Welcome to the Dartmouth History Research Group

Welcome to the Dartmouth History Research Group

The Dartmouth History Research Group is a small voluntary and community group, founded in 1991. We research the history of Dartmouth and surrounding villages and make it available to the general public through publications, events and this website, to promote public understanding of local history and heritage. The “Dartmouth Archives” section provides resources enabling you to explore the rich and fascinating history of Dartmouth and the local area, and discover more about local people and places. It contains an extensive collection of documents and records, built up by members of the Group over several years and still growing. Other sections of the website tell you more about us and about what we do.

Our next meeting

Monday 3 June 2024

10:00 am to 12:00 noon

Our meeting on Monday 3 June 2024 will be a “History and Cake” session at our usual venue.

Everyone is welcome. If you are new to the group and plan to come, it would be helpful if you could let us know by emailing enquiries@dartmouth-history.org.uk so that we have some idea of numbers. We look forward to seeing you!

Join Us

Membership of DHRG is free and open to all and everyone is welcome at any of our meetings. We usually meet on the first Monday of each month in the Church Hall, Baptist Church, Carey Road, Townstal, 10.00 – 12.00 noon (see the “Contact” page for more details). As arrangements may change at short notice, please let us know if you plan to come to any of our meetings.

Our Books

The DHRG has published many books and booklets about aspects of the history of Dartmouth and surrounding villages. Books and booklets are sold at a price sufficient to cover our costs. Please go to the “DHRG Books” section of the website to see what’s available and for information about how to purchase our current titles. Out of print titles are free to download as PDFs from this website.

Latest DHRG News

15th January 2024          Latest Additions to this Website

The programme for the Group’s event “A History of Dartmouth in Four Houses” at the Flavel on 18 November 2023 can be found here.  As part of the preparation for this event, a detailed guidance note has been produced on how to research the history of a house in Dartmouth.  To access it, please visit our Guidance and FAQs page.

Following the sad death on 19 September 2023 of Ray Freeman, a founder and first Chair of the DHRG in 1991, we have published a page dedicated to her memory, giving an account of her life and work.

One of our publications – “A Wrens-Eye View of Wartime Dartmouth” compiled by Ray Freeman – is no longer in print and is now available as a free-of-charge download from our Books page.

Several items have been added to the Archive, including

  • cine films showing Dartmouth taken in 1947 and 1950 kindly made available by the Arnold family
  • the 1831 and 1868 reports on the proposed boundary of the borough of Dartmouth as a parliamentary constituency, taking account of population, including maps.


DHRG on Facebook

The recent bank holiday weekend saw several cruise ships visit Dartmouth, and more are expected during the summer. Pictured as she left on Friday is the Silver Endeavour, laid down in Germany in 2018 and completed in 2021 as the world’s largest ice class expedition yacht. Her passengers probably had no idea that their specially designed cruise ship is a direct successor of the SS St Sunniva, the first ship to be designed and built for cruise operations, as long ago as 1887, for the “North Company” of Aberdeen. It wasn’t long before St Sunniva’s round-Britain cruises included regular visits to Dartmouth, an attractive destination for cruise enthusiasts, then as now. Other shipping companies quickly caught on. In 1908 the ships of Langlands’ Line began calling at Dartmouth on their round-Britain cruises - by 1913, twice a month during the summer season.The most dramatic visit was in August that year. William Tregarthen Douglass and his son Edward were out sailing when their dinghy capsized in heavy seas. The accident happened just as Langlands’ SS Princess Victoria was leaving the port – her ship’s boat picked up Edward but sadly, not his father. Fortunately, no such tragedy marred Silver Endeavour’s recent visit. We look forward to seeing her, and other ships, soon.#localhistory #dartmouth #SilverEndeavour ... See MoreSee Less
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We are marking International Women's Day today and World Book Day yesterday with a post about Flora Thompson, who lived in Dartmouth from 1928 until 1940. Living in Above Town with far-reaching views over the Dart and out to sea, and reflecting on her Oxfordshire childhood, she wrote the first book in her now famous trilogy, Lark Rise to Candleford. A blue plaque marks the house today.Eldest surviving child of Albert and Emma Timms, a stonemason and a nursemaid, Flora went to elementary school and began working life at 14, as a post office clerk. Working in the post office she met John Thompson, another post office worker; they married in 1903. In 1927, John was appointed Dartmouth postmaster; Flora did not want to move, but grew to love the Devon countryside. In 1940 she and her husband moved to Brixham. Sadly her health never recovered after the death of their youngest son Peter, lost at sea in 1941 when his merchant ship was torpedoed. Flora died in 1947 and her ashes were interred in Longcross Cemetery, Dartmouth. Her modest memorial there - appropriately in the form of a book - fondly commemorates Peter too, as she requested in her wi#dartmouthm#LocalHistorys#internationalwomensdayn#worldbookday2024y2024 ... See MoreSee Less
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Celebrating the Chinese Year of the Dragon with some Dartmouth dragons, on the front of Raleigh Court. It was built in 1889 on the recently completed Southern Embankment as the "Raleigh Temperance Hotel". The architect E H Back combined up to date facilities, like lots of bathrooms, running hot water and electricity, with "ancient architecture" and lots of elaborate ornamentation, including dragons. They've been guarding the building for a while now and look in pretty good shape. Many of Dartmouth's buildings have interesting features - why not have a look up and see what you can find?#dartmouth #localhistory #yearofdragon 🐉🐲 ... See MoreSee Less
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News of upcoming February events: a naval theme from our friends at Kingswear Historians, with a talk about BRNC on Monday 12 February at 7.30pm; from our friends at Dart Valley U3A Classics group, a military theme in a talk about The Roman Army in the West on Thursday 1 February at 10.30am; and from us, history, cake and our AGM on Monday 5 February at 10.00am - see our website for more details:dartmouth-history.org.uk #LocalHistory #flavel #dartmouth #Kingswear #U3A ... See MoreSee Less
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A century ago this week, there was some good news in Dartmouth. "Improved prospects" in shipbuilding were reported. Philip & Son were expecting a new floating dock, significantly increasing capacity, and there were new orders for three oil-carrying steamers. Under construction were a fireboat for the river Tyne; a barge for the Exeter-Topsham canal; and three yachts for private clients. Finally the new Dart river steamer Kingswear Castle was "well in hand", expected to be "ready for service in the coming spring". She's now a sprightly and beautiful centenarian, looking forward to her big birthday this year.#Dartmouth #localhistory #paddlesteamer #Kingswear ... See MoreSee Less
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