Colin Vosper’s ‘Marvellous Devon Marble’ talk

A write-up of Colin’s illustrated talk entitled ‘Marvellous Devon Marble’, which took place on Monday 26th November 2018.

Colin is well known in the area for his range of well researched and presented talks, always with a level of personal involvement in the topic and this one did not disappoint.

Devon marble, much from the Torbay area, was extensively used in the 19th C in churches and public buildings, worked by highly skilled craftsmen. Much of this is still visible today.  Fossils embedded in the marble are of great interest to geologists.

Colin was quick to point out for the benefit any geologist present that Devon Marble is in fact Polished Limestone with ‘Marble ‘being introduced in the 19th C for marketing purposes. Prior to the formal start of the meeting Colin presented and handed round examples of local ‘stones’ that any of us may pick up and discard – that when cut and polished produce the wonderful ‘marble’ that we can view in our churches and the occasional fireplace.

Details were shown of the numerous quarries in this area that produced the marble that we know today – notably Petit Tor behind Torquay Golf Course and Ashburton now incorporated into a much larger site. Regrettably there is nothing to be gained in visiting these now abandoned and overgrown sites.

We were pleased to be shown extensive examples in 2 local churches that the History Group has visited in the recent past  – St Johns in Torquay above the harbour and built into the cliff face ( as Phil Badcott had shown us in his 1851 Torquay October talk) and All Saints in Babbacombe where we had an extensive tour provided by Father Paul Jones in September.

The quality of the local marble and the ability of local craftsmen was well illustrated by current photographs of numerous columns in a number of prestigious London buildings.

Colin also introduced us to “Faux Marble” with photographs of hollow wood formers applied with a mixture of marble slurry and resin, that look like profiteroles prior to applying and finally turned on a lathe to make pillars. There is a tale of the schoolboys at Lupton making a hole in one of the fake pillars to throw stuff in!

Colin’s powerpoint presentation coupled with his own enthusiastic presentation created another well appreciated History Society evening by a high turn-out of members on a very wet Friday evening.