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Ivybridge is a town in the South Hams area of Devon. It gained its name from a 13th century hump-backed bridge over the River Erme and is on the southern extremity of Dartmoor, overlooked by Western Beacon. Ivybridge and its surrounding area lie within the South West Devon parliamentary constituency.
The first mention of Ivybridge came in 1280 when it was described as "dowry of land on the west side of the River Erme, by the Ivy Bridge." From the 16th Century onwards mills were built in the town, harnessing the power of the river. Records show that in the 16th century there was a corn mill, a tin mill, an edge mill and a tin mill. One of the mills, 'Glanville's Mill' (corn mill), was situated where the many of the towns shops are today and gives its name to the shopping centre.Until 1819 the 'Ivy Bridge' was the only means of crossing the River Erme before the road was straightened and the 'New Bridge' was built joining Fore Street and Exeter Road. In 1894 St John's church became a Parish Church for the newly created parish of Ivybridge.Before this the 'Ivy Bridge' had been the boundary between the four parishes of Ugborough, Ermington, Cornwood, and Harford. The village became a town in 1977 and throughout the 1980's and 90's undertook a period of rapid growth (between the censuses in 1981 and 2001 the population more than doubled from 5,106 to 12,056)
There have been attempts to brand the town as a walking centre for southern Dartmoor. There is good access to Dartmoor from the town - one route follows the route of the old china clay railway to Redlake in the heart of the moor. The Two Moors Way which crosses Dartmoor and Exmoor starts in Ivybridge and finishes in Lynmouth on the North Devon coast.
There are various leisure facilities in the town: the South Dartmoor Leisure Centre features a swimming pool and gymnasium facilities, and the South Devon Tennis Centre has indoor and outdoor courts; there is also a skatepark, a youth centre and a library. In 2007 construction began on a new library on a new site close to the town hall, this new library and Community Resource Centre is due for completion in March 2008.