Tiverton, known locally as Tivvy has a population of around 20,000. Despite being in the North-East part of Devon, it is the administrative centre for Mid Devon District Council. Tiverton sits at the meeting place of the A396 and the A361 and straddles the river Exe, making it a great place to visit if you’re leaving Exmoor by canoe and looking for somewhere to stop off before Exeter.
Tiverton is also on the Grand Western Canal. This canal hasn’t quite lived up to the original plans. It was going, to take freight along a route from the English Channel to the Bristol channel, but was never completed. It does however go from Tiverton, all the way to Lowdwells Lock which is 11 miles away. The canal is run as a country park and nature reserve. You can go along it in a horsedrawn barge, or hire a boat to go out on your own. You can eat in another barge which has been converted into a café with a licensed bar or at one of the eating establishments along the way. Where it failed as a way of transporting freight, it’s made up for that by being a nice place to be. Tiverton has a railway station which is only 8 miles from the town centre. It’s very close to the canal, so you can travel by boat, should you wish.
Tiverton has a museum. Don’t expect a diplodocus, it’s not that sort of thing, but if you want to learn about how people around here used to live, the Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life is great. It specialises in social history and the lives of ordinary people and is a fantastic museum. Originally it was housed in the back rooms of a pub, but they’ve relocated to an old school building, so you can’t get a beer there anymore, but you can see the Tivvy Bumper.
In the 13th century, Countess Isabella of Devon came up with a very novel gift idea and gave the town a leat. A leat is an artificial waterway. This one delivered water from Norwood common to the town centre. Every 7 years, during a medieval ceremony known as “the perambulation of the leat”, any obstructions are removed and the right to the water is claimed by the bailiff for “for ever, for the sole use and benefit and as the right of the inhabitants of the town of Tiverton”. Unfortunately, Tiverton appears to have lost it’s leat. The water no longer flows down the middle of Castle Street or bubbles up from Coggan’s Well in Fore Street. No-one seems to know what has happened to the water and there’s a petition to save the leat.
Theophilus Polwhele was a priest in Tiverton and the singer songwriter Pete Vuckovic was born in the town. Former prime minister Lord Palmerston was an MP for Tiverton, but undoubtedly the most famous resident of the Town is Mango the cat that hangs out at Tesco. He’s got his own facebook page with 18,000 followers and the story of him hanging out at a supermarket has been covered by BBC news as well as a number of other publications and outlets.