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.


19th September 2023
Death of Ray Freeman, founder and first chair of the Dartmouth History Research Group

The Dartmouth History Research Group is very sad to hear of the death last night of Ray Freeman, aged 99. Ray died peacefully at Lincombe Manor in Torquay where she had been looked after for the past few years. We extend our sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Ray was the founder and first chair of the Group. She was a history teacher and came to Devon in 1964. After retiring to Dartmouth, she devoted herself to researching the town’s history, publishing several books, notably “Dartmouth and its Neighbours: A History of the Port and its People” in 1990, updated in 2007. In 1991 she brought together a group of friends and colleagues interested in exploring local history and became the first chair of the Group. Under her leadership the Group made rapid progress – Ray wrote several books for the Dartmouth History Research Group on a wide range and topics and was involved in preparing and editing others. When the Group’s website was first set up she made much of her extensive collection of research material freely available for others to use.

Ray has left the Group a tremendous legacy in her extensive published work and in all her painstaking and careful research. Everyone interested in the rich history and heritage of Dartmouth and the surrounding area will continue to benefit from her hard work and very considerable achievement.

3rd July 2023
“Dartmouth Then Dartmouth Now” 2nd Edition now available to buy

Dartmouth Then Dartmouth Now, by Hilary Sunman and Peter Prynn, was first published by DHRG in 2016, charting the transformation of Dartmouth’s shops and businesses since the 1960s. An updated second edition now looks at what happened next, after towns closed and people were locked down during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their conclusion is that Dartmouth continues both to change and thrive, with unique integrity and resilience. For further information, go to DHRG Books.

12th December 2022
Harry Inder, engineer and inventor

Harry Inder is recognised in Dartmouth as inventor of the town’s first motor car. But that’s not Harry’s only achievement. Barry Inder, his grandson, has been researching Harry’s wider contribution to Dartmouth’s shipbuilding and engineering history, and his other significant inventions. To read our latest article about Harry, please click here, or search the Archive for “Harry Inder”.

31st August 2022
HM Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022

The Dartmouth History Research Group marks with great sadness the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Earlier this year the Queen celebrated the 70th anniversary of her accession on 6th February 2022. To mark her Platinum Jubilee, DHRG researched the history of Royal Jubilees, and how they were celebrated in Dartmouth. To read the article, go to the “Social History” archive category where you will find it in the “Historic Events” section, or put 103194 in the search box.

30th June 2021
When War Came to the Dart

The Dartmouth History Research Group is delighted to announce the publication of When War Came To The Dart, by Hilary Sunman and Gail Ham. The book is the Group’s fortieth publication in thirty years and marks the 75th anniversary in 2020 of the end of the Second World War in 1945.

Many members have contributed to the book, which brings together material from the Group’s earlier publications about aspects of the war, with memories of local people and some new research, to tell the fascinating and dramatic story of the impact on local people of nearly six years of war.

Eight chapters tell the story of war in the Dart within a broadly chronological approach: preparations for civil defence and the experience of evacuation; the impact of the catastrophe of 1940; defences implemented in response to the invasion threat; the growing contribution of forces based in the Dart to the “Secret War” and the naval war in the Channel; the effects of German bombing raids 1940-1943; the arrival of US forces in the area in 1943 and the preparations for D-day (including Exercise Tiger); and the final phase of the conflict from the D-day landings in 1944 to eventual victory in 1945. The last chapter traces the local impact of the global conflict through names commemorated on local war memorials.

Drawing on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, and including some previously unpublished material, the book provides a vivid local perspective on the war through the memories of local people and extracts from contemporary accounts such as newspapers, diaries and letters, combined with official records such as war diaries. A bibliography sets out the principal sources.

The 284 page book is in A5 paperback format, printed and bound to high quality standards, and features approximately 30 pages of photographs, maps and other illustrations.

How to Buy

When War Came To The Dart is on sale in the Dartmouth Museum, (the Butterwalk, Duke Street), the Dartmouth Community Bookshop (12 Higher Street), the Tourist Information Centre (Mayor’s Avenue), Browser Books (3 Foss Street) and Torre Records (6 The Old Market).

It can also be ordered directly from this website, price £10.00 (£7.00 to members of the Group). To buy, please contact us by email at

1st March 2021
Directory of Dartmouth Shops

The Group have been compiling a directory of the Dartmouth shops from the early 1900’s to the present day, based on information from early Directories, memories of older Dartmothians and recent records.The shops are recorded by street names and numbers where known. Separate files are included for north, central and south Dartmouth. Note that this database is still being compiled and is not yet complete.

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In the General Election this Thursday Dartmouth forms part of a new “South Devon” constituency, following a name change and a small boundary adjustment. Dartmouth has a long parliamentary history. In 1298 two of the town’s leading men, John le Bakere and William atte Vosse, were summoned to Edward I’s Parliament in York, demonstrating the town’s growing importance. From 1351 Dartmouth sent representatives to Parliament continuously for over five hundred years - two until the Great Reform Act of 1832, and then one.In 1868 the constituency of Dartmouth was abolished altogether. Seven English boroughs with populations under 5000 were disenfranchised to give more seats to Scotland without creating more MPs. Dartmouth became part of the "South Devon" constituency – as it once more is today (though "South Devon" in 1868 was bigger than in 2024).But electoral reform still had a long way to go. In 1868 there was no secret ballot and universal suffrage for adult men and women (age 21 and over) was not achieved for another sixty years. The right to vote was extended to everyone over 18 in 1969.#dartmouth #LocalHistory #southdevon #votingmatters. 🗳The map shows Dartmouth's parliamentary boundaries in 1868, just before the constituency was abolished. From the archives on our website: ... See MoreSee Less
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Though an extraordinary achievement, D-day itself was only the beginning of fierce fighting in the Normandy campaign. The road to liberation in France and eventual victory in Europe was long and hard. Many men who landed safely did not survive. Two of those who landed on Gold beach, but were killed in action soon afterwards, are commemorated on Dartmouth's War Memorial. On 8 June 1944, Trooper Sydney Hearnah of the 24th Lancers died in fighting around the village of Putot-en-Bessin. On 10 June 1944, Private William Chase of the 1st Dorsets was killed defending the village of Audrieu against counter attack by 12 SS Panzerdivision.Meanwhile, Naval forces defending the D-day supply routes also sustained losses. On 15 June 1944, Petty Officer Norman Corby of Dartmouth was killed when the frigate HMS Mourne was torpedoed in the Western Approaches, and her forward magazine exploded. RN Coastal Forces based in Dartmouth were involved in intensive attacks on German shipping around the Channel Islands. On 26/27 June 1944, the 52nd MTB Flotilla sustained casualties in an attack on German minesweepers. Able Seaman James Hindley of MTB 673 died of his wounds later that day in Dartmouth and was buried in Longcross Cemet#DDay80D#DDay##localhistorys#dartmouthmouthThis concludes our series of posts marking D-day 80 years on. If you're interested in finding out more about Dartmouth during the Second World War, we have several publications which cover this period in our history. Details are on our ... See MoreSee Less
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The D-day convoys leaving Dartmouth carried Force U, the American troops due to land on Utah beach. H-hour on 6 June 1944 on Utah was 0630. As Major Norbonne Gatling, US Army, remembered: "As dawn broke slowly we could see the extensive activity of dozens of vessels ... The troops in the leading waves had already gone in for the landing ... troops on the later waves were already being loaded on to smaller landing craft and artillery, tanks, jeeps and trucks were being loaded onto Rhinos and other smaller vessels."The swell made things difficult and mines took their toll (despite a huge minesweeping effort). But by 1230 around 8000 men were ashore. At about 1330 Major Gatling landed himself, using a Rhino ferry. Despite the beach being shelled, he and his men got off safely and by 1730 had reached their planned position at a farmhouse one mile inland. By 1800, over 20,000 troops, 1700 vehicles and nearly 1700 tons of stores had been landed on Utah beach. #DDay80 #DDay #Dartmouth #localhistoryPhotograph shows troops transferring from landing craft to Rhino ferry during training for D-Day; from US Naval History and Heritage Command. ... See MoreSee Less
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On 5 June 1944, after a postponement of 24 hours caused by bad weather, the last two invasion convoys left Dartmouth. Meanwhile, at 0415, General Eisenhower and Admiral Ramsey met the weather forecasters again. This time, as Admiral Ramsey put it in his diary, "the prophets came in smiling." The invasion would go ahead - though conditions were not good and "Forces will have an uncomfortable initial journey", the storm was forecast to moderate. The fleets in their temporary harbours had been told to get ready and there would be no last minute recall.In Dartmouth, people remembered the eerie silence and the empty harbour after all the ships had gone. The D-day memorial on the Embankment records that 485 ships of the US Navy and the Royal Navy left the port to join the largest amphibious force in history.#DDay80 #DDay #Dartmouth #localhistory ... See MoreSee Less
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80 years ago today, the weather was on everyone's mind. The D-day landings were planned for 5 June, but early on 4 June the weather had begun to change, with high winds, heavy swells and low cloud. At 0515, General Eisenhower postponed the landings for 24 hours. Fortunately Admiral Ramsay, in charge of naval operations, had already planned for this contingency. Most of the convoys which had left Dartmouth the day before found anchorage in Weymouth, but one, convoy U2A, did not receive the postponement order. Two destroyers were sent at top speed to prevent them attempting to land on their own! They barely got back to Weymouth in time to refuel. Meanwhile, in the Dart, ships still loading and due to depart were held in harbour overnight. As Captain James E Arnold, USNR, remembered, "each sixty minutes of those delayed hours was an eternity ..."#DDay80 #dartmouth #localhistory #DDayPhotograph from US Naval History and Heritage Command shows vehicles reversing into US landing craft being loaded on Dartmouth Embankment. ... See MoreSee Less
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