He served as Recorder of Barnstaple (1758–1796).
The Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life is a local history museum in Tiverton, Devon, England, to the southwest of Gotham House. It features various exhibits relating to the social and economic history of the Mid Devon region, one of the most popular being a steam locomotive known as the "Tivvy Bumper". Founded in 1960 and initially located in rooms in a local pub, the museum is now housed in a Grade II listed former National School.
John Waldron of Tiverton in Devon, England, was a wealthy merchant who founded and endowed the surviving grade II* listed "Waldron's Almshouses" and Chapel on the outskirts of Tiverton. His elaborately sculpted chest tomb survives in St Peter's Church, Tiverton, at the east end of the south aisle, still in an entirely Gothic style with a Gothic black-letter inscription on the ledger stone on top, and showing on the base Gothic pinnacled niches and within quatrefoils escutcheons displaying his merchant's mark. His name is sometimes confused with "Walrond" a prominent and ancient gentry family long seated at Bradfield House in the parish of Uffculme, Devon, about 6 miles east of Tiverton. The spelling "Waldron" is clearly shown incised in Gothic letters on the ledger stone on top of his chest tomb.
George Slee of the Great House, Peter Street, Tiverton, Devon, was a wealthy wool merchant and clothier. He founded Slee's Almshouses in Tiverton, the building of which survives next to the Great House in Peter Street. His ornate chest tomb survives in St Peter's Church, Tiverton.