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Devon’s industrial heritage

Devon has an industrial past which has left behind some interseting attractions, including working water mills, steam trains, shipyards and potteries

Dingles Steam Village and Fairground Heritage

This excellent family day out offers a fine collection of heavy machinery from the past. There are steam rollers, traction engines and industrial exhibitions along with old road signs and fairground collectibles from days gone by. Nestled in the scenic Devon countryside near Lifton, it also includes the National Fairground Collection.

Set indoors and covering 45,000 square feet, visitors can ride the dodgems and carousels or try their hand at some of the nostalgic side shows. It is also home to one of the last remaining ghost trains built in 1947 which still sports the original paintwork and cars. A fun day out and a chance to relive childhood memories.

Grand Western Canal Boats

The Grand Western Canal opened in 1814 and was intended to link the Bristol Channel with the English Channel. The section from Tiverton to Lowdwells was completed but the arrival of the railways with more efficient trains for exporting limestone and coal put all future plans on hold. The 11 mile stretch of canal is now a Country Park.

Horse-drawn barge trips offer peaceful journeys along the tranquil waterway in a colourfully painted traditional barge. There are also self-drive motor boats, canoes or rowing boats for hire from the Ducks Ditty floating café. The attraction is easy to find from Tiverton – just follow the brown signs for Grand Western Canal.

Drake’s Golden Hind

A somewhat larger boat can be toured at Brixham where the full-size replica Golden Hind is moored on the seafront. It is a colourful sight with its rigging and crow’s nest on the foremast. The brave crew of the original Golden Hind circumnavigated the world in an epic expedition in 1580. As you tour the boat, imagine cramming 56 crew into the cramped space. Experience the sights, sounds and smells of shipboard life in the 16th century in this educational experience.

Seaton Tramway

This 1949 heritage tram runs from Colyton along the scenic Axe Valley on the original narrow-gauge track laid in 1868. Along the journey spot wading birds and take in the sights and sounds of this historic tram.

Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway

This popular steam railway runs from Paington through the Dart Valley to Kingswear where a ferry meets the train and transports visitors across the estuary to Dartmouth. This is a super day out and tickets help maintain this piece of Devon’s railroad history.

Morwellham Quay

Just outside Tavistock on the River Tamar is this reconstructed village and World Heritage Site. See the working port, copper mine, Victorian farm and heavy horses which are all part of the Living History Museum of Victorian life in Devon, set on 200 acres.

Wherever you choose a self-catering holiday cottage in Devon there are sure to be some interesting and historical attractions nearby that recapture Devon’s fascinating history.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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