Westward Ho! History Group

Formed November 2002

Marilyn, Maureen and Harry, three people who shared an interest in local history and after having met whilst volunteering at WHISH decided to form the Westward Ho! History Society. The drive to do something about a History Society came after a letter was passed on from John Burnett their local MP.  This letter was from a visitor to Westward Ho! who was dismayed by the lack of knowledge about historical and literary traditions amongst local residents. Further meetings were held and more people became interested.

Picture shows Barrie, Maureen, David Gale, Marilyn Maggie and Anne

History-GroupMany residents, new and old and visitors to the village seemed to be fascinated about Westward Ho!’s interesting past.

They felt that things were changing so fast around them that they needed to record things quickly for future generations.

Several of the houses in Westward Ho! and also the Holy Trinity Church were designed by William Clement Oliver son of James Oliver a joiner and builder of Barnstaple and became a successful architect. He was the father of Bruce William Oliver.

David Gale kindly let us have some copies of photographs from his vast collection and with the generosity of so many residents and contacts we have been able to build our vast archive of photos and memorabilia.

An initial exhibition was held in November 2002.

Archaeologist, Sean Hawking, gave a talk on how to become involved in local archaeology, another talk was about the Bideford, Appledore and Westward Ho! Railway and Peter Adams gave a very interesting talk ‘An Authors Tale’ with reference to his excellent book and with many anecdotes about the local cricket club and what it was like in Westward Ho! after World War II.

Peter Keene from Thematic Trails has given us a guided walk along the Coast Path and Burrows.

A book was purchased  on The Jews in Devon, by Helen Fry, and they were given copies of many deeds relating to the properties in Westward Ho!.

The Society was awarded a Highly Commended Certificate in 2004 from the Barnstaple & District Civic Society for the History Project and in 2008 for the Heritage Map.

Their leaflets have proved to be very popular, and they have a new Heritage Walk leaflet and these can be purchased at various outlets in the village.

The Record Office at Northam and the libraries at Bideford, Northam, and Barnstaple have an information folder compiled by the Group .

The society purchased a print from a painting by Thomas Girtin circa 1799, which shows the view over the area which is now Westward Ho! This print is for the village but is not currently on public show.

Aims and objects of the Westward Ho! History project

  1. To get together a group of local people interested in local history to collect and collate information from the community to provide archive material for future generations.
  2. To have an annual exhibition in a local village hall to display the history of Westward Ho! From stone age to present time with emphasis on literary connections i.e. Kingsley, Kipling and also potwalloping.
  3. This is needed to help tourism, to inform new people about the history of where they live, and also to bring the community together in a local project.
  4. To build up an extensive archive that might one day be put into a heritage centre.
  5. To publish a simple heritage trail.
  6. To publish a simple history booklet.
  7. To meet new people and have some fun.