A Brief History of Ashburton.
Taking its name from the stream on which it stands, the Ashburn, Ashburton became a collecting centre for the south-eastern part of Dartmoor as the tin trade developed during the 12th century. It became one of four official stannary towns in 1305 and the tin trade remained an important part of Ashburton until the 17th century when Devon’s tin production waned and Cornwall’s was increasing, this trend carried on into the 19th century when foreign competition caused a drop in the price of tin, putting the final nail in the coffin for tin mining on Dartmoor.

Along with the rise of the tin trade came the cloth industry, the Ashburn supplying power for fulling (wool processing) mills. Ashburton became a considerable market for cloth, tin, corn and cattle, and had two great annual fairs.
The growth of road traffic at the end of the 17th century saw more inns and associated trades, the town which lay at about the half way point on the main road between Exeter and Plymouth was a popular coaching stop. The 18th century saw the height of Ashburton’s prosperity before the collapse of the cloth industry and the building of the South Devon Railway in 1846 which almost over night put an end to coach traffic, one of the last trades remaining in Ashburton and the towns decline continued even the arrival of the branch line from Totnes in 1872 did nothing to help the towns’ decline.