Archive for the 'Stories' Category



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.


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!

Weathered gravestone

I love this  image which bizarrely reminds me of my childhood. I must have walked past this gravestone hundreds of times in the past, from going to sunday school, visiting family graves, cutting through the churchyard on the way home from school, going to and from friends homes and now planning our wedding which will be held at the church next year. This old grave stone dated 1826 is against the church along with a few others, probably as they have fallen over they are rested against the wall of the church in days gone by. Over the years the lichen has almost camouflaged the  slate gravestone against the granite wall of the church making you almost have to look twice at the image.

We found this gravestone in a churchyard in Gunwalloe a few months back, it’s a proper Cornish gravestone belonging to  Jane and William Cornish.

Lovely colours and great textures of Cornwall!

 

Cornwall in the headlines!


An eathquake measuring  2.2 on the richter scale hit the Bodmin area at 2.40am on the 4th December. The quake could be felt as far away as St Austell, Liskeard, Camborne, Wadebridge, Callington and Padstow.

Thankfully it was only a small tremor and nobody was hurt.

To see the full Telegraph report click here

Memories of fishermen, Polperro.

If you fancy looking at a video of Cornwall in Days gone by then take a look at this great video put together by Robert Hocking of Cornish Voices.  Great interview by  father and son Ken and Tony Pengelly reminising of tales around Polperro. More entertaining than the Only way is Essex anyday!

 

Whatever happened to the beach balls?

Ever wondered what happens to those beach balls that are not sold at the end of the season?

I doubt it has ever crossed your mind… but the shocking news it that most of them are forced to work at sea, tied in nets in confined spaces with others and thrown overboard! Left to bob up and down in the hope that one day they will be rescued.

Cornish Tribute found in Oxfordshire Public House!

What happens when a Cornish man walks (in a straight line) into an Oxfordshire Pub and sees Tribute on tap at the bar?

He leaves several hours later with a big smile on his face (in a less straight line)

That’s what happened this Saturday just gone when I was out with the Cuxham Cricket lads for our end of season supper at The Plough in Great Haseley.  I walked into the pub, said my ‘Hellos’ then went to the bar to choose a beverage. ‘Ahh, wonder what ales they have on tap’ knowing I was not in a Breakspears pub. My eyes jumped out of my head when I read  the words TRIBUTE and St Austell Brewery. So when the barmaid asked ‘what will it be? I proudly said ‘A pint of TRIBUTE please me ansome‘ .(I never said that last bit!)

So after a few more, some wine and then some port it all became a rather memorable and then later unmemorable night! Enough said!

So, What about the old Tribute? Well, I have loved Tribute for some years and without being to prejudiced it has to be one of my favourite beers. A pale ale with some zesty fruity notes it’s a great accompaniment to a meal without being too heavy or bitter.

To find out more about Tribute Ale and St Austell Brewery click here and if you are looking for a great present to send someone this Christmas then why not send them a keg or a selection of fine Cornish ales by visiting the St Austell Brewery online shop here.

 

 

 

 

 

Making a Proper Cornish Pasty

It’s that time of the year, the nights are drawing in and all we want is some comfort food. Reminiscing about that lovely holiday you had in Cornwall; strolling the streets or sitting on the beach with a pasty in your hand? Well, why not try and make your own this weekend?

Made the traditional way by my Mum for her family all her life, why not give her recipe a go. You will not find any dodgy fillings such as Stilton or chicken tikka here; just good old meat, potato, onion and swede!

So first you need to make some pastry – Cornish Housewife Tip No1 – Mum always makes her own and then freezes it as it will give you a better  texture to the pasty.

Ingredients for making Mum’s pastry

I.5 kg plain flour

500g Lard and Margarine Mix (approx 2/3 Lard and 1/3 Margarine)

Cut fat into flour and then rub together until it is similar to breadcrumbs.

Mix together with cold water until it is a firm dough consistency and set aside ready for making pasties or freeze until ready to use.

Making the Pasties

The quantities will depend on the size of the pasty you are making! These ingredients are based on an average sized pasty.

1 onion

1 piece of swede (or Turnip as we like to call it in Cornwall)

potatoes

diced beef skirt (approx 150g)

salt and pepper to season

Sprinkle flour on work surface or board. Roll out pastry to about 5mm and place a dinner plate on pastry and cut around it leaving a circle. Put rolling-pin underneath half way so half of the pastry is over the rolling-pin and the other half is flat on the work top (Cornish Housewife Tip No 2)

Add a layer of swede, a little bit of onion, finely slice potato onto the layer of onion, add layer of skirt, season with salt and pepper, add more onion and finish with a layer of potato. Fold over and crimp pastry. Coat pastry with egg to help brown in oven to give it that lovely golden colour. Cornish Housewife Tip No 3 – Pierce small hole in top for the steam to escape so the pastry does not split.

Mum always adds an initial made from pastry for each family member if any have special requirements (for example I like quite a lot of pepper in mine!)

Bake in a hot oven (220 oC) for one hour turning it back to 180 oC as it cooks, then turning it down to 150 oC  for the last 10 minutes. These timing will depend on your oven but are a rough guide to start with.

Remove the pasty from the oven and serve hot with a pickled onion and a cuppa tea!

Here is a pasty mum made for Becky a few months ago, the afore-mentioned pasty then travelled back to Oxfordshire where it was devoured.

Becky's Pasty, Why the 'R' - you had better watch the video!

And my reluctant mum let me film her making this actual pasty so the secret to her success is out there! Apologies for the ropey video and noise from the lens zoom but together with the method above it will give you a good idea of how to make one. If anyone makes one please send me a picture and I will happily showcase your efforts! mysaffronbun@gmail.com

One of the best pasty shops in Cornwall is called Ann’s Pasties and is based on the Lizard. Why not give Ann’s pasties a go by ordering some online here.

Reggie

I took this series of pictures many years ago of Reggie Ingleheart.  Reggie was the youngest of 10 children and lived on Merrymit Farm, Budock. He worked on his father’s farm and had a small market garden which he supplied various shops in Falmouth with fresh veg and flowers.

He kept a small roost of pigeons and doves which would always be circling our garden. The cotes were pretty dilapidated in his back garden and an old Morris Minor sat in the corner rotting away. One of my first projects  was photographing the villagers of Budock Water and Reggie was one of my first targets I took some great shots of him feeding his doves which I may be able to find to include in a future post.  These are a few images from a session I shot a few years later. This is just a scan from a contact sheet of pictures taken on my old Mamiya but I love his expression and the memories that come back of my childhood walking past Reggie’s house.

Anyone for a Mr Whippy?

A blast from the past tonight with a picture I took during my college days. Going around Pendennis Point for the zillionth time with my mates we  stopped off to admire the view!! I bleak day and not a soul in sight, even the ice cream seller has done a runner.


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