Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum
I always like to check out local museums. It helps me to understand the history of the local area, and Newton Abbot has its very own not too far from the railway station. It doesn’t occupy a very prominent position so it might be useful to explain how to find it.
From the station walk down Queen St, or ‘Take Away Alley’ as I prefer to call it, and then turn left at the war memorial. Towards the top of the road on the left hand side you’ll see a sign pointing up some steps to the museum.
Many local museums occupy an important historical building - but not this one. However, it’s had a recent makeover and so has a light, airy feel to it instead. The good news is that it’s free to go in, but it has to be stressed that it’s not very big and won’t take up too much of your time.
It’s not like a lot of small local museums with lots of exhibits competing for space with each other - in fact it’s quite the opposite. Whether the lack of space has been used wisely I’ll leave you to decide, but in all honesty there were only two rooms that really did it for me.
On entering the museum I was quite flabbergasted to be met by a large wooden over mantle that had been rescued from Sandford Orleigh.
Sanford Orleigh was a large house built for George Templar in 1832 on his Stover Estate just outside of the town. There’s no getting away from the fact that the ornate carvings on this marvellous piece of woodwork is an impressive introduction to the museum. The earliest of the carvings were done in the early part of the 16th cent but it needed some serious restoration recently to bring it back to its former glory.
In a way it’s a shame that this is the first thing you see in the museum, because I felt that everything else was a bit of an anti-climax afterwards.
The one exception though is the GWR room at the back of the museum. Not everyone of course is interested in railway memorabilia, but a fair number of people come to this museum just to see this room alone.
I won’t pretend that it’s the most exciting railway museum you’ll ever come across but it has a unique local flavour to it, explaining how Isambard Kingdom Brunel brought his ‘Broad Gauge’ railway to South Devon and experimenting with the ‘Atmospheric Railway’ system between Exeter and Newton Abbot.
There’s a working signal box and along with some other interesting items it’s worth any anorak, sorry enthusiast, spending some time here to see why Newton Abbot became known as ‘Little Swindon’.
Largely run by enthusiastic volunteers, the museum is well run, and if only they had some more space I feel it could offer quite a lot more, but in this day and age I’m sure that they’re just grateful that the museum is still open, so if you happen to be nearby why not pop in and help to keep it going.
- Budget Travel
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
As with most Devon Rivers, the Teign begins its travels from Dartmoor, after flowing south it becomes tidal at Newton Abbot before reaching the English Channel at Teignmouth, a distance of some 30 miles. Due to the river being tidal the mudflats at Newton Abbot are loved by birds, and habitat which leads to a large variety of wildlife.
Have A Day At The Races!
Newton Abbot is one of the most popular summer racecourses in the UK with its August weekend festival attracting over 12,000 racegoers.
Unfortunately I haven't had a day-off which coincides with a raceday but it is on my "To Do" list. I should imagine this is a fun day out and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to while away the wait between races.
Website is pretty comprehensive and includes details of other racecourse events.
- Casino and Gambling
If You Take Your Beer Seriously?
Then a visit to Tuckers Maltings should be a Newton Abbot "Must Do".
The process of malting barley is the first stage in the beermaking process. This involves soaking the grains, allowing them to germinate and then stopping the process by drying and heating. The starches in the malted barley change from insoluble to soluble and are now ready to be used to brew the beer.
Most malthouses are factories with modern equipment but here at Tuckers the process is still done manually using centuries-old techniques. This artisanal production method makes Tuckers malts the first choice with most of the local traditional breweries (over 30 at last count). The site offers hour-long guided tours during the summer months, complete with a taster of the Teignworthy Brewery's ales and there is also a speciality bottled beer shop with over 200 beers in stock.
As well as the guided tours Tuckers plays host to the Southwest's best beer festival with 200 plus beers on offer over three days every April. This is well worth a visit as it is a lively festival with music and good eats to ease the arduous task of sampling.
- Historical Travel
- Beer Tasting
If You Are Changing Trains Here...
...and have a bit of time between connections, pop next door to The Railway pub. This is a friendly, traditional, pub with a couple of decent beers, welcoming staff and chatty regulars. Fortunately there are plenty of trains stopping at Newton and so if you get involved in a bar conversation you can just have another beer and catch a later connection - that's what usually happens to me!
They also do very reasonably-priced homecooked food and sandwiches at lunctimes.
- Beer Tasting
- Budget Travel
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