Archive for the 'A bit of history' Category



a belated Cornwall with Caroline Quentin…

Apologies for the late post of Caroline Quentin’s Cornwall but I have lots going on at present! But here it is before the next episode tomorrow…

Caroline kick starts episode 5 at Prideaux Place situated  in Padstow with its own herd of fallow deer which have been roaming the estate since 485 AD. It is said that if the deer die out then the Prideaux family will disapppear too. The population of the deer became just six in 1926. George V sent down a stag from Windsor but it is said the game keeper shot it by accident.

Interestingly the back of the house is still as the American Army left the house for D-Day in 1944 when soldiers from a US combat batallion occupied the house. The rooms untouched, have many memories of those American soldiers. The lady of the house recently uncovered some letters for the mother of John Fontaine, sadly no longer with us whom must have died in service. Other soldiers names still appear on the wall in thier memory as they sadly never returned to their loved ones.

Robert Hocking, a man whos videos I have shown in past posts. A proud Cornishman who has a organic vegetable business in the Port Eliot estate who loves to spend a Sunday morning on his white leather armchair in the corner of his polytunnel reading the Sunday papers, and yes I did say polytunnel! Robert who runs Buttervilla Funky Leaves is a purveyer of fine fruit and veg. His website is well worth a look, he has had a lot of press and chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen resturants use his leaves. Not only are Roberts videos a great reminder of Cornwall’s past but his current business is a great tribute to Cornwall for producing such wonderful produce. Robert also does vegetable boxes which can be bought through the Dig For Victory website. If you live within a 30 mile radius of PL13 1PA then delivery is free.  So all you Cornish and Devonians out there log onto Dig For Victory and buy some veg! It’s ansome! If you are struggling for what to do with veg then two must have books are the Riverford Farm cook book which can be bought here and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Veg book which is a must for every kitchen, vegetarian or not!

Caroline then went onto talk about Robert’s other passion of perserving Cornish history on film. Some of his videos I have posted previously which you will find on this blog. Robert shows Caroline a video of his family sailing Redwings in Looe. the video can be seen here

The redwings championships still take place and Robert’s family have won the silverware more than any other family in the town. Robert, not a sailing man and the black sheep of the family prefers to keep his feet on dry land. Florence, Robert’s great neice was entering the Redwing race and won another cup for the family silver collection.

Next stop and Caroline is sitting on the ledge of one of the engine houses at St Agnes eating a pasty, hers is half savoury and half sweet. Personally I have never had one like that but it is said that in days gone by the miners would have had it half and half. I just prefer meat and veg in my pasty!

Another visit to the Camel Valley vineyard at the end of the grape growing season and they are now picking them ready to be pressed. The vineyard are launching their new 20th anniversary wine and it will take place at Nathan Outlaw St Enodoc Hotel at Rock with top wine critic Tom Stevenson and writer Suzy Atkins.  The wine got top marks all round, a wine where the grapes are grown and bottled all in the small vineyard tucked away in the Camel valley.

Good old Cornwall! I will try to get tomorrow’s episode on the blog sooner next week, but before I do that I will have to post about Hugh’s Three Hungry Boys, on tonight at 7pm on Channel 4.

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Great vintage footage from the British Pathé

The British Pathé website is a great archive for old footage of Britain over the last century or so. My mate Denzil introduced it to me as he found it whilst looking for paths on the internet.

Anyhow, here are a few great little videos I have found of good old Cornwall. Cheers Denzil!

Lovely footage of  Bob Barron going fishing from Mevagissey harbour for conger eel,  filmed in 1955 – Click here

Captain of the sunken ship, “Flying Enterprise”, and his rescuers welcomed in Falmouth. Great footage of the hero’s welcome received on the Prince of Wales pier in 1952 – Click here

And finally for now a little snippet of Obby Oss which is celebrated in Padstow on the 1st May. This footage was shot in 1932 – its brilliant! – Click here

 

 

 

Happy New Year One and All

Happy New Year to all my readers and thanks for your continued support in following my blog. There’s a lot that will be going on the blog in 2012 so keep a look out!

The Cornish Crest depicts a fisherman, a miner and of course the Cornish chough. To find out more about the history of the crest and the relevance of the figures click here.

 

The Penlee Lifeboat Crew Remembered – 30 years ago today

The Penlee lifeboat was called to assist the crew of the Union Star, a cargo ship on her maiden voyage as she was heading towards the rocks off the Cornish coast on 19th December 1981.

The Solomon Browne and its 8 crew from Mousehole were called at around 8.15pm. Trevelyan Richards the Coxswain of the lifeboat got the Solomon Browne alongside the Union Star from where it was thrown several times onto the deck of the cargo ship before sliding off. A Sea King helicopter above the incident was watching but unable to help due to the adverse weather conditions.  As the pilot of the helicopter looked on he later commented at the inquiry that ‘they were truly the greatest 8 men I have ever seen’. Eventually Trevelyan Richards got the boat alongside the Union Star and got 4 of the 8 crew off the ship and onto the lifeboat. Not content with rescuing the 4, he went back in to save the other 4 lives. At this moment as the Falmouth lifeguards were listening to the radios between the Union Star and the Solomon Browne it all went silent and something terrible had happened. Both boats were so close to the shoreline rocks and they had succumbed to the power of the sea. All 16 people were lost, 8 crew of the Union Star and the brave selfless men of the Solomon Browne.

Those men who gave their lives that night were

William ‘Trevelyan’ Richards – Coxswain

James Madron – Second Coxswain and Mechanic

Nigel Brockman – Assistant Mechanic

John Blewett – Emergency Mechanic

Charlie Greenhaugh – crew member

Kevin Smith  crew member

Barrie Torrie – crew member

Gary Wallis – crew member

The following day boys and men from Mousehole were stepping forward to replace the crew of the Solomon Browne, one young man who stepped forward was the son of one of the crew who had died the night before. He later became Coxswain of the Penlee Lifeboat.

These men are still remembered annually as the lights at Mousehole are dimmed between 8pm and 9pm in memory of their sacrifices.

Many a tribute has been paid to these men on the internet and much can be found on the net. However our favourite is a song by Seth Lakeman called Solomon Browne all about that stormy night.

…and aptly Seth also played this at the Minack theatre not far from where the lives were lost.

Russell Holland has also produced this together with the Cornish Wurzels I believe. The backing singers are the crew of the current Penlee lifeboat.

Tonight at 10pm on BBC FOUR is the Cruel Sea: The Penlee Lifeboat Disaster – first screened in 2006, is an account of what happened that night with real radio footage, eye witness reports and memories of the families who lost their loved ones.

To find out more about the Penlee Lifeboat visit their website here. Finally to make a donation to the RNLI please click here , its a very worthwhile charity.


The Shipping Forecast explained… by two fat badgers!

When we cannot sleep at night we often switch on the radio beside the bed and listen to Radio 4 and to whatever is being broadcast. At some point in the night there must be some kind of children’s entertainment on World Service because sometimes I awake feeling like I’m on speed as the children’s entertainment is not conducive to a good nights sleep. But more often that not if its been a late night we will doze off listening to the shipping forecast which also is not that conducive to a good night sleep…

‘PLYMOUTH SOUTHWEST 5 TO 7, OCCASIONALLY GALE 8 OR SEVERE GALE 9 IN SOUTH, VEERING NORTHWEST 4 OR 5 LATER. RAIN OR SHOWERS. MODERATE OR GOOD’

As you are dozing it’s just words that don’t always make sense so I thought I would google it and find out what it all means.

Now where do the Two Fat Badgers come into it? Well, the two fat badgers run a website which in an independent look at places to visit around the UK and pubs to visit etc. They have also done some homework on explaining the shipping forecast.

Take a look at their website here to see what it’s all about.

Finally as I’m scratching my head deciphering the shipping forecast most of the time I will fall asleep to “Sailing By” composed by Ronald Binge in 1963, and performed by the Alan Perry/William Gardner Orchestra. It’s a beautiful track and can be listened to here.

It may be cold outside but I think its going to be a quiet one tonight – sleep tight!

The sea like a mill pond - Newlyn

 

 

 

 

Kennall Vale Nature Reserve

If you are looking for somewhere to walk off those mince pies after Christmas or in my case before Christmas then take a walk around Kennall Vale.

Old mill stone lies next to the River Kennall.

Situated between Redruth and Falmouth in the village of Ponsanooth, Kennall Vale is part of Cornwall’s rich heritage from the Tin mining era. Gunpowder was produced here with production starting around 1812. By 1860 some 50 men were employed in the gunpowder ‘factory’ until its closure in the early 1900s when alternative and more sophisticated methods of explosives were used in the Cornish mines.

Kennall Vale is now a tranquil and serene place to have a quiet walk and is very popular with dog walkers. The valley has a river (The Kennall!) running through it which would have provided the power to work the machines within the gunpowder mills.  Now,  just lies the ruins of the old granite buildings and parts of the cast iron wheels which once turned.

A walk around Kennel Vale is not for the faint hearted, it starts off with a nice wide even path with a slight gradient going under the canopy of large beech trees, as you walk along you can hear the water running in the nearby river but it’s not until about half a mile before you experience the whole drama of this amazing place. As you pass some old buildings and the old quarry on you left hand side (from where the granite was taken to build all the mills)  now filled with water you will turn a corner and the footpath then crosses the river (via a bridge). Take time to stop on the bridge and watch and listen to the incredible power of the water beneath you. As you walk across you will see many waterfalls in front from where the water was channelled down to drive other parts of the mills workings. Take care now along this path as you walk back along the river from the other side. This path is narrow, muddy, slippery, and everything you didn’t want to hear! But it all adds to a fantastic experience, as you wonder back imagining what it must have been like to work in such a place – producing gunpowder too!

And yes finally, for those who are interested in any gunpowder incidents which happened at Kennall Vale click on the worldheritagecornwall.com.

It’s a great walk, will take an average able-bodied person around 45 minutes  – 1 hour to do the circuit and it certainly burn off a few mince pies. –  Just remember to leave those cigarettes in the car!

Summer in Looe -1960

Yet another great nostalgic video put together by Robert Hocking, Stuart Armfield and Oliver Harborth of footage shot in Looe in 1960. Great to see the beach so alive with people, all the entertainment for the children and people enjoying themselves on the water.

Try and spot the tall guy in the beach too!