Explore Braunton - The Most Biodiverse Parish in England

Braunton Marsh Inspectors


The benefits of land drainage were recognised throughout the country but by the end of the First World War a decline in agriculture and increase in material and labour costs had combined to make such schemes uneconomical.

The Marsh Inspectors

The Great Sluice on Braunton Marshes 2007In an effort to support agricultural productivity, the Government sought to better organise the drainage administrations throughout the UK and this gave rise to the Braunton Marshes Internal Drainage Board. Its earliest members were the three Marsh Inspectors and four other marsh landowners, although several marsh owners were suspicious of the change and feared that they might lose their existing rights and privileges. 

The Inspector's House

The ditches that drain the marshes were useful for providing water for the livestock that grazed there and also acted as stock barriers, but someone had to maintain them. The Inspector’s House is situated at the beginning of a toll road, which extends away from Velator towards Crow Point and the estuary. 

The weir at Velator, 2007This house was traditionally given to an employee of the Inspectors who received free accommodation in return for carrying out various duties. These might include destroying rats and moles who threatened to undermine the banks, checking and controlling water levels, cutting weed, clearing drains and rounding up escaped stock.

Tolls

The same person was often paid by the farmers to tend their livestock and they would also have been responsible for collecting the tolls from anyone who was not a marsh owner but wanted access. The tolls were, and still are, used to maintain the road and surrounding area.

Rowland Dibble

Rowland Dibble, 2008Nowadays, the responsibility for maintaining the water levels falls to marsh owners, who volunteer their time and expertise. One such owner and Marsh Inspector is Rowland Dibble, whose father farmed the marshes before him.

 


 
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