Spring is in the Air! Sticklepath is springing to life – Projects galore! Plus a personal visit to Finch Foundry for #52Ancestors:Power

The people of Sticklepath may have been in lockdown but they have not been relaxing, there is an energising mood of excitement and regeneration. The Village Hall has been undergoing a re-furb, making good use of the time out of commission by government decree, and now I hear the wonderful heritage project at St Mary’s, our little church, is moving forward apace! Much work has been done to reach agreement on the plans, and a flurry of well organised activity is underway. We just need to raise a little more money, to ‘match’ funding, fulfil the lottery requirements and release not the lottery balls, but a substantial cash grant. Any small (or large) contributions are welcome for this very worthwhile project. On completion of the project the space will be rejuvenated, more useable, and 6 intriguing historical figures will be on hand to speak to you through the mists of time and explain the story of Sticklepath, St Mary’s, the Quakers and the Wesleyan Methodists.

*** https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stmaryssticklepath. ***

Meanwhile of course the Foundry will be preparing for the end of lockdown and all those visitors who have been kept away for so long will be dusting off their National Trust tickets keen to get their money’s worth! My #52ancestors prompt this week is Power. Obviously (Finch is my middle name) Water Power and the Mills of Sticklepath especially the Foundry jumps to mind…

As a small girl, Bob Barron himself showed me around. Another Finch descendant, he was key in achieving its conversion to a museum. I remember him demonstrating the grindstone. Climbing on to a wooden board over the top of the rotating stone wheel. Literally nose to the grindstone as it spun down in front of him, with water spraying to cool it.  Very dangerous and tiring.  It would be so easy for an accident to happen and nasty injury to ensue with even a moment’s inattention.  The apprentices had to learn though, and if they were being troublesome or lazy, half a day on the grindstone soon focussed their mind!

Bob invited me to lift the 50lb drop hammer using a bell rope.  Impossible. That is until the water power was turned on.  We raced up to the top to see the sluice gate opened and water start to pour into the waterwheel from the leat above. Coming back to the main forge, everything was now rotating. Your ears were assaulted by the jangling of pulsating machinery. A thrill to see, hear and feel that power in action, reverberating through your chest. At the drop hammer, the bell rope was suspended from a leather strap which wrapped over a rotating wheel (similar to the photo). That did most of the work. A light tug by me on the bell rope then took the hammer up high momentarily, before crashing back down on the anvil, to shape a shovel in the mould below. Different moulds were used for different tools. Incredible how little strength was needed.

Bob Barron demonstrates Finch Foundry smaller tilt hammer 1970s. Larger one by his right shoulder.

The enormous shears, seen here on the left, cut through red hot iron like a knife through butter. The ‘Foundry’ with the thunderous noise of the tilt hammers, the inevitable smoke and smells and the formidable blackened frontage dominated the roadside in the centre of the village.  Finch tools made were sold from about 1816-1960, not just in Okehampton market but throughout Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

Finch Foundry on the Right. https://dartmoortrust.org/archive/record/103308 Courtesy of Bert Stead

The Finch Foundry will soon be giving demonstrations of the tilt hammer and shears again – if you are passing that way, it is well worth the minor detour and a cream tea.  Make sure to book when demonstrations are happening. (Also fantastic for icicles in a severe winter!)

#SticklepathOne, #FinchFoundry, #StMarysSticklepath #Finch

Mark Jobling – research arising from Miner’s Tale part 3. EXCITING NEWS! #OnePlaceStudies #Sticklepath

Wow I have had a wonderful response to my question asking about the photo of Mr Jobling in women’s clothes… so much about his theatrical and operatic connections! I am happy to hear more. Details to follow in March when we have #OnePlaceWomen…Coming very soon!

Meanwhile Mark Jobling was really involved in the community events and competitions, and contributed to the local ‘Philanthropic Club’ (benevolent fund) and so much more. He lived in Laurel Cottage, Sticklepath at some point, as there was an auction in 1877 to sell up as he was moving out of the area. Soon came back again though! Here is a photo and transcript of how he was doing aged 70:

From The Western Times Friday 13th June 1913, courtesy of the BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk

Mr M.E.Jobling of Ramsley Hill, the subject of our illustration, is to be congratulated on his brilliant achievement at the athletic sports at Stamford Bridge, London, on Saturday. Mr. Jobling is an athlete of no mean repute, and on Saturday met that great runner, Mr J Parkhurst, aged 57 years, and who had just won the 120 yards veterans’ handicap in 14 1/5secs. The distance on Saturday was fixed at 100 yards with Parkhurst at scratch and Jobling on the 12-yard mark. The start receiver was in front all the way, and won, easing up, by a yard and 12 4/5secs. Mr Jobling has innumerable trophies, the result of his prowess in former years. In 1865 and1866 he competed with Guy Pym (afterwards M.P. for Bedford) with distinguished success, and won the half mile and mile, and in 1867 he won both the 100 yards and the mile race at Walham Green. Mr Jobling will be 70 years of age on June 21st.

Ramsley folk may feel it is a bit cheeky to call him a Sticklepath veteran!

Research arising from the Miner’s Accident 1905 (part 2)

An amusing or at least intriguing #oldphoto for #OnePlaceJoy at #Sticklepath for #OnePlaceWednesday

The newspaper report of the mining accident mentioned Captain Jopling, a newspaper typo for Jobling.

Plymouth Archive have a document (Ref 73/131) showing Mark Ernest Jobling (1844-1921) lived in Cleave House, Sticklepath in June 1901. It shows he and his brother leased the Manganese mines on Narracott estate, Milton Abbot. Milton Abbot is where the unfortunate miner Croote originated – a possible link.

Captain Jobling’s wife met an untimely (not suspicious) death, which does not need concern us here. His brother, in Newcastle, James Augustus Jobling, was famous for glass wear such as the knobbly glass pyrex type bowls used for sugar in the mid-1900s. (For which manufacture manganese was needed).

How this photo of Mr Jobling came to be in Cleave House in 2015 is a mystery, perhaps given to his landlord or left in the house when he moved on? It seems to be a studio portrait taken when he was relatively young. Perhaps he was in a play at the time? Is there a story behind this? Who is the character? Can anyone help?

Mr Jobling by W&D Downey London & Newcastle Photographers to the Queen. In dating this photo (Wikipedia entry shows) they had a Royal warrant 1872 so between then and 1910, though Daniel Downey, the Newcastle brother died earlier. William Downey took some famous pictures of Victoria.