Thursday, 31 December 2015

Local treasures of Bicton’s Countryside Museum

Continued from 

Visiting other museums as I sometimes do I realise how cramped we are for space at Fairlynch, considering that our museum is supposed to ‘exhibit artefacts and information about the history and development of Budleigh Salterton and the Lower Otter Valley.’

That’s a largish area, extending as far as the village of Newton Poppleford, and with so many aspects. Off-hand, I can’t think of too many items at Fairlynch which are to do with farming or agriculture, which play an important role in our area.

Bicton’s Countryside Museum is bursting with such items. Not all of them are local. This Fordson tractor, built by the Ford Motor Company at Dearborn, in Michigan, USA, dates from 1917 and is probably one of the oldest in the country.  It came from Mitchelstown, in Co Cork, Ireland.

But there are many items given by local donors, which reflect the support given to the Bicton museum’s founder, Colonel ‘Jimmy’ James, in his quest to preserve the local heritage.

Farming items include this advertisement for a sale held at Hill Farm, in East Budleigh, in 1911. It was presented by Mrs K. Turner of Pavers Farm, Otterton.

These are drenching horns, for dosing stock, used as a funnel to pour large quantities of medicine. They were given by a Mr W. Sanders of Fore Street, Otterton. 

A useful explanation comes from the Legendary Dartmoor website: ‘The very reason any oral treatment was called a “drench” was that many of the early medicines were basically lethal and had to be well diluted, this resulted in a massive dose which was literally poured or “drenched” down the animal’s throat. If you were to dose a lamb for worms today you would administer about 2.5ml/10kg of wormer, one hundred years ago you would probably pour about 560ml down through the horn.’

Among the various household items in the Countryside Museum is this acetylene lamp dating from around 1925 and presented by Mrs F.J. Harding of Hayes Lane in East Budleigh.  

Compared with modern cycle lights, this old lamp, which relied on the action of water dripping onto calcium carbide to produce inflammable acetylene gas, seems a clumsy affair.  But Wikipedia at  tells me that some cavers today still use acetylene lamps.

The oil bedside lamp also came from East Budleigh, given by Mr C. Palmer. No wonder house fires were a regular occurrence with all those thatched cottages in the village.

The fine brass sundial face is dated 1710 and was given by Mr A.J. Patch, of Colaton Raleigh.

A Budleigh Salterton donor was local magistrate J. Perriam who gave this Guinness stout bottle from the Perriams Stores grocery that he owned. 

He also gave this lemonade bottle, inscribed 'M.L. Perriam, Wine and Spirit Merchant Salterton.'

In my next posting about interesting stuff at the fascinating Bicton Countryside Museum I will present some artefacts  concerning cider-making in the Lower Otter Valley.

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