What are the Commons?

Map from 19th century

An 'area of waste called the Common', was given to the people of Torrington in 1194. This was formalised in 1889, when the Common's Act was presented in Parliament. 'An Act for vesting Great Torrington in a body of Conservators'. You can down load a copy of the Act at the bottom of this page.

Since October 2nd 1889 the Conservators have met regularly to discharge this duty, giving us this wonderful area, still freely accessible to all. The use of The Commons is governed by bylaws approved by DEFRA. The latest edition of the bye-laws is dated 2010 and is available here.

Earliest management was mainly concerned with control over the grazing and quarrying, but since around 1980 grazing has stopped and various management techniques have taken its place to prevent the area reverting back to scrub and woodland.

Taddiport Bridge and Rothern Bridge were at one time the only crossings of the River Torridge until Town Mills Bridge was opened in 1843.

Rolle Road is the site of a canal which opened in 1827 to help transport clay, lime and other commodities between the boats on the tidal river at Landcross and the lime kilns, clay pits and farms around Torrington. It ran through Common Land for 1.5 miles, but was closed in 1871. Later, it was mainly filled in to create a toll road across the Common. Some of the original cut is still visible below Furzebeam Wood.

The Marland Light Railway was opened in 1881 and the pillars used to support the bridge over the river can be seen below the 'new' railway bridge, now used for the Tarka Trail . Also in this area the steps, built in 1900 to link Rolle Road with the light railway, are still present.

In 1895 the Golf Course was opened on the Old Bowling Green Area. It moved to its present site in 1933 .The Monument was erected in 1818 to commemorate The Battle of Waterloo.The Limes and Manna Ash by Barley Grove car park probably date to 1899, when 80 trees were planted on Castle Hill Common.

Great Torrington Commons Act 1889 Please click for printable version