Monthly Archives: January 2014

Brixham in the Great War



As a joint venture to commemorate “Brixham in the Great War”, Brixham Heritage Museum, in conjunction with the Friends of Brixham Library and S. Devon Players, has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant.

This will enable the museum to collate and interpret the archive information already held and present this to the public in the form of pamphlets, teachers’ packs, and an updated World War 1 display. In addition we will compile an edited copy of a diary written by a Brixham sailor named Lawrence Lake, in which hand painted pictures depict boats and places which he saw during his WW1 service.

In order to complete these projects, Brixham Heritage Museum would like to appeal to the people of Brixham for any photographs (which could be scanned and returned), family stories of life during that time, or donation of artefacts.


As an example of a local family’s contribution to the project, we include a photograph of Percy John Johnson, a local butcher, who served in the Coldstream Guards during World War I, together with a photograph of his service medals.

Please contact the Museum on 01803 856267 or email

Laywell – A celebrated ebb and flow spring at Brixham


Most towns have a call to fame. Brixham has several, but perhaps the least known is “Laywell Spring”. In the past one of the most important requirements of a village or town was a clean and regular water supply. This needed to be close to habitation as invariably water was collected from a pump or stored in a makeshift reservoir.

Ladywell Spring in Higher Brixham had very strange properties. Technically it was “an ebb and flow spring” one of only four such springs recorded in England and about a hundred in the world. It was situated about forty meters above sea level, was not related to the tide cycle, but had a rhythmic periodicity of a few minutes. In simplistic terms this meant that a flow of water was provided about sixteen times in an hour. Research shows this varied depending on the amount of rain and time of year. As an example the tempo was less frequent in the summer than the winter when the flow could drop to ten cycles per hour. Regardless of this, records show that the spring rarely produced less than 100,000 gallons a day. In days gone by there was no explanation to this curiosity and its fame quickly spread. As the town grew it became less important as it could not keep up with the increased demand.

My ancestor Thomas Lakeman was much impressed by the quality of the water and used the supply for his Brewery in the town. It is recorded that in 1860 “the original well was destroyed by the owner of Laywell House when he constructed a short cut into the town.”

Today the spring still flows and South West Water has built a pumping Station close to its source.

Terry Lakeman