Today (5th November) is the day when we remember Guy Fawkes and his failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament in 1605.
Remember Remember the 5th of November
But did you know that gunpowder was manufactured on Dartmoor, not far from Running Deer School?
In 1844 George Frean gained a licence to build a factory to make Gunpowder on Dartmoor. He believed it would be a good business proposition as gunpowder was needed for the local quarries and tin mines and the nearest factory to Dartmoor was over 70 miles away in Cornwall.
Frean had no prior experience in making gunpowder as he was a flour miller. His family later went on to make biscuits (and still do under the name of Peak Frean). He found a suitable location between Postbridge and Two Bridges and built a factory.
In its heyday the factory employed over 100 people and was a thriving business. Several accidental explosions were reported, the most famous involving an Italian worker which has given rise to the haunting story of “the Hairy Hands” (maybe the subject of a future blog?)
The factory closed in 1897 when dynamite was invented which was a much safer way of blowing up things. However, the ruins of the factory remain and can be accessed by foot (a trail from Bellever forest is well signposted)
They are well worth a visit.