The Book of Swimbridge, A North Devon Village in the Twentieth Century, by Philip Dalling

The Book of Swimbridge, A North Devon Village in the Twentieth Century, by Philip Dalling
Published by Halsgrove in 2015, 160 pages. Large A4 size Hardback with Dust Jacket (N7335)
From the front inside fly leaf: Swimbridge can fairly claim to be one of North Devon’s most attractive and most interesting villages, set in a deep valley watered by the Venn Stream and overlooked by rolling hills.

The village itself, grouped around its gem of a parish church, is forever associated with the famous hunting parson, the Rev. John Russell – Parson Jack – and the breed of dog he originated. It stands at the centre of a much wider parish, once one of the largest in Devon. Although life in the twentieth century was largely centred around agriculture (which remains a vital part of the local economy today.

Swimbridge also boasts a considerable industrial heritage, based upon leather tanning, quarrying and mining. The village was fortunate throughout most of the twentieth century to enjoy good transport links, with a railway station on the Barnstaple-Taunton line, and a regular bus service to the market town of Barnstaple, less than 5 miles distant.

The book examines life in Swimbridge during the momentous decades from 1900 to the Millennium, looking back where appropriate to examine the factors that formed the settlement, and forward to see how the village has responded to the challenges of the twentyfirst century.

It looks closely at the people of the parish, who made up a varied and fascinating community – gentry, farmers, smallholders, and those who worked in the tannery and quarries, and on the railway line. It records their daily lives at work and play, and examines the major roles played by the churches, the village school – one of the finest in Devon – and the refurbished village hall.

There are stories of triumph and tragedy, both in war and in peace, feuds and friendships, together with fascinating eye-witness accounts of what it was really like to live in Swimbridge throughout a tumultuous century.