I just want to take you on a drive into Lapford from the Crediton and Exeter side.

As we approach on the A377 we pass Bugford Quarry from where a lot of stone was taken for the road which was built as a turnpike. Lapford looks rather modern but there is a good mixture of modern and very old buildings

The Lapford sign tells us the village is twinned with Langannerie. This event took place in 1975.

At the crossroads we come to the Lapford Cross Garage opened in the Fifties, as was the AI centre on the opposite side of the road, now a laser and computer business. Next to that stands the Yeo Vale Hotel opened when the railway line was cut between Crediton and Barnstaple in about 1855. This line is now known as the Tarka Line.

In the mid-Twenties the Ambrosia Creamery was opened. Milk was collected in churns from the farms and brought to the Creamery where it was used to manufacture rice puddings, chocolate, baby food and butter. The farmer’s wife no longer had to turn the butter by hand which was very hard work. The Creamery also produced tinned cream, an easier process than the way the farmer’s wife had to scald the cream on her kitchen range, then leave it to cool in her dairy on slate slabs.

The Rice Pudding recipe was patented by a local chemist. This put Lapford on the map as the labels on the tins stated that the produce had been made in Lapford.

The people of Lapford were sorry to see the Creamery close in the Seventies after 45 years. However, in latter years smaller units have been made within the factory premises and these have been let providing more employment again.

Opposite Ambrosia the weekly market was held. This market came to an end in the late Forties and new factory units have been built there. As we leave this new development on the left we cross the river and railway bridges and approach the Old Mill where the old Post Office was situated.

Here also are two Georgian houses, sold off as part of the Croot Estate together with land and cottages in 1910. Highfield House became the Rectory and Lowerfield was purchased by the Moulten Barratt family of Wimpole Street fame.

As we continue up the hill we come to the first council houses built in the 1920s by my father.

At the top of the hill we see the old Church School which was the village school until the early Forties when all the pupils moved to the new school at the top of the village which had been built just before the war.

In 1971 the Youth Club Management Committee purchased the Old School premises and it has been run as a Youth Club ever since.

On the corner is a shop which is remembered before the war as being a boot store. It then became a grocers and is now a hairdressing salon.

Continuing towards the centre of the village we pass a new estate which has been built over the past thirty years. Passing the new Post Office we come to a row of old cottages at the end of which is the Old Forge which closed in 1950. The farrier was a very busy man and his work was of great interest to the children. It was also to these premises that the dentist came once a week.

My father was not only a master builder, but wheelwright and undertaker too. The wheelwright’s job is very skilled and is completed by the blacksmith who has to fit the red hot bands to the wheel. The last wain made in Lapford was during the war.

Following the village street we come to the church and the green where recently a chestnut tree has been saved from the axe by public demand. The Victory Hall stands next to this tree and during the war this building, together with the Congregational Schoolroom and the Malt Scoop, where I lived with my parents, were requisitioned to accommodate the Searchlight Battery which had its headquarters at Lapford for four years.

Turning back down the road we find a lane where we used to walk as children. It goes down to the river and here by the clapper bridge we used to have our picnics. In springtime primroses grew under the sheltered hedges and we picked them to decorate the church at Easter.

Moving across the clapper bridge we climb up to the A377 where we first entered the Parish.

January 2000

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