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.

DHRG on Facebook

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 #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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Dartmouth Christmas past: In 1923, a century ago, times were hard for many people. Unemployment in Dartmouth was the highest amongst towns in the Torquay District. A deputation from Dartmouth threatened to march on Totnes Workhouse if they were not given “the necessities of life for the coming Christmas”; many feared destitution. They were told any application for relief would be considered "sympathetically".Great Western Railways was planning a new cross-channel ferry service to Brittany. The Harbour Commission wanted it to go from Dartmouth, as the shortest route, but Plymouth was more likely.Christmas weather was mild, wet and windy. Many ships were laid up in Dartmouth harbour. One of them, the Grecian Prince, dragged her anchors in a gale, damaging several small vessels. But encouragingly, after a lapse of ten years (due to the Great War) the Dartmouth Fat Stock Show was a great success.Thanks to everyone who's found and followed us in 2023. Happy holiday season and we look forward to seeing you in 2024.🎄🎅#localhistory #dartmouth ... See MoreSee Less
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