The missing 34 years
In 1960, Finch Foundry closed for business after the collapse of the roof and parts of the walls
Dick Barron, whose mother was a Finch, inherited the site and felt that he needed to do something to prevent the foundry from decaying and disappearing for ever.
Dick and his brother, Bob, both realised the importance of Finch Foundry and decided to get to work repairing and reopening it as a museum. A Trust was formed with the backing of two local media representatives, so work on the rebuilding could begin.
When Dick died in 1964 his brother, Bob, took over. The Finch Foundry Museum purchased the land in 1966 with a loan from the Manifold Trust. With another grant of £1000 from the Pilgrim Trust, it was possible for restoration work to begin.
English China Clay Ltd. provided a new roof for free and volunteers cleared rubble from the building. Students came from Grenville College, St Lukes College and the Naval Engineering College in Manadon and restored several pieces of machinery. From there, basic demonstrations could take place of the waterwheels and thanks to further grants from several authorities and local groups, the launder was rebuilt, the waterwheels refurbished and the tilt hammers and shears could now be worked. Exeter College students did even more repair work and the foundry was featured on the BBCs Fred Dibnah's tour of Britain programmes.
In the late 1960's/early 1970's the museum opened to the public. A huge collection of tools which Dick Barron had had were put on display, the car park and picnic area were established and Bob continued with his repair work until his retirement.
Ownership then changed hands from the Finch Foundry Museum to Okehampton Museum, where the North Dartmoor Museums Association was formed. In the mid-80's due to the building of the new A30, there were fewer visitors passing by and it became difficult for it to run. In the past the National Trust had offered to purchase the building so the Association made contact and asked if they would be interested in taking over. After a survey the National Trust found that over £60,000 worth of work was required to support crumbling walls. Luckily, one of our local supporters - Mr Espley - left the National Trust money in his will, and the Science Museum and Dartmoor Authority, the National Trust was able to take over in 1994.