Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Fairlynch values the Valley

 Along with the Otter Valley Association and many local councillors Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum rejects the conclusions reached in the recent Boundary Commission report, and will continue to cover the history and culture of its traditional area in its exhibitions.

Newton Poppleford war memorial

‘A recent example was our much praised Great War at Fairlynch exhibition,’ said museum Chairman Trevor Waddington. ‘It focused on the way in which the 1914-18 world conflict affected the communities along the River Otter.’ 

Friends of Fairlynch Mike and Margaret Wilson, from Woodbury, have been hard at work on designing the above panel which aims to show how the Otter was once a busy river. They aim to have the panel installed in time for the Museum’s opening on 25 March.

‘Communications by sea provided excellent trading opportunities for Otterton, the principal settlement, as well as East Budleigh and other small estuary ports,’ they point out. However the gradual silting of the upper reaches was penetrating further down river until, in medieval times, the Otter was navigable only to Otterton. A combination of silt sedimentation and the eastward drift of beach pebbles, accelerated by a violent storm in 1524, gradually barred the estuary to larger ships.’

In spite of these natural changes in the Otter’s course local historians at the Museum believe that the river continues to be a meaningful link between its communities.

‘We feel as a museum that the Boundary Commission has ignored the cultural similarities between the villages of the Lower Otter Valley,’ says Trevor Waddington. ‘The ward patterns proposed by the Commission simply do not reflect community interests and identities.’

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