Library Writers Prize Award 2013

John Davies the Chairman of the Tavistock Subscription Library presents the Writer’s Prize to Matt Boyle of Tavistock College 6th form His work “The River Tavy, Source to Sea” won the first prize in the newly introduced annual writer’s prize for school pupils in the Tavistock catchment area aged 11 to 18 years. He is pictured here receiving his prize – a £100 book token – from the chairman John Davies along with Liz Rowe, English Teacher at Tavistock College with other members of the Subscription Library.

John Davies said “We are delighted to be able to introduce this annual writing prize and make a younger generation of future authors aware of the presence of the Tavistock Subscription Library”. Liz Rowe also said “We are really proud at Tavistock College of what Matt has achieved here and congratulate him on his well-deserved award”
The subject for the 2014 Prize is:-
“Recently in a field by the road leading into Peter Tavy someone found a metal wedge for keeping a wheel on a small carriage, a love token, twelve George III, George VI and William VI silver coins and a King George IV 1822 gold sovereign. Who dropped them? How did they get there? What is the story?”

Writing Competition Winner

“The Tavistock Area” – By Matt Boyle (Year 12 Tavistock College)

The River Tavy, Source to Sea
The River Tavy has bourn witness to the journey of man in Devon for thousands of years. This single river has given Tavistock its name and its people water; brought many rivers, streams and springs together and carried them from source to sea. The journey turns from smooth to turbulent as the river follows its course.

The story begins a few miles north of Peter Tavy. Atop Fir Tor lies the mere trickle of a stream hidden in the heart of the moor which is the start of the river and its journey. This bleak and barren land is South Tavy Head where the spring reveals itself from amongst the marshland. The small stream collides with an equally weak stream called the Fir Tor Brook. Escorting each other, they make their way to Tavy Hole at Sandy Ford where the stream of the Amacombe joins the party. This new stream is still called the Tavy. Fed by springs and streams the collective runs down to Tavy Cleave where it is joined by Dead Lakes Foot. Dead Lakes Foot claims its name from its slow, sluggish water flow which in warm seasons or periods of low rainfall, leave the stream drained, dry and “dead”. Now the built up stream discovers the first evidence of man in the form of Mile Leet, a man-made water channel used to move water from its point of extraction to a specific location, normally for industrial purposes. At this point the river can be crossed using stepping stones and small islands.

The river runs through the hills down towards Hill Bridge, a short distance from Mary Tavy. When the river level is low a world of large boulders and mossy coverings is revealed underneath the dense trees. From Hill Bridge the river reforms, to travel to the very town named after it – Tavistock. For centuries, Tavistock has developed its history and community around the river. The river not only gave the people water but allowed easy access to Morwellham Quay on the Tamar. This route hasn’t always been so kind to the town as in the year 977, Danish raiders travelled up the river to destroy the Tavistock Abbey, built only 30 years earlier. The town resides on the edge of Dartmoor. The towns’ people must cross the river not with stepping stones as before but by a rather substantial bridge which has allowed crossing for many years allowing the town to expand on both sides.

The river runs out of Tavistock from the south and into the pleasant valleys of Westmoor, down to the area known as The Double Waters. This area acquires its name from the two rivers the Tavy and the Walkham, which meet and become one here. The waters of the Walkham swirl along its path, creating cauldrons of eroded rock and carving channels through the countryside. In the battle of supremacy the Tavy wins and carries on from Double Waters uncontested. With the collective force of two rivers and countless other tributaries, the Tavy rolls and crashes through the valleys before calming down at Lopwell Dam. This dam stops salt water from the estuary travelling further upstream. This is evident as on one side of the dam, water marshes flourish with budding irises and other such flowers. However the other side is littered with sea weed brought up with the tide and thick mud which leaves a strong salt smell in the air. The dam also houses a fish ladder which allows fish to travel upstream if and when they need to.

From here the story changes. As the Tavy nears Plymouth confluence occurs with the Tamar, making the Tavy a major tributary to the Tamar. The Tamar moves into Plymouth with a new name -The Hamoaze. The name Hamoaze is derived from the Old English ‘wase’ which means ‘muddy banks at low tide’. This is the same derivation as other rivers through-out the UK with ‘ouse’ in their name. The Tamar/ Hamoaze, now a collective army of water sources, majestically flows on its journey to the Plymouth Sound, where bridges are impossible and a ferry is the only practical method to cross. From The Sound, the waters of Devon travel out to sea and with that the epic journey of the river Tavy draws to a close – from source to sea.

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