“Global” Tiverton

By Kenneth Maxwell

On Wednesday this past week (15 March 2023) the officers and crew of the HMS  Enterprise paraded through the streets of Tiverton in Mid-Devon.

They had the right to do this because HMS Enterprise was given the right of the “Freedom” of the town of Tiverton. This was the farewell parade because HMS Enterprise was about to be decommissioned.

The mayor of Tiverton, Councillor Sue Griggs, was in full mayoral attire and took the salute, and she was accompanied by the town council and the mace-bearer, by Richard Foord, the local Liberal Democrat MP, and by military and civil dignitaries. A large crowd of Townspeople turned out at the Pannier Market to greet them. The march then proceeded though the town with the Band of the Royal Marines in the vanguard.

HMS Enterprise was built in Appledore in North Devon and launched in 2002, and is based at Devonport in Plymouth, also in Devon, as is the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, which was attended by King George V and King George VI, Prince Phillip of Greece (who was to marry the future Queen Elizabeth ll), as well as King Charles lll. The commanding officer of the HMS Enterprise, Malcolm McCallum, was also educated there.

The HMS Enterprise (H 88) is an Echo-class multi-role survey vessel specialised in hydrographic and oceanographic activities, examining and mapping the seafloor, and is also a floating base for mine countermeasures. She has been deployed in the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic, in detecting mines in the Arabian Gulf, and returned in October 2020 from a 15 month deployment in the Asia Pacific.

The first HMS Enterprise was a 24 gun six-rate, previously French Frigate, L’Entreprise, captured in 1705, and wrecked on 1707. The fifth HMS Enterprise was a 10 gun tender captured by the Americans in 1775 during The Revolutionary War. Renamed the USS Enterprise, she was a key component in the battles on Lake Champlain as a Continental Army sloop-of-war. The 9th HMS Enterprise, launched in 1848, had searched for Sir John Franklin’s lost Artic expedition.

But it was poignant day in Tiverton last Wednesday. The young Tiverton sea cadets marched behind the crew of HMS Enterprise and the Royal Marine Band. They practise on the Grand Western Canal which l can see from my house on the hill. Tiverton is about a far from the sea to the south (the English Channel) and to the north (the Bristol Channel) as anywhere in Devon. But the crew of HMS Enterprise and the Tiverton Sea Cadete also marched past St Peter’s Church, where the Greenway Chapel was built by Sir John Greenway in 1517.

Sir John Greenway was a rich local woollen cloth merchant and a member of the London Draper’s Company with trading interests throughout Europe. Tiverton was then a major producer of woollen cloth (Kelsey). Greenway built and endowed almshouses on Tiverton’s Gold Street which still exist.

The Greenway porch and chapel at Tiverton in Devon. Credit Photo: https://medievalart.co.uk/2008/10/20/in-your-face-mercantile-display-the-greenway-aisle-at-tiverton/

His ornate Tudor Chapel at St. Peters’s Church has some of the finest carvings of any parish church in England. The outside of the chapel has detailed carvings of ships in his fleet of merchant ships on a wavy sea, with anchors, ropes, bales of wool and animals, including monkeys.

They are marvellous depictions of Tudor ships and nautical symbols. They very much represent his (and Tiverton’s) international sea going (and Europe wide) commercial interests.

So the sailors of HMS Enterprise and the Royal Marine Band last Wednesday, and the Tiverton sea cadets who marched behind them, commemorating so wonderfully the ending of their twenty year maritime association with the town, were also inadvertently marching past a historical “global” Tiverton, even though they were undoubtedly unaware of the fact.

Note from Devon Live published on 17 March 2023:


The Royal Marine Band led more than fifty sailors on parade through Tiverton as the HMS Enterprise received a spectacular send-off from the town. The ship has been affiliated with Tiverton for more than twenty years but will be decommissioned at the end of March. On Wednesday, March 15, the crew exercised the freedom of Tiverton to march through the streets in a 90-minute ceremony. Joining them was the Tiverton Sea Cadet unit. The ship – which has a street in the town’s recently built Braid Park named after her – conducts oceanographic and hydrographic surveys, ensures safe navigation on and under the water, and acts as a floating base, or ‘mothership’, for mine countermeasures activities.

Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise, Malcolm McCallum, said: “It is always humbling to receive such a warm welcome from our adopted town. The affection shown to myself and my sailors by the people of Tiverton is tangible; it really matters. I shouldn’t be surprised as every time we have visited; we get the same warm welcome as we did today. You are a credit to your town. Over 20 years ago, Tiverton agreed to pledge their support to a new state-of-the-art operational warship called HMS Enterprise. It was no accident that this beautiful historic town in Devon was chosen.

“Although my sailors come from all corners of the UK, some even from Australia and New Zealand, many have made their home in Devon. The ship itself was built in Devon in Appledore, and its base port has always been Devonport. Enterprise, as well as the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, is inextricably linked to this great county, and for a ship designed to be deployed globally, it was an obvious choice to choose a town in a county which we call home.”

He explained that the last two decades had been busy for the ship and its crew: “Your ship has deployed to all corners of the globe, conducting frontline operations. For a small ships company, Enterprise has continually punched above its weight; whether it be conducting patrols in the South China Sea, humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean or survey operations in the Arctic Ocean, Enterprise has protected the nation’s interest, your interests, for the last 20 years, year in and year out.

“The ship is sometimes deployed for over three years away from the UK, with sailors spending up to nine months a year away from home, regularly in challenging conditions. They can only do this with support from not only their families and friends but also support from their adopted town. Enterprise, after a successful time in service, will be decommissioned later this month. Technology moves on; the Royal Navy is moving on as well. However, what won’t move on is the bond that Enterprise and the Royal Navy share with the town of Tiverton. These things endure.

“I’ll finish by taking this opportunity to thank you again on behalf of the country, the Royal Navy, and, more importantly, the hundreds of sailors who have served on board Enterprise over the last two decades. Thank you all for your continued support. Tiverton, you have discharged your responsibility admirably, the nation owes you a debt of gratitude, and as we stay in the Navy, your watch is done.”

He added: “It was fantastic to be in Tiverton today. Despite the weather, Tiverton turned out on this auspicious day, and we had the Royal Marines band, who demonstrated they are world-class. It was a poignant moment for me, and I was proud of my ship’s company. It’s been 20 years since we’ve been affiliated with this town, and we always like coming back, and it didn’t disappoint. We had the fantastic Royal Marines band playing us to the Beat the Retreat, and it sent a shiver down my spine that, unfortunately, we won’t be able to do this again. Ship’s companies move on, but all of them have that single bond of being on Enterprise and all of that single bond of being affiliated to this beautiful town in Devon. It is a sense of pride when we come here, not just because of the warm welcome, but because we are doing something for the town, and the town reciprocates by doing something for us and hosting us here today.”

Mayor of Tiverton, Councillor Sue Griggs, who visited the ship on Friday, March 10, added: “What a wonderful treat for us today and such an honour for myself as mayor of Tiverton to be here today to welcome the ship’s company of HMS Enterprise and the Royal Marine Band and everyone to our lovely town. How magnificent they look. We are very happy and privileged to have you here with us today and watch the parade. Sadly though, this will be for the last time, so it’s a day of mixed feelings for us all. It’s such an excellent site to see the ship’s crew here today exercising their right to the freedom of our town as our adopted ship. Over the years, we built up a good friendship with the crew, enjoying hearing about their ship and what the crew have been up to during that time. We’re therefore very sorry here that sec that the secretary of the state for defence has decided to decommission our warship, but as was explained to us on Friday when I was visiting HMS Enterprise, new technologies and the decision to analyse data rather than collecting it means the older ship will be retired. However, there will be many new chapters for the Royal Navy.

“I was fortunate enough to spend the day on board the HMS Enterprise for the last affiliate’s days, and I had a very enjoyable and interesting day. We went out onto open seas, and I was glad I’d taken some sickness tablets. We watched the crew demonstrate some of their duties and showed us around the ship, for which I would like to thank the commander and the ship’s crew. It was very enjoyable and interesting. We’ve been fortunate to have this warm and friendly alliance with the HMS Enterprise and all its crew over the last 20 years, and we will surely miss it.”

She added: “I thought it was a fantastic day. It’s lovely to see that in the town. When everything’s so dismal, and there isn’t much good in the news, this has cheered us all up and made us feel good. We’ve enjoyed having the HMS Enterprise affiliated with the town. It’s been something we can all look back on and treasure. We are hoping to get another affiliated ship. I have spoken to the commander about that, and they’re looking into it. I said we’d like an aircraft carrier, but the last two have just gone to other towns.”