Category Archives: Events

Curator’s Fascinating Focus on… Napoleonic Archaeology and Signalling at Berry Head


Our Curator, Dr. Philip L. Armitage, whose photograph has previously appeared on this blog revealing his unforgettable taste in woollen headgear, has recently given a new talk to the social group of St. Matthias’ Church in Torquay.

Enthusiastically setting the scene for his main theme, Philip vividly portrayed life on the wild promontory of Berry Head from early times to the Victorian era, his lively descriptions illustrated with superb slides, while the audience had the opportunity to handle ancient flints and a variety of artefacts discovered by the Museum’s ‘Time Team’ during excavations at the headland’s cottages over a number of years.

Philip then revealed that our celebrated ‘Pit Group’, which has been digging among the remains of the Headquarters of the engineers who built the Napoleon-era fortifications, has uncovered a plethora of domestic detritus, including wine bottles and tea bowls, which provides rare insight into the daily lives and routines of those engaged in the building of the crucial defences. As Philip emphasised, this is truly ‘a unique collection of items of one historic event’.

The group was interested to hear about the creation and journey of the Signalling Mast, a project collaboration between Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust and Brixham Heritage Museum, to mark 200 years since the arrival of the captive Napoleon Bonaparte in Tor Bay on 24 July 1815. Central to the project were the use of traditional methods and local craftsmen to construct and install such a mast as the one depicted in the famous painting of H.M.S. Bellerophon off Berry Head by Thomas Luny.

Felled from larches at Churston, the wood was horse-logged from the nearby Cove to Galmpton aboard the Optimist via Brixham Harbour, where trawler mast makers carved the 36-foot high replica, which was taken to Berry Head and erected at the Southern Fort, complete with a red flag and black balls, unique to the Brixham signal station. Signalling demonstrations took place throughout the summer, keeping alive important nautical knowledge and skills.

A full description of this remarkable project with an update and photographs is available on this website under ‘Special Projects’. Don’t miss it!


Musical Evening at Lupton House

On the evening of Friday 10th October supporters of Brixham Heritage Museum organised a fund-raising event, where they were treated to a wonderful musical evening in the magnificent, acoustic ballroom of Lupton House. The music ranged from classical to World War I patriotic songs and even skiffle. Donna-Marie Hughes performed some exceptional solos, demonstrating why she is universally in demand. The evening was further enhanced by the “in house” catering of Darren Drummond and his team.

Grateful thanks are given to all who performed and to those who attended. As our President, Mr Vernon Duker, pointed out, in the present state of the local economy whereby our financial support might be lost, such fundraising events become more and more essential.

Napoleonic Activity Day


Here is a  selection of photographs from our Napoleonic Activity Day which took place at Berry Head on 27th May. The event was aimed at youngsters from toddlers  up to 12 years of age.












Special thanks must go to our  ‘pancake ladies’ Janet and Jackie for all their hard work keeping the troops fed!




Torbay Young Carers Go Digging


Twelve young Torbay carers had a change from their normal routine when they took part in an archaeological dig with museum staff at Berry Head on April 3rd.

All the young carers are under the age of 18 and all have caring responsibilities for a parent or sibling. This dig was their first session with the museum but we hope that they will be joining us again for flint knapping and bootcamp later in the year.













A Devon Folk Christmas

Brixham museum was the setting for a BBC recording of a performance by local musicians of  “A Devon Folk Christmas“.  Maggie Duffy and friends delighted an invited audience with a programme of festive music and readings.



Maggie has regularly chosen the museum as a concert venue. After the event last Saturday, she said  “A thousands thanks for being a truly fab audience.  Also to the amazing museum staff who make it all possible. It is a superb venue with so much atmosphere. The warmth of the audience certainly comes over in the recording and you can tell the audience are really having fun .”



The concert will be broadcast on BBC Devon on Christmas Eve at 6.00 p.m. and on the morning of Christmas Day at 6.00 a.m.


Victorian Christmas Fayre



On Saturday, 1st December, Brixham Heritage Museum held a Victorian Christmas Fayre. Visitors were attracted by snow, a pipe organ operated by Mr Edgar Lawrance and a group of local singers.



It was a very successful day, opened by Mr Nick Bye who has always been a faithful supporter of our Museum. During the morning, two of the three winners of the Cave Painting competition (run during the Summer) were awarded their prizes; then in the afternoon the Chairman of Brixham Council, Cllr Brian Harland and his wife, May, drew the tickets for the Grand Draw. The £50 cash First Prize was won by Mr Parsons, the second prize of Thorntons’ Chocolates was won by Mr and Mrs J Richardson, and the third prize of a Christmas hamper was won by Mr and Mrs J Lambourne. A chocolate cake was won in a raffle by Mrs S Rossi and Mr I Cubitt won £30 in a Pound Coin Draw.



We would like to thank all the many volunteers who worked so hard throughout the day and also those who helped to set it all up beforehand, and of course dismantle it afterwards.



Our profit from the day will go towards continuing the work of the Brixham Museum to preserve our local heritage.

Lesley Smith


Wedding Announcement



Brixham Heritage Museum are pleased to announce that our Writer in Residence, Miss Samantha Little, will become Mrs Edwin Day on Saturday, 8th December.

Best wishes from all of us.


A Fishy Encounter at the Mini Museum


Children at the mini museum were treated to a morning of mermaid magic at Berry Head on 3rd August.

Melody the Mermaid entertained  the children and childminders with stories and craft activities based around the sea and lighthouses.


Melody the mermaid entertains the children


Melody entertains the children


Mini Museum – Napoleonic Bootcamp



A mini army assembled at Berry Head on Monday 9th July…



The mini army was ably assisted by the  Cornish Regiment re-enactors…





Thirty children attended…



…but there were equal opportunities for all!


There was plenty of musket practice and drill.



Not all of the volunteers were ‘mini’!



A big thank you to Janet Petit, museum volunteer, who made over thirty pancakes for the regiment and children.




Brixfest 2012 – Napoleonic Bootcamp


Sunday 3rd June 2012 – Marching, musket drill and cooking at Battery Gardens…