Over the Christmas holiday, I had the opportunity to visit the Dartington Cider Press, near Totnes, South Devon. I was told it was a lovely place to visit some craft shops, card shops, coffee shops, jewellery and home ware shops, a cider shop of course, as well as the showroom for Dartington Glass itself.
It was a beautifully peaceful place, with just the right number of other shoppers browsing from place to place. Enough to make you feel like this is a place of true quality but not so many that you wish you hadn’t come at all.
What they didn’t tell me was the the story behind Dartington and how a wonderful combination of wealth and entrepreneurial spirit in 1920s Devon brought about a complete regeneration. People were leaving the rural county in their droves to head for work in the cities but the people behind what became known as The Dartington Hall Trust created a brand new enterprise by recruiting expertise from Scandinavia, and retrained a number of locals in glass making.
Today Dartington is the only UK manufacturer of hand crafted lead crystal with a healthy export division, and all profits go back into the original charitable trust.
I love places and stories like this because it demonstrates how a little ingenuity, a bit of money and some hard work can really make the world a better place.