12 October 2023

Sketching a memory of the Tamar Valley

The Tamara Landscape Partnership scheme team have been working at Rumleigh House on the Devon bank of the River Tamar. 

Rumleigh House was once part of the thriving market gardening sector in the Tamar Valley and one of the main spring harvests was daffodils which were sent by rail from nearby Bere Alston to destinations across the country. The focus of this particular piece of work was a large quantity of flower boxes discovered in an outbuilding which was possibly used as a packing house. The boxes revealed fascinating stories of destinations, other local flower farms and the varieties of daffodils that were being grown and sold at Rumleigh when it was operating as a commercial flower farm.

One of the boxes appeared to be blank. However, on closer inspection in better light, the box revealed a pencil sketch of what appeared to be mine. The image clearly shows a smoking chimney and possibly an engine house along with other ancillary buildings. Could it be a sketch of a local mine? Okel Tor Mine is situated on the opposite bank of the river, and you can just imagine a daffodil picker or packer taking a break and drawing something they could see in the local landscape.

The image provides an opportunity to reflect on the complex land use history in this area of the Tamar Valley where Okel Tor and Gawton mines along with Rumleigh Brickworks are just a stone’s throw away from the heritage of once thriving market gardening enterprises.