Background

The village of Atherington in Devon is located on the busy intersection of the B3227 and B3217 roads. It is placed 10 miles from Barnstaple; 7 miles from Torrington and 8 miles from South Molton. The Parish boundary extends to Fishleigh Barton to the north; Bartridge to the east; Boreat to the south and Langridgeford to the west.

The young population at the 2001 census was:

0-4 year old 20
5-9 year old 29
10-14 year old 31
15-19 year old 19

Although the details of the 2011 census are not available yet, the PPSA (Practitioner and Patient Survey- 2012) indicates that the number of children in the parish remains the same.

The current number of adults on the electoral roll is 373

The nearest primary schools are High Bickington and Umberleigh. The village is in the catchment area for the Secondary School at Chulmleigh and the nearest College of Further Education is in Barnstaple.

When Atherington Village School closed in 1947, the building became the Church Hall and was used, until quite recently, for various village activities. For a number of years the village children continued to play in the old school playground, which was situated on the opposite side of the road. However, by the late 1960s it had become obvious that a different playing area had to be found. At that time the traffic through the village had increased, mainly because the B3227 was a busy holiday route through the county and also both roads were regularly used by local haulage companies.

In 1970 the Torrington Road was significantly widened, following removal of a part of Bonds Farmhouse.

This ambitious project, which included major road improvements at Langridgeford, also reduced the size of the children’s play area. As the traffic through the village was now moving faster, it became imperative to find somewhere safer for the children to play.

A number of places were considered, but were rejected because of their proximity to either the B3227 or the B3217. Eventually in 1971 a suitable site was offered for sale and was bought by a local benefactor, who later sold it back to the Parish Council at a reduced rate, with the expressed intention that it was to be used as a playing field for the local children.

This is the site which is still being used today and it is positioned on the east side of the village. It is accessed by one of two quiet lanes; is away from the dangerous traffic and has the added advantage of having wonderful views over many miles of local countryside, making it an ideal place, not only for the children to play in, but for parents and grandparents to sit and enjoy the surrounding environment.

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