Ian Handford, chairman of Torbay Civic Society, gives us the who and how each of Torbay’s Blue Plaques was chosen. This week: Edwin Landseer Lutyens and The Drum Inn, Cockington
Having spoken to a Gary Llewllewn at RPS Planning in Wiltshire, it was this connection to Six Contintent Retail plus the Lutyens Trust that eventually brought us full sponsorship for a Blue Plaque to honour Sir Edwin Lutyens at the Drum Inn Cockington.
As the inn was a formal listed building with English Heritage, the Torbay conservation officer had to give his permission for us to be able to go ahead and on this occasion having achieved permission, we were later were pleased to welcome Chris Panchieri to the formal event.
Also in attendance were the Mayor of Torquay, Councillor Heather Buckpitt, and her formal escort, attendees representing the sponsors and, of course, members of Torbay Civic Society and the public.
As usual, I led the proceedings, thanking the sponsors and proprietors Colin and Kim Woodcock, who had made my job easy, as the plaque this time was conveniently placed at the left side of main entrance door.
Being a particularly cold and very wintery day - much snow on the ground, unusual for Torquay - Colin and Kim provided a huge wood-burning fire in their big hearth and hot refreshments once the official bit had been completed.
Interestingly, around 12 years later the main entrance door was moved to the right side of the inn’s front wall, so that now our plaque has also been relocated is on the right hand side wall of the inn.
Sir Edwin Lutyens’ details can therefore still be viewed as you enter the inn.
Knowing Sir Edwin was born in March, 1869, I honestly cannot remember why we chose December for the official unveiling, because generally we always try and coincide the event with the birth month of the recipient.
Sir Edwin designed and built an enormous number of significiant buildings all over the world, particularly in India, and having designed the British Pavilion for the 1900 Paris exhibition, exactly ten years later he completed a second British Pavilion in Rome, before for the frist time coming west to Torbay in 1911.
That visit followed a request of Julius Charles Drewe who wanted his manor house built as a castle, a project that ultimately left us Castle Drogo - said to be the last castle built in England.
With the First World War delaying all buildings, Castle Drogo was not finally completed until 1924, six years after Edwin was knighted in 1918.
He would now receive numerous awards from across the world including a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects and even becoming an officer of the Legion of Honour in 1932 adding a (DCL) to his honours in 1934.
During his twilight years Sir Edwin returned again to Devon and the Forge Inn at Cockington in 1932, following its sale by the Mallocks of Torquay to a new Cockington Trust.
Permission was now granted for 223 acres of land to be leased in virtual perpetuity to Torbay Council on the proviso that a new village would be built.
In the event only the new public house, The Drum Inn, and gardens emerged, which Sir Edwin finally completed in 1936.
Having designed the inn and gardens, Sir Edwin even left us some special furnishings to enjoy, while the Drum’s signage, came courtesy of the British artist Dame Laura Knight and in the saloon bar was Laurence Whistler’s engraved window.
After the formal Blue Plaque unveiling on December 11, 2002, a little of the life and times of this extra special man of history was given by yours truly, before a short tour of the main rooms then completed the event.
• A Torbay Civic Society pamphlet ‘Sir Edwin Lutyens aand the Drum Inn’” by M Thompson and myself is still obtainable - send postage stamps value 50p plus a stamped addressed envelope to Torbay Civic Society, Palace Avenue Business Centre, 4 Palace Avenue Paignton TQ1 1DE.