Read all about the accident at the bottom of the page.
The Book of Lydford is part of the award winning Community History Series from Halsgrove. An A4 large format hardback book containing over 300 photos. It can be bought from The National Trust Shop at Lydford Gorge, or local books shops such as WH Smiths or Book Stop in Tavistock.
The sequence of events that formed the site for Lydford, began millions of years ago. Two events created the most important attractions for both the early settlers and the modern tourist - the gorge and the waterfall.
The geology of the area is that of Upper Devonian Slate, a much less durable rock than the granite one associates with Dartmoor itself. Originally there were two rivers, both rising on the western slopes of Dartmoor, one a tributory of the River Lew that flowed into the huge Tamar River and on to the sea and the other running close by down an adjacent valley into the River Tavy at Tavistock.
The more powerful river eroded down through the slate to form the gorge, the power of the water rolling stones and rocks around to form hundreds of potholes that eventually linked together to form the gorge. Meanwhile the smaller river meandered down its shallow valley to Tavistock. It's at this point we advise those interested in this classic example of river capture to read more informed reference material such as "A Geological Field Guide to Lydford Gorge and Adjacent Areas" available from The National Trust Shops at the gorge. Luckily this leaflet includes a glossary so you can learn all about 'greywackle', 'hornfels' and 'isostasy'.
(Two references we found both claim that when the two rivers joined, the combined waters formed the gorge. The small problem with this theory is that the White Lady Waterfall, where the river Burn that once flowed to Tavistock now joins the Lyd flowing through the gorge, is downstream of the gorge so does not contribute to the water in the gorge!)
A lesser, un-named tributory to the Lyd, forming a valley north of the village joins the Lyd and the gorge next to the site of the first settlement. It is these two that formed the promentory on which the first settlers, requiring only a long bank to protect the third side of a natural fortification. Part of this 'Town Bank' is clearly seen next to Nicholls Hall.
Nicholls Hall and remains of Town Bank
Norman Fort & Ditch
White Lady Waterfall
Useful references and links:- Lydford Saxon Town and Castle - A brief Guide by English Heritage."A Geological Field Guide to Lydford Gorge and Adjacent Areas" available from The National Trust Shops at the gorge"."The Lydford Book" - see first column
Many thanks to Pete Kilgannon who looked after the Beacon Villages site, for letting us use this article found in Beatie Neill's scrapbook. Further to an appeal in both the Tavistock Times and the Okehampton Times for any information about this accident so we could date it, we received the following letter:-