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Understanding the past to preserve stories for the future

Science of Collections Exhibition

A CANADIAN lynx that went on a killing spree in Newton Abbot and whose stuffed remains lain forgotten in a Bristol store for more than a century is among the artefacts set to star in a new exhibition at Newton Abbot Museum.

Also going on show as part of the Science of Collections event are fossils dating from 96 million years ago when Newton Abbot would have been lying under the warm waters of a shallow tropical ocean.

Curator India Jolly is hoping the month-long expo will help people understand the scientific processes that uncover the hidden natural history stories which lie beyond the exhibits.

‘From determining the lifestyle of a lynx raised in Newton Abbot, to supporting climate change data with 17th century butterflies, scientific processes can help uncover secrets of the past beyond the stories associated with the object,’ she said.

‘Science is used to conserve the items we look after. From fighting bug infestations to analysing the chemical make-up of materials, science helps us ensure that our museum collections are still here for future generations to discover.’

Complementing the exhibition are events throughout August, including family craft activities and evening talks. All explore history’s connection to the natural world,

The Lynx shot in 1903 had reportedly killed two farm dogs and ended up forgotten in the stores at Bristol Museum.

Scientific analysis of its DNA and bones confirmed it had lived at least part of its life in Newton Abbot, was raised in captivity and was between 11-17 years old at the time of its demise.

The 96 million-year-old fossil brittle stars were buried alive under the sea floor and have been preserved in spectacular detail.

‘The collection contains new species and provides information about their evolution and the ancient environment they lived in.

‘The exhibits are fascinating in their own right but the science which helps us understand them even more so,’ said India. 

The exhibition runs from August 1 – September 1, admission is free.  Visit for more information about summer events.

The below image shows the unfortunate lynx and other items from the exhibition


For more information email [email protected] or call 01626 201121.

Fired for Royalty Exhibition – Right royal celebration of potter at Newton Abbot Museum

NEWTON Abbot Museum is set to host a collection of historic pottery souvenirs created locally for key royal events of the past.

The Fired for Royalty exhibition is being staged by the Torquay Pottery Collectors Society with doors due to open on Saturday June 10 and the items on display until July 6 as a celebration of the recent coronation of King Charles III.

The Exhibition showcases more than 100 commemorative pieces produced for events including Queen Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, the Coronation and Silver Jubilee of King George V, the Coronation of King George VI and the Coronation and Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Also commemorated in pottery is the abdication of King Edward VIII who gave up the throne in 1936 so he could marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Project Curator Andy Violet said: ‘The establishment of the first pottery, the Watcombe Terracotta Company in 1869, in the Torquay area, spawned a number of potteries in the immediate locality and the south Devon area. ‘These potteries, using clay that equalled and even surpassed the Italian clays, produced a number of royal commemoratives for the prominent royal events of the late nineteenth century.

‘The royal commemorative souvenirs produced in south Devon differ from those produced by the Staffordshire potteries in that they were not factory produced with transfer decoration, but were hand thrown on a potter’s wheel and hand decorated in earthy coloured slips with roses, thistles and shamrocks with sgraffitoed inscriptions, and incorporated a crown and the heads of the monarchs.

‘They have more artistic merit than those decorated with simple transfer designs produced by the Staffordshire potteries.’

Museum Curator India Jolly said: ‘It’s wonderful to have this collection of Devon commemoratives on display so close to where they were produced.

‘We’re very grateful to the Torquay Pottery Collectors Society for arranging the exhibition which I’m sure will prove to be very popular given the interest in the recent coronation.’

Entry to the museum is free, visit for details.

The above image shows Andy Violet with a piece of the commemorative pottery.

For more information email [email protected] or call 01626 201121.

Annual Town Meeting

Free ice cream among laws suggested at annual town meeting

TONGUE-IN-CHEEK laws suggested by youngsters at the Newton Abbot Annual Town Meeting on Saturday [May 19] included free ice cream, daughter and mother days every day, and for strawberries to rain from the sky on Fridays.

A more reflective idea was to plant three trees for every one felled while one dad, Sean Kirby, called for the legalisation of pot… hole filling.

The proposals were captured on rosettes created by the children who wore them with pride to spread the ‘vote me’ message.

The free fun activity reflected the more serious aim of the day which was to gather public opinion about services and facilities in the town.

Each community is legally bound to hold an annual meeting but most take place in halls or council chambers, often during the evening, meaning very few residents attend.

For several years Newton Abbot Town Council has instead erected a gazebo in the main shopping centre during the busiest part of the day, resulting in thousands of people having their say on countless topics.

Saturday’s event was another success with hundreds of conversations taking place between elected members, council staff and passers by.

‘I’m thrilled with the number of people we’ve engaged with, yet another very worthwhile exercise with the town council reaching out to the public,’ said Mayor Cllr David Corney-Walker.

‘Most comments I heard were about our changing high streets, something being seen across the country of course, as more businesses go online.

‘But the good news in Newton Abbot is that our shop vacancy rate is well below the national average and the Town Council is constantly adding to the events programme so people still have plenty of reasons to visit.

‘We’re listening to the public and will do everything we can to keep Newton Abbot streets ahead of the web.’

Town Clerk Phil Rowe said more than 150 engagement forms had been handed out, in addition to the face-to-face conversations.

‘There’s not a council chamber in the country that would attract an audience that size,’ he said. ‘Staging the Newton Abbot Annual Meeting in the street is here to stay.’

The Annual Town Meeting is not a council meeting, but one hosted by the authority to enable residents to quiz members and officers on their past year’s work or raise matters of interest to electors.

It is a requirement of Local Government Act 1972 for town and parish councils to stage such events between March 1 – June 1 inclusive.

Below: Facilities Maintenance Officers Tony Little (L) and Steve Ryan show off some of the low and high tech cleaning kit

Below: Families enjoy the rosette and law-proposing activity with Mayor Cllr David Corney-Walker in attendance

Below: Mayor Cllr David Corney-Walker prepares to meet with the public

Below: Sean Kirby and three-year-old son Ellis wearing their rosettes. Sean wanted to legalise pot… hole repairs while Ellis asked for free ice cream.

Free family fun with Santa in Newton Abbot this Christmas

Free family fun with Santa in Newton Abbot this Christmas – and a seasonal visit from the wondrous Ipplepen Carnival Float.

MARK the date on your calendar – Saturday November 25 is Christmas lights switch-on in Newton Abbot!

FREE children’s entertainment, a parade of more than 250 lanterns, a visit by the spectacular Ipplepen Carnival float, character walkabouts and chances to meet Santa are all part of this year’s month-long Christmas celebrations being organised by Newton Abbot Town Council.

Also being promised are a dog-friendly carol service, free craft events and balloons, stilt walkers, live music, fireside selfies in the Clock Tower and more besides.

Events get under way on Saturday November 25 with free face painting between 12 noon – 4pm and selfies in the Clock Tower 11am – 1pm.

The town centre will also host walkabout appearances from larger than life town mascot Newton, performances from the Taiko Drummers, stilt walkers and presenters from Torbay Hospital Radio.

The day’s events will climax in the fun-filled festive parade, starting in Queen Street at 5pm and leading on to the 5.30pm Christmas lights switch-on at the Clock Tower.

Accompanying Santa and his sleigh will be the amazing frost-fair themed Ipplepen Carnival Float, ‘Jack’s Back!’, and the specially-illuminated Stagecoach bus together with mascot Gary the Rabbit.

The Mayor and Consort will be riding in an open-topped car and for the first time Newton will be having his own float.

Operations permitting, a crew from Newton Abbot Fire Station will be rolling out one of their gleaming red fire engines for fans to admire.

Every following Saturday up to and including December 23 there will be plenty of entertainment and activities.

The ever-popular Victorian Evening will take place on Wednesday December 6 with street food, charity stalls in Market Square, another appearance from Santa, walkabout acts, shows by children’s entertainer Elfic and carol singing with pupils from Bradley Barton Primary School.

On Saturday December 9, pet lovers are encouraged to come into town for the doggy carol service in partnership with the Animals in Distress charity.

There will also be live music from the Forte singing group and free craft activities with Creative Newton Abbot.

Drawing in the crowds on Wednesday December 13 will be the parade of more than 250 lanterns created by children across town, starting at Bearnes Primary School and gathering at the Clock Tower at 6.30pm.

A storyteller will offer festive tales at 7pm with Santa happy to meet and greet 6pm – 8pm.

Late night shopping will be complemented with live music, street food, stilt walkers and fireside selfies in the Clock Tower.

On Wednesday December 20 a 6pm performance by the Rock Choir will precede the Mayor’s Christmas Carols at 6.30pm, all taking place by the Clock Tower.

Santa will again be in town 6pm – 8pm with more walkabout entertainment including giant illuminated roller-skating Christmas presents.

‘We’re really looking forward to this year’s fantastic programme of free festive events,’ said Mayor Cllr David Corney-Walker.

‘It won’t cost families a penny to enjoy the celebrations so relax and enjoy everything on offer and support our traders if you can.

‘It will be a real treat for us to see faces new and old filling the streets of Newton Abbot this Christmas.’

The full events listing can be viewed at

Newton Abbot War Memorial decorated with 800 hand-knitted poppies

THE Newton Abbot War Memorial has been decorated with 800 hand-knitted poppies in advance of this year’s Remembrance Sunday service on November 12.

The task was carried out on Friday October 27 by volunteers from the Town Council, Museum and local Royal British Legion.

Newton Abbot Town Council Events Co-ordinator Natalie Hicks is delighted with the results and said: ‘A big thank-you to my team of volunteers who helped me attach all 800 knitted poppies to the railings around the War Memorial this morning. 

‘Also of course to all those who created these stunning poppies.

‘As always this creates a big impact and visually looks remarkable.’ 

The parade through town and service are due to take place 10am – 11.30am and will be streamed live via the Town Council’s Facebook page.

Details can be found on the Newton Abbot Town Council website,

‘We would be honoured should anyone choose to join us on Sunday November 12 to remember the fallen, either in person or via our Facebook page,’ said Natalie.

Classic car show returns to Newton Abbot

THE motoring clock is due to be turned back a few decades in Newton Abbot on Saturday May 27 when the town centre plays host to its latest classic car show.

From 9am – 4pm scores of cherished vehicles are expected to gather around the Clock Tower and neighbouring streets in a free display that has always wowed the crowds in previous years.

While proud owners swap notes with fellow enthusiasts and chat to visitors, the retro atmosphere will be boosted further by live performances from The Liberty Sisters and popular local vocalist Simon Prince, singing a selection of hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

The event is being organised by members of local car club, Teignbridge Classics, in partnership with Newton Abbot Town Development Manager Sally Henley.

‘There has been a great deal of interest in the show already, our town centre is a popular destination for classic car owners as we know from past events,’ said Sally.

‘It is a great day out for both them and shoppers, there’s always a great atmosphere in town.

‘This will be the second year that Teignbridge Classics is in charge of the show and I know that, weather permitting, it’s promising to be a full house.

‘It’s going to be a real treat for everyone and I’m sure the town will be buzzing all day.

‘But if you can’t make it, or one show just isn’t enough, don’t forget that we’ll be staging another classic car gathering in September, again thanks to Teignbridge Classics about whom you can find out all at their website,

‘Parp parp, as Mr Toad would say!’

For more information please email [email protected].

The above image shows members of Teignbridge Classics with a selection of Minis outside Austins!