Tony's Tales

The tales and musings of a wartime Berrynarbor Evacuee.
by - Tony Beauclerk

Artwork: Angela Bartlett


As I stood on the car park overlooking Newberry Beach, what should I see?

Lying there, apparently without a care were two mermaids. Did I say mermaids? Yes, there were two! I clambered down to the beach to make their acquaintance and say hello.

"Hello!" one replied, and I was glad I was able to talk to them. "We are not really mermaids," Jill said, "These are just pull-on tails, held on with Velcro. I must explain to you that we are both to appear next week at the Water Show in London, so we are just getting our hands in, so to speak." What a fool I felt!

Of course, there are not really mermaids - or are there?


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Yes, I did play truant when I was at school. Not only did I play truant, but I wanted to earn some money!

There had been an honest scheme at the then Grammar School where children were given time off to help raise the potato harvest.

This being so, I thought I could take time off from school and earn some money. The going rate was 9d per hour, so I approached a local farmer on those lines, he was agreeable.

So, I was given the job of pulling mangle stumps in a field close to the road.

Very close to the road unfortunately as I was working there a bus came along. Who should be on the bus, no other than my mother! She, of course, saw me and waved as she went by.

When I got home, I can't tell you what she said!

All the best to you all at Berry!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Living in Berrynarbor through the war years, a chance of additional food was much appreciated!

It was not long before a friend of mine and I came up with a solution.We borrowed Stan Huxtable's shot fun [a twelve bore] and made for Ruggaton Farm. There were dozens of rabbits there and it was possible to shoot two at a time!

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

We took plenty home and the way to have them was to cut them in pieces, boil, and fry in butter.You say BUTTTER in war time!Well, we had a friend in the Air Force at Chivenor who could 'borrow' a bit of that!

Rabbits are coming back despite myxomatosis and near Ipswich there is a colony on a roundabout.I suppose their survival is assured as it would be too dangerous to use a shot gun there.Pretty little things, aren't they?

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Illustration by: Paul Swailes

Widow Mary Kemp lived on her own in a semi-detached house in Marlow. Next door was Ted Hanbury, a lay about. He had not worked for some time and was living on State Benefits.

One day Mary went to her fridge to get some milk to make herself a cup of tea. "I'm sure I had more milk than this, and the piece of ham seems smaller," she thought.

As the days went by, she often noticed food was missing from the fridge and told her son, he said he would think about it. Think about it he did! Soon he had come up with the answer. He remembered that last time he was in her roof, seeing to a connection for her television, he noticed that there was no continuing wall between the two homes.

"I know," he thought, "Ted must be coming into the roof by his own roof top and coming down the trap to my mother's." "Mother," he said, "You go out and do you shopping as I have something to do." Off she went and her son got busy. He simply fixed bolts to the trap and said to himself, "that's that!"

The result? Well, no more missing food and a very sheepish looking Ted!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Have you ever had one of those pictures of someone when wherever you are in a room, the eyes seem to be looking at you? Well, Bob and Jane Seymour had one.

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

Jane was in the garden pulling out a few weeds. Bob was in an armchair in the sitting room when he noticed Jane had left her handbag on the chair. Her handbag was open and her diary was there. "I think I'll have a look at that," he thought! [Ooops!]

He opened the diary and read, "Met Ben, he's lovely." Then he read next, "Kissed Ben and gave him a cuddle." "What's going on?" Bob thought. "Surely she is not being disloyal to me. I'll wait until she makes a mistake!"

The next day Jane said to him, "I want you to meet Ben. "My giddy aunt", thought Bob, "Whatever next?"

The next day she brought Ben home. Ben proved to be a loveable Labrador pup and as soon as he saw Bob, he jumped on his lap giving him lots of kisses on his face.

"Oh, I'm so glad I waited to know about Ben! I'm so glad I waited to find out." he thought.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

If the subject of a portrait or photograph is looking at the artist/photographer, their eyes will automatically follow that person wherever they are!


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Fred and May were a young couple living in Brentwood in a small rented house. Whilst Fred worked as a carpenter, May stayed at home looking after the house. One day Fred arrived home with a settee. One of his customers had given it to him as they no longer had room for it.

Saturday afternoon duly arrived and he got out his tools to start work. He had only just removed half of the covering when he opened his eyes in amazement, it was largely stuffed with paper money!

They went to the shops the next day and bought a coat. May looked grand in it. Nevertheless, there was still quite a bit of money left over.

They went along to the pet shop and jokingly, Fred said,

Anyway, they bought a little pup which they called Rover. He stayed with them a long time giving them both great pleasure and leaving them with many happy memories in the years to come.

They say "A dog is man's best friend!"

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


When Mary and John were much younger it was their idea to buy a plot of land and design and have built for them, their own house. They were lucky as they thought that there seemed to be an ideal plot advertised in a Billericay paper. It measured fifty feet of frontage with a depth of one hundred and fifty feet.

They consulted the owner who was a dear old gentleman who asked for a ten per cent deposit, which they gave him and then he took them around his back garden pointing out some bulbs and cuttings which he would give them later to set up their own garden.

Mr. Sams, as he was known, showed them a plan, stamped by the local council and passed by the local planning department - later to prove false.

All was well, until they contacted their solicitor.

A few days later, there was a letter from him, complete with the appropriate cheque enclosed.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Jennie Brooks, who had a riding horse, was in her van and on her way back from a farm where she had just bought two bales of hay. Suddenly, what does she see sitting beside her on the passenger seat? Why, nothing but a huge rat!

Jennie was used to small mice showing themselves but this was a bit much. By now she was on the motorway and was unable to stop but fortunately she was able to get back to her stables. The rat sat fast, so what to do now?

Call her sister Joan who lived with her! Her mobile 'phone was handy so she gave her a call.

"Hello" said Jennie. "Can you please bring Ginger the cat to the yard outside. Don't question, but do as I ask. Joan grabbed the cat and went to the van. "What do you want me to do?" she asked. "Just throw Ginger in through the van window."

Joan did as she was told and, in less time than you could say "Jack Robinson", the cat grabbed the rat and it was dead in a moment.

"I think that deserves a drink!" said Jennie. "Agreed!" replied Joan.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


When Betty and I lived at Billericay, we understood that there was a water main which ran through our back garden. We got in touch with the local water authority who said they would come out to look at the matter.

Their official turned up bringing with him a couple of detectors. Well, they were in fact, two pieces of coat hanger, about a foot in length with about three inches bent at a right angle!

The man started walking up and down our garden with the two pieces of wire pointing straight ahead.

Presently, the wires parted, pointing left and right.

"That's where your water main is" said the man.

Probes were put down into the wet clay soil and sure enough, the pipe was found.

If you suspect any pipes running through your garden or even the mains pipe coming into your house, then try this method. It will make a bit of fun anyway! I think it's some sort of magnetism.

By the way, I was given a boomerang by an aunt. How do I get rid of it?

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett



The Headmaster of a small, private school, Prime College, used to have pupils back to his house for special tuition when taking exams.

He would leave the key to his home under a stone so that if he was late to come in, the boys could let themselves in and sit and wait for him to arrive.

However, two boys, Brian and Vic, knew that on that afternoon he would be attending a fete, so they decided to go and have a look in his house.

They let themselves in and saw a large punnet of ripe strawberries on the kitchen table. The temptation was too great! They scoffed the lot and left.

The next morning at assembly the Headmaster demanded that Brian and Vic attend his study.

"I have brought you here to punish you for taking my strawberries." he said.

"Sorry, Sir" the lads said together. "But how did you know it was us?"

"Well you both have strawberry juice down your shirt fronts." the Headmaster replied.

"I think six of the best for both of you." And with that he took out his cane and justice was done.


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Widow Viv Niven was enjoying herself doing a bit of weeding in her back garden. When she finished, she went indoors to wash her hands. Alas, she found that her wedding ring had come off, where could it be?

She immediately went back to the bed she had been weeding to see if it was there, but there was no sign.

Bob, her son, was due home soon and perhaps he would have better luck. However, no matter how hard he looked, he could not find the ring. After a lot of searching everywhere with no luck, it looked as though ring was lost for ever.

By chance, Viv was concerned about the height of a poplar tree which had branches too close to her upstairs windows. "Something will have to be done about that," she said to herself.

The following week-end she said to Bob, "Do you think you could do something about that tree, it's getting too big. I think it should come down."

By chance, Bob had a chain saw and was soon at work. The tree luckily fell on their lawn, so nothing was damaged.

"Look," said Bob to his mother, "There's a bird's nest in it. I wonder if there are any eggs?"

To his surprise there were no eggs but lo and behold, there was his mother's ring.

"It must have been a magpie or jackdaw that picked it up and dropped it in the nest. All's well that ends well," he thought as he cut up the smaller branches.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I have always been interested in the theatre and can remember in the war years visiting the Victoria Pavilion where there was a variety of shows with all the well-known names of the time. It was a good theatre that doubled as a dance hall.

Across the road, above the shops, was another hall which I understand had dances, although I never actually attended them.

The Alexandra Theatre was another venue for shows, plays and dancing, although the floor was a little up and downhill!

Now, to get to the photograph. This is of me with Jimmy Cricket. Comedian Jimmy [James Mulgrew (1945)] has an unusual way of putting things: A lady said "Can you see me across the road?" I said, "Go over the road and I'll have a look."

Another was: A man knocked on my door and said "I'm your new neighbour." I said, "I didn't know I'd moved."

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Television goes back quite a long way. I can remember early demonstrations just before world War II, although it was stopped in wartime.

It was such a novelty that people who wished to view were advised to set up as follows: Children should sit cross-legged in a row at the front. Next should be a row of dining chairs and lastly people standing at the back

It was, of course, in black and white and on a 9-inch screen. The picture was made up of 405 lines and not very bright. Later, colour came in and now much larger screens.

My illustration shows how I projected my own TV for a bigger picture.

A TV engineer put switches on the TV which inverted and mirror-imaged the picture. This was all put right when it reached the screen. You had to sit in a darkened room.

In the early days, television require an 'H' aerial and those people who could not afford a television put one up just to boast - keeping up with the Jones's I think you would call it!

Nowadays, we have huge screens, flat screens and not forgetting 625 lines. What comes next, I wonder?

I've just turned the television on, so I'm off for a sleep!

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I go back to the 'forties when my school days were at Ilfracombe Grammar School.

There was a report that one of the pupils, who lived at Woolacombe, heard, late at night, a dog barking. Upon getting out of bed and getting dressed, he realised that the dog was stranded on a rock and the only way to save it was to swim out and get it. This, he bravely did and was commended by the Headmaster, Mr. Tatton, the following day.

Our next hero was - if I remember right - a Peter Lattimer who lived at Combe Martin. A boy had fallen down the Camel's Eye and Peter volunteered to do down and rescue him. A rope was lowered and Peter went down, bringing the boy, who I believe had minor injuries, to safety.

The next heroes were the fishermen of Combe Martin. They took their boat out into the Bristol Channel regardless of the danger of mines, which could break loose from their moorings, and German submarines. Despite this they would bring back a catch of rock salmon, herrings and pollock. These they sold straight from their boat for 1d or 2d each. I recently paid £8.50 for one very large cooked plaice! Still, it is some 70 years later!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tony [and Betty] Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


We'll meet again - so sang Vera Lynn during World War II, the six and a half years of my life spent in North Devon, Berrynarbor to be precise.

In that time, I went to Ilfracombe Grammar School and it was there that I met Don Blake.We became great pals and spent a lot of time together.Some of this time was a bit naughty as we did a little bit of scrumping, and things like that!

However, when the war was over, all the evacuees went their own ways back home. Don returned to Wanstead and I to Upminster.I lost touch with him, but not for long.

I had joined a tennis club and one day I was talking to another member about my years in Devon.

In 1954, Betty and I married and went to live at Gidea Park. One day, when I had to attend the doctor for some minor complaint, I saw a gentleman whom I recognised. It was Mr. Nicholls, who was my English master at Ilfracombe Grammar School. Soon he was chatting to me about old times in a rather loud voice.

My last tale is of Pamela or Beryl Horrell, who had moved back after the war to, I believe, Hammersmith.

One day, Betty and I were near a caravan site at Point Clear in Essex. There was a woman watching her two boys playing on swings. "I know her," I thought, and sure enough it was Beryl. By now she had married and had a family. Betty and I invited them all to lunch and we spent a very pleasant time talking over old times.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett




Illustrations: Paul Swailes

Fred Stokes worked at a bank. He was not very happy with his pay and began to think about how he might improve his lot by some devious mean. He knew how to make bombs as he had been taught this at school. One day an idea came to him, to make a bomb with a timer which he would put in the bank's strong-room.

If timed correctly, this would blow a hole in the strong-room wall giving access from the street outside, from which he would hope to fill his pockets with the bank's money!

He went ahead, making the bomb and timer, and when it was clear and the time right, he placed it in the strong-room.

"Morning Stokes," said the Manager. "Lovely day for you today, as I have some good news. Next week I am going to retire and you are being promoted to Manager in my place. Of course, your salary will be increased accordingly."

"Thank you very much," replied Fred and then he thought, "Heck, I've got to get that bomb out of the strong-room."

At last came the day when he was able to get the bomb out of the bank and take it home. The time for the bomb to go off had gone by, so things were not quite right! He put it in his garden shed and thought, "There must be a fault in the timer."

A week later, at about midnight, there was a huge explosion. He looked out of his bedroom window to see his garden shed ablaze. "I wonder what has caused that?" his neighbour shouted to him. "I just don't know," Fred lied, but of course he did!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Widow Mary Green and her two daughters, Jean and Maureen, had at last saved enough money to have a week's holiday in Weymouth. They had booked in to a cheap but cheerful bed and breakfast and spent most days down on the beach, the girls paddling and building sand castles.

One day, as Jean and Maureen were making one of their castles, and digging the moat, they came across a brooch. It was no ordinary brooch but had many colourful and shiny stones, diamonds, rubies and pearls.

    "Mummy, mummy," they cried together, "Look what we've found!"

Mary took one look and said, "Wash it off in your bucket. Now children, we'll take it to the Police Station." So off they went.

The Station Sergeant took one look and immediately said, "This belongs to Lady Groves, who live in that big house on the hill. Look, you can see it from here. Take it to her now, I'm sure she will be very pleased."

They made their way to the big house and knocked on the door which was opened by a man who was the butler.

    "Please sir, we have a brooch which we believe belongs to Lady Groves," said Mary. "I'll take it to her ladyship." said the man, closing the door.

    "Well, I don't know!" exclaimed Mary to the children, who were equally aghast. But the door opened again and the man, known as James, said "You had better come in."

    "Hello," said a charming lady who they realised was Lady Groves. "I understand you have found my long-lost brooch. It is worth a lot of money and of great sentimental value as it was given to me by my late husband."

The family were led into a back room and invited to sit down. It was large and had a grand piano. Looking out of the window they could see a tennis court and beyond that stables.

Lady Groves addressed them, saying "After we have had tea and cakes, I'll show you around."

After they had enjoyed the tea and cakes, Lady Groves took them into the garden, showing them first the tennis lawn and then the stables.

    "Would you two girls like a ride on my ponies?! invited Lady Groves.
    "Oh yes please." "Then go with James and he will fix you up," replied Lady Groves.

Off the children went with James and in no time two ponies were saddled up and the two girls were led around the field by James.


Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Mary, Jean and Maureen were later shown into a large, comfortable bedroom with one large and two single beds. How kind Lady Groves was and even invited them to come again next year.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

A Slight Muddle:


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


It was night time and two burglars had just robbed a bungalow in the small village in Essex. The Police had been called and arrived just as they drove off.

The men involved were Simon and Brian Brown who had also stolen the get-away car for the occasion. But as soon as they set off, the street lights went out.

    "Put the car lights on," said Simon.
    "I can't," replied Brian, "They won't work!"

Fortunately for them, there was a hazy moonlight, so off they went.

    "Turn left here," shouted Simon, "We'll have to get as far away as possible, until the hue and cry dies down."

So they took turning after turning.

    "What did you do with the bag we put the loot in?"
    "I gave it to you," Brian replied.
    "I put it by the boot of the car but forgot to pick it up," replied Simon.

It seemed as though they would have been better staying at home!

Anyway. it was pretty dark and they brought the car to a rest. At this moment the street lights came on again.

Where were they? Believe it or not they had arrived right alongside the Police car.

    "We've been looking for you," said the Sergeant. "Thank you for giving yourselves up."
    "No problem." said the lads in turn as they were handcuffed.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Mr. and Mrs. Fellows lived in a little cottage on the edge of Exmoor with their two children, Jane and Fred.

Bill Fellows had been out of work for some time due to a bad back, and Jill, his wife, had a part-time job as a dinner lady at the local school.

It was Christmas Eve and they could not afford any presents, although they were a united family and happy. It would soon be Christmas Day and would things be any better?

It had started to snow and the next morning, lo and behold, there were lots of presents by the fire.

How did this happen?

Well, when they looked out there were footprints from the road to their cottage. A ladder was leaning against the chimney and there were also sledge marks and reindeer footprints in the snow.

The footprints stopped some way up the road as though who else but Father Christmas had taken to the skies.

Happy Christmas everyone!


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Len Smith was about to walk past a 'phone box when he decided to give his girlfriend a ring. He entered the box and tool out his wallet and put it on the shelf. He could never remember his girlfriend's number and would always have to look it up in his diary.

He had a chat with her and left the telephone box with his wallet and diary still on the shelf.

The next day Mrs. Mary Norris went to the 'phone box and discovered the wallet and diary.

Mary was a bit forgetful and it was two days later when she remembered the wallet and diary.

Arriving at the Police Station she handed the wallet and diary to the Station Sergeant who took them saying, "I'll put them in the lost property box for now, someone is bound to call in for them later."

However, a week went by and no-one called to collect them.

In the diary was a list of roads and house numbers.

Too late was the simple answer. Len Smith had left the country two days earlier. All was not lost, however, when the police read of his addresses in France. The French Police caught up with Len and he was tried and convicted and sentenced to seven years for his offences - and he is still in jail!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


In my story there are two pairs of twins. The first pair, Jean and Mary, lived in a fine house, more like a castle, up on the hill. The family ran a large lending business and appeared very prosperous, with all the right expensive cars, personalised number plates, etc.

The other twins were Jane and Maureen. Now Maureen was a very ordinary girl who was not wishing for anything in particular in life. However, Jane was inclined to be a social climber and wanted to get to know Jean and Mary in the posh house.

Jane would see Jean and Mary in the street and get into conversation with them. A friendship developed and it was not long before Jane, Jean and Mary became firm friends, with Jane spending quite a lot of time at the big house.

Maureen looked on with amusement, but did not want to be involved.

The threesome friendship lasted for some time until one day Maureen said to her sister

For the young:

  1. What is the name of the river that runs out on the main Combe Martin beach?
  2. What is the name of the river at Berrynarbor?
  3. What is the name of the river at Ilfracombe?
  4. What does an auctioneer hold in his hand?
  5. How high is a Chairman?
  6. If you eat an apple, which is worse, finding a maggot in it or half a maggot?
  7. Why did the chewing gum cross the road?

Answers on page 44

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Down in Cornwall many years ago, there in a little village lived a woman by the name of Sally Brown. She was thought, by the local people, to be a witch.

Things happened which were blamed on her, although they were not her fault.

All the produce on one man's allotment failed. But this was due to a jealous fellow allotment holder, who didn't win prizes at the local show, putting weed killer in the man's water barrel.

She was thought to have cursed a field that would not grow much. The truth here was that the farmer never fertilised the field.

Sally was also said to be able to wish away warts, although they can, of course, go of their own accord.

In those times, it was not uncommon to burn witches at the stake.

The local church minister, the Reverend John Smith, felt sorry for Sally and did not want her to come to harm, so he contacted her and made this suggestion:

"If you come to live with me, I shall dress you as a monk and say you are staying with me while the monastery is being refurbished."

This she did and everyone accepted the situation.

After a while, the Reverend was transferred to another parish. They married and settled down together. Sally was no witch!

There was an old man of Blackheath
Who sat on his set of false teeth.
He arose with a start
And said "Lord, bless my heart,
I've bitten myself underneath."

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Berrynarbor: It is now 72 years since I lived in the village. The six and a half years spent there were very enjoyable, ones which I shall always remember. I was drawn back for holidays later and retraced my steps to those days.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Although we don't have a dog now due to our ages, being unable to exercise them, we have had the enjoyment of their company for many years in the past.

Our first little dog was Mandy and we bought her for two pounds in Romford Market. She was said to be a cross between a cairn and a spaniel but was more like Heinz 57 Varieties! I trained her to walk to heel, sit at the kerb and trust me. That is to say, I would leave her just over the brow of a hill and walk away, when she could not see me until I called her. One day when we had the radio on, there was a brass band playing and Mandy decided to join in with a howl! After that we managed to train her to sing to order and friends would be amused as they could say, "Come on, Mandy, sing us a little song" - and she would. On one occasion she got too close to our pet rabbit and it bit her on the nose, leaving a scar.

Sadly, Mandy died having an operation. Two weeks later the vet rang us to say she had a Labrador bitch and four pups to put down and might we like to come and see them. When we arrived, the vet came out with a bundle of pups, some with fluffy bottoms up. Guess what? We now had a Labrador pup.


What to call her? It was a puzzle to know. So we called her Puzzle.

She is the one in the picture. Like most Labradors, she liked swimming and I would take her on long walks down to Goldhanger, near Maldon [in Essex] to the river Blackwater, where we both enjoyed a swim.

At a certain time of the tide, mud flats form in islands. Throwing a stick on to one of these, Puzzle would plunge in, swim across, search for the stick and bring it back - what lovely fun! Puzzle lived a long, active and good life.

Our eldest son worked off-shore and we looked after his Labrador, Bonny, every time he worked away. Eventually he gave her to us, but sadly we lost her to cancer.


Our next dog, another Labrador, was very difficult to train - we almost gave up! However, after a while we got through to her and she became a lovely dog. Her name was Bessie. She was very intelligent and I only had to say, "My feet are killing me," and she would go off and get a slipper. I would then say, "I have got two feet you know!" At that she would fetch the other one. At the sight of her comb in my hand, she would jump up on a bench outside to be groomed.

They were happy days leaving lovely memories.


Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


In the early days of cinema, known as animated photography, very short films were shown at travelling fairs. These were very short but had such novelty that seeing a train rush at you would send some people rushing outside in fright!

The early cinemas were often comprised of a couple of shops knocked together into one.But soon it was realised that cinemas were to have a wealthy future.

Fine buildings were constructed allowing for dressing rooms in case live shows were required.

Before the advent of sound recorded on film, other methods of synchronisation were tried. Gramophone records hopefully played in synch was one method, until someone jogged it and it jumped a groove or two.

Of course, early films had no sound, so some of the larger cinemas had orchestras, the smaller ones had a pianist and eventually an organist.

When true sound came in, some proprietors said "It'll never last", and would not instal a sound system - they went bust.Cinemas sprang up everywhere, even in small villages.

Stratford had ten cinemas but probably the largest and finest was the State at Kilburn, seating over 4,000 people.

[The Gaumont State Cinema is a Grade II* listed Art Deco theatre located in Kilburn, a district in northwest London. Designed by George Coles and opened in 1937, the Gaumont State was one of the biggest auditoria in europe, with seating for 4,004 people.] 

Before the advent of television, cinemas were often packed, with people queuing outside waiting to get in to the next show.Cinemas ran continuously from about half-past one in the afternoon until about ten o'clock.Shows lasted about three hours and would comprise of a main film, a supporting film, cartoon and a news reel.

Before the show started, the screen would have beautiful changing lights which would be almost an art form.

In my time in Devon [1939-1946], there were two cinemas in Ilfracombe. One was in the main street, called The Scala [later the Clifton] and was purpose built. It had a proper balcony and was quite pleasant, though not elaborate.

The other was called The New Cinema in Northfield Road. A converted hall, it had a built-in projection box and about four steps up to the balcony!

Getting back to the Scala, this happened to me. I went there in the afternoon. However, there was a notice to say the advertised film had not arrived so they would be showing a substitute, which I sat through. Anyway, at the end of this, the proper film show arrived, so I sat through that as well - six hours, how's that!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


The sketch of the Scala and photograph of it later as the Clifton Cinema, and the photograph of the New Cinema are reproduced by kind permission of Ilfracombe Museum.



Artwork: Angela Bartlett

For younger readers and those young at heart


Do you remember our mermaid friend Marina who swam about the beaches of Combe Martin, Sandy Cove and Broadsands? She would often spend the night in that little cave at Broadsands.

Well, Marina had a little cousin who lived at Swansea across the Bristol Channel in Wales. Her cousin was called Seagal and was a pretty little mermaid with fair hair.

Now, Marina had not seen her cousin for quite a while and so she decided to swim across the channel to see her so they could talk about old times and have some fun together.

The sun was shining and it was going to be a fine day, so off she set.

    "Marina," he asked, "Where are you going and what are you doing here?"
    "Well, I'm going to see my cousin at Swansea."She replied.
    "Jolly good," said the whale, "Jump on my back and I'll take you the rest of the way."
    "Oh, that would be lovely, you are so kind."

They soon arrived at Swansea where Seagal was waiting for her. She told Marina that she had got her usual dolphin race arranged for the next day.

The slept together on a beach until the next morning when lo and behold, their dolphin friends were just a few years out treading water as though they were standing.

The mermaid wiggled their way down the beach into the water and had soon climbed on to the dolphins' backs. The race was to be around a nearby island and back.

    "One, two, three, go," called Marina and off they sped.

Marina's dolphin was the fastest and she won the race with ease.

    "Well done!" said Seagal, "Now I have a lovely meal for you.
    "It's so good to be with you," Marina replied.

The meal consisted of scallops, mussels, oysters, welks and winkles, dressed with a seaweed sauce.

The next morning, it was time for Marina to return to her cave at Broadsands, but it was a long way home and would make her very tired. Soon she spotted what must have been one of the few coal boats taking coal across from Swansea to Ilfracombe. Trailing behind it was a rope and Marina was able to grab hold of it. Her journey home was much quicker and as soon as she spotted the white coastguard houses, she let go of the rope and swam back to the shore.

What a lovely time she had had, and it had been so nice to see her cousin again.


Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler-Cook

. . . and now for a junior mini quiz:

  1. What is twice the half of seven and five eights?
  2. Every day a man runs once around the recreation ground. One day he gets short of breath so turns around at the halfway point. When he gets back how far has he run?
  3. [a] Twice as far [b] half as far [c] the same
  4. What is 1/6th of 60?
  5. What is the Westminster clock known as?
  1. In which direction if the north star?
  2. What are your father's brother's children known as?
  3. On which river do the Houses of Parliament stand?
  4. What sound do sheep make?
  5. What is the name of the mint with a hole?
  6. How many wheels does a tricycle have?

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Note: The answers to Tony's mini quiz are given in Edition 171, further on.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


When your children play you up, the law says you must not slap them, but there are other ways to get around this. The following have been told to me by frustrated parents.

On one occasion when his children played up, they were sent to their bedrooms. The kids thought, 'What a good idea, we can play on our computers or watch television.' Not so! Father pulled out the appropriate fuses and lo! darkness - no computer, no television!


Another dad related the following. His children kept slamming doors. Despite numerous requests for them not to do so, they continued.

The answer? He took the doors off their bedrooms and the bathroom and stood them in the garage for a week. Of course, out came the usual cry, "It's not fair!"

"That's your problem," said the dad, "Your mother and I have an en suite."

Another way is limiting pocket money or stopping taking them to school in the car. Whoops, I may have trodden on a few corns here, but the walk would do them good!

A punishment which amused me some thirty years ago was this. Some vandals in Ilfracombe took picnic seats and table from a pub. The police had watched this on their closed-circuit TV. They waited until the vandals had got as far as Hele, then intercepted them and made them carry them all the way back to the pub. The culprits didn't do that again!


However, punishments can go wrong. In the days when most people smoked a man kept a bottle of lighter fuel to fill his cigarette lighter. This refined petrol could also be used for cleaning grease or other marks off clothes and the man's daughter would pinch his lighter fuel for this, leaving the bottle empty. The father took his revenge by putting water in the lighter fuel bottle.

Need I say, he forgot he had done this and filled his lighter with water!

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Way back on 10th November 1928 Berrynarbor experienced the extraordinary sight of a large bat. As soon as dusk occurred, it would fly about the village.

With a wingspan of well over 12 inches, it would dive on women, momentarily landing on their heads and biting them, who would try to brush it off and screaming rush in to the nearest house.

There seemed no way to stop it.

A meeting, at Fred Watson's house, was called for anyone to attend.

The idea of shooting was mentioned, but this was not suitable as not everyone could carry a gun. Netting, again was not practicable. Finally, it was suggested that everyone should carry a stick.

This was the best idea and so many villagers made walking sticks from hedges or small trees.

Now Ginger Harris, who was walking home up Birdswell Lane late one evening, was attacked but fortunately he was carrying a stick and knocked it to the ground. It unsuccessfully tried to fly again, but Ginger hit it again and killed it. He went home and got a spade and buried it in Birdswell Lane.

Readers should bear in mind that it is against the law to kill bats these days.


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu,
when someone smiled at me today I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner, and someone saw me grin,
when he smiled I realised, I'd passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile, and realised its worth,
a single smile like mine, could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, don't leave it undetected,
let's start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected.


I remember, I remember
The house where I was born.
But now I might just forget,
Because they've pulled it down.
I remember, I remember
The schools I went to.
Again, they've gone
Demolished for something new.
I remember, I remember?
It's getting rather late.
I'm 88.
But this time I've forgotten!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Charles Monrile was born in the little Essex village of Stebbing. He went to a small, private school in the village and later to a local grammar school, where he was always made fun of by the other boys and often felt very downcast.

On leaving school he took a job at a stockbroker's. He marvelled at the way shares could rise and fall very rapidly. He saw clients make or lose a fortune in a day or even within a few hours.

Charles said to himself, "One day, I shall make a fortune out of shares." He worked for this firm for about three years and then decided to have a go on his own. He soon found appropriate premises in London and was gradually able to build up a fair clientele.His commissions brought in a good income and one client in particular was Ann Cross. She was beautiful and responded to his courting. They were soon going out together and he learned that she was extremely wealthy.

After a while, business became less and this worried him. What should he do?

A client deposited a large sum of money with him and asked him to purchase a huge number of shares in a certain company. When the client asked him later had he bought the shares, he lied and said "Yes". In fact he had spent it on Ann Cross by buying her two horses for her carriage as well as champagne.

He soon realised what a fool he had been and that he would never be able to put his client's money back, whom he knew would soon have the police after him!

He confided everything to Ann who, because she loved him so much, said she would help him to get out of the country for a while and later see how things would settle down. It was decided he should go to Madrid in Spain.

"Take lots of my jewellery," said Ann. "Fill your pockets as you will have no time to get the right currencies."

Charles lost no time in getting away. He bribed two men with a fishing boat to take him across the channel and once in France he boarded a train - without paying - to take him towards Spain.

After a few days, sometimes sleeping rough, he was within sight of Madrid He had been there for a week when word got round that this man always pays you in diamonds or gold jewellery.

Soon the local police got to know of this and they took him to the station to question him. They soon realised that he was the Charles Monrile wanted for embezzlement. He was arrested and put in prison to await being sent back to England.

Once back in England, he was tried at the County Court and sent to prison for eighteen months. He was also made bankrupt. Ann knew all about this and as soon as he was free, invited him to go and live with her.

She loved him so much that she would give him anything he wanted. "How about a large house?" she asked. "Oh! I should love that" he replied. Soon they were living in fine style - fine carriages, fine clothes, servants, beautiful gardens. But there was one more thing that Charles wanted. That was a family crest or coat of arms. When he found out that a real coat of arms or crest would have to be registered with the College of Arms, he said, "I'm going to have one anyway!"

He found out that you can have a kind of secondary crest, so he had one made by a jewellery firm. He later adored himself with it on his walking stick, his coach and even on his house.

He thought back to his school days;"If they could see me now!"

Charles and Ann got married. Ann died in 1922 and Charles in 1936.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I was ten years old when we arrived at Berrynarbor in 1939. Seventy years ago.

This meant that all my friends in Upminster - my home town - were left behind and I had to start making new ones.

The house in Barton Lane was a fine, 4-bedroomed one looking across to Hagginton Hill; and to the right a good view of the Bristol Channel. Left was the North Lee area.

Well, what a wonderful place to spend the next six and a half years! Although only ten years old, I was sent to Ilfracombe Grammar School and as I have mentioned before, this was an educational disaster. However, I did make some good friends; among them was Bob Brecher, Don Blake, and John [whistle] Stevens.

Attending school in the early days of the war we had to carry gas masks. It was interesting to learn many years later that the filters contained asbestos!

Rationing for food and clothing began and the blackout started and you could be fined if you showed a light as this might attract the German planes that could drop their bombs. Travel in those days meant bus, bike or on foot.

The latter was always interesting with a nice walk up the Sterridge Valley to the very sharp bend at the end where you could follow the river and see otters and deer.

Then you could go down to Watermouth. In those days there were no caravan sites and perhaps only a single boat moored in the cove.

Here we could catch little elvers in the stream that ran out on to the beach.

Going on into Combe Martin there were, of course, the Hangman Hills and it was good to come up from Little Hangman beach to a nice small cafe where you might be refreshed with a lemonade or cup of tea, with, if you were lucky, a cake. I understand that this cafe is long since gone as is the one that used to be on Newberry beach.

Before I go on to the bike and cycling, I must mention perhaps one of the most beautiful views, that is from what is now Napps Caravan site. To your right you can see Combe Martin and the Hangman Hills; straight ahead, on a clear day, is Wales, and to your left Watermouth.

Getting our bikes out, a friend and I would cycle to Barnstaple and hire a boat to row up the river to a bridge and back followed perhaps by a walk around the lovely park. I also recall cycling to Woolacombe, again with a friend, and seeing that posts had been driven into the beach at regular intervals to stop the German planes from landing. A good place for a swim, but never out of your depth.

Ilfracombe was not far to ride, with its Tunnels Beach, Victoria Pavilion [now gone] and fine harbour. There were two cinemas, the Scala and the New Cinema. There was the Alexandra Hall where plays were presented and dances. I recall dancing was a little uphill and down dale as the floor sloped!

When the war was over, those who had gone to the North Devon area away from the cities left to go back to their previous homes, if they hadn't been bombed, and so tended to lose touch with wartime friends. However, I did stumble across Beryl [sometimes known as Pam Horrell] at St. Osyth. She, her husband and children came to lunch with us in later years at Colchester. I also kept in touch with Don Blake who had moved back to Wanstead.

Sadly, I have reached that age when travel is too much but memories are great and I can recall many happy times in your lovely area.

Best wishes and luck to all you who live in that wonderful village.

Illustrations: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I write about hedgehogs because they are on the decline and I feel that we can all do something to save them.

The way they die is very sad and because of their prickles, they can't always reverse out of situations. For instance, under a shed and in a corner they cannot go backwards due to the ratchet effect of their spines.

Another hazard is garden ponds. They fall in and cannot climb out. A piece of wood from the water by the side would avoid this, and don't use slug pellets!

Then, of course, we have carnage on the roads and the risk of them perishing in a bonfire.

Well, here are a few ways we can help.

Make sure there is a good sized hole in your garden fencing. Hedgehogs can visit up to twelve gardens. Do not use pesticides as they eat worms, beetles and slugs.

Put out small, shallow bowls of water. Apart from liking pet [cat] food, the garden centres now sell special hedgehog food. They soon take to this and if you put some out at night, they will soon appear.

Never give milk to hedgehogs as they are lactose intolerant.

Usually solitary, hedgehogs only pair up to mate. When mating, they often make loud snuffling noises. The male circles the female, sometimes for hours, to persuade her to mate. They will separate thereafter and the male takes no part in rearing the family. The young are called hoglets.

The litters are from one to eleven and they stay with their mother for up to seven weeks. Predators can be male hedgehogs.

If you worry a nest, the mother may eat her young or move them elsewhere. The young are blind for thirty-two days and their spines are soft. Late comers are unlikely to survive the winter.

After four weeks, the family will emerge and soon after they will go their own separate ways.

We bought a little hedgehog house and within four hours it was being investigated. Dry leaves inside are a good idea. Take care, hedgehogs have lots of fleas!

So there we have it. Please do your best to help our prickly friends.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Of course, this is the question being asked at this time of year.

Firstly I'll go back to my childhood when after my father died in 1936 when I was six, my good half-brother Gerald [30 years older than me] did his best to please us at Christmas time.

For Christmas that year he took our family to stay at Newhaven, not far from Brighton, where there were some wonderful pantomimes.

These shows somehow worked with such acts as trapeze artists, conjurors, tight rope walkers and so on. There were so many acts thrown in that you almost lost the plot - wonderful days when every theatre had a full orchestra!

These pantomimes were always clean fun and very suitable for all the family. Brighton also had a skating rink where you could hire skates and rush around like mad. Although in later life I learned to do the skaters' waltz!

In 1937 the whole family were again taken away, to Seaford. This time there was a considerable snowfall. Gerald lost no time going to the local carpenter's shop and got us a toboggan made.

Seaford Head was the place we headed for next. A very good slope with the land rising towards the cliff edge, meaning the risk of going over was limited! The snow was just right and to make the day, Father Christmas was there with his sleigh. My mother, sister, Gerald and I had a wonderful time!

So now, what about Christmas this year?

Well, as each part of my family will have their own Christmas dinner, I thought instead of a Christmas dinner get-together. We shall, for a complete change, go to a Chinese restaurant where you pay just one sum and you can eat as much as you like - no doggy bags allowed though!

Oh, just one more of my memories. After the war, I decided to have a holiday Christmas in Devon. I stayed with a friend, by the name of Bob Becker, in Combe Martin. His parents had invited lots of his family to Christmas dinner and most of them had huge appetites and later they all fell asleep in the front room trying, I think, to out snore each other.

So much for me.

I wish all you good people of Berrynarbor a lovely Christmas with happy family get-togethers. I hope you will have made your own paper chains!

My best wishes to you all for a Happy and Prosperous New Year and after all the presents and get-togethers, please don't forget the real reason why we have Christmas.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Jean and Fred North were now retired and had just moved into a two- down three-up semi-detached house in Llandrewdrig just north of Aberystwyth in Wales.

The house was in good decorative order and did not need painting inside or out. The back garden had a nice lawn and beyond that a little vegetable plot.

However, the one thing they had always wanted was a fish pond.

"Well," said Fred, "Where do you think I should dig the hole for our fish pond and what shape?" he asked.

"How about down near the bottom of the lawn," Joan replied.

"OK, I'll start tomorrow," said Fred and the next day made an early start.

He carefully removed the turf from an area of about seven foot by four and put it on one side thinking he might use it elsewhere.

"This is a heavy soil" he thought and by lunch time had only gone down about a foot.

He resumed his dig in the afternoon and shortly his neighbour, Mr. Robinson, leant over the fence and said, "I'm your new neighbour, nice to meet you." They chatted for a while and got along well.

As he had not got his pond deep enough, Fred resumed the next day.

"Phew! It's hard work," Fred said to himself and he stopped for a rest and mopped his brow. Later, skimming his spade over the surface, he exclaimed "Hello, what's this?" as he gently scraped away it turned out to be a bone.

"Oh, my goodness," he though, "It looks like a human bone!"

He took a hand trowel and gradually he revealed a complete skeleton. What on earth was he to do? He ran indoors to tell Jean who was aghast at what he told her.

After a good strong cup of tea and a lot of pondering, they decided to tell the police. It was not long before they heard the wailing of a police car and a sergeant and constable arrived.

After seeing the hole with the bones in it, the police asked, "How long have you lived here?" Jean and Fred assured them that they had only just moved in and knew nothing of what had been found.

"Never the less, we should like your passport just to be on the safe side, though you are not suspects," the sergeant remarked.

It was only a short time before the police erected a tent around the hole and told Jean and Fred that the bones would be removed for forensic tests. In due course this was done.

A day or two later Mr. Robinson was there to have a chat over the fence and Fred explained what had happened and asked him if he had any ideas on the matter.

"Well, give me a while to think about it," he said.

Some time later the police called and suggested that they all sit down to hear what they had to say. The sergeant cleared his throat and started to explain that the skeleton had now been examined by their department dealing with such matters and in fact the bones were not those of a human but were, in fact, those of an orangutan.

"So, there won't be any charges and here are your passports back."

Fred and Jean gave sighs of relieve but were told by the police that they were still interested in how the bones got there. "We shall continue our enquiries", the constable remarked.

The next day Fred was in the garden, this time filling in the hole as he and Jean had decided in view of what had happened that they didn't want a pond any more.

Once again Mr. Robinson popped up over the fence for his usual chat. "Why not ask the oldest man in the village? His name is Mr. Clegg and he lived at No. 3 Church Street. He is very with it despite his age, so go on there's nothing to lose."

So the next day Fred made off to No. 3 and was invited in.

"Ah!" Clegg smiled, "I think I have the answer. There was a Mr. Cranham who had a zoo near here many years ago. The zoo never really took off and eventually went bust. However, Mr. Cranham was very fond of an orangutan called James and after the zoo closed, he took James back to his home, now yours, to keep in an enclosure for the rest of his days. James must have died and from what you have told me been buried in what is now your garden!

"Well I never," gasped Fred, "The police will be interested to know this." As Fred left, he could hear Clegg muttering, "And so will

Mr. Robinson, the old know it all!"

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


The theatre has always held a fascination for me and particularly variety.

The music halls of yesteryear are all gone and now the only End of Pier show is at Cromer in Norfolk.

For many years there were very good shows at the Westcliff Theatre at Clacton in Essex. These were put on by three talented people, Francis Golightly [Producer], Roy Cloughton [Organ] and Andrew Robley [Singer]. We attended these shows every summer season for years. The comedians were so talented and funny we came away literally aching with laughter - no dubbed in clapping or applause. Shows in those days included singers, dancers, conjurers, mouth organists, ventriloquists, tightrope and trapeze and balancing acts. Unlike many theatres now, they had curtains. I could name three theatres which don't have curtains.

Now let's look at some of the stars of a while ago. Do you remember Norman Collier with the apparently faulty microphone? Then there was Bob Monkhouse with "They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian, huh, they're not laughing now." Max Bygraves used to hold his hands up as though begging with "I want to tell you a story."

Freddie [Parrot face Davies] was not only funny but a good singer and I liked Jimmy Crickett's sense of humour - "A lady said "Can you see me across the road?" I said, go over the road and I'll have a look!"

Bernie Clifton riding an ostrich was very clever and of course he too sang well. Many years ago George Roby was advertised on the posters just by a pair of very thick eyebrows. He was so well known!

Do you remember Don McClain and Ted Durante and Hilda? A strong man act with a girl where everything went wrong. Their act could be performed anywhere in the world as it was totally visual.

Dottie Wayne was another rather unusual performer in that her act was simply whistling, but it was to very fast classical music, and boy, could she do it. Do you remember Joan Regan? She has a very good voice.

Now to more local [Suffolk] people. The 30's and 40's film actress, Jean Kent, lived not far from here and died not long ago. Ian Lavender also lives not far away. Captain Mainwaring said to the German in Dad's Army, "Don't tell him your name Pike." Roy Hudd is also a local celebrity, seen about and always friendly.

Well, I've covered a few, but there are many more. Some had hard lives, the older ones staying in digs constantly, never really having homes of their own as they were always going from one music hall to another.

I hope I've brought back some happy memories to readers, but I must go now. Cheerio.

  Some of those entertainers:
  • Norman Collier, Max Bygraves, Bob Monkhouse, Freddie Davies, Bernie Clifton, Jimmy Crickett, George Roby, Dottie Wayne, Joan Regan, Jean Kent, Ian Lavender, Roy Hudd.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I go back to 1987 when there was an enormous gale which caused havoc in many parts of our country.

Mary and Jack Robinson were a married couple who lived in a bungalow in the rural village of Stock in Essex.Jack worked on the railway, whilst Mary did a bit of cleaning for a few people to bring in some extra money for them to enjoy.

However, Mary had to give this up as she was in the very late stage of pregnancy.

They had just gone to bed when the gale started. As the night wore on it got stronger and stronger. The wind whistled loudly;the windows rattled and they could hear dustbin lids being blown around.There were worried when they heard trees being snapped off and got down under the covers with the hope that it would blow itself out by morning.

Waking around six-thirty, Jack got up and looked out of the window. Things had calmed down, but what was this?The wind had brought down power lines and there were two cables right across their front, completely preventing their way out onto their road.

It so happened that Mary being overdue was going to have a Caesarean that very day but how were they going to get to the hospital? One of the power lines was about four feet up.

"Oh, please Jack, have you any ideas? I've got to get to the hospital" pleaded Mary.

"Well wait a mo," he paused, "Yes, but I don't think you'll like it."

"Whatever it is, please tell me."

"Listen," Jack said, "Fred White along the road has a cherry picker. Would you be prepared to go in it?"

Mary, looking a little surprised, hesitated for a moment before saying quietly, Yes, I suppose so."

"I'll give him a ring," Jack replied.He looked up the number and dialled it. When he told Fred the situation, Fred agreed to come with his cherry picker.

Meanwhile, Mary got herself ready and before long Fred arrived just at the same time as a man from the Electricity Authority.

"Don't touch those cables!" he shouted, "They're live.Our chap won't be able to turn the current off for some time. He is too busy with other jobs. What are you doing?"

"Well," said Jack, "Our friend here is going to lift my wife over the cables with his cherry picker.She is pregnant and must get to the hospital."

The electricity man just stood there with his mouth open.

When the cherry picker was lowered over the cables, Mary got in and was easily lifted over the cables.Jack followed and soon the ambulance which they had called arrived.

All went well at the hospital and Mary gave birth to a little girl. The cables had been removed and Mary and the baby were able to go home.

All three, Jack, Mary and the baby were cuddled up on the settee when Jack and Mary said together, "What shall we call her?" And then again together, "What else but Cherry!"

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Readers may recall my Childhood Memories in issue No. 55, August 1998, I wrote:

    "In 1939, in preparation for what seemed likely to be World War II, the Beauclerks bought Meadow Dene for £950. They lightly furnished it to make it liveable and moved in for what they thought would be a temporary stay, thinking they would have holidays there and perhaps let it. "However, not much later they received a Government Notice to say their house in Upminster, Essex was required for military accommodation. This being the case everything in the house had to be got out as soon as possible. Arrangements were made with farmer Jim Chugg of Mill Farm [Mill Park] to rent the mill for the storage of all our possessions. Wardrobes, chests of drawers, bookcases, everything still full was brought from Essex and stored at the mill. "As a boy I would go down to the mill where my toys were and sometimes set up a clockwork train set or fiddle with levers on the mill in the hope of seeing the water wheel turn - it never did because the mill pond had long since gone and the only water flowing was probably draining from the road. "One day I went there with a friend and whilst rummaging around, we found a leather cigar case, and sure enough, there was a cigar in it. Well, what do young boys do when they find a cigar? You've guessed, we smoked it! A number of years later my mother said, "I wonder what happened to the cigar Winston Churchill gave your father?" Whoops!"

Well, my second chance for a Churchill souvenir came when my Auntie Con gave me this letter, which as you can see is hand written.

Although there is no date on it, I should think it was probably written during World War II due to the size of the paper [actual size] - economy called for paper to be used sparingly!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


On the 13th September 2015 we had the following happen.

First take a look at the picture. Between the two gables there is a pocket. The double window is to our smallest bedroom. There is a bench in this pocket where we sometimes sit to look at the view of fields opposite.

We went to bed quite early, about 10 o'clock, and were soon fast asleep. About 1 o'clock Betty woke me to say she had heard a scraping sound. What could it be?

We have vertical blinds to the small bedroom and when we pulled one to the side, there, was a man lying on our seat!

Questions came to mind.

I decided No!

We rang the Police and they said they would look into the matter. A police car soon came along with a powerful light on its side. This illuminated the whole of our front garden. They drove up our drive but the man did not move.

A policeman and policewoman got out of the car and went over to nudge him. After some efforts to wake him, they got him to his feet.

I gather this young man had got very drunk and after taking his girlfriend home in an area to which he was unfamiliar, he saw our bench and decided to sleep it off there!

The Police said he really seemed quite a nice young man and got him in their car. They may have taken him home, I don't know.

I must praise the Police for the prompt attention they gave to the matter.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


This can cause some amusement either for Christmas or at other times. First you require a torch with usually three diodes [like bulbs] and then you need to mask off two of the diodes with black tape. Stick the torch to the back of a chair with blu-tack and position the chair about two metres from a door. Next you blu-tack an A4 size piece of paper to the door at about 1.5 metres high. Your sitter needs to sit on a chair sideways to the wall with the paper on. Switch on the torch and turn off the room lights. Your sitter's face will cast a shadow on the paper you carefully draw around the edge of the shadow. You now have a silhouette of your sitter or best friend and they can do one of you.

Passing a coin through a book
You will first need a jar, a jam jar will do. Then you will need a small book. As you put the book on the jar, wedge a two pence piece on the edge of it so that as soon as the book is moved slightly, the coin will drop. Next you take another two pence in your right hand. You say to your friend, "I can pass this coin through this book." You hold the coin between your finger and thumb and pretend to push it through the book. Palm the coin in to your hand whilst moving the book slightly with your left hand. The coin will drop and bingo! the coin has gone through the book!

Tony B


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


The Sands family lived in a small village in Devon. They had a nice cottage in a valley and the father, Fred, worked on a farm. His wife's name was Mary and the children were Peter and Ann.

Christmas was approaching and Fred and Mary asked their children 'What would you like for Christmas?'

'We should love to have a girl Labrador puppy,' they chirped.

'Well, that's a tall order,' their dad replied, 'But I'll see what I can do. You know dogs cost a lot of money, so we won't be able to afford other things.'

The children agreed to this and Fred set about finding a puppy. He made enquiries all around the area, but could not find a Labrador puppy.

'Mary,' he said, 'I've tried everywhere to find a puppy but there are none to be had.'

'Why don't you try a rescue centre?' Mary replied.

'What a good idea,' her husband commented. 'I'll go to Cromley, I know there's a centre there.'

The next day being Saturday, off he set.

The man at the centre greeted him with a smile and said, 'You're very lucky, I think we have just what you are looking for.' Off he went and soon came back with an adorable puppy.

'This is a little girl and her name is Peggy,' he said.

'Can I take her home now?' Fred asked.

'No, I'm sorry you can't,' the man replied, 'She has to have all the usual inoculations for which I'm afraid you'll be expected to pay. Can you come back for her on Christmas Eve?'

Fred was thrilled. Peggy, the little black Labrador was just what they all wanted. On Christmas Eve he set off for the rescue centre. The same gentleman greeted him but he was looking worried.

'Your little Peggy is very ill, I'm afraid. We have called the vet and he has given her some injections but is not sure what is wrong with her. I'm afraid we might lose her.'

'May I see her please?' Fred asked.

'Of course you can,' the man answered and they went inside to see Peggy. She was in a large pen, her eyes closed and she didn't even manage to wag her little tail.

'Oh dear! I do hope she gets better,' said Fred as the man took out his wallet and gave him a card.

'This is our 'phone number, give us a ring in a week's time.'

'Right' Fred replied almost in a whisper. He was rather taken aback. What was he to say to Mary, Peter and Ann? The only thing is the truth he decided.

After a very miserable Christmas dinner, the family said a quiet prayer for Peggy. It was one of the most sincere prayer's ever, with tears running down their cheeks.

The days went by and Fred decided he could wait no longer and picked up the 'phone and dialled the centre number. A lady answered and said, 'Peggy? Oh yes, she is past the worst, you can come and collect her in a week's time.

The longest week in their lives went by but at last following another call to the centre, they made their way in the car to fetch Peggy.

As soon as Peggy was them she danced about, jumping and kissing their faces and after making a contribution to the centre, off they drove back home.

It had been a sad Christmas for the family, but well worth the wait.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Dear All

There was a young lady from Ryde
Who at green apples and died.
The apples fermented inside the lamented
And made cider inside her inside!

At my age of 86 I feel that I should try to keep an eye on my health. Although I once had a table tennis table I could not get anyone interested enough to play and for that reason I made a practice table and installed it in the back of my garage. I have a timer and put this on ten minutes. I have two or three sessions a day to try to keep the flab at bay. Then, my next door neighbour gave me a dart board. This I also installed in the garage. So, now I have two games.

Watching The Cube on television I saw another game which I copied. This was to roll a ball to a certain area where it must stop. I achieved this with an old length of gutter with a stop at one end. The area in which the ball should stop was marked with red tape about 14 inches, an inch or two away from the far end. So, this was now game number 3.

The fourth game again came from The Cube and was quite simple. All you needed was six tennis balls and a bucket. I stand the bucket about eight feet away and throw the balls to bounce once before it goes into the bucket. All good fun and bending down to pick up the balls is good for the waistline!


Out in my garage I try to keep fit.
I'm retired now, so it helps me a bit.
I play table tennis all on my own,
It's good for my tummy
It gives it a tone [or should do!].
The other three games I've described in this letter
So exercise quick, you'll feel a lot better!


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


In 1907 Geoff Gough was a farm worker who lived at Hele and was on his way to work at a farm near Watermouth.

It was winter time and as he descended the hill down the road to Watermouth he looked to his left and with no leaves on the trees, he could easily see the harbour.

The tide was out and he could hardly believe his eyes! There, right in the centre of the harbour was a huge and strange creature. It somehow reminded him of the ideas people have of Scotland's Loch Ness Monster. But whatever it was, it was huge!


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

The monster was quite motionless and appeared to be dead.

As he arrived at the farm he told Farmer James of what he had seen. Farmer James doubted his story but said he would go with him to have a look.

Off they went and when Farmer James saw the monster, he was just as amazed.

Soon the word spread around and people from Berrynarbor, Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and every little hamlet came to have a look. Everyone kept a safe distance, not knowing whether the creature was sleeping or dead.

The tide came in and went out, but still the monster remained there.

Soon the council were informed and sent their officials to have a look and decide what action to take, which would, of course, be the next day.

Early the next morning before it was light, crowds of people gathered along the road and headland to see what was going to happen. As the dawn began to break and lighten the scene, people strained their eyes to see the monster.

There were gasps of "Oh no!" as everyone could see that the monster had gone! It was never seen again but for years the monster was often talked about.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Mary Brown was an old lady living on her own in the small village of Redham. One evening she was watching television when she sensed the presence of someone else in her bungalow. The door from the hall to the room where she was sitting was open and a man was standing there. In one hand were obviously some of her jewels as a pearl necklace hung from it. On the back of his other hand was a tattooed dragon.

Mary had her mobile on her lap which she quickly grabbed and took a picture of him. Realising he had been seen, he took flight out of the front door.

Mary took no time in 'phoning the Police and spoke to a Sergeant Fred Dent. Fred was due for a week's leave but was so taken with the old lady's plight that he decided to deal with the matter himself. He took her address and said he would be there in an hour's time.

True to his word, Sergeant Dent arrived an hour later and was delighted with her picture of the man. He also took along his fingerprint expert who got several new prints which might help.

"Right", he said, "We now have everything we need and will start looking for the culprit."

"Thank you for all you are doing," Mary replied. "Can you let yourselves out?"

About a week later Sergeant Dent called on Mary. "What news?" she asked.

"Well, we've got a man who is the image of your picture, but there are three things that don't add up. They are that the fingerprints don't match; then he has no dragon tattooed on the back of his hand, and lastly he has an alibi that he was at his snooker club all that evening. I' afraid we've had to let him go."

"Very well, but I know you will keep trying."

"Of course we shall," Sergeant Dent replied and left.

Two days later, Mary had another visit from him "What news this time," she enquired.

"Well, we can't believe it but the second man is just like the one in your picture but again has no tattoo and he was abroad at the time of your burglary. There just doesn't seem to be an answer."

Later that evening Sergeant Dent thought he would look in at this local pub, The Retreat, where his daughter served behind the bar, just to say 'Hello'. He sat down to chat with her and mentioned the problem he was trying to solve.

His daughter Jennie's face lit up. "I think I've got the answer." She smiled. "Dad, do you remember about twenty five years ago they reported in the local paper about a set of identical triplets? Well, I think that's the answer. Furthermore, the man you are looking for is probably that man sitting in the corner with his back to us."

"Well Jennie, you are wonderful. I'll soon find out." He made his way to the man and was amazed to see that he resembled the other two. He was wearing gloves and Sergeant Dent snatched off the one on his left hand. There was the tattoo!

"I am arresting you in the name; of the law. Anything you say may be taken down as evidence . . . . ."

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrations by Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett



It was sad to learn in the December Newsletter that Don had passed away. During the Second World War I made his acquaintance, a most likeable lad of a very practical nature.

I believe he and a lad called Derek Alltree were responsible for turning an old disused Austin Seven into a form of tractor!

I think Don liked to be his own master. At one time he constructed at his home a number of small stables in which he kept British Toggenburg goats and understand that he had a small milk round for a while.

Don was very good with car engines. At the end of 1945, as a family we were preparing to return to our home in Upminster and my mother had an old Ruby Austin 7 which had been laid up throughout the war years and was reluctant to start. The cylinders had been filled with oil to prevent rusting.

Don came to help. He cranked it over by hand [cars had cranking handles in those days!] in order to lose some of the oil. Then after fiddling with the electrics, he managed to get it going. This was near his home in the Sterridge Valley and amid clouds of thick smoke he drove to our house in Barton Lane. Eventually after a while the smoke cleared and out he stepped with a very satisfied grin on his face.

He also riveted a plate of metal over a rusted hole on the wing of another car for us.

Don was always helpful and one of those people you have been glad to know.

The Toggenburg, nicknamed Togg, is a breed of milk goat, named after the region in Switzerland where the breed originated. It is considered the oldest registered breed of goat. Toggenburgs should have straight or dished faces, but never Roman noses and are generally a friendly, quiet and gentle breed, good as pets, although they are classed as dairy goats. Arguably the hardiest of all goat breeds, they are often extremely curious and inquisitive animals.

Note from the Editor:

Before sharing Tony's piece about Don with readers, I felt I should contact his daughter, Jenny, who was delighted and said she felt proud on reading it and how, even as a boy, he left his mark helping others.

She told me that she and her mother, June, came to the village on the 10th February, which would have been Don's 86th birthday, to scatter his ashes. Arriving at lunchtime, they decided to have lunch first at the Globe, where they were made so welcome and enjoyed a delicious sandwich and a chat.

Jenny says that the sun was shining and everything so quiet as she scattered the ashes on the ground around the war memorial that she felt as if she was the only person in the place, it was so still.

Feeling upset she decided to sit in the church and was delighted to find it unlocked. The smell and stillness comforted her, and looking at the beautiful stained glass window, she felt so peaceful and able to spend some time thinking about the wonderful and loving Dad that she misses so much.

She says: "Thanks to you and your wonderful readers, Dad's memory goes on."

A while ago Don sent me the following photographs of the village.


This first one actually appeared in the February 1996 newsletter and was sent in by the late Terry Babbington. He wrote:

This old AEC charabanc parked by the lych gate has the registration number T6970 and judging from the solid tyres is from around the time of WW1. It has apparently been nicknamed Jumbo and the sign on the side reads: Shapcott, Combe Martin Phone 3X1. The man at the front and lady at the side appear to be locals. The passengers, all ladies, appear to be a sight-seeing group, possibly from a local W.I. or something similar. Can anyone shed any light on the charabanc or its owners?

A reply in the April issue said that Ben Richards of West Seven Ash Farm was convinced that the man is John Bowden, c1916, who moved to Kentisbury.


A visit to Ron and he told me that this is the school, taken in the 'big yard' around 1924. He and Noel Reeve [nee Richards] who was visiting Ron, were able to name many of the pupils.

The final photograph of the blacksmiths has drawn a blank although it was felt that it might be from Combe Martin rather than Berrynarbor.

Can anyone help further on any of these photographs please?




"Come on Joan, stop arguing, you look absolutely ugly when you get like this."
"Fred, it's alright for you to talk, you started it. You are going red in the face."
"Well, you chose me in the first place so that was your fault. I thought you liked the name Joan."
"I only like the name Joan because the last two letter of your name are A and N and an reminded me of an old girlfriend. I might 'phone her up."
"Yes, Fred, that's about what you should do. Good night!"
"Well," said Jane, "I'm glad we've got our parts right, word perfect I should say."
"Yes, indeed," John replied, "I'm glad we joined the drama group. It's a good play."


You can't always have your own way
If you did, you'd be hated someday.
It would be a good trend
When that came to an end
And all have a new friend today.
So come on, I insist I must say,
It's sunny and the merry month of May.
So put on a smile
The stack's half a mile
And then we can play in the hay.


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


My name is Tom Banks and I'll relate to you my guilty secret which I kept from my wife for some time.

As with most secrets, you eventually confide in someone, so I told Fred Parsons, a friend of mine, about Peggy.

"You know, Fred, I've completely fallen for Peggy.," I told him. "I've been to her home three times and I'm going to see her tomorrow."

"Well," Fred replied, "If the whole thing comes to a head, you will have to tell your wife or surely she will find out sooner or later, and you will be in trouble!"

"I've confided in you and please don't tell anyone."

"OK, your problem," he muttered as he walked away.

The next day I called at Peggy's place with the idea that we could go to the park.

We wandered into the park and sat on a bench. I put my arms around her and gave her a kiss. She kissed me back and looked at me with those lovely brown eyes. What would my wife think if she knew?

It's not as if I'm unhappy at home. I love my wife. Somehow the problem has to be resolved.

"It's no good," I thought, "Peggy and my wife will have to meet." So that was it and Peggy and I started off for my house.

As I put the key in the door, Peggy stood behind me.

My wife was cleaning the porch and greeted me with, "Hello, have you been down to the pub yet again?" Obviously she suspected something.

Before I could reply, Peggy walked out from behind me, wagging her bottom and tail and bounded up to my wife.

"A Labrador!" she exclaimed as Peggy sat down for a pat and stroke on her head. "Where did you get her?"

"From the dog rescue centre," I replied.

"Well, I'm sure we three will be very happy!"

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


It is surprising in life how things happen. It was, for instance, through Judie, our Editor, and the Newsletter, that I was recently reacquainted with Stanley Walker who now lives in Canada and stayed with us at Berrynarbor during World War II - a really long time ago.

Similarly, Maureen Underdown - nee Peachey - who lived near us at Prospect in Birdswell Lane during the war has been in touch, again through the Newsletter. Maureen related the following story which she gave to me to use. Here goes!

I don't know if it is still there, but in the higher part of Birdswell Lane there was, cut into the side of the hill, a place to park a car. This was done by the owner of Cloverdale in Barton Lane to have a garage built there. However, the war regulations prevented this at that time.

Now, the owner of Cloverdale had a daughter who was always helpful to her parents. One day she decided to get the garden roller out and roll their lawn. The lawn was very steep and she had great difficulty in controlling the roller.

Whoops! She lost her grasp on it and it rolled away out of control. Straight down and through the hedge it went and there was an almighty bang. She froze. "What on earth has happened," she thought.

Plucking up courage she walked down the garden steps into Birdswell Lane. To her horror, the roller had smashed down through the roof of her father's car!

As to what her father said when he discovered what had happened, I don't know. Perhaps it's best not to think about it!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


During the 1914-1918 war, my aunt Constance Gladys Anderson Naylor, was given time off to be in what was called the V.A.D. The initials VAD stand for Voluntary Aid Detachment, in other words part time nursing.

With the huge number of casualties of the war, many places - schools and even large private houses - were turned into temporary hospitals.

Amongst the things left by my aunt was an autograph book in which some of the injured soldiers she had nursed had written contributions.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

The Voluntary Aid Detachment referred to a voluntary unit providing field nursing services, mainly in hospitals, in the United Kingdom and various other countries in the British Empire. The most important periods of operation for these units were during World War I and World War II.

The VAD system was founded in 1909 with the help of the Red Cross and Order of St. John. By the summer of 1914 there were over 2,500 Voluntary Aid Detachments in Britain. Of the 74,000 VAD members in 1914, two-thirds were women and girls.

At the outbreak of the First World War VAD members eagerly offered their service to the war effort. The British Red Cross was reluctant to allow civilian women a role in overseas hospitals: most volunteers were of the hospital discipline. Military authorities would not accept VADs at the front line.

The growing shortage of trained nurses opened the door for VADs in overseas military hospitals. Female volunteers over the age of twenty-three and with more than three months' hospital experience were accepted for overseas service.

During four years of war 38,000 VADs worked in hospitals and served as ambulance drivers and cooks, serving near the Western Front and in Mesopotamia and Gallipoli.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Yes, I do miss Berrynarbor! Although I only spent the six and a half years through World War II and a little beyond there - it was a very impressionable time.

Although I am very happy here in our bungalow in Suffolk with its pleasant [not flat] countryside, I still reminisce about my time spent in Devon.

The rugged shore line, pretty little coves, secluded beaches and, of course, the fine sands [7th best in the world] at Woolacombe.

In my time in your village, transport was very limited. Due to there being few private cars and petrol rationing, you were more or less restricted to bus, bicycle or shanks pony.

This meant that the extent of my travelling was about 10 to 12 miles. Cycling was pretty hard even if you were lucky enough to have a three speed gear, and you spent a long time pushing your bike up one side of a hill only to spend what seemed like minutes coming down the other side!

At one point, with my education lacking, I was sent to a tutor in Shute Lane and that is quite a push I can tell you!

We would cycle to Barnstaple or Woolacombe but never attempted the full Sterridge Valley right to the top.

Berrynarbor has drawn me back for holidays in the North Devon area several times, however, now at 85 years of age, I find I cannot face long distance travel. Mentioning my age, I should also mention that on the 12th May last, Betty and I celebrated our 60th Wedding Anniversary and had our card from Her Majesty the Queen.

Over the years I have seen some changes. Berrynarbor now has caravan sites, Miss Cooper's shop has long gone and now you have your own Village Shop. The Manor Hall is much the same but when I saw it last there was no stage. In Ilfracombe there were two cinemas, alas only one now.

I was very sad to see the Victoria Pavilion go although I have enjoyed shows and films at the new Landmark Theatre. The Alexandra Theatre I knew well and enjoyed dances and plays there, so I was pleased to see that after many changes, it is still in use.

Alongside the Quay in Ilfracombe were private houses, these are now all businesses.

It is now 68 years since we left Devon to return to our own house in Upminster where I lived again from the age of 16 until I got married in 1954. Two years later it was sold to actor Victor Maddern [of Cockleshell Heroes and Carrington VC fame, as well as many other parts here and in Hollywood]. Victor Maddern eventually sold together with his neighbour, the houses pulled down and flats built on the site.

The picture you see would have been taken with a plate camera about 107 years ago. The stables, provided only for the use of horses or horse drawn vehicles, were later converted into garages and a garage built on the right hand side.

The maintenance of a house like that was even in our time far too costly to continue with, and my mother and half-brother moved into a small bungalow at Billericay. When Betty and I married we moved into a maisonette at Gidea Park just outside Romford.

Since then we have moved to Billericay, Tiptree, 3 times in Colchester and now to Suffolk. We are not moving anymore!

As they say!

I was walking past our local undertaker the other day and spotted one of the funeral directors standing outside.

"Not today thank you,." I called cheerfully. "Catch you later," he replied with a smile.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Richard and Doreen Brown lived in a pleasant detached house not far from the river Blackwater, together with their son Chris and dog named Puzzle.

Chris and Puzzle were inseparable and Chris, who was only eight, often took her for walks.

One week-end Chris decided he would like to go fishing - he would fish in a dyke that ran alongside the sea wall to the river. That was where the eels might be. So, with a packed lunch box, fishing tackle and Puzzle, off they set. The dyke was close to home so all would be well.

Settling down on the bank of the dyke he cast his rod several times, but to no avail. 'Never mind.' he thought, 'I'll have a bite to eat.'

He had left his lunch box a little way up the bank and as he got up to get it, he twisted his ankle, badly. Despite his efforts to walk he could only manage to crawl along the ground. Quickly he had an idea. He still had the wrapping paper to his lunch box and fortunately a pencil.

'Help me, I'm hurt.' he wrote. Then he undid Puzzle's collar and threaded it through a hole in the paper and did it up again.

"Take this home," he told Puzzle and incredibly that's what she did. Arriving she stood at the front door on her hind legs barking to attract attention.

On opening the door, Richard was alarmed to see Puzzle on her own and upon reading the message, he quickly made off towards the dyke with Puzzle leading the way. When he arrived at the dyke, there was Chris.

"Sorry dad, but I had to get help somehow."

"Never mind," his dad replied, "Let's get you home" and he gathered up the bits and pieces and picked up Chris to carry him home. Puzzle followed.

About a week later, Richard had reason to return a book he had borrowed from a friend. He set off for the friend's home and had just put the book through the letter box when he heard a car approaching and at the same time, Puzzle who was not on a lead, spotted a cat across the road.

In a flash she was hit by the car and was lying on the road bleeding. The car carried on and Richard picked her up and carried her home. As soon as they got back, Doreen rang the vet who came straight away. Among her injuries, Puzzle had a torn ear and was spreading blood everywhere.

"We'd better put her in the outside toilet," suggested Richard, as this was tiled and could be cleaned up easily. A bed was arranged and Puzzle made comfortable.

The vet began his examination and turning to them said, "I'm sorry but I'm afraid I shall have to put her to sleep."

"No, no, please not that!" pleaded Chris, with tears running down his face, having arrived and overhead the vet, who was rather embarrassed, not knowing what to do in the presence of the young lad.

"Well, I'll give her a couple of injections but I don't hold out much hope," he said sadly.

The vet left and Puzzle, looking very down, curled up on her new bed, with a little food and a bowl of water.

That night and every night after, Chris would get up after his parents had gone to bed and go down with a torch and sit with his dog, often crying a little.

Slowly, however, Puzzle began to recover and gradually her wounds started to heal. After nine days she was allowed out in the garden, walking slowly and wagging her tail a little before returning to her bed. Chris kissed her on the nose with tears in his eyes, but this time they were tears of joy.

Puzzle miraculously made a complete recovery and she and Chris enjoyed many more happy years of each other's company.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket
Ex-evacuee 1939-1946 Berrynarbor

Illustration by: Debbie Cook


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I was walking down our High Street the other day when I bumped into an old friend.

"Hello Charlie", I said as I greeted him. "Haven't seen you for a long time, and how's your lovely wife, Mary?"

"She's fine," he replied. "I'm glad I met you as you can give me some advice."

"Oh, what's that?" I asked.

"Well, it's her 86th birthday soon and she insists that as she feels so young at heart, she would like a present that's modern or young in its way. What would you advise?"

I scratched my head and stroked my chin and then suggested she could have her head shaved and a spider web tattooed on it.

Charlie smiled, "Well, she would probably like the idea but not the pain of the tattoo."

I thought again and this time suggested she have her hair coloured red, green or blue.

"Well, a lot of women have that these days," he said, "But can't you come up with something else?"

"Yes," I said, "How about these. There is Botox, pierced eyebrows, lips, nose, etc. rings."

Charlie smiled. "Carry on, you're getting warm!"

"Well then," I asked, "How about cosmetic surgery, or a skateboard? Then there is parascending, she might like that. And, of course, Disneyland. A nice pair of sunglasses to wear on top of her head or paragliding."

Charlie grinned, "Yes, you've got some good ideas but I think I'll play it safe and give her some flowers and a box of chocolates."

"Good idea," I replied, "Nice to see you again. Bye."

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Do you remember Spike Milligan singing "I'm walking backwards for Christmas"? Well the true story I'm about to relate worked just that way!

At the time when my mother lived in a bungalow at Billericay, most of the area - like so much of Berrynarbor - was either cesspit or septic tank drainage.

Fortunately for the residents, the local council put in main drains in all the roads and my mother, after getting the necessary planning and building approval, proceeded to find a small building firm to dig up her drive, lay the drains and make the necessary connection.

The builder was Fred White and his two sons, Brian and Jack.

"Where would you like us to make the trench?" Fred enquired.

"Well," my mother replied, "I think it a good idea if you take up the slab path leading up the drive and around the back."

"OK, we'll get right on with it." and Mr. White instructed his sons accordingly.

The slabs up the front drive were all taken up and stacked and then they began taking up those at the back of the bungalow.

The lads had taken up quite a number when Jack suddenly shouted to Brian, "Don't step forward with that slab, just do as I say and step back." Brian did as he was told and luckily for him, he did!

The slab had been covering a well and had he stepped forward he would have stepped straight into it, probably with the slab on top of him.

On examination, the well proved to be barrel shaped and quite large. The back wall of the bungalow had been built partly over it. Mr. White and his boys filled in the well with rubble before finishing the job.

Many years later, after my mother had moved, the bungalow was pulled down and a pair of houses built on the site, probably over the well as well!


Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett



The Jones family lived in a small rural village in Devon. It was Christmas Eve and the children, Ron seven and Jane eight were getting very excited with the prospect of Father Christmas calling. Looking out of the window, the children could see it was just beginning to snow.

Presently there was a 'phone call. It was from their uncle to ask if it would be possible for them to go over to baby sit their two year old baby as he, their aunt and cousins had been invited to a party.

It was all agreed and Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Ron and Jane set off. It was still snowing and on their arrival they were greeted with hugs and kisses before the family left for the party.

Time went on and it was late when the family arrived home again.

"You'll never get home tonight," their aunt said, "The snow is really quite deep. But don't worry, she continued, "I'll prepare the bedrooms so you can all sleep here."

By the next morning, Christmas morning, the snow had thawed enough for the Jones's to return home. They got in the car, eager to get back to see if Father Christmas had been. Arriving home, Mr. Jones opened the front door and the children rushed in.

Up to their bedrooms they went and there, lo and behold, were their stockings and pillow cases filled with all sorts of games, a doll, train set, sweets, teddy bears. Their rooms were decorated with paper chains, lanterns. They could hardly believe their eyes!

Mr. and Mrs. Jones followed their children up the stairs and stood there amazed at the sight. They looked at each other with puzzled expressions, shrugged their shoulders and went downstairs for a cup of tea!

Happy Christmas
and New Year to everyone.

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man's hat;
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny. God bless you


Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

'Christmas is coming' is an old English traditional poem or nursery rhyme, often sung as a 'round'. The charitable lyrics associate the traditional Christmas feast with geese, and the meaning that is conveyed to children in 'Christmas is coming' is that the festive season is a time when charity should be given, according to means, even if all they could give is their blessing..

The history of the penny is not commonly known. Its first documented reference is dated 790 AD when it was minted in silver. The design has frequently changed depicting images of various monarchs. The first Anglo-Saxon pennies depicted a cross on the reverse as a symbol of Christianity.

These crosses were used as guidelines to cut the penny into halves or quarters - cut coinage. The halfpenny [worth half of a penny] and farthing [worth a quarter or fourth of a penny] were then minted. The word farthing, which like the halfpenny is no longer minted, comes from 'fourthing'. The penny changed from silver to copper in 1797 - hence the colloquialism 'coppers' - then to bronze in 1860 and copper plated steel in 1992. [The farthing, 1/4d was last minted in 1960 and the halfpenny 1/2d in 1967.]

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


The six and a half years I spent in Berrynarbor ended on the 1st January 1946. Those years were at a very impressionable time of my life.

The Gaiety Concert Hall, Ilfracombe

Berrynarbor has drawn me back for many enjoyable holidays but alas, I am now 84 and unable to undertake the long journey from the far side of the country. However, let me reminisce . . . here are some of the changes I have noticed over the years.

Going firstly to Berrynarbor, the village shop was then run by a Miss Cooper and Mr. Walter Osborne. As a youngster I was, of course, only interested in sweets. These were rationed and there was very little choice. The shop premises are now residential.

There was no car park in those days and, of course, very few cars. The Post Office was a few doors away from the school and at one time run by a Mr. Rudd.

I believe there was a butcher's shop which closed shortly after we came to live in the village.

Mill Farm was farmed by a Mr. Jim Chugg. The water wheel was taken out in 1946 and there were no caravans, only sheep and lambs occupying the fields. The lake had a great deal of foliage around it

There has been a fair amount of development over the years, particularly on Hagginton Hill, Barton Lane, Birdswell Lane and the Sterridge Valley. Watermouth harbour had no caravan site.

Moving on to Combe Martin, as far as I can remember the Lime Kiln car park was just wasteland and there were no museums. Apart from the estate at the very top end of the village I have not noticed a great deal of development although many of the shops, like the Kingston Hall, are now residential. I remember many dances at the Kingston Hall with the Four in Rhythm being the band.

Turning to Ilfracombe, there were three theatres. The Victoria Pavilion, The Alexandra Hall [which fell into decay but has since been restored], and the Gaiety Concert Hall.

The Gaiety Hall ran many shows with performances by The Gaietys, Flairs and Flashes, Kit Kats, etc., with artists Ronald Frankeau, Madelaine Rossiter and Tommy Blaire. Before the war, there was roller skating there in the winter.

There were two cinemas, the Scala in the High Street, which is now residential, and the New Cinema [formerly a chapel I think] in Northfield Road. Both are now gone although today there is, of course, one in the High Street and the Landmark shows films.

The old Grammar School is now the Primary School. Many of the hotels have either gone or been turned into flats, some burned down or have been demolished.

There was a bandstand near the Victoria Pavilion. This was bought, dismantled and re-erected piece by piece on a private estate in the Midlands. It was replaced in 1992 in Runnymeade Gardens.

Do you remember a shop down by the pier called William Norman and Father? Most unusual, it's normally 'and Son'! I was at school with William, but he has sadly passed on.

Altogether, fond memories of an area which has so much to commend it. Miss you, North Devon!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


You may remember our little mermaid friend Marina who was known for her long swims and willingness to help people.

Well, our story starts when Marina was swimming off Barricane beach watching the dolphins jumping out of the water. She was fascinated at the fun they were having. Sometimes they would rapidly waggle their tails to make them look as if they were standing in the water.

Suddenly Marina felt a nudge at her side. It was a small piece of wood, not very long but with an arrow shape at one end.

At first she thought that it had just washed against her and pushed it away, but the wood came back and nudged her again and again.

"That's strange" she thought and as the wood moved away she decided to follow it. It moved faster and faster but she managed to keep up with it. She soon found that she was a long way out from Woolacombe beach and there, in an inflatable boat, was a boy who was crying. "Oh, dear," she thought, "I must get him back to the shore."

The boy looked at Marina but said nothing. She pushed and pushed and gradually the boat started to move back towards the beach.

It was a long struggle but at last she got the boat within sight of the many people who had gathered on the beach.

"There he is!" shouted a voice and several people waded out to grab the boat and the boy. His worried mother took hold of him and asked, "Where have you been? And how did you get back?"

"It was a mermaid who pushed me back," replied the boy.

"Rubbish," said someone standing nearby, "I reckon the wind must have changed direction."

Marina dived under the water and swam away happy to have saved the young boy and pleased for his family, that they were overjoyed.

Illustration by: Debbie Cook

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Do you ever think that a little bit of DIY or some little innovation might improve your home?

I bought a mahogany style five-drawer cabinet for the bedroom but unfortunately it had some rather ugly handles on it which I thought I might change for Victorian brass drop handles that would match our existing furniture.

I found a firm on the internet who promised to get them to me in two weeks. Well, two weeks went by and I gave them a call.

"Oh no," the man said, "They have to be specially made so it will be another two weeks."
They, too, passed by so I rang again.

"Sorry," the man said, "They are having trouble getting some of the parts."

I waited another two weeks and rang again.

"We are having trouble with that firm" I was told.

"Well," I replied, "Cancel the order."

The man seemed quite pleased and stated that his firm would not be dealing with them anymore.

I was then advised by a friend that there was an antique and furniture man who had a workshop in an old farm building not far away. I managed to contact him and he invited me round to see what he could do.

Straight away he got on the internet and I chose what I wanted.

"About two weeks' wait" he told me.

Two weeks went by and they sent the wrong size. He sent them back and a while later rang to say he could get the right size but slightly different handles, so I said "Go ahead."

The handles arrived and I paid for them. Were they all right? No!
The threaded parts which go through the drawer front were OK but the holes in the front plates had no thread and no way could I get them to fit. On went the thinking cap again. I knew a small engineering firm and wondered if they could help. I rang them and a man thought he could make threads in the front plates and if I left them with him for a week, all would be well.

A week went by and I called at the works to collect them.

"Any problems?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "They were a very odd thread and I had to borrow a stock and die from next door."

I took the handles home, fitted them and they look fine - it only took from March to June to get the matter sorted!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Well, now we hope the better weather is here for a while. The bad weather took a last go at me the other day when this happened!

I went out to get something from the summer house and the wind was blowing really hard. I omitted to fasten the door back and went inside. Whilst my back was turned there was a terrific bang and the door was flung shut. About to come out, I tried the door. It would not open. What had happened was that due to the force of wind blowing it shut, the hasp was flung into the position when you would normally put the padlock through. Try as I would, I could not open it. I undid the bolts of the other door to try and loosen things but to no avail. The only thing to do was to keep banging on the door.

Betty was indoors sewing and could not hear me and the wind was howling so that didn't help. All I could do was to keep on banging on the door. Later, when at last I managed to attract her attention, it turned out that she thought the noise had been that of a neighbour hammering whilst repairing his fence.

Anyway, you might not have had this little story as I might still be banging on the door or even smashing a window to get out! Sadly we have just heard that a neighbour's cat has killed a robin and a great tit, which we had hoped would nest in one of our boxes.

We sit in our garden to look, watching for birds in our book.
They soon flutter down to the table.
There are sparrows and wrens, blackbirds and hens
Wagtails and birds that nest in a stable.
We have a bird bath, and that's quite a laugh
I fill it with water each day.
They cram in together, in all kinds of weather,
I suppose it's some kind of way.
[Save water and bath with a friend!]
Down come the starlings who eat all the food,
Bar that which falls to the ground.
But the small birds are there, who appear from nowhere,
Delighted at what they have found.
So buy a bird book and then take a look,
Be assured it will give you much pleasure
Sit there, drink your tea, it will certainly be
The sight of all birds is a treasure.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


What a wet winter we've had! Even the so-called drier counties here in the east it has been bad. Roads flooded, fields soaked with lakes of water and rivers overflowing.

However, it has not really been that cold. My first experie4nce of ice was oddly enough when I was around eight or nine.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

The family was taken over to Harringay ice rink - a huge building with skate hire, restaurant and shops and a six-piece band which played all the time. There were two kinds of session - one being for people to race around - though the more serious skaters would practice their figures of eight or do a figure three in the middle. The other session would be for dancers. There were instructors who would teach you the correct way to skate and also how to dance.

Apart from falling over and cracking your head, breaking bones, etc,, the ice itself was very safe. It was relatively thin and supported by concrete underneath in which the freezing elements were embedded.

Moving on to 1939, when we spent the War in Berrynarbor, there was a very cold winter. Standing on the ice on the Mill Farm lake, I should have liked to walk out to the island to have a look at the heron's nest but fortunately, common sense prevailed and I did not venture out!

The subject of ice skating came up and I knew of a pond which might have been frozen. Up Hagginton Hill and turning down the road on the left there was a pond in a field on the left. Off we, all the family, went with our skates and bikes and sure enough the pond was frozen and we all had a great skate without mishap.

When the War was over and we moved back to Essex there were still some very cold winters. On one occasion we went to a lake near Chingford. It was extremely cold and early in the afternoon a small part was not completely frozen over in fact there were a few ducks swimming around. By the end of the afternoon this patch was completely frozen over and people were skating over the lake - but not us!

Another venue was a lake in Weald Park near Brentwood and by the time we visited there I could cut a figure three. We took along our gramophone and just about managed the Skaters' Waltz! Later, my half-brother Gerald took a nasty fall and cracked his head badly - a horrible and frightening sound.

I remember skating at a pond in Hornchurch where there had been no snow but a real freeze and the ice was clear and when you looked down you could see the fish swimming about below.

On to Billericay where we skated on the park lake. Nearby was a large pond and farm, here skating was going on but the farmers were playing curling. Akin to bowls but with large flat stones with handles and as the stones travel the ice, the players 'polish' in front of them with a brush to make them go further.

The last time I skated was at Essex University where a shallow flooded area had frozen. As I skated I went over backwards causing a lace cracking of the ice in the shape of a spider's web whilst the students from abroad looked on in amusement, probably thinking 'mad dogs and Englishmen' or something similar.

After all that, may I say that if you ever think of skating on natural ice, my advice is just one word, 'DON'T'!

With the current spell of bitterly cold and snowy weather, let's hope and look forward to a nice spring and a lovely summer.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Why do we use the expression 'bird brain' when in fact they can be very clever?

Take those birds who found they could drop nuts on pedestrian crossings for the cars to crush so they could enjoy the remaining edible bits. or the wonderful sight I enjoyed whilst holidaying in Devon when a buzzard sitting on a telegraph pole [a very common sight!] took off with hardly a perceived wing movement, circled around and around gradually rising higher and higher until almost out of sight.

A friend of mine was decorating his back bedroom and looked out to see a magpie trying to attack his baby daughter who was in a pram. Fortunately there was a net over the pram and so the bird was unsuccessful.

Shortly, and for no apparent reason, the magpie flew up and into the room where my friend was working. He was so enraged that he grabbed the bird and killed it. Oddly enough, he later joined the RSPB.

When my mother was moving house she felt that the removal men should not be responsible for taking her pet budgerigar to its new home. She and my wife decided to take it in its cage to the new home. It was a very hot day and they had the car windows open. Stopping at some traffic lights where some workmen were repairing the road, Bobbie, the budgerigar, decided to give a series of wolf whistles much to the amusement of the workmen who wolf whistled back, much to the embarrassment of the two ladies.

On the back wall of our bungalow we have two bird boxes. The great tits have taken a liking to them but so far have not nested in them. It is, of course, rather early. However, come dusk each one flies into its box and spends the night there. As we sit in the morning drinking our tea at about 7.45 a.m., the first one flies out. Ten minutes later the other one leaves. As far as we know, neither returns during the day.

Going back to our war time stay in Berrynarbor, we kept chickens. Often they would escape theirpen and be wandering around the garden. At that time my mother had a Pomeranian called Tiny. Whether Tiny had a touch of sheep dog in her, but she could round up the chickens very well indeed and would soon have them back in their pen.

Here in Stowmarket we have an abundance of ducks. I gather that they are descendants of escapees from duck farms. They are often to be seen in gardens, on roofs and in the town. In the main streets you can see a mother with up to a dozen ducklings taking her time to walk down the middle of the road almost unaware and unconcerned about traffic. Fortunately, motorists respect them.

Watching birds is great - it's as good a time waster as television, the internet, or a garden pond.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


The Brennams were a large family, a very successful family too, all living in the town of Cranley. Some had made small fortunes from computers and others from building industrial estates. All in all they had done well!

Mr. Bill Brennam and his wife Mary had a daughter, six sons and many grandchildren and they all lived nearby. They were thinking about the usual family Christmas meal and the arrangements to be made. They loved the annual get-together.

Their eldest son Fred and daughter Jane were usually given the task of catering arrangements for the family at a local hall. One evening in mid-December, whilst visiting their parents, the subject of the Christmas dinner came up and Fred and Jane were asked to arrange it all.

"Fine," said Fred, "We'll see to it, no worries."

Fred and Jane were very close and the thought of wandering down to their little town of Cranley occurred to Fred, Jane agreed and off they went.

As they walked along, they soon came to houses illuminated with Christmas lights of all kinds. Some had little Christmas trees in their windows with brightly lit lights. Others had huge Father Christmas's flashing, blinking and twinkling. Further along the road they came to what might be called competitive illuminations with all sorts of reindeer, stockings, snowballs, flickering lights and floodlighting - a large strain on their electricity bills, let alone health and safety with their wiring, and what if it rained?

Soon they reached the town and the local council had done their main street and square proud. Twinkling lights strung between lampposts and a huge and beautiful Christmas tree stood in the centre of the square. The Salvation Army band was playing all the well-known carols and the surrounding crowd were all happily singing along.

"What a lovely time of year this is." Fred remarked, "Shall we have a little drink before we go home?" "Why not?" replied Jane as they entered The Crown. They sat down in front of the huge log fire and enjoyed their drinks before returning to their respective homes.

A few days later when visiting their parents the matter of the annual meal came up.

"I've arranged it all with Smith's Catering at the village hall for the 21st" said Fred. "No, I've arranged it at the church hall for the 21st," Jane replied, looking a little puzzled. "Well, you'll have to cancel one of them," their father Bill interrupted.

Jane and Fred got on the telephone straight away but neither firm would cancel. "It's too late", they said. "I'll think of something," their mother Mary chirped in, "I know you both meant well."

Fred and Jane left, both feeling rather silly. Straight away their mother got on the 'phone. "Is that Cranley Home for Waifs?" she enquired. "Indeed, it is" a voice replied, "And this is Mr. Clancey speaking. How can I help?" "What have you in mind for your boys and girls this Christmas?" asked Mrs. Brennam. "Not very much I'm afraid. It's been a bad year with donations and so many charities are finding things difficult."

"Very well, please take all your children to the village hall at seven o'clock on the 21st. I am sure you will be pleased" Mrs. Brennam added. "You are so kind and I will call to see you soon to thank you properly" Mr. Clancey replied, hardly believing his luck.

On the 21st both the Brennams and the Cranley Home for Waifs had fine Christmas dinners. All were so happy and it showed that there can be a good outcome when mistakes are made.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Out of Date

It was very late in the day and George Murray had had a long day at the office. He thought he'd get his newspaper on the way home so that he could browse through it before going to bed.

His local supermarket stayed open all night so he would probably get one there. He drove into the car park and made for the newspaper section. A man was sitting behind the counter, chewing gum and reading a newspaper.

"Excuse me, is that the Inform You Daily paper?" he asked the man.
"Yes, it is" said the man, not bothering to look up.
"Well, I'd like to buy it," George replied.
"You can, when I've finished it", the man whispered, again not looking up.
George began to get annoyed. "Look here, I want to get home and have a read before I settle down and go to bed."
"And so you shall", said the man, "When I've finished."
George's temper was beginning to get the better of him. "Look here, if you don't stop mucking about I'll call the manager."
"I am the manager", the man grunted.
"I'll tell you what", said George raising his voice, "I'll give you half the normal price of that paper right now!"
"What do you mean?" the man replied, looking up.
George was now getting impatient. "Well it's second-hand now, it even looks fainter now you've rubbed half the print off it."
"A couple more minutes and my shift will be up and you can have it then", the man grunted.
Reluctantly, George agreed to wait.
The minutes ticked by and at twelve o'clock midnight the man said, "You can have it now."
"I don't want it now", George replied.
"Why's that?" the man asked.
"Well, it's gone midnight and that paper is now yesterday's. Goodbye." George stormed out.


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

The Telephone Trick

In January 1946 we moved back from Berrynarbor to Upminster. The war being over we had to re-settle and resume our lives in our old home.

Soon we applied to have the telephone laid on and this took about two months - things were very slow and material in short supply. Eventually a man from the GPO [as it was then] came and installed our new 'phone and I watched with interest as he finally tested it.

I noticed its bell ring was almost identical to our front door bell and thought, "I can have some fun with this!"

All I had to do was to nip outside and ring the front door bell. Hurriedly coming back in I would listen to hear other members of the family answer the 'phone! As they could see there was no-one at the front door, they fell for the telephone trick. It was all taken in good fun and we all laughed about it.


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett

A Short Story

Actor Alan Shorer had been very successful in films, plays and on television. He had won awards for the parts he played both here and in Hollywood.

Oddly, having been at the top of his profession for some time, he decided to have a change of career and joined the Police force.

Soon he was promoted and worked his way up to become a Detective. He was stationed in Stoke Newingham where there had been a number of robberies of banks and post offices.

Information gathered so far was that the suspects, Brian and Fred Short, would frequent their local pub, The Sun. A plan formed in Alan's mind and this is what followed.

Alan decided to frequent The Sun himself and took on the character of an impoverished deaf mute. At the bar he would not talk to the barman but would give his order written on a small paper pad.

It was not long before the crooks were asking the barman, "What's wrong with him then?"

"Oh, he can't hear or speak and I don't think he sees very well either," the barman replied

Each night, Alan would try to position himself as close as possible to the other two men. Gradually their talk became careless and they started on about their next 'job', they were not worried by this deaf and silent man.

"We could get 'Keys' Macmillan to open the front and strong room door," Brian remarked.

"Yeah, I'm sure he could do it," Fred replied.

Over the following evenings their talk started to go into more detail. They had decided to raid Joslin's Bank in the High Street at 8 o'clock the next Monday evening. Alan kept a low profile but reported back to his superiors.

A hasty meeting was called with the Bank Manager who gladly gave his co-operation.

At a quarter to eight on Monday, Brian and Fred, together with 'Keys', arrived in their get-away car and parked it just around the corner from the bank. There was nobody about so they easily let themselves in, closing the door behind them.

"Now for the strong room," Brian muttered. "And all that cash!" Keys butted in, and getting out his lock-picking tools, "Here we go. I think I've done it", he whispered. Slowly they opened the door. "Put the light on inside", Brian said. "Where's the switch, oh hang on here it is. Wow! This is it", Keys burst out. "It certainly is", said one of the six policemen standing there.

"How the . . .?" gasped the three crooks together. "Simple", said the Chief, "This is the man who helped us", and Alan Shorer stepped out from behind the other policemen. "But he can't hear or speak!" shouted Brian. "Not any more", came the reply. "Come along you lot, we've a car waiting outside."

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowupland


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Once I left school my adult life began and there were going to be many changes over the next 67 years. I shall, no doubt, get my chronology wrong, but here are just a few of the changes in those years:

  • Money was in pounds, shillings, pence, halfpence and farthings. Now pounds with a hundred [new] pence instead of 240d.
  • Measurements have also changed.
  • Chinese takeaways and Indian food are normal.
  • Men's haircuts - no short back and sides, its "Which number sir?" I feel like saying, "No. 3 with chips and special fried rice!"!
  • My first job was for £2.10.0 a week [£2.50].
  • The Empire has been reduced and the names of countries changed.
  • Prices? I remember paying 50p for two gallons of petrol and what is it now? About £1.50 per litre
  • We now have supermarkets, DIY shops, garden centre and very few 'corner shops'.
  • The demise of large cinemas has been replaced by multi-screens, and the 9" black and white television has been replaced by huge colour screens with 3D.
  • Now common place are roads marked with yellow lines, parking meters and multi-storey car parks, when at one time you could park anywhere...
  • If you rode a bicycle you were lucky to have three gears. Now you have many gears although I doubt if they can cope with Hagginton Hill!
  • We've seen the introduction of the NHS, the EU and 'health and safety' applied to everything!
  • Cars need to be MOT'd.
  • We have nylon, electronic calculators, plastic, electric cars, smaller gardens, insulation, synthetic fibres for clothes and carpets, varifocal lenses for glasses, life lengthening operations and drugs, computers, immigration, washing machines, dishwashers, mobile phones, double glazing

the list is endless!

Even the way we speak has changed. If you ask how someone is keeping, you get the reply, "I'm good." What about "Would you like a cup of tea?" "Oh, go on then." Not yes please or no thank you!

Then there is "Catch you later" or if you tell someone something, they say, "I know."

Even the crops farmers grow have changed and did I mention economy bulbs, emulsion and lead-free paint? People now eat with just a fork in their right hand and man has flown to the moon! We have central heating and very few coal fires.

You can, no doubt, think of lots of things I haven't mentioned - give it a try.

I wonder if 'Beam me up Scotty' will ever happen. Don't be too sure it won't!



Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I have just looked up the word kite in the dictionary and it says:a toy consisting of a light frame covered with a light thin material, usually in the form of an isosceles triangle.

This may have been the only idea of a kite at one time, but how things have changed. They dont even have to be in the air. On a minesweeper there was a device attached to a sweep-wire submerging it to the requisite depth when it is towed over a minefield.


My first recollection of kite flying was as a child.I would make my own.If they nose-dived, then a larger piece of rag on the tail would usually put things right.

Our family devised a kite in the size and shape of a domestic door.People said, Thatll never fly", but it did! With a heavier string and an enormous pull, it broke lose one day and we spent an hour or so hunting to find where it had landed.

But kites can be very dangerous too.In their modern form they have enormous lifting power.At Brightlingsea a man was lifted across the river and landed unhurt on the other side.

A man at Stowmarket was not as fortunate when he was lifted up and dropped.He lost his life.

Today, looking out at sea young people can be seen kite surfing.

My own experience of being lifted by a form of kite was parachuting at Looe in Cornwall.I was strapped to a form of parachute on the deck of a boat.As the boat gathered speed, the line was let out as you rose in the air.I was told, Not to worry if the line breaks, you will just float down into the water."They failed to mention the sharks and conger eels lurking down below!


Of course the wind has been used in other ways.Take, for example, windmills.Some years ago the Abraham Brothers had a nice arrangement in that one owned and operated the local windmill for grinding the grain, whilst the other ran a bakery in those days bread was oven baked.What were often mistaken for windmills on the Norfolk Broads were in fact water pumps.

Coming down your way whilst on holiday, I observed a man floating high up at Woolacombe.It was a banana-shaped craft and he was circling around for most of the afternoon.Similarly a man flew up and down near the cliffs at Cromer in Norfolk.I met him later on the pier and asked him if had to learn to fly a hang-glider or have a certificate or something.His reply was, Oh, I dont know about that, I just did it!"

Nowadays in a full circle, the windmill has returned in the form of huge wind turbines.Two hundred feet and more in height, hundreds of them can be seen on and off our shores. I dont know what the neighbours would say if I put one in my front garden!

Illustrations by Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Another Story for the Young and Young at Heart

You may remember our mermaid Marina who with her friend Peter, the Devon Pixie, rescued a locket from the waters of Combe Martin and returned it to an old lady on her birthday.

Well, Marina was sitting at the water's edge at Broadsands when up popped her friend Mary, another mermaid.

"Hello Mary, I haven't seen you for a long time, where have you been?" chirped Marina.

"Well, I've relatives at Swansea so I've been spending a lot of time over there," replied Mary. "Anyway, I've something to tell you. I called in at King Neptune's Castle - you know, near Lundy Island. He still looks the same, with his long white beard and that long coat made of seaweed and feathers. He was a bit upset and asked if you would go and see him as he felt you might be able to help him."

"I wonder what?" questioned Marina.

The next day she began her long swim to King Neptune's castle. She knew it was a long swim and wondered if she would ever get there. There was no need for her to worry, King Neptune had arranged for seals and dolphins to give her a ride on their backs at intervals along the journey.

In no time at all Marina arrived at the castle, was invited in and was soon talking to the King. "It was those wretched jelly fish, they stole the golden limpet from the top of my throne." he told Marina, "I would like you please to try to get it back. I am asking you because I know you can swim very deep down."

Marina looked puzzled. "Tell me more," she said. "The jelly fish swam a long way until they accidently dropped the limpet into a deep and large hole in the sea bed just off Heddon's Mouth. It is said that submarines used to lurk there at times, but I don't know if that is true. Do you think you can help me?"

"If I can have the help of the seals and dolphins again please." "Of course you can and good luck!" The king smiled.

The next day Marina started her long swim. Taking rides on the backs of the seals and dolphins, and avoiding the nasty sharks, she eventually arrived at Heddon's Mouth and knew that this would be the deepest dive of her life.

Down, down she went. The water was getting darker and it was harder to breathe.

"But there," she thought, "is a tiny glimmer." She swam towards it and the glimmer got stronger. "That's it!" she said to herself and grabbed the golden limpet in her right hand. Up to the surface she went as quickly as possible.

Two seals were waiting to help her return to the King's castle. At first they kept quite near the shore, passing Hangman's beach, Combe Martin, Broadsands, Watermouth, Hele and heading out towards Lundy Island once they were near Ilfracombe.

Soon she was back at the castle and greeted by the King.

"You are a wonderful mermaid!" he exclaimed, holding the golden limpet in his hand. "It will be put back in its rightful place on the top of the throne as soon as possible. Now my dear, you must get some sleep and I will send you back to Broadsands tomorrow."

The next morning the King told Marina that she would not need the seals or dolphins as there was a special coach waiting for her. He led her down the steps of the castle and there it was. A beautiful coach studded with pearls and with ten sea horses to pull it. What a wonderful way to go home and soon she was on her way. But what a surprise when she arrived back. There was Mary and lots of their mermaid friends, together with Peter the Pixie and some of his friends.

And there on a large flat rock was a banquet for them - oysters, scallops, mussels , winkles, whelks and a seaweed which was Marina's favourite - what a welcome back!

A happier scene it would be hard to imagine.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrations by: Debbie Cook


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Back in 1922, on the road to Berry Down, there was a farm called Fenbury. Built of timber, as were the outbuildings, it was occupied by

Ivor Fenbury. He bought the land to the farm, including a large wood, which he let out on the basis that he could have as much time as he needed to build his farm outbuildings.

Once established, he stocked up with a large number of cattle, sheep, chickens, turkey and pigs. It was said that he stole some of his stock from neighbouring farmers and in the case of sheep would shear off any identifying marks.

Ivor Fenbury was also known for upsetting other farmers and would put it around that land of certain farmers had a spell on it so that it would not produce crops, etc. He cunningly did this when there was a drought which caused his victim to lose heart. He would then buy the land by appointing his farm labourer to do so, and at a very low price. It would then be conveyed to him.

In those days people were much more superstitious and inclined to believe stories of ghosts, spells and apparitions.

Fenbury was the only farmer in the area to own a bull. It was called Angus, was very large and completely unmanageable. Despite his lack of goodwill to his neighbouring farmers, they would take their cows up to Fenbury Farm hoping to get one or even two calves in due course. This was usually fruitful.

One very wet Wednesday afternoon, farmer Jack Bowes drove his two cows up to the farm - it was the custom to drive two as it makes life easier. Angus did his duty and Jack started off back with his two cows. He had paid the fee and hoped that would be the last of seeing Fenbury for some time. He was about a hundred yards down the road when he could vaguely hear someone screaming and shouting, but ignored it and went on his way.

The next day when Jack met the postman he was told that Fenbury had been gored to death by Angus. "I'm not surprised, but what will happen to all his stock?" remarked Jack. The postman shrugged his shoulders and walked on.

Fenbury was buried in his home town of Barnstaple and two weeks later his farm and all the outbuildings were burnt to the ground. No deed could be found to the farm and so other farmers gradually encroached, having a 'reasonable' portion each. The animals were shared likewise.

Today there is no trace of Fenbury and no longer do people believe that their land can have a spell on it - just as well!

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Recently, I boarded a train to get to a town a few miles away. Sitting opposite was a woman, one of those who immediately want to get into conversation with you - and she did!

"Hello love," she said, "My name is Ruth and I'm on my way to see my sister Mary. I've not been well lately, what with my back playing up and the arthritis. My teeth are troubling me and I'm still getting over the 'flu". "Have you seen the doctor?" I asked. "Oh no!" she replied, "I'm too ill to see the doctor."

"When I had the operation for my gall bladder," she continued, "I said to the surgeon, do you know this is my first operation? He replied to me, "Now there's a coincidence." The doctors and dentists wear them masks you know. I think it's so if things go wrong you won't be able to recognise them, but they don't fool me." I nodded. "And another thing", she started, "I hate aeroplanes with all that noise. If people want to go in aeroplanes then the noise should be shut in with them, not annoying people on the ground. I read somewhere in the paper that they are going to have traffic lights for aeroplanes - I don't know how that's going to work."

I tried not to drop off and put on a slight smile. She started again. "What rotten weather we've been having. My kitchen got flooded with all that rain. No one would help, I had to do it all on my own. My neighbour is a nasty type, always gossiping and moaning - not like me at all. She won two thousand on the lottery and spent it all on herself. I could have done with a bit of that for my gin cupboard. I only have a half bottle a day, so I don't drink much."

I looked at my watch, not long to go now!

Off she went again, "These trains are so slow, reminds me of the LNER, you know, Late and Never Early Railway. Isn't this country in a state. I hate politics so I vote for the Raving Loony Party, I think they are the most sensible."

"My brother is in prison, you know. He did a bank job. I don't think it was very bad though as he didn't know what to spend the money on, so gave it back to them. I'd 've given it to charity, she is my best friend you know!"

What do you think about all this inflation? When I started work I only got 50p a week. Now they get huge amounts and spend it on all the wrong things. Things are not what they used to be."

"Well", I said, "Here is my station, I must leave you now. Keep smiling." I told her. Looking as miserable as anyone could, she replied, "I always do, I'm not one to complain."

I alighted from the train and made for the station cafe. Pity they didn't serve anything stronger than a cup of tea - but I made do with that and plenty of sugar!

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Alice Dummett

Formerly of The Retreat in the Sterridge Valley, Alice passed away at Catherine's Court, Yelland, on the 7th June at the age of 89. Alice and her late husband, Len, were married at Combe Martin in 1948 and moved to Elizabeth House in Berrynarbor, which they ran as a guest house. On Len's retirement in 1969 they moved to The Retreat.

Here they spent a happy retirement together, gardening, walking the dog and enjoying time spent with friends and neighbours until Len sadly died in 1998. Although well cared for in the following years, Alice was lonely and bereft without Len.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


In March 1920 the gigantic Bronson Circus visited Ilfracombe. The advance party had already erected the big top at Brimlands and the parade made their way through the town. There were elephants, horses, giraffes, dogs, lions, tigers, black panthers, clowns and trapeze artists, all accompanied by a large band, Crowds had gathered along the main street as this was a circus of such size and reputation never before seen in the town.

Performances were arranged for the afternoon and evening and bookings were 'House Full'. On the afternoon of the 14th March, the show was progressing nicely - there had been tight rope walkers and hypnotised crocodiles who would walk to the edge of the ring and stop with their front feet on the ring edge, controlled by their trainer. Trapeze artists flying through the air and being caught in the most frightening manner had followed, as well as a fine display by twelve horses with their bare back riders astride two horses as they galloped around the ring. Dogs did their bit, jumping through flaming hoops and dancing on their hind legs.

Whilst bars around the ring were erected in preparation for the lion taming act, the clowns did their bit with the usual throwing buckets of water over each other or losing their trousers only to show the gaudiest of underpants. Now the caged ring was ready and the lions were put through their paces - jumping through hoops, sitting up on their stands, laying in a row and all rolling over together. At the end, the trainer sat astride a lion much to the delight of the audience who cheered loudly, before they made their way back through the barred tunnel to their cages.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Girls and Boys," shouted the Ringmaster, Mr. Gerry Bronson himself, dressed in a bright outfit complete with tail coat and top hat. "I have for you our latest act of Nina and Benji, two handsome black panthers. And here they are now." The two panthers entered. Nina was rather fat but Benji was sleek. "Our trainer for these animals is Mr. Harry Black, Mr. Black will you please show yourself."

Walking over to the door to the caged ring, Mr. Black opened the door and stood with his back to the ring whilst acknowledging the applause from the crowd. Quick as a flash, both animals raced across the ring, leaping on to Mr. Black's back and making their way straight out through the public entrance.

Women and children screamed whilst the Ringmaster and Mr. Black stood aghast, rooted to the spot. Nothing like this had ever happened before and the circus was due to move to its new venue the next day.

The panthers act was the last item on the programme and so the frightened audience made their way, as quickly as they could, to their homes. Mr. Bronson told the Police to ask any local farmers to shoot the panthers on sight, they were very dangerous and likely to attack. The word was soon put round. Various brief sightings were made and it was thought that the panthers had made their way out in the Hillsborough or Hele direction.

Now we come to several days later when Mr. Frederick Loworthy made his way along the headland at Watermouth Harbour, known as the Warren. He had a powerful shot gun and was looking for rabbits. As he approached a large clump of blackberry bushes, he was suddenly confronted by a huge, black panther. Trembling, he pulled the trigger, but missed and the animal ran off. "I'll get you next time," he muttered to himself. Gingerly, he made his way further along when he spotted it again, down by the water. Creeping closer he took careful aim.

"Bang!" went the gun and the panther, in fright, jumped into the water and started to swim in the direction of Widmouth. Quickly,Mr. Loworthy took aim and this time his shot found its target and killed the animal, its body sinking in the water, later to be washed up on the shore. Upon examination, the body was found to be that of Benji and it was duly buried. But what happened to Nina has never been known, and it was thought that she was pregnant at the time of her escape. Could she have lived on, giving birth to her young and did they survive?

There are alleged reports of large, black beasts being seen in the West Country. Are they connected? Who knows?

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowupland


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I came across this advert the other day which read: 'Home Cinema System, blog sonic XYZ + Home Theatre System, complete with 6 speakers including subwoofer £100, etc.', and it brought to mind my time when I lived at Tiptree.

It was not long before I met a Mr. Chick Bright who, on coming out of the services after World War II, was determined to have his own cinema. Although he ran a temporary cinema at a hall in Tiptree, it was not long before he acquired a bungalow with land at the side suitable for a cinema and enough land at the back for a car park.

Once the plans were passed and the villagers heard about the new project, they were interested enough to want to help with things like digging the footings and even trundling loads of bricks from the station on hand pushed trolleys.

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

Soon the cinema was near completion. Materials were in short supply and a problem arose regarding how to put a ceiling in. Mrs. Bright came up with a great idea! She went to the local butcher and asked for all the carcass muslin covers which were generally disposed of. She then washed them and sewed them all together, making one huge piece which was suspended over the auditorium and it is still there to this day!

The cinema was called 'The Astoria' and was run by Mr. Bright and his family - mother would be on the ticket kiosk, father would do the projection and the daughters would act as usherettes. Mr. Bright had an Adana printing machine and would do his own posters to display around the village. He also produced a monthly 16mm version of 'Tiptree News'. On one occasion he climbed the jam factory chimney to show views of what Tiptree looked like 'from the air'.

All went well for a while but attendances began to drop due to television becoming available. After a while, Mr. Bright decided that a change had to be made. "I'll turn it into a dance hall", he said. But this was more easily said than done because the floor was raked and would have to be levelled, and the radiators were all at different heights.

However, when this was sorted there were dances on Saturday nights. But sadly, after each dance there was trouble outside, which became a major problem, and so "I'm going to try it as a cinema again," said Mr. Bright.

But of course by now the floor had been levelled and the only thing to do was to raise the screen, at the same time change the format from 4 x 3 to widescreen [cinemascope], achieved by ropes from the projection box. On one occasion a rope dropped down and knocked off a patron's hat!

It was interesting to go into the projection box whilst a show was on. The clatter of the machines was like the noise of a factory, reels were changed every ten minutes and there was a huge, glowing valve kept in a metal box so that if it exploded it would do no harm.

Interval music was provided by a quite ordinary record player and focus was checked by a small pair of binoculars used through one of the projection ports.

Once again attendances dwindled and Mr. Bright had to think again. Fortunately, the cinema had been built with a shop at the front and so Mr. Bright opened it for selling electrical goods. The seats were all cleared from the cinema and it was let for functions and dancing classes.

One day when I was chatting to Mr. Bright, he told me that the BBC were broadcasting 'Workers' Playtime' from there and that he had, for some reason, a direct line to the BBC. He told me when it would be and that I was invited.

Well, I completely forgot all about it until one day when we had the radio on and the announcer said: "This week, Workers' Playtime comes from Tiptree." Without hesitation I rushed around to the cinema where I was welcomed with a "Quick, come in." The stars of the show were the singer Ann Shelton and Cyril Fletcher.

Sadly, Mr. Bright passed on and the cinema sold and the auditorium is now a large white goods and electrical shop. However, if you go in and go to the far end and turn and look back, you can still see the old projection ports.

Illustration by: : Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


In the '40's and living in Barton Lane when I was about 15, I used to take a magazine called Practical Mechanics. It was an interesting one, telling you how to make things, both mechanical and electrical. It also had some eye-catching adverts!

One of these was for a Crystal [Radio] Set. It claimed: 'No mains, No batteries and we can also supply the necessary headphones. Important! It must have a very good aerial.'

Not being able to resist for long, I decided to send for one.

I was on my way to the Post Office to get the necessary postal order to cover the cost when who should be passing our gate but Captain Adams from On-a-Hill garage. Now, as he had done some radio repairs for the family in the past, I asked him if he had any advice on the subject.

"Well," he said "All I can say is get the best possible aerial. Bell wire would probably do as it is cheap. Try a shop- called Friends by the bus stop in Ilfracombe."

I thanked him and continued on my way to the Post Office. I knew it would be a few days before the crystal set arrived so I took the bus to Ilfracombe the next day. I lost no time in calling in at FRIENDS and they were very helpful.

"Oh, go on, you can have it for nothing", the lady in the shop said as she handed me the remains of a roll of bell wire.

As I sat on the bus travelling back to Berrynarbor, I was trying to think where I should string the aerial. It was just as I was about to open our front gate that a good [as I thought] idea formed in my mind.

I could get out of my bedroom window on to the lean-to roof. From there I could climb onto the mezzanine roof to the bathroom and from there walk up on to the main roof. I could then walk along the ridge and string the aerial wire around the chimney at each end.

The next day was dry so I carried out the rigging of the bell wire quite regardless of the danger of falling, and how stupid was that.

Within a few days there was a nice little package in the post from London. My crystal set and headphones had arrived and I soon rigged it up in my bedroom. With a little bit of tinkering of the spring loaded crystal on to another crystal, I soon managed to get the BBC Home programme. It was only just audible but by putting the phones in an enamel washing up bowl, the reception was amplified slightly and it was not too bad.

I soon found out what the next dangerous thing was! That was going to sleep with the headphones on only to wake up and find the wire twisted around my neck. Do I need to say, "Don't do these things at home!"

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


As life has progressed, I have always been interested in what other people have done and achieved. Recently I have been in touch with Ted Manley, who I have known for the past 70 years.

I first remembered Ted's music when he was in a school concert. He sat on the stage at the Grammar School in his short trousers and wearing wire rimmed glasses playing the accordion. He could not have been more than 11 or 12. His music was already exceptional.

While still at school, Ted would play his accordion for the American soldiers. Down near the pier, if they wrote 'In the Mood' on the back of a ten shilling note [50p] and handed it to him, Ted would oblige! His takings were very good and his mother would pay them into the bank for him.

When Ted left school he formed a dance band which played at first at a hall on the pier and later at the Victoria Pavilion. His cousin, Pat Annett, played the piano and also in the band were 'Dixie' Dale, Vic Knock and Max Farman. With two pianos, the band was similar to that of Victor Silvester. It soon occurred to Ted that after the dances people would need transport home, there were no buses running at that time of night. 'I've got it,' he thought, and so he followed up his playing with a taxi service! For him a very long evening but he was never afraid of hard work.

When not involved with his music, Ted loved boats and kept them at Watermouth Harbour. He was a keen fisherman and knew how to enjoy his leisure.

He broadcast twice - once at Plymouth with Eddie Purkiss and his band and later at the Holiday Inn. Ted plays six instruments - and even more when he worked for a while in a shop in Barnstaple. He was also a demonstrator for Hammond Organs. Although taught for a while by a Miss Smith, his music is basically self-taught.

Ted and his wife, Jean, were married at St. Philip and St. James Church Ilfracombe in 1951 and the photograph shows the archway of musical instruments as they left the church. Ted and Jean have two children, Julie and Spencer and several grandchildren.

Ted, and his band played all over Devon and I remember at the Lee Bay Hotel that he also did the 'calling', instructing the dancers on the steps they should be making - very helpful. Retired now for three years, Ted and Jean are living at Ross-on-Wye.

On behalf of all those people to whom you have given so much pleasure, may I say 'a big thank you, Ted, you have done a fine job.'

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Imagine getting the following letter - could you read it?

Daer Gadrnad,

I thguoht taht as you hvae snet me smoe mneoy to aissst in my utirsveiny sieduts, you wluod ataicppere a lteetr of tnakhs.

As you konw, teshe psat trhee yares I hvae been syinudtg Elsingh Lauggnae and Egnsilh Ltrtieaue as I hpoe to be a liarriabn or Egisnlh Lgaugnae thceear.

Of csuore I konw taht you are a sekclitr for tmie kpeenig aslo creroctonis to gamramr and sllpnieg. As I wotre tihs by hnad and not on my 'petur soluhd terhe be any matkeiss it is buaecse I am uinsg a nelwy pcharused pecie of wintirg eupqiemnt and I'm not too srue of its sellipng qialtieus.

Bset wshies,


Aoccdrnig to rsceearh, it deseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the only iproamtnt thing is that the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and you awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Tony B


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


It was a Saturday morning and our evacuees, Dave Brook and Tom Clark were at Dave's cottage up Hagginton Hill, meeting as usual to decide what to do over the week-end. "Have you heard about the silver mine at Combe Martin? Dave suggested. "No, what about it? Where is it then?"

Dave appeared to have done a little homework on the silver mine which he had gained from the school library. "We could go there tomorrow" the boys chirped in unison. So that was decided upon.

Next morning, as arranged, they met up with their bikes at Berrynarbor Corner. "Right," said Dave, "It's off to Combe Martin!" "Well, that's OK because it's down hill all the way," Tom replied. "You may think so, but you might be in for a surprise!" Dave smiled.

Once down in Combe Martin, they pedalled half way up the main street and came to Shute Lane. "This is where we turn off," Dave said, and they both dismounted and began the long push. Tom shook his head and remarked, "Do you remember at school during Assembly the headmaster - possibly due to a near mishap - warned pupils not to cycle down Oxford Grove? Whereupon some wag at the back of the hall quipped 'They ought not to cycle up it either.' Well, this hill reminds me of Oxford Grove."

At last the lane levelled off and they turned right towards the site of the silver mine. "Look!" said Dave, "That's the old smelting works, or what's left of it." Coming closer to the building they spotted a large heap of spoil. Tom was very impressed and looking to see if anyone was about, they started sorting through the ore. "I've found a bit with silver in it!" Dave shouted. "So have I!" Tom replied.

The lads found several bits with what appeared to be silver and then remounted their bikes for the long journey home. That evening both told their surprised mothers of their treasured finds found at the old silver mine.

Perhaps some day an entrepreneur will explore the possibility of opening a part of the mine for people to see. However, it is said that the tunnels which run under Combe Martin are flooded, so maybe that will not happen.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Answer in Article 29.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Tony is obviously unaware of the Combe Martin Silver Mines Research and Preservation group, and I hope that one of the group will submit a short article about their work for the December issue of the Newsletter.



Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Most young people when they reach their late teens want to get mobile. In my case, due to financial restrictions, I was not able to afford an old banger, like my contemporaries, so I had to look elsewhere. Electric bicycles were not invented but there came on the market what were called 'clip ons'. These 'clip ons' were engines that were fitted to ordinary bicycles.

If I remember correctly, the first was the mini motor. This was a complete motor with a built in petrol tank that fitted over the rear wheel. It had a cable to the handle bars where there was a grip which when pulled into place clicked so as to hold the engine with its roller down on the back tyre. In wet weather, the roller was inclined to slip and it was hard wearing on the tyre.

Other versions were the Cyclemaster which had the engine built into the back wheel, thus avoiding wear and tear on the tyre. Then there was the Velocette or Velo Solo which fitted on the front. I think this had the roller type drive. So far, they were all two-stroke engines requiring a mixture of petrol and oil. Speeds were roughly up to about 30 miles per hour - you had to have a speedometer! The Cucciolo was made by the Italian firm Ducati - I believe cucciolo is Italian for 'little pup'. The Lohan was diesel and fitted like the Cucciolo.

I soon exchanged my mini motor for the Cucciolo. This was a superby 4-stroke machine which fitted below where the pedals usually were. It had its own free wheel built in and two pre-elected gears. The engine was cast in aluminium and had an oil sump which took about a pint of oil. I was very pleased with this but was soon wanting more speed! The answer came to me if I had a fixed wheel sprocket on the back wheel, then I could have a 3-speed Sturmey Archer on it. with gears 1 and 2 on the engine and the three gears on the back, it made all the difference. So 6 gears in all and I could climb any hill or alternatively go up to 40 miles per hour! With no special springing and only bicycle brakes, I was playing with danger. Eventually, due I think to shock inertia, the cycle frame broke, although it was repaired with a slide on piece of tube welded in place.

I must mention that to use any of the 'clip ons' you had to take a motor cycle test and had to display 'L' plates until you passed. The licence was about 17 shillings [85p] and insurance about £2.

On having a word with a collector of these 'clip ons', I learned that they are now worth up to £3,000 depending on the make and condition, etc.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowupland


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Gary Foster was a likeable chap who lived in the town of Chestham. Of neat appearance and of a public spirited nature, his hair was always in place and he always wore a sports jacket, flannel trousers and collar and tie. Gary was of an age when his parents had passed on and the only remaining relative was a very elderly aunt called Gladys, who had outlived other members of her family. Gary had taken it upon himself to visit her in the residential home, Eventide, which was not far away also in Chestham.

He would take Gladys a bunch of flowers, chocolates or some other little treat to try to brighten up her life. Although usually clear headed about what was going on, Gladys would some times make remarks which could not possibly be true.

On one of Gary's visits she told him that Fred had called and they had had a very pleasant chat. Gary knew this was not possible, Uncle Fred had died two years previously.

On another occasion, Gladys related to him that late at night, when she looked out, two men were on the back lawn, there was a shot and one man seemed to be dragging the other in the direction of the summer house. But it was so dark she couldn't really be sure.

On a visit about a week later, Gary was greeted at the front door of the home by Mrs. Weeks, the Matron. "Could I have a word please, Matron?" Gary asked. "Of course," she replied, "In what way can I help?" "Well, Aunt Gladys told me a strange story about two men and a gun out in the back garden, which seems highly improbable."

Matron smiled, "Oh, that one!" she said, "She has also told that story to her doctor and the best thing to do is to say, 'yes, yes, yes' and go along with it". "Right ho, I'll do just that." The matter was not mentioned again.

Two years later, the betting shop next door-but-one to Eventide had been shut up for over a week without even a notice on the door giving the reason why. The proprietor, Frank Gale, was a man known for his bad temper and heart problems.

Several people called at Chestham police station complaining about the closure, so Inspector Channing decided they would have to investigate. The front door was broken down and the police went in and through to the back room. There, sitting in a chair, was Frank Gale and it was obvious he had been dead for some time.

"Whilst we're here, I think we'll have a good look round," remarked Inspector Channing.

On opening a drawer in a desk a revolver and a number of diaries going back over several years were found. Flicking through the diaries, the Inspector came across an entry for a couple of years back which read:

'Dealt with Fred Bell.' He showed it to one of his constables, saying "We'd better make some local enquiries."

Gradually things began to fit together and upon visiting the home, Aunt Gladys's story, retold by the Matron, the Doctor and Gary tied up. It seemed that Fred Bell had owed the betting shop a lot of money.

On examining the summer house at the home, the remains of Fred bell were found underneath together with the bullet that corresponded with the revolver.

Problem solved - what a pity they didn't believe Aunty Gladys!

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowupland


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I have to get rid of this weight!
But I do like lots on my plate!
I'm sure that its all the fattening things
That round my middle a tyre brings!
What shall I do to drop it?
I love sweet things, I can't stop it!
I've seen the stars try to get thin
And get fat again - oh, what a sin.
Lots of people have good advice
They think they are being nice. [Huh!]
I'll think while I gobble this bun
Just how to tackle the problem, head on.
But eating gives so much pleasure,
The more, the better the measure.
I really must give this some thought
Yes, I must, I really ought!
Some say, 'T'is will power, you know.'
So, I think I had better give it a go.
For breakfast it's down to one slice,
And eat it real slow.
For dinner, don't eat like a horse,
Try having just one course.
For tea, a sandwich lace thin,
Will begin to help me win.
Now the fat's dropping off,
And I am losing that nasty cough,
And no more a great double chin.
Now the weight's off I feel so good,
I'm even resisting that very last pud!
For a shadow I stand in the same place twice,
And quite enjoy that small bowl of rice! [I wish!]


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowupland


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


You will remember our evacuee friends Dave and Tom. It was a Saturday morning and Tom had got up early to spend the day with his friend Dave. His mother didn't know what time he'd be back but she knew it would probably be late and was bound to come home when he was hungry.

Sitting in Dave's cottage's front room, the boys chatted about what to do for the day. "We could go up to the Vicarage and get some rooks' eggs," said Tom. "Yeah, but the Vicar is always about and might see us up those tall trees," came the reply. "What about the beach? Oh no, the tide will be out, so that's off."

At that moment there was a knock on the door and in came Mr. Braund who lived two doors away. "Hello boys, what are you doing today". "We haven't decided" said the boys in chorus. "Well, I've got a business trip to Exeter and there are two empty seats if you would like to come with me. You could have a good look around Exeter and we could meet later, say 3 o'clock at the cafe in Station Road, to come home."

To ride in a car in war time was a luxury, the general ways of transport were to walk, cycle or go by bus, so the boys jumped at the chance. Mr. Braund told them he'd be back in quarter of an hour to collect them. In those days there were no motorways and many of the roads were narrow and winding, or both. It was a fine sunny morning as the three set off towards Barnstaple.

"I must tell you this," Mr. Braund said, "There were fourteen bombs dropped in fields near Mortehoe and fortunately no one was hurt. Did you know that a German pilot mistook Chivenor for Holland and landed there? Realising his mistake, he tried to return to his plane but was caught. The R.A.F. had a complete German aircraft."

After Barnstaple, Chumleigh, Lapford and Crediton and the boys were surprised when they got to Exeter how quickly the journey had passed. "I'll leave you here and see you later at the cafe as arranged," said Mr. Braund as he stopped the car. "Off you go!"

Getting out of the car, the boys stood there with their mouths wide open. They were right in the centre of Exeter. There were spaces where shops had been; there were buildings where the side walls had been taken out, leaving the rooms in full view, still with furniture in them. The bombing of the city had been very severe. As they walked around, Tom and Dave found enormous devastation almost everywhere.

Presently a policeman came their way, and stopping said, "Hello boys, what are you looking at?" "Well," replied Tom, "We live in Berrynarbor near Combe Martin and we've never seen anything like this." "You're a couple of lucky lads then," said the policeman as he walked on.

As arranged the lads met up with Mr. Braund in the cafe, where he had parked the car outside. Before starting their journey home, they all had a cup of tea and a biscuit.

"We haven't really seen anything much about the war until today," remarked Dave to Mr. Braund on the way back. "Although there were incendiary bombs and a couple of high explosive bombs dropped on the Hangman Hills. There may have been a couple of cows killed, I think."

When they got back to Berrynarbor, Mr. Braund dropped them off at Dave's home saying, "I think you have learnt something today." "We certainly have," the boys agreed.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

With the kind help of Ray Easterbrook

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Jack and May Bryant were living in Berrynarbor in 1936 and had a five-year-old daughter, June. A pretty little girl and popular with the other children in the village, she attended the school and was liked by the teachers who were always pleased with her response to their lessons.

June had always wanted a kitten and one day her father came home cuddling a pretty little bundle of fluff. "What are we going to call her?" June's mother asked. "Let's just call her Fluff", chirped June. "What a good idea," her father agreed. So they were all happy.

Over the months, Fluff became a lovely Persian fully grown cat and every night would sleep at the foot of June's bed. Sadly, on the night of Christmas Eve, Fluff didn't come in.

June began to cry, "Where, oh where is my darling Fluff?" she sobbed. Her parents were equally upset, not only for the missing pet but to see June crying so. They all went to bed with tears in their eyes.

At about two o'clock on Christmas morning, Jack was awakened by a curious clinking sound. It was a moonlit night and as he looked out he could just make out a cat limping up the front garden path. "It's got to be Fluff" he thought to himself as he opened the door.

Sure enough it was Fluff! The clinking noise was due to a wire snare used for catching rabbits which was attached to Fluff's left back leg. Somehow she had managed to pull the peg out of the ground and get home.

"You poor thing", Jack whispered, as he picked her up and put her on the kitchen table, loosening the snare which he then cut with pliers.

Fortunately, the snare had only caused a cut and Fluff's leg was not broken. He bandaged the leg and carried her up to June's room, laying her on the bed.

Jack and May were awakened early by a very excited June. "She's back, she's back, isn't it wonderful?" June cried. More tears, but this time tears of joy. That night as June said her prayers, she gave thanks for the best Christmas she ever had - it was for her parents too!

Illustrated by: Debbie Cook

Tony Beauclerk - Stowupland


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Our two evacuee friends, Dave Brooks from Goosewell and Tom Clark from Barton Lane, had decided that at the week-end, on Saturday afternoon, they would cycle to Ilfracombe.

"We could have a look at the Tunnels Beaches," suggested Tom. "What a good idea," Dave replied.

They met at the bottom of Hagginton Hill just after 2 o'clock to start their journey. Chatting, they passed Watermouth Caves and Castle. "Where shall we leave our bikes?" enquired Dave. "How about down at the Police Station at the bottom of Northfield Road," was the reply.

They were soon at Ilfracombe and enquired of the duty sergeant if it would be all right to leave their bike. "Yes, of course you can," replied the rather portly, red-faced and smiling policeman. That settled, off they went towards the Tunnels Beaches. "It's rather amazing that Welsh miners cut these tunnels, and look you can see the pick axe marks," said Dave, "It must have taken them ages too."

Coming to a suitable beach, they decided to sit down. It was a warm afternoon and there were families sunning themselves and enjoying a paddle or swim in the pools created with the retaining walls. "Do you know that mixed bathing was not allowed here many years ago? What's more, a man was employed to blow a bugle should he see any hanky panky going on, such as a man ogling at the women," Dave told Tom. "You seem to know everything!" replied Tom. "Well, I'm a teenager, aren't I?" came the reply.

The two boys were soon paddling to cool their feet when Tom spotted something at the water's edge. "Look, it's a brooch. It's bit like one of my mum's, it's a cameo," said Tom as he picked it up. He put it in his pocket and they carried on paddling. Dave suddenly turned to Tom and suggested that when they went back for their bikes, they could hand it in at the Police Station.

The afternoon began to turn cooler and before long it was time to make their way back to collect the bikes. The same sergeant was still on duty and quite delighted when the boys showed him what they had found. "That brooch belongs to Lady Felbrigg up at St. Brannocks Grange. Do you know where that is?" "Yes, we do," said both boys together. "Then you shall take it back to her." The sergeant beamed.

Off they went not knowing quite what reception they would receive from her ladyship. They rang the door bell, which was soon answered by the maid. "Wait here please while I tell my Lady," she said, looking rather puzzled at what the boys told her.

"My brooch, my lost brooch, come on in," called Lady Felbrigg. "Do sit down, you must try some of my elderberry wine." Neither of the boys knew of any such thing, but as it sounded rather good they thought they would give it a try. Soon, each had consumed rather a large glass, and as they left thanking Lady Felbrigg for her hospitality, they both felt decidedly squiffy. They rode back and were on their way to the coastguard cottages when they spied a haystack.

"My head's swimming," Tom groaned. "So's mine and I feel awful sleepy," was the slurred reply. So it was agreed that they rest under the haystack and before too long, they were fast asleep. Waking up first, Dave groaned, "Heck, I don't think I'll try that again." "We'd better get back," moaned Tom.

When they got home, both boys told their mothers that they didn't feel well and were going straight to bed. "I know you won't tell me, but I bet you've been up to no good," said Tom's mum, whilst Dave's mum said his breath smelt and she hoped he would not be so silly as to try anything strong at his age. "Me? Hic, of course not, hic."

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Charles and Ruth Benson were comfortably off and lived in a timber house near Berrynarbor Corner. For mobility they had two horses and a carriage. They also employed a groom, Fred, to feed and muck-out the horses, generally look after the place as well as doing the garden.

Oddly enough, Charles, Ruth and Fred were all very tall and so were always recognised by the friendly village folk.

It was a lovely sunny day in 1923 when Charles suggested to his wife that they should visit his brother John and his sister-in-law Rita, who lived in a house near the Pack O' Cards in Combe Martin. Fred was grooming one of the horses when Charles looked across to the stables, "Get the horses ready and harness them up to the carriage, we're going to Combe Martin", he called.

Fred carried out his master's wishes as quickly as he could because he always knew it would be an opportunity to sink a pint or two at the Pack.

In a short time the horses and carriage were ready and waiting for Charles and Ruth to take their seats, which they duly did. "Take it nice and slowly," Ruth called to Fred, "The horses won't mind as its downhill all the way and they can save some energy for the journey home."

*Oh look, Sir and Madam," Fred remarked, "You can see Little Hangman, or at least the top and bottom of it, as there is a cloud in the middle."

"What a lovely sight," replied Ruth, "We are so lucky living here."

Soon they were down to Woodlands and approaching the top of Seaside Hill and looking down could see that the tide was very high. Gradually they started the descent to the village, passing the steps where people once got their water from the river Umber.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a Jack Russell ran out, barking at the horses, which in fright gathered speed. Their passengers were terrified. In desperation the horses veered left, still with the carriage and passengers in tow, and into the sea.

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

Fortunately, as the tide was so high and the drop relatively little, the horses swam for a short distance before pulling the carriage up the harbour beach.

This could not have happened a few years later for in about 1928, the road was improved and a footpath with rails was erected.

By now the horses had pulled the carriage to the more level part of the beach and stood there shaking themselves. The passengers were shaking too! After a few minutes, when they had calmed down a bit, Ruth said to Charles, "What do we do now? We had better get to John and Rita's and dry out." Charles replied as though such an escapade was almost normal.

A crowd had gathered and cheered them on. It was not long before they were at John and Rita's and all given dry clothes to wear, and Fred across the road for his pint. It was probably more than one and most enjoyable, as relating what had happened earned the treat of at least another pint, if not two.

After enjoying their meal and making a fuss of the horses and giving them carrots and sugar lumps, it was time for the return journey, which was uneventful. With the horses bedded down, everyone had a good night's sleep.

The following day, Charles was in his garden, and so was his neighbour. "Looks like its going to be wet today," the neighbour remarked.

Grinning, Charles replied, "Not as wet as yesterday".

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


There would be an up side and a down side to being a tree.

Firstly, the up side. How lovely to grow beautiful branches spreading out towards the sky. Foliage which people could admire; even blossom and a place where birds could nest and bring up their young. Picture it now with those little beaks opening as soon as the parents arrive with food. A tree could be part of an avenue or like a huge oak in park lands. Trees are usually beautiful and loved by most people.

Now secondly, let us think about the down side and please don't mention dogs! It is what is going on below ground.

Those uncontrollable roots, growing and travelling where no eye can see. Forward across boundaries, into drains, disrupting water mains, rucking up footpaths and deeper down, damaging house footings. And, when discovered, along come the men with their chain saws and shredders. You could end up as a lorry load of chips and a few logs - even the latter are split, what a nasty end!

No, fortunately, I am a dandelion standing here in a crevice in a garden path. I am upright with my yellow hair, just minding my own business. What's this, someone is coming? What have they got in their hand? I can see on the spray can, 'kills all weeds and roots', what shall I do? Oh, oh, oh . . .

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Our wartime evacuee friends, Dave from Goosewell and Tom from Barton Lane, spent a lot of the school holidays mucking around together. One day, as they sat chatting on the seat in the village, they hit on the idea of building a raft.

"All we'd need are a couple of five-gallon drums," Dave pondered, "And a couple of long pieces of wood."

"You strap the drums each end and have a few bits of wood to sit on in the middle," Tom added, scratching his head and stroking his chin, while wondering where they could get the drums. "I know!" he started, "Napps Wood dump, on the old coast road." "Come on, let's go now!" Dave replied, and off they went.

They soon arrived at the dump where they were able to find two suitable oil drums, complete with stoppers. They then took them up to the lime kiln, hid them by covering them up with leaves, ready for collecting later.

Losing no time, they soon found some drift wood on the beach and knocked up what they thought to be their one-person craft to paddle about on.

When next the boys communicated with semaphore across the Valley, they arranged to carry the raft up to the kiln, collect the drums and take it all down to Broadsands.

After precariously carrying their raft down the many steps to the beach, they found the tide to be high, but going out. "You go first." Dave said to Tom. "OK, I'll give it a try", was the reply, and they placed the raft at the water's edge, but Tom suddenly noticed that he had no paddle. "That bit of wood over there will do," he thought, and picked it up. Soon he was sitting on the raft and pointing out to sea.

"It doesn't seem very stable," he muttered to himself. "Whoops!" he cried as it capsized and threw him into the water, up to his middle.

Wading ashore he called to Dave that it wasn't going to work. "Hey, it's drifting out, we'll lose it if we're not careful!" Tom looked a bit glum, "Then we'll have to lose it, 'cos I'm wet enough already." As the raft drifted out to sea, they decided to abandon ship.

"Got any money?" enquired Tom. "Yeh, a bit," was the reply. "Then let's go to Combe Martin and get some fish and chips." "Good idea."

As they walked to Combe Martin Tom's clothes began to dry out and they agreed that their raft project had been both stupid and dangerous and they wouldn't try it again.

As they approached the shop, a lovely smell of fish and chips wafted towards them. Two pieces of rock eel were ordered, together with a penny worth of chips. Thoroughly enjoying eating their food from the newspaper wrapping, they made their way back to a seat in the car park. "We've just about enough money to get home by bus," said Tom. "Well, to Berrynarbor Corner, anyway," chipped in Dave.

They got the bus and parted at the Corner to make their own ways back. As each arrived home, and almost in synchronisation, they enquired, "What's to eat?" "I'm more interested in why you've a piece of seaweed sticking out of your pocket?" was Tom's mother's comment.

Illustratations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Talk of car parking charges going up , yet again, reminded me of the following story. Many years ago when parking cost 6d [2 1/2p], I saw a sign outside a car park which said "Pay as you Enter". I duly put my sixpence in the box and entered. Alas, on driving around the car park there was not one free space. Being rather annoyed, I drove my car some distance away and parked very inconveniently behind a friend's shop. As I walked back into town I thought, "Why should they get away with it? I'll call at the Town Hall." This I did and spoke to the man behind the counter. "Can I help you?" he asked. "Yes," I replied, "I have just put sixpence in the box at your car park and there were no spaces available. This is a breach of contract and I should like my money back."

I could read his mind which said: "We've got a right one here!" Anyway, he reached into his pocket and took out a sixpence which he handed to me. I thought: "Heck, now the council's employees have to pay for the mistakes of others."

About two weeks later I had reason to go to the same car park. Cautiously I parked first intending to go back and feed their meter. Reaching in to my pocket, I found that I had no small change. "Better go to the nearest shop and get some," I thought. Which is what I did, but upon my return to the car, I saw a nasty ticket under the wiper. I read the note and decided to go to the Town Hall right away. Yes, you've guessed it! It was Mr. "What can I do for you", the very same man.

I explained what had happened to which he smiled and said, "Well, we'll overlook it this time." I shook him by the hand and thanked him for being so considerate.

When I got home, I told my wife about the event before asking "By the way, what's for tea?" "How about a large slice of humble pie," was her reply.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Crime Stoppers

Keith Meldrew was a bit of a loner. People in the village thought he might be to blame for when things 'went missing', but never had any proof. However, in December 1942 there was a certain amount of stealing going on. It was on a small scale - things like vegetables, mud-scrapers from outside people's front doors, and even children's toys left outside in error. Something had to be done! And it was, in a roundabout and amusing way.

You may remember that for his prize for the best boat, Dave gave Tom one of his slowworms, but Tom was ticked off by his mother and told to get rid of it 'straight away'! However, Dave still collected a few at times and would take them to school to sell - a little bit of extra pocket money.

One evening, Dave and his mother were sitting in front of their coal fire at their cottage at Goosewell. Dave had managed to collect three slowworms, which he had put in a tin on the windowsill.

"I'll take them to school tomorrow", he said. But the next morning, when he was about to leave for school and he went to pick them up, the tin had gone!

The strange thing was that in the middle of the night, both Dave and his mother thought they had heard a loud yell and footsteps disappearing into the night. "I didn't fasten the window last night, and someone must have taken it," said his mum.

On his way down Hagginton Hill, Dave met another lad from school. "I had my slowworms pinched last night," he told him, "Did you hear or see anything?" "Yes, I did," replied his friend, "there was someone shouting 'adder, adder, adder!'" Just then, Dave saw something shining, "Look, there is my tin and there is the lid," he said as he picked them up. There was no sign of the slowworms and the two boys continued on their way to school.

A week later and across the valley, Tom and his mother sat warming themselves by their coal fire. They hadn't bothered to put the lights on, nor pull the curtains, because of the 'black out'. The window to the left of the fireplace had a stay which often jammed and for this reason it was mostly left slightly ajar. As they sat there in the dim light, a hand came through the gap and was trying to unlatch the stay.

Tom's mother, who had been dressmaking, had left her very sharp scissors on the little table beside her. Silently she picked up the scissors and carefully took hold of the sleeve on the arm protruding through the window. Gently, she cut off about an inch from the sleeve to about half-way round. With the last snip of her scissors, the hand was suddenly withdrawn. She sat down again, with the piece of cloth in her hand. "That will teach whoever it is not to do that again!" she said to herself.

Meeting a few days later in the village shop, the two mothers were talking about how the mini crime wave had stopped. "What would you do", said Dave's mother, "If you caught the villain? I'd give him a cuff or at least a bit of a cuff!" was the reply. "And what would you do? I wouldn't adder a thing to what you say." The two mothers laughed and went on their way.

... and for Christmas

Christmas is for the family,
We must remember that.
It's not just the food that makes us feel good
As we put on our paper hat.

Remember the reason for Christmas
And those who don't do so well.
Donate something to others,
I'm sure you will, I can tell.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Combe Martin of many years ago was very different to how we know it today. In the earlier part of the last century, it had a number of fishing boats of the sailing type; there was the exporting of strawberries; many roads were unmade and Seaside Hill was narrower as the project of widening the footpath overhanging the beach had not been carried out.

One morning in November 1918, two brothers, Harry and Brian, set off from their home opposite the Church, walking the length of the High Street and stopping on Seaside Hill for a rest. The area was shrouded in mist and cloud and when they cast their eyes over to Lester Point, it was one of those days when you can see the top and bottom of Little Hangman, but not the bit in between. The other people about all witnessed what happened next.

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

Suddenly there was a slight tremor, a rumbling and a roar started to build up and everyone's attention was drawn to the Camel's Head. Because of the mist, it was only just visible.

"Look at that!" people called out in unison. "The camel seemed to blink its eye." "It couldn't have done," said another.

Following this event, a Mrs. Gladys Jones of Combe Martin wrote to her sister in Barnstaple.

'Dear Jane', it read, 'You won't believe this although a lot of people will tell you the same thing. The other day it definitely looked as if the Camel blinked.' The letter went on to talk about other, domestic matters.

The letter was held for many years by the late Colonel Brian Chambers of Barnstaple, a long time museum curator.

What was curious was that the 'blink' happened at 11 o'clock on the eleventh day of November 1918 - the end of World War I.

Now we move on to 1945.

Two sisters, Elizabeth and Joan, were ambling their way up Seaside Hill. Again it was one of those days of mist and cloud. They stopped for the customary taking in of the general scene, as were other people. Just as there had been all those years earlier, there was this sudden tremor, roar and rumble - a difficult thing to describe. All eyes turned in the direction of Camel's Head, and together they witnessed what seemed to be a blink of the Camel's eye. A strange and almost frightening experience!

Everyone began exchanging views on what they believed they had seen and of course some exaggerated the matter as they related it in the local pubs, probably getting a free pint for their trouble.

As the two sisters made their way home, they passed a house where the window was open and the radio was on and could be heard quite clearly. The news was on and a voice told the nation that 'Today at 3.00 p.m. on the 8th of May 1945, the war with Germany has ended. A speech will follow by the Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Churchill.'

"That must have been about the time we thought we saw the Camel blink," said Elizabeth to Joan.

What do you think? There was no particular rubble found below the Camel's Head, by way of falling rocks which might have caused the 'roar'.

There was a small insertion in the national press at the time. Theories have been put forward but no real nor satisfactory answer has been found. What do you think?

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester

Mischievous Lad

I have an evil thought
It will not go away.
I thought about it hard
But it seems it's here to stay.

When troubled by such thoughts
You always seem to find
You cannot eat, you cannot sleep,
It's always on your mind.

All right, here goes, my secret is
To knock and run away.
On the vicar's door, you might think poor,
But I'll do it one wet day!

When the day comes
Should I really do it?
I'd feel some guilt, I know I would,
If caught they'd put me through it!

'Share your secret' some would say
'Now what's it all about?'
I'm not telling anyone
I might just get a clout.

Illustration by: Paul Swailes



Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Part IV - Boats & Semaphore

It was one late summer week-end in 1943 that our evacuee friends were chatting at the cottage at Goosewell. "Got any ideas about what we should do over the week-end?" said Tom to Dave. Dave's eyes lit up, "Yes," he said, "Come down the road to where there is a field gate on your left, I want to show you something. It's before you get to East Hagginton Farm." So, they got up and off they went.

Once down the road, they opened the gate and Dave said, "Look to your left." "I can't see what you mean," replied Tom, looking puzzled.

"Well, if you look carefully, it looks as though there has been an old, shallow quarry there at one time. Although there is short grass on it, because the sheep have munched it that way, it would scrape clear and when it rains we could have quite a nice, safe, shallow pond."

Tom still looked puzzled. "Yes, but why do we need a pond?" he muttered a little impatiently.

"For our boat competition." Dave smiled and went on to explain the idea. "Each of us should make a little wooden boat, say six inches long, and the one which sailed the best would be the winner!" Dave was definitely the best at wood carving and felt confident that he would win.

"I can probably cadge a spade, fork and rake from our next door neighbour. That should be all we need, and I don't suppose the farmer will mind what we do, as his sheep will be able to drink from the pond."

They borrowed the tools and went back to start clearing the grass away to make ready for the expected rain to fill it. They broke a prong off the rake - about which the owner was not very happy!

The following week-end Dave found some bits of wood and started carving perfect little hulls for his boats. The sails were just one piece of stout paper, pierced with a mast made from a butcher's skewer. All he needed for the rudder was a thin shaped piece of aluminium, cut with his mother's scissors, and fastened to the bottom of the boat with a long pin. Tom, on the other hand, searched and searched to find some suitable wood to make his couple of boats. Eventually he hit on the idea of using some wooden plant tags which he found in the garden shed. Hardly cutting the plant tags to any real boat shape, he finished the rest in much the same way as Dave.

As predicted, a couple of weeks later it rained and the area they had cleared flooded to a nice depth of about six to eight inches. Dave had a look and being satisfied, called round to tell Tom. "Got your boats made?" he enquired. Tom said he had and off they set to try them.

They both launched their boats at the same time, and what happened? Well, Dave's, though perfect in appearance went anywhere but straight across. Tom's, on the other hand, rickety and badly made, sailed right to the other side without a problem.

"You've won," conceded Dave. "Well, where's the prize?!" joked Tom, pleased with his own efforts. Thinking for a moment, Dave generously declared, "I'll give you one of my slowworms." So off went Tom proudly with his prize in a jam jar. "You can get rid of that straight away!" exclaimed his mother.

Our two evacuee friends had now become good wartime friends but communication between their two homes was difficult, with one of them in the cottage at Goosewell and the other in Barton Lane.

One day they were talking about things in general when Dave suddenly announced, "I think I've got a good idea. Have you ever heard of semaphore?" "What the heck's that?" came the reply. Dave explained. "People wave two flags at each other in such a way that they can communicate. It's a bit like Morse code and I think there's a book at home which explains it."

"Well " said Dave, "If you find out about it and we learn it, you could signal me across the valley from the stone stile up Hagginton, and I could reply from our terrace. If we made quite large flags, we ought to be able to see each other more easily." The book was found and both boys duly learned their semaphore code.

A day and time was arranged for them to take up their respective positions. It worked! On the first 'chat', it was arranged that Tom should call at Dave's cottage that afternoon to go scrumping. A bit naughty true, but then what's what young lads did in those days.

By half-two, Tom was at Dave's. "What are you two up to today?" enquired Dave's mum. "Oh, we'll just wander around and muck about" they told her. "Well, off you go then" she said in a doubtful tone, knowing that there was probably mischief in the air.

They made their way down to a nearby farm where Dave knew there was an orchard with some choice fruit. "Look at this", he called to Tom. "They've got a fig tree." The figs were plump and tasty and both boys ate far too many, as well as a quantity of juicy apples. Being rather greedy, they wanted more. So, tucking their trousers into their socks, they filled their trousers with apples. "Listen, I think someone's coming", whispered Tom. "We'd better get out of here." By pulling their trousers out of their socks they released the apples, and ran.

That evening, surprise, surprise, both boys complained of tummy ache. Mum's are not that daft and the lads didn't get much sympathy!

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Part III

Continuing the adventures of our two evacuee friends during World War II.

Up at the cottage at Goosewell, Mary, Dave's mother, shook the covers on his bed. "Come on, Dave, I want you to go to Miss Cooper's." "Who's Miss Cooper?" muttered Dave sleepily, opening his eyes slowly. "It's the Berrynarbor village shop, you chump," his mother replied. "Take the ration books and get me some sugar and butter please."

Dave dressed and had his breakfast and got his bike out of the shed. He was just about to cycle off when, "Hold on a minute," his mum called, "You'll need your raincoat."

"Can't remember where I left it," replied Dave, it was his standard answer. He threw down his bike and went indoors to look. It took a while before he uncovered it under the usual pile of clothes in his bedroom. Meanwhile, although it had been raining hard, it had now eased up. He made his way along the road to the top of Hagginton Hill, gathering speed as he reached the steepest part near the bottom. As he did so, he pulled on his brakes, turning the bend to see a broken down tractor and trailer completely blocking the road.

He tried his brakes again, but to no avail. He was finding it hard to balance by now, as his wheels slid sideways on some loose stones. Harder and harder he pulled and at last the brakes began to bite. Suddenly, he managed to veer to the left and pulled up at the bottom of Pitt Hill.

"Phew, that was a close one!" he whispered to himself as he mopped his brow. Taking a deep breath, he began to push his bike up the hill to Miss Cooper's shop, where he leant it against the wall.

"Sorry, we are out of butter and sugar until the next delivery", the lady in the shop told him. As he left, who should he bump into but his friend Tom.

"What are you doing today?" enquired Tom. "Well, nothing now. They haven't got what I came for. What about going down to Broadsands", replied Dave. So that was settled and off they went.

Climbing down to the beach was not too hard until they got to the last few feet of shale. The tide was in and the sun was shining and the water looked very inviting. They sat down and began, as boys do, to throw stones.

"Bet I can bounce a stone further than you!" said Tom. You're on!" was the reply and the contest began. Each of them bounced stones up to seven times, but that seemed to be the limit. "You know what, the water is lovely and warm," Dave remarked as he dipped his hand in. "Wouldn't mind a swim but we haven't got our trunks." "Why not our underpants?" suggested Tom and so that was decided upon and into the water they dashed.

As they walked up the beach after their swim, Tom suddenly yelled as a rowing boat appeared between the island and the beach, "Watch out, Ian Cropper's coming in his boat!" Cropper was known for his bad temper and getting into scraps in Combe Martin.

"I'll get you lot!", he shouted as he quickly landed his boat. At that, Tom and Dave grabbed their clothes, putting them on over their wet underpants and running to the bottom of the cliff, as for no apparent reason, other than his bad temper, Cropper started throwing stones at them.

The boys discovered new energies as they scrambled up the cliff. Cropper was now enjoying their discomfort, each one getting a gash as they were struck. Once out of range and with bravado they jeered back. It was not long before they were back up on the old coast road and each lad making his way home.

"Did you get my sugar and butter?" Dave's mother asked him when he got back. "Sorry, they hadn't got any," said Dave as he handed back the ration book. "Got any elastoplast?" "What's that gash on your leg?" enquired Tom's mother as he arrived home. "I think I caught it on a stone", was the reply. "Oh boys!" she muttered quietly, as she went to the kitchen to get him something to eat.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


I know I run the risk of criticism as soon as I mention foxes. I understand that people either love them or loathe them. The rural fox has been blamed for the killing of lambs and chickens. I can understand this, for a fox raided my mother's chickens at Upminster where we lived at the time. It killed ten hens and three ducks and not only were there carcasses in our back garden, but some were strewn around next door.

Now, the fox has realised that it can have an easier life by moving into suburbia and living out of dustbin bags, food put out for birds or food put out by sympathisers. Good note for gardeners, they also eat slugs and snails.

Being a canine, the fox is very dog-like in its ways. It sits exactly like any other dog and its ways of moving into areas or even premises are fairly dog-like as I can reveal.

At Mortehoe, a friend of mine who lived on a farm was in the habit of leaving the back door open. One day, upon returning home, he found to his surprise, a fox curled up in his armchair. I don't know if it left any little friends behind as it was shooed outside!

Some time ago, whilst walking the dog, I spotted a fox some yards away. At one point it would run on ahead and then stop. Then it would repeat the actions until it disappeared down someone's sideway.

One winter in daylight, upon looking out into our back garden I saw a fox sitting there looking at me. Presently it was off, over the six foot fence quicker and easier than any cat! I could still see it in the neighbour's garden for a while before it disappeared completely.

Here, at our bungalow, we are visited by three foxes. We know there are three as one has one ear up and the other down; number two is smaller and probably a vixen; the last is larger and probably a dog.

Now this is where we are a bit naughty! In the evening we put food scraps in a bowl and put it immediately outside the French doors of our sitting room. Despite the curtains being wide open, the lights on and the TV going, our foxes visit us for a feed. We watch them from a distance of about eight feet.

They suddenly appear as if from nowhere and stand looking at us, first right and then left, then they get on with their food. They are very nervous and easily frightened by car noises, gusts of wind, fireworks, etc.

To study these creatures at such close range is, to us, quite fascinating and a sight many people would like to see.

Now comes the daft bit! One day I looked out to see two foxes on a shallow pitch roof of a neighbour's garden shed. They were moving about and letting out the most blood curdling howls. Not wishing any animal to suffer pain and not knowing if they were injured or had been hit by a car, I rang the RSPCA.

The man on the other end of the 'phone said, "Not to worry, they always make these noises at mating time. It frightens quite a lot of people." I did feel a chump!

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester

Illustration by Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Following my father's death in 1936, my half-brother Gerald took it upon himself to look after my mother, sister and myself. Although time leaves a haze on things which happened in the past, there are still plenty of memories to recall. It must have been Christmas 1936 when Gerald booked the family into a house at Seaford in Sussex - full board and we were looked after by the owner.

Mornings were usually a walk along the beach or a trip to the recreational ground for goes on the swings, roundabout or slide and it comes back to me now that both Gerald and my mother had several goes on the slide, which was, of course, only meant for children! I was on the high end of the seesaw, and a lad who had come along on the low, when suddenly his mother called him and he jumped off. I went down with a wallop, winded - a very unpleasant feeling, particularly as the other didn't seem to understand why I was gasping for breath!

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

We would also go for a walk up Seaford Head, flanked by the cliff. I have been back there more recently, and they seem to have increased the gradient! You may have experienced the same kind of thing.

Before going to see the pantomime in Brighton, we would go to Harris's restaurant for a sausage supper. Theirs was a large family, Harris No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and so on, all brothers. The pantomime was great with a full orchestra and the story was 'held over' whilst you were entertained by comedians, balancing acts, etc. The compere would come on the stage to remind everyone of the story so far and then the panto would continue.

On another Christmas at Seaford it snowed and Gerald said we should get a toboggan. So off he went to a local carpenter, who said he was sorry but it wouldn't be ready until the next morning. We kids were, of course impatient, so to keep us amused we were taken to the local cinema to see 'Alf's Button Afloat', with Flanagan and Allen. In black and white, of course, it was about Aladdin's lamp which was found melted down and recast as a button. The button had to be polished, so you can imagine the fun they had with that!

Next morning after breakfast, we hurried off to the carpenter's and the snow was still falling. After paying, we hurried off to Seaford Head, where tobogganing was reasonably safe as the land sloped upwards towards the cliff edge. I think the whole of Seaford had turned out! Grownups and children, as well as dogs, were there, with sleighs, toboggans and even skis, and to jolly things along, Father Christmas came to talk to the children, patting them on the head after asking them what they wanted for Christmas.

I have told you about two Christmases before the War, but there is one particular one after the War that comes to mind. For some reason I decided to have a holiday in your part of Devon and my old schoolday's friend, Bob Becker, who lived at Woodlands, Combe Martin invited me to have Christmas dinner with his family. It was one of the best dinners I've had. We stuffed ourselves silly! Bob's people had farming relatives and friends there and I thought it only right to help with the washing up. When we returned to the living room, they were all asleep and I shall never forget the chorus of snoring or the volume - a good time was had by all!

I hope and trust you all have a wonderful Christmas, but please give a serious thought about the reason we celebrate Christmas. Thanks.

This picture of Christopher Beauclerk's milk float was taken in February 1984, when he was the roundsman at the hamlet of Hardy's Green. He carried crates of milk to the customers as he was unable to get through! The picture, which appeared in the whole of Lord Raleigh's dairy area, was taken by a customer.


How observant are your friends? Whilst sitting around in chairs, take a walking stick in your right hand and tap it three times on the floor. Casually swap the stick to your left hand before handing it to the next person and ask them to repeat what you did. The chances are that others will forget that you changed the stick from your right hand to your left before handing it on and you tell them they didn't do it right. Several people will probably do this before the 'penny drops'!

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


We have had a problem with slugs and mice. Slugs - we have tried pellets but they seem to enjoy them, they also love the taste of our hostas.

We have put down bait for the mice - surprisingly, when I went to move some pieces of old rock I found that they had moved some of the bait and stored it up for eating later. I thought I'd better consult the experts, so off I went to our DIY centre.

"Ah, yes," said the assistant. "We have a nice line in mouse traps at 50p each." I thought, that's quite reasonable, I'll have a couple. "What is the best bait for mouse traps?" I asked, "Because I've heard that cheese is not that good." The assistant smiled, "Chocolate, or better still a Mars Bar." Perhaps they might like to wash it down with champagne, I thought!

What about dealing with slugs?" He thought for a moment. "Yes, we have quite a clever device." He reached up to a shelf and removed the device from its cardboard box. It was made from plastic and had three reservoirs. "Tell me more," I said. "Well, you fill the reservoirs with beer which they love. They get drunk and fall in and drown." "Very ingenious", I gasped, "Would they like a nice drop of Guiness?"

Surprisingly, both methods worked, though we did enjoy some of the beer and a bit of Mars Bar!

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


In this issue, I write about my father, Sidney Beauclerk, who was born in 1864. He married twice, once in about 1890 to Alice Matilda and later in 1925 to my mother, Vi. Sidney and Alice, or rather Alice, was a builder. She would have been called a 'field ranger' and built many roads of houses at East Ham, Manor Park and Forest Gate.

They had servants, including maid, coachman and gardener. A maid in those days would have earned about 50p a week and her keep and uniform. The final picture shows my half-brother, Gerald, as a baby on the lawn with his nursemaid by the stables.

My father gave up his horse-drawn carriage for a modern car, as shown, but probably due to building slowing down, he and Alice moved on.

During World War II, a flying bomb landed on The Towers, which blew out a lot of the back of the house. However, upon our return to Upminster, I asked Gerald if we could go and see it. He agreed and took me there where we found the stairs still intact and were able to see quite a lot. I look in wonderment - such splendour on a thousand pounds a year!

The Towers was to be rebuilt by the War Damage Commission and for some odd reason they offered our family £6,000. My family declined and it was not rebuilt and the site was later turned into two plots with two houses. The lives of the Beauclerk family became more ordinary over the years as the cost of living and inflation took its toll.

I hope you enjoy this little insight into history and the photographs, which would have been taken on a plate camera about 100 years ago.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


A Further Story for the Young and Young at Heart

Our story, about happenings at Combe Martin, goes back a long way. As you may recall [Newsletter No. 88 February 2004], our mermaid who was playing in the sea and on the beaches is called Marina.

Now Marina is friendly with a pixie named Peter, who is a lovely little chap - a real Devon Pixie. Dressed in a pretty brown coat, with trousers to match, and a little brown cap with a bell on the top. For some reason, Peter has no shoes and always goes barefoot.

Illustrated by: Debbie Cook

One day, Marina and Peter were sitting on a rock near the Camel's Head, chatting about old times. Marina looked at Peter and asked, "Do you remember when they put the drainage pipe in for the village?" Peter nodded, "Yes, I do."

"And," Marina continued, "all the workmen had pick axes and shovels and they cut a hole through the base of Camel's Head to the beach beyond? People walked through that hole until the workmen cemented the pipe in."

She smiled at Peter and reminded him, "I haven't forgotten when you jumped on their wet cement and had to wash your feet in the rock pool beside the walkway. The cement made the water all cloudy and I put a little spell on it so that it would always look cloudy. People today often wonder why that is so."

Mary Trebble was standing by the railings at Seaside one day, feeding the seagulls with bread. They swooped and dived and flew around squawking, catching the pieces of bread as she threw them in to the air. People stopped to watch and admire the beautiful birds.

Suddenly, Mary cried out loud, "My locket, oh my locket's come undone and fallen into the river." The river Umber was flowing fast into the sea and it quickly carried her locket, with its gold chain, away and out of sight.

By chance, Marina and Peter were sitting on a rock right under the place where Mary had been feeding the gulls and had seen the locket fall into the water. Quickly, Marina dived into the water and swam in the direction the locket was last seen. Sadly, it had completely disappeared. She swam back to where Peter was still sitting. "I think we'll have to wait for low tide and then have a good look, it can't have gone far."

The mermaid and the pixie were both awake early next morning. The tide was fairly low and just lapping at the breakwater. They searched and searched all over the Combe Martin and Newberry beaches. They were just about to give up when suddenly Peter, who had been hopping from rock to rock on the breakwater, cried out, "I think I've found it!"

Sure enough, there was the locket down between the rocks, a little too far for our pixie friend to reach. Luckily, our two little friends found a strong piece of driftwood and were able to lever the rock sufficiently to pluck the locket out. Marina's face lit up, "Now we can return it to Mary." "I know where she lives," piped up Peter.

Next morning, although it was her birthday, Mary was unhappy, she was missing her locket. She went to the front door and began to pick up her cards that the postman had delivered and as she picked up the last envelope, there was her locket! "How on earth did that get there?" she cried. Well we know, don't we!

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


From 1939 to the end of 1945, my life went through an enormous change. In 1939 I was just a ten year old, but by the end of 1945 I was a young adult.

I had left my young friends in Upminster to live in Berrynarbor for the next six and a half years and when I returned after the War, most of them had gone their ways and I had lost touch with them. Just one or two were still about.

As I started school in Ilfracombe I made new friends and before long I was accepted by the locals. After a while, things got better and we all got along fine, I even picked up the local lingo, though I don't think this fooled local people!

Life was quite quiet in Berrynarbor and the school holidays were great. Cycling to Woolacombe, Barnstaple, Ilfracombe or Combe Martin was the norm. Buses didn't always come though the village but took the coast road and because of this we walked either from Sandy Cove or Sawmills - when Sawmills were really just that.

If I was dropped off at Sandy Cove, I would walk home in almost total darkness. A sheep might bleat in the field the other side of the hedge and you would jump out of your skin. Very dim torches were allowed if you could remember them and could get the batteries. Cars and buses were only allowed slit fittings in their headlamps. If you took a bus journey you would have to try and see where you were at each stop, sometimes having to 'count down' to your own stop or risk getting off at the wrong place. Some 'clippies' would call out the stops and that was a great help.

Then there were the school concerts. Ted Manley would be up there on the stage playing his accordion; Freddie Somerville would play his clarinet; Mr. Evans, the woodwork master, would always sing 'Little Sir Echo' and Mr. Trickett on the piano would accompany a lad who played the saw. I was never involved and went through the period when your voice is breaking and you speak high and low.

As the War wore on, quite a few relatives and friends stayed with us, but most were committed to jobs or families in the London area, and soon went home. My family gave servicemen a 'home from home' and they were always grateful. Sometimes they would 'borrow' a bit of camp or station butter to help out with cooking [rabbit fried with onions, etc.]. Other times we would cycle to Beaumont's in Combe Martin, bringing back a large punnet of strawberries [at 12 1/2p] to have with our home-made clotted cream.

Food was always a priority and the odd rabbit helped out as did herrings sold, at a penny or tuppence, straight from the boat on the beach at Combe Martin.

Having a sweet tooth, I found that visits to Miss Cooper's village shop for sweets were often disappointing. You only had a small ration and you had to have what she had or you went without, there was no choice.

Life for me for most of those years in North Devon was pretty good, but there were, of course, sad times.

Combe Martin's Barbara Berry's brother, known as Dick, was on The Repulse when it was sunk. Luckily, he was picked up by a destroyer, but Barbara had another brother who was a prisoner of war.

On a personal note, I had two cousins - Kenneth and Peter Jefferies. Kenneth, shown in the photograph, was a rear gunner in a Mark 3 Wellington twin-engine bomber. On a very large bombing raid on the Krupp Steelworks, Kenneth was unfortunately shot down and killed.

Peter, however, survived the war, but only just! He was a 'desert rat' in the Alamein Campaign, a crew member on a Matilda Mark II tank when it was hit and caught fire. Although badly burned, he managed to get out of the tank but was badly effected for some time.

So then in 1945 the War came to an end. What jubilation in Ilfracombe and everywhere! Contemporaries who had come and gone as evacuees came down for holidays from their different parts of the country that summer and it was so good to meet them again.

My thanks to Margaret and Laurie Piper and Ron Hawkins for their help.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Ding dong bell,
Pussy's in the well!

We must have all learnt this nursery rhyme when young, and with the economy of water in mind, here are a few jottings you may find interesting.

The construction of old wells was done on a metal circular template, with a small amount of brickwork being done on it. This was dug down and around and lowered until the next brickwork was added and so on until the required depth was reached. Modern wells use concrete pipes which are sunk in a similar way.

If you ever think of burying old batteries, paint pots or things like that, then don't because water courses can travel up to tens of miles and pollute wells or even reservoirs.

There is a village well at Goldhanger still used by the villagers for wine making, as they claim this water is better than tap water. It is said to be 120 feet deep, starting 20 feet above sea level and its source is said to be the other side of the salt water and tidal river Blackwater. But it does not taste salty!

Now we come to what happens when old wells are left and even forgotten.

A builder friend of mine, Dave, had a small depression in his back garden where he decided to plant a new tree. About 6 feet high, the tree was planted in the hole and given a good watering with the garden hose, but inadvertently, Dave left the hose running overnight and when he went to look at his tree the next day, the top of it was level with the ground! It had sunk into an old well where the filling had not completely consolidated.

At Gidea Park, the back wheel of a lorry crossing a building site dropped into a hole which turned out to be an old well.

At Billericay, the Council had laid out drains and people who had cess pits or septic tanks decided to get connected. At our bungalow, a slabbed path ran from the front gate around to the back door. The builder, who was to do the connection, decided to follow that path for the new trench. "Start taking the slabs up there," he told his man, Fred. Fred prised a slab loose and managed to pick it up. Fortunately he stepped backwards, for had he stepped forwards, he would have gone straight down into a barrel-shaped well with the slab probably on top of him!

My brother-in-law, Brian, at one time worked near Colchester Docks. One day when he was sitting outside with his friends, taking their tea break, they thought they could hear a faint whimpering. For two days they could not make out where the sound was coming from and Brian was unhappy about it. Deciding to investigate further, he rummaged around and lying on the ground was a rusty piece of tin in which there was a hole, about a foot across. He lifted the tin and exclaimed, "Oh! I see." "What do you see?" called his friends.

"All will be revealed in due course", he replied asking, "Have we got a good pair of stout gauntlets indoors?"

A pair was duly found, Brian put them on and returned to the piece of tin which he carefully lifted. There, crouching in the bottom of quite a deep hole - probably an old, partly filled in well, was a fox cub. He reached down to grab it but it grabbed him first by his gloved hand! He held it up to show his friends.

Nearby was a low, chain-link fence and there on the other side was the vixen mother, anxiously watching, half hidden in the grass. Brian went over to the fence and lowered the little cub to the ground. Mother and cub ran off and all was well. [No pun intended!]

There are at least three wells in Barton Lane alone, and no doubt in many other parts of Berrynarbor, so please take care.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester

Ding Dong Bell

The origins of this nursery rhyme, a poem with a moral theme, date back to the 16th Century and the time of Shakespeare, who used the phrase in:

The Tempest

Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell -
Hark! now I hear them,
Ding-dong bell.

The Merchant of Venice

'Let us all ring fancy's bell;
I'll begin it - Ding, dong, bell.'

The original actually drowned the cat, but the words were changed to encourage children to realise that it was cruel and not acceptable to harm any animal. The words are also onomatopoeic, 'ding dong' when spoken convey the actual sound of the bell.

There are quite a few versions of this nursery rhyme and it is interesting to find that the name of the villain of the piece varies from Little Tommy Thin, Little Johnny Flynn to Little Johnny Green, but the hero is always Little Tommy Stout!

. . . and poor pussycat? She never did any harm but killed all the mice in either his father's or the farmer's barn.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Edward Reardon was a likeable lad who lived in a house on the right-hand side of Hele Hill as you approach Ilfracombe. He was a fine looking chap, tall with dark curly hair and brown eyes. He attended the best school of its time up on the hill in Ilfracombe and was very scholarly. He passed his matriculation and his aim was to become a doctor like his father, who had died when he was quite small.

Sadly, just before his 18th birthday, he awoke to a world of darkness. His sight had just gone. Dr. Ganik, to whom he was taken, told him that at present nothing could be done.

His girlfriend, Joan Kelly, who lived nearby, stood by him and after a while she qualified as a midwife and they were married. As his mother had also died, Edward and Joan continued to live in the home on Hele Hill.

As a midwife, Joan was ideal for the job. Kind hearted, tolerant and pretty, she was liked by everyone and was the breadwinner, and as they had moderate tastes, they made the best of life and loved one another.

When Joan was out attending to the new arrivals, Edward would mostly while away the time 'tapping' his way around the area with his white stick. Sometimes he would stumble over a child's bicycle left outside a shop or a pedal car left out in the street. At other times he would go to Bicclescombe Park where there was a garden of aromatic flowers and plants for the enjoyment of those unable to see. Edward would know his whereabouts often by sounds - the sound of the church clock near the harbour where he remembered the words "Time to Seek the Lord". He would love the smell of the seaweed down at the harbour and the popular music being played at the bandstand.

At other times he would go to the Tunnels Beaches to hear the lap of the sea, children's laughter and the enjoyment of families on holiday. Edward made the best of life, despite his inability to see things like others.

One day he received a letter and Joan opened it and read it to him.

"It's from Dr. Ganik, listen to this.

    Dear Mr. Reardon, It is some time since you were struck blind and medical science has advanced quite considerably. In conversation recently, I understand from the Consultant, Mr. Forbes, that there is an operation which might possibly restore your sight. If you will make an appointment with me, and if you are agreeable, then I shall arrange for you to see Mr. Forbes."

They immediately arranged to see Dr. Ganik and the appointment was made with Mr. Forbes, who, after a very thorough examination, told Edward, "There is a very good chance that we can restore your sight and if you wish, I'll arrange a date for your operation."

Edward and Joan were bewildered! What if the operation was not a success? But then again, there was nothing to lose. "We'll go for it," said Joan, almost in disbelief.

The weeks passed and along came the appointment card. Edward went into hospital, underwent the operation and lay there until the day arrived for the bandages to be removed. Joan waited patiently for news.

With two nurses in attendance, Mr. Forbes gradually began to remove the bandages and quietly whispered, "Now, Mr. Reardon, I want you to slowly open your eyes." "My tears are blinding me," choked Edward. The consultant gently asked the nurse to dry Edward's eyes and slowly he opened them.

At first everything was blurred but the operation had been a success and gradually his focus returned. After just a few days he was out of hospital.

Life was very different now for Edward. He could see Joan and she was more beautiful than ever. He could still shed tears and often did when he saw so many of the things which he had only been able to hear before. For a while he re-traced his old walks - now he was able to see the people at the Tunnels Beaches; he was seeing the musicians and the bandstand; on visiting Bicclescombe Park he could see the colour of the flowers, the fine water arrangements and the parents with their children enjoying themselves. He could see Joan smiling at him and he smiled back.

One day he was walking towards the pier when he again heard the old familiar sound of the church clock striking. He looked up and there was the writing - 'Time to seek the Lord'. What could he do? "I have to say a prayer," he said quietly to himself. As he entered the church, the organist was playing Bach and with emotion he said his prayer of gratitude before making his way back to Hele.

Edward and Joan lived on for many loving years and feeling that he would like to repay those who had helped him, Edward trained and became a nurse at the Tyrell Hospital.

If you have been touched by this story , the next time you see a collecting box for the blind, please remember Edward and put something in. Thanks.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Jonathon Smith lived at Pilton, just outside Barnstable. It was 1934 and the music halls were, despite the 'talkies' coming in 1929, still providing a certain amount of employment. Even at school, Jonathon was quite good at doing tricks which mystified his friends.

His ambition was to be a professional conjurer and to his surprise and pleasure he managed to get a few bookings. He carried two suitcases - one with his stage clothes and one with his tricks. He would travel the narrow gauge Lynton to Barnstaple line, stopping off to give performances, even in the village pubs along the way. He appeared at the John Gay theatre in Barnstaple, the Victoria Pavilion, the Concert Hall opposite and the Alexandra Palace.

The odd thing about him was that he quite often 'messed up' his tricks and sometimes, though he could do them, he didn't quite know how they worked! He wanted to broaden his act and would send off to London to the Magician's Company for more elaborate illusions.

Jonathon could do most of the rope tricks, those with cards, those that 'vanished' and so on. He had tried some of the guillotine tricks with helpers from the audience, but gave up after a few accidents, one of which had to be hospitalised. His worst nightmare was when he hammered someone's Rolex watch and failed to restore it!

One evening, after a performance, a pretty, blue-eyed, blonde girl of nineteen, called Daisy, burst into his dressing room. "I've been a conjurer's assistant," she said without hesitation, "But I've split up with him and I need work. Can I join your act?" Jonathon's mouth dropped open for a full minute. He immediately fell in love and they were soon married.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Jonathon and Daisy got along famously and ventured into further illusions, including the box that Daisy got in and into which Jonathon stuck swords. However, they gave this up when Daisy was just a little too slow in getting into the compartment beneath and suffered some scratches.

"Have a look at this catalogue," said Jonathon to Daisy one day, having called her to sit beside him on the settee. "It's got the saw a lady in half trick. I've just got to have it!" Daisy smiled, "Why not. You send for it."

A few days later, Willis the carrier arrived with his van and knocked on their door. "Looks as though I've got something special for you," he said, groaning under the weight of a huge box. Little known to Jonathon, Daisy had been a tight rope walker in a circus and was also a contortionist and singer. We'll try out the trick tonight," smiled Jonathon, "We'll do it in the kitchen in case anyone calls."

At about seven on that winter evening, the long box on castors was set up. Daisy opened the two top doors and climbed in, Jonathon got out the instructions. "Ah, here we go," he said, looking very seriously looking at the instructions. He read allowed: "Place the assistant long ways in the box and after inserting the two leaves, place the saw in the middle slot. Proceed to saw. There may be some sawdust, but no blood."

"Well, that seems quite straight forward," and he started sawing. He had only done about three strokes when the light went out. "Oh heck, it's a power cut," screamed Daisy. "Go and get a candle, they're in the drawer."

Jonathon found the candle and some matches. "That's better, everything will be OK now." He struck a match and lit the candle. Holding the candle rather too close to the instructions, they suddenly caught fire. "Only you could do that," shouted Daisy, "For goodness sake, stamp it out."

Too late, the instructions had gone and what were they to do now? Both were in a panic. At that moment there was a knock on the door. Jonathon answered it. It was his friend, Bob, the policeman.

"Hello," he said, "I just called to remind Daisy that it's her night to do the teas at the W.I. Daisy usually answers the door, is she alright?" Thinking quickly and not wanting Bob to come in, Jonathon replied, "Well we've had a bit of a domestic and she is a bit cut up at the moment." Bob didn't like to hear of any problems of this kind but bid Jonathon farewell, saying he hoped they would be back together soon. So did Jonathon!

It was still dark and Daisy called out, "You'd better get me out of here." Assuming an authoritative attitude, Jonathon tried to open the cabinet doors. "They're jammed!" he cried, "What are we going to do?" "Phone the Magic Circle," shouted Daisy, "They're bound to know." It was too late, there was no answer from the Magic Circle, they had either all gone home or maybe disappeared!

By now the power had come back on. "I'll make us a nice cup of tea" said Jonathon as he stood at the sink filling the kettle. He turned round and there stood Daisy. "How the heck did you get out?" he gasped. "By pressing the safety lever on the inside of the box. I might also tell you that I had my legs drawn up, so there was no danger."

They talked into the night about Daisy's early days and how she had been a contortionist and agreed that their new trick would probably not fool anyone. After a while they gave up the theatre work and both went to work at a small, local cinema - he as a projectionist and she as an usherette. They both also worked at Barnstable in the same jobs.

Sadly, Jonathon has now passed on but if you meet Daisy in your local, she will tell you their story and make the pint you buy her disappear quite quickly!

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


When we were young we were at school trying to learn things that were meant to make us more clever. However, in the meantime we got up to things that were somewhat less than clever! If you say you honestly didn't, then I would say you are probably unique. Some times clever, some times stupid, but on looking back, usually amusing.

I have two boys - well not exactly boys, one is forty-two and the other forty-eight!

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

One day when they were teenagers, my wife Betty and I went out to do a couple of hours' shopping. While we were gone, the younger, Chris, decided he would like to do some painting upstairs. He fetched a tin of paint and a brush and started off upstairs. Unfortunately, he stumbled and dropped the tin, the lid came off and the paint splashed over the stairs and on to the wallpaper.

He called out to his brother, "I've dropped the paint down the stairs, Mum and Dad are going to be livid, they've only just decorated the hall and landing."

Being quite resourceful, his brother, Ray, went quiet for a moment before saying, "There is still some of that wallpaper up in the loft. You go and get some paraffin and try to clean the stair carpet while I go in the loft and have a look." After a short while, he descended the ladder with a big smile on his face. "I've found two rolls and there is some paste in the garden shed. I'll go and get it and the scrapers."

Meanwhile, Chris had made a fair job of cleaning the paint off the stair carpet, "I've tried to wipe if off the wallpaper but it's soaked in", he said with rather tearful eyes. "Well, it's luckily only two sections," Ray replied. "If we are careful, we can scrape away on each side, remove each section and replace them."

They removed the two lengths, cleaned up that part of the wall, fetched the papering table, mixed up the paste and replaced the two lengths of paper with the pattern matching perfectly! Nevertheless, Betty's intuition rumbled them but we thought our boys had been very resourceful.

We had a garden shed which Ray used for making his model aeroplanes and his other hobbies. One day he asked if he could run a cable from the house to enable him to have lighting and power in the shed.

We saw no objection and told him to carry on. He put a plug on one end of the cable, which he had threaded through a convenient airbrick.

"I'll run it under the roof and into the shed", he explained. "I'll have to loosen the roof screws so that I can push the cable up and under, then I won't have any joins." Very sensible, we thought, water getting in won't cause any shorts.

The job was done and almost forgotten. However, one very windy day, Chris had reason to go to the shed. He opened the door and stepped inside. The wind was blowing hard and suddenly the roof took off, landing in our next door neighbour's garden. Chris stood there aghast in the now 'topless' shed! Although the roof landed next door, no damage was done either to our neighbour's garden or the roof, which was retrieved, reinstated and SCREWED DOWN this time!

    The spring is sprung,
    The grass is riz,
    I wonder where the boidies is.
    They say the boid is on the wing,
    But that's obsoid,
    Because the wing is on the boid!

If you are thinking this winter is cold, have a look at this igloo built in the back garden some forty-six years ago.

Tony Beauclerk -Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


This time of year, our Labrador Bessie has her annual injection against those infections that dogs get. The surgery is just along the road from us, and so we often see other owners trying to get their dogs in for treatment. At this point, many dogs have temporary trouble with their eyes. That is to say they will walk past the doorway instead of going through it. The larger dogs shake with fear, not knowing what the immediate future holds for them.

Today it was Bessie's turn and she gave no trouble going in the door and into the waiting room. The waiting room has just been refurbished and is very posh! In fact some people have thought it was a doctor's waiting room and sat there until the receptionist enlightened them. Why they should think people take their pets to the Doctor I don't know!

All was quiet for a while and then a little boy spoke to all the pets' owners. "We are going on holiday with our cat," he said. A rather serious man with an equally serious-looking bloodhound spoke to him saying, "And where are you going?" The little boy brightened, his little face lit up as he cheekily replied, "Well, our cat wants to go to the Canaries." Everyone laughed and the little boy beamed. "Got you there, didn't I?"


Illustrated by: Debbie Cook

The waiting room was quite large and there were people with cats, rabbits, hamsters, mice and exotic pets [sometimes they get corn snakes, lizards, pythons and giant tortoises, etc.]. The dogs wanted to eat the cats, while the cats wanted to eat the mice - you could tell from the way they eyed each other!

"Mrs. Smith and Rover", the receptionist called out. Mrs. Smith stood up but Rover deliberately heard nothing. "Come along," she coaxed as she started tugging him towards the surgery. His claws were in the extended position, trying to plough furrows in the very hard floor. The noise was like a higher pitched version of a car skidding. Most dogs were by now having a good sniff at the floor and some were whimpering; cats meowed and rabbits kept a low profile.

Presently, the front door opened and in came a very fat lady with a little Jack Russell - well, it could have been a Jill Russell. Whichever it was, it was a small, yapping hound! It's funny the way one dog can set all the others off - it would not stop barking and soon had all the others joining in!

"Are there any things that worry you about people's pets?" I asked the receptionist. "Well, we do have a few laughs," she said. "Pigeons carry nasty little things under their wings, which tend to jump onto humans if they get the chance." She went on, "We had a young couple bring a 'Labrador' in for treatment. They were a little 'green' as it turned out to be a terrier cross!

Another time we accidentally shut a patient in our food cupboard. He ate himself silly! One owner collected their pet after an operation but before she could get to her car it jumped out of her arms and fled. Fortunately it survived and was found and reunited with its owner two weeks later."

A gentleman came in and sat down beside me. "I have to keep my dog in a cage in the car," he said. "Why is that?" I asked. "Well," he replied, "It's 'cos he ate most of the inside of my last car."

I got into conversation with the owner of a spaniel with a cone-shaped thing around its neck. It looked a bit like a megaphone so I asked him if it was to make his dog bark louder! "Don't be so daft," he scoffed, "It's just had an operation and that stops him licking the wound"!

A dear old lady came in carrying an open wooden box. She put it down gently and there, laying in it, was a little Vietnamese pot bellied pig! The lady was wearing a rather long string of pearls and as she bent down to kiss it and reassure her darling - and probably delicious! - pet not to be frightened, it raised its head catching its chin in the pearls. As the lady straightened up, "ping!", the pearls snapped and rolled on the floor in all directions. The dogs thought this great fun as they each tried to get one.

"Oh, there is one more thing I must tell you," the receptionist continued. "It was a long time ago but we had a customer who kept a lion and of course the vets had to attend to it at times and it could be very difficult. The way to give it injections was to put several rods through the bars of the cage until it was immobilised and then give the jab! When the lion died of old age, its owners had it stuffed and displayed it in a glass cage in their front garden. It was there for several years."

My name and Bessie's was called and we went in to the consulting room. Bessie had her jab without a yelp. "The German shepherds don't like injections," the vet commented. "No," I said, "I don't suppose their dogs do either." "Pay as you go out," she said icily, opening the door.

We left and that is what I'm going to do now. Bye.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Older residents may remember him in the Second World War working at North Lee Farm for Stanley Huxtable.

Gerald Vaughan Beauclerk was born in Leytonstone on 12th January 1899. His mother died in 1922 and his father remarried in 1925. His father's second wife was my mother, Violet. When our father died in 1936, Gerald, who had never married, took it upon himself to bring up my sister Jean and me and to look after my mother. Although he was a good business man, Gerald had a great interest in music. Starting in Upminster Methodist Choir in the company of Joan Cross, who became a famous operatic singer, his favourite was Gilbert and Sullivan. He was well qualified and thrilled to learn that one of his students became Secretary of the London College of Music.

During the War, he sang at Concerts for Mrs. Knill at the Victoria Pavilion, Combe Martin, Berrynarbor and Lynmouth.

After all these years, people remember him well with remarks like 'He was good company', 'He was always fair' and 'kind, gentle Gerald'. I was very lucky to have had him as a half-brother.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


'All things bright and beautiful' - what a delightful hymn. Although we live on the outskirts of Colchester in what you might call 'suburbia', we nevertheless get a lot of wild life here.

We have outside lights that come on at night and we sometimes see a big dog fox rummaging around on the green in front of our bungalow. Badgers and muntjak deers are not far away. There are squirrels who take the bird food and bury hazel nuts in our lawn.

Hedgehogs are lovely little creatures too. Our gentle Labrador, Bernie, sniffs them and walks away. But then, perhaps, she pricks her nose. Frogs get the same treatment.

I am writing this in early April and as I do so, I can look into our back garden and see that the three blue tit boxes are being investigated prior to moving in.

We never see the babies fly! This, it seems, is because they never leave the nest until they are absolutely ready to do so. No special flying lessons here!

Looking up at a tree adjoining us, we recently saw a woodpecker at work. Surely they must get headaches! Then it came down on to the lawn to dibble for ants, or was it cranefly? What lovely colours. Jays, with their colourful plumage occasionally visit, or are they really just crows in their Sunday suits?

Isn't it nice to do a bit of digging accompanied by the robins. They are so tame and pretty, with their little red breasts. We have families of them nearby and they always come and join in with the gardening.

Two years ago, we had our twenty foot Portuguese laurel hedge cut almost bare and to a height of about eight feet. It has now re-grown its foliage and is ideal for our blackbird and thrush friends. We do, of course, put plenty of food out for all of them and are rewarded by their visits.

Magpies are in abundance here, in fact almost in colonies. There is one particular bird which has only one leg - I wonder if another bird got the better of him? The finches are amongst my favourites. The goldfinches were among those birds trapped for the cage trade in the 1800's. Their groups are aptly known as 'charms'.

Then there are the two ducks who visit our green - a drake and his missus. They waddle about as though they own the place, sometimes standing on door steps hoping, no doubt, for some hospitality.

Every summer, and on most days, we have a bumble bee fly along our back windows. At about every foot or so he hits the glass really hard and we have named it 'head banger'. Sadly, birds too will fly into the glass - sometimes killing themselves but sometimes they are stunned for a while.

Before the leaves come on the trees, we see across a road to where friends have an ornamental fish pond. Living nearby, on an island in the lake in a small park, are a couple of herons, which are often seen flying about. One day I saw one of them flying slowly in the area of the pond. Just like a bird of prey, it dropped quite suddenly behind the house and out of view. Moments later, it ascended with one of the prize gold fish in its beak. A common practice, I believe.

Our bird bath and table are just outside on the patio. The scallop shaped bath has to be topped up most days as the birds love it and can be seen dunking or drinking. We have a very large pigeon which alights on the edge and slowly paddles in before crouching down in the water. For some reason, it then turns on its side and stretches one wing in the air, staying in that position for a while. Nature's entertainment!

There are steps up from our lawn leading to the patio and as we were sitting, looking out, a small creature began to climb the steps. It was in no hurry, in fact merely crawling. Once up on the patio, it slowly made its way to the bird table, where it tried to climb up, but fell off three times. Eventually it managed to reach the lower tray where there was food.

Looking more carefully, we couldn't decide whether it was some sort of vole or mouse. It was unconcerned about us looking at it, so I got my camera and went outside. As I took the photo, about eighteen inches away, it looked up at me and went on munching! 'Poor little thing', I thought, 'it must be ill or something.' However, suddenly, and I mean suddenly, a blackbird alighted on the bird table, which taking the scale of things, must have been like the arrival of a Boeing. Did the little creature move? I'll say! It was down the post and off in a flash.

Pretty is my garden
With music of the birds,
So pretty is my garden
I'm almost lost for words.
Pretty is my garden,
The colours and the song.
The pleasure that it gives me
Last the whole day long.
Pretty is my garden,
And I give thanks to Him,
Pretty is my garden
I'll sing another hymn.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


When I was about fourteen and living in Berrynarbor for the duration of the War, I would roam all over the place - indeed, walking the woods, fields, beaches, etc., was how we spent a lot of our time.

I remember the bridge up Hagginton Hill. It must be pretty old because there are a kind of stalactite hanging from underneath. I don't know if it is still there now, but if you climbed up on the left-hand side and crossed the cart track and looked back, you could see what had been a bricked tunnel. Only a few feet in, the roof had collapsed and we often considered the possibility of taking up spades and digging through to find out where it went. However, we never did.

Now I will offer my explanation as to why it was there.

To start we have to go back to some time around 1816 or after, but before the present Watermouth Castle was built, when there were only the ruins of the old castle left. It was a time of smuggling on the north coast and cognac was the name of the game - a high quality grape brandy distilled near Cognac in south west France.

The family involved in this case were the Devlins. They lived in a wooden cottage not far from where today's coastguard houses are. There was Ernie, Keith, Frank and Ann - three brothers and a sister. During the day the brothers ran a log delivering business, taking fuel to the homes around the area, whilst Ann kept the house clean, washed their clothes and provided their meals.

However, it was their nocturnal, roughly monthly activities that were the most profitable!

The Devlins had a good arrangement with their counterparts in France, who would sail over to Watermouth Harbour each month with a cargo of twenty or thirty casks of their finest Cognac.

By day their sailing ship could be seen by the Devlins from their cottage, which looked out over the Bristol Channel. They could always identify the ship by its unusual sails. Looking like a fishing boat, it would drop anchor and wait for the pre-arranged time and tide, when they would sail, at night, into Watermouth Harbour.

Once anchored, the next step was to throw a large bag, made of fishing net edged with floats, overboard and when this was in place and tied to the boat, the Devlins came into action!

After wheeling hand carts down to the harbour and wading in the sea, they would gather all the floats together, closing in and trapping the casks the crew of the boat had thrown in. Money exchange hands and the Devlins would bid farewell to their accomplices from the Continent until their next visit.

Making their way back across the road in the darkness of night and with their heavy prize, was not easy. Once over, they would make their way back past the old castle ruins and on to the track which led up to the bridge on Hagginton Hill and to the tunnel mentioned earlier. The entrance was well hidden by foliage grown across it and whilst two of the Devlins held back the branches, the other two wheeled the cart into what was a large cave.

The Devlins got away with these illicit night meetings for a long time! Unfortunately for them, people began to talk and although many of them enjoyed their tipple at the local hostelries, word got back to one Fred Harding. Harding's job was to catch smugglers. He was based at Barnstaple, with twenty men under his command. A former Army Sergeant, he was of a cruel and vicious disposition. He had gathered quite a lot of information from 'hear say' and began to plan the capture of the Devlin family, if only he could catch them 'in the act'.

One night, Harding and his men positioned themselves in what they thought would be a good place to catch their prey. Ernie, Keith, Ann and Frank were almost through with their normal procedure, and just getting near the tunnel. Suddenly the clouds cleared and a bright moon shone on them. Harding shout to his men to give chase, which they did, but the Devlins just disappeared.

Harding and his men eventually found the entrance to the cave and stood there shouting for the Devlins to come out. "Want to say in there, do you?" Still there was silence. "Right ho, stay in there you shall!"

Then taking a large explosive, Harding placed it about six feet into the cave, lighting the fuse as he and his men moved well back.

There was a huge explosion and when the smoke cleared and the debris settled, Harding and his men went to investigate. The roof had caved in.

"Well, that's the end of them" declared Haring, much to the disgust of some of his men, and they began to make their way back to Barnstaple.

However, it was not quite like that. Frightened as they were, the Devlins had reckoned upon this happening and had always made sure there was another way out. Moving a large piece of slate, there was a rush of cold night air and the moon was still shining.

Over the next few weeks they distributed the casks, from which by then they had made a vast sum of money, but before doing so and to prevent evidence being found, they had burnt their cottage down.

Many years later, people walking their dogs over what had been the site of their cottage, found odd bits of jewellery - the odd ring or necklace. It was believed that the Devlins had bought such things as a saving, later to be turned into cash.

It is understood that some of the jewellery was exhibited at a museum for a while.

Frank, Ann, Keith & Ernie Devlin were a remarkable family! Can you see what I mean?

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Some years ago, when I was on safari with a friend, we used to go out at night shooting tigers. We used to see them with their eyes shining in the dark. They were easy to pot, for you just shot them between the eyes! After a while they rumbled us and started going around in pairs with one eye shut. It got dangerous too, as we always missed them and they would come after us!

Now there are some strange and inexplicable things that happen to you at one time or another. Just over three years ago, we moved into our new bungalow home. I must mention here that neither Betty nor I are smokers, having given up some 40 years ago. Furthermore, neither of our two sons nor their spouses smoke, nor do our friends. So that should establish us as a smoke-free zone.

However, sometimes at the same time and sometimes separately, we detect a faint smell of cigarette smoke. This seems to be in different rooms and at different times and our house is detached and away from other premises.

The previous owner did smoke but she would always go out to a small utility room to do so. That room has been demolished and rebuilt. So what is the explanation? I'm sure I don't know.

There are a couple of other mysteries I've come across. In the village of Coggeshall here in Essex, Betty and I happened on a furniture showroom and factory. This was located in what had at one time been a school. As we were browsing around, a lady came up to us and introduced herself as the proprietor.

"I should like to show you something that might surprise you," she said with a slight smile on her face.
"If you look into that room just around the corner, you will see that there is no way out of it. What puzzles us is that there is a man who walks around this place, but never replies when you speak to him, and then he walks into that room."
"What happens next?" I asked.
"When you follow into that room, there is no one to be seen."

We made our excuses and left!

A similar experience took place at Upminster. The venue was again a building previously used as a school. A friend's wife related this story when she and her friend ran a playgroup there.

One day she noticed a young boy who she did not recognise as being in her care. This time there was a passage leading to the toilets and again there was no other way out. The boy took this route and my friend's wife, her mother and mother-in-law followed. By the time they reached the toilet, the boy had vanished. What they all noticed though was the way he was dressed. On looking this up in reference books it turned out that the clothes were of Edwardian style. Again, I ask you, is there an explanation?

Now, for the young and young at heart, a little trick to play, particularly at Christmas. You will need about six or so small pieces of paper, about six or so coins - each with a different date - and a hat or small box to put the folded pieces of paper in.

Sit your friend opposite you and give them the coins, asking them to tell you slowly the dates on each one. You repeat the dates as you write each one on a separate piece of paper, which you fold and pop in the hat or box. Then you ask your friend to pick a piece of paper out of the hat and you 'cleverly' tell them what the date is - you are always right!

The secret? Each time the friend calls out a date, you repeat it out loud but you only write down the very first date. So each piece of paper you put into the hat is the same date! It can't fail!

A Happy Christmas to Everyone.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


In 1954, Betty and I were married [50 years now!] and were browsing around at the nearby market. It wasn't long before Betty spotted the pet stall. There, in a rather small cage, were three fluffy bundles. "Oh, wouldn't it be nice to have a pup?" she said, with a look of delight in her eyes. We agreed on a little bitch, but we had further shopping to do. "I'll tell you what" the proprietor smiled, "You give me your address and I'll drop her off on my way home, you can pay me the £2 then."

Well, we finished our shopping and went home to our evening meal. The evening drew on, but no sign of the man. I know what, Betty," I said, realising that we were both feeling rather down. "We have his address and we'll go and see what has happened."

Off we went, found his house and he was most apologetic. We paid him the £2 and took our bundle of fluff home. We called her Mandy and she was a cross between a cairn and a golden spaniel.

Mandy grew into a nice little dog, though being a terrier type was inclined to snap. At about 10.30 each night, when the roads were quiet, I would take her out to train - to follow to heel, sit and stay, and generally be obedient.

We took her everywhere in the car and always thought she could be trusted to leave the shopping alone. One day, however, she tore open a packet of acid hypo - a poisonous chemical used in fixing photograph prints. She ate the lot, but apparently with no harm!

One day we had the radio on and there was a brass band playing. Suddenly Mandy gave a long, low howl and was wagging her tail. We were able to develop this and she would 'sing' to order, not just for us but for anyone.

We had Mandy for about ten years but she became ill and had to be spayed, but sadly her heart would not stand the strain and she died.

Two weeks later we had a call from the vet who had operated, who said, "I've got a litter of cross-bred Labrador pups which will have to be put down if they can't be found homes." We told her we didn't want another dog, but she said to come and have a look anyway - she knew what she was doing! She came out to us holding a large bundle of fur on one arm. Two pups were upside down and one the right way up! We chose a bitch and took her home, but it was a puzzle to know what to call her - so that is what we called her, Puzzle!

Puzzle was a 'no trouble' dog, falling in with everything we did. She would lay outside our holiday caravan and not worry anyone; she loved to swim and would be in and out of the sea whilst we were at the beach. She would also accompany me to the post box without being on the lead but there was one incident in the early days when she wandered into the middle of a busy road. With traffic going by on both sides, she stood there bewildered. Fortunately she stayed where she was and with a break in the traffic I grabbed her. I told her off for being so silly and she never did it again! I was really the silly one, though, for not having her on a lead.

In those days I used to do a lot of swimming down at the Colchester open air pool. On talking to the manager about my dog, he said, "Well look, if you bring her on the last day of the season, nobody else comes, she can have a swim on her own." On the day, the weather was fine and off we went. Puzzle was obviously excited and couldn't wait to jump in and after a while I thought I'd better get her out. I grabbed her and lifted her out, intending to have a little rest myself. She wasn't having any and jumped straight in again. I decided to go off the spring board, she just followed and jumped in after me. What a delight she was!

At the times of both Mandy and Puzzle, we had a white rabbit, Snowball, who bit Mandy on the nose and would chase Puzzle around the back garden, much to her distaste, The picture [by courtesy of Essex County Standard] shows Snowball, Puzzle and our second son, Christopher. Sadly, Puzzle died of old age in 1979.

Then came Bonnie. Bonnie was, in fact, our eldest son's dog and because he is a Remote Observation Vehicle Pilot [small submarines used for oil rig, etc., purposes], this meant he spent a lot of time offshore. Yes, every time he was away, we looked after Bonnie. This went on for some time until, because he was spending so much time away, he gave her to us. She was quiet, lovable and all you could wish for in a dog. Sadly, Bonnie became ill and eventually had to be put to sleep. Once again we were without a dog.

Not for too long - Ray called in to see us with a present - a little bitch puppy and we named her Bessie. But Bessie was a 'chewer'! She first attacked the best quality vinyl flooring in the utility room - her room. Then she went for the control panel on the washing machine; next the paint on the radiator, architrave and even the furniture. However, once you get them past the chewing stage, they are OK. [l wonder how many other dog owners have suffered from this problem?!] Or are they? Given half a chance they will take over your best arm chair - no doubt thinking they are keeping it warm for you! Bessie is also a 'puller', which has meant treatment for me, but now I have found a lead called a 'Haltee' which Bessie hates and runs away when I try to put it on. She is now in her eleventh year and still loves her walks and life in general. If there is nothing to bark at, she is not worried, and as we watch television she sleeps. Her nose and mouth move about with all sorts of twitchings, accompanied by faint little noises and grunts. Her feet are also 'on the go'!

We hope to have Bessie for some time yet, but I know my heart will be broken once again one day.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


A story for the Young and Young at Heart

Little Jenny Berricombe lived on Hagginton Hill with her mother, Mary, and her father, John. Her mother was a good cook, making wedding and Christmas cakes and sometimes cooking at the nearby Castle, when the 'posh' people had their friends and relations to stay. Her father had, many years ago, worked at the Saw Mills and also on various farms.

They were a happy family, but very poor. The people of Berrynarbor liked them as they were all often involved with anything at the Manor Hall, and making Berrynarbor look very pretty for the Best Kept Village competition and things like that.

Jenny often went for walks on her own as she loved all things to do with the countryside or the sea. It was on one of these walks that she found herself sitting on a rock below the cliffs where there had once been an old hotel swimming pool. Most of the old swimming pool had gone, either having been pulled down or broken up by the rough winter seas. The owners had now built a new pool for the visitors. However, there was still a shallow pool left and as Jenny stared at it, there was a sudden splash!

"Hello", a piping little voice cried. "Hello", replied an absolutely amazed and startled Jenny. It was a little mermaid, about the height of a chair seat. She had long, fair hair and a very nice face, like the prettiest doll you've ever seen. In no time at all the two were talking like old friends. Jenny told her new friend, whose name was Marina, how she lived in Berrynarbor and went to the village school, where she had lots of friends. "Oh", said Marina, "Please don't tell your friends we've met, it is to be our secret." Jenny said she would keep their secret, and they kept talking, agreeing to meet again at the same time and place the following week.

That evening, over supper, Jenny told her parents where she had been, not mentioning the mermaid. Her father looked up from his meal and said, "Oh! I know that place. A chap called Ginger from Combe Martin and I built the wall around that swimming pool. It wasn't half a job, because we had to do everything at low tide. It was a good pool in its day, with a slide down into it that had water running down and posts with chains on one side, so you didn't fall off the edge of the wall. There were changing huts there too and they called it 'Marina' after a princess."

Jenny was startled, but hid her surprise. She could hardly wait to see her new-found friend again. What did worry her though was that her father was often not well and although he had tried many cures, he did not seem to get any better.

The next time Jenny visited the pool, there, sure enough, was her little mermaid friend. The time she noticed that Marina was wearing a little ring on her finger. It wasn't gold or silver, but transparent like glass.

"Please tell me about your ring", said Jenny, "I've never seen one like that before." Marina smiled and replied, "Well, it is a very special ring and has a job to do. And when that job is done, it will fade away completely." "How old are you?" enquired Jenny. "l don't know" replied Marina, "I've always been here and never seem to get any older."

Jenny asked Marina if she would tell her more about herself, which she did "Well, being a mermaid, swimming is the thing I just love to do. When I swam to Combe Martin, I found Newberry beach lovely, but they had their Earl of Rone stoning on the main beach, so I quickly left. I love Broadsands, it's so quiet there and sometimes I spend the night in that little shallow cave. Way back at Watermouth, I remember people bringing coal over from Wales, and stranding their boats after the tide had gone down so that lorries could go on the beach and unload. I also remember the sailing barges that would leave llfracombe in very rough weather - it's a wonder they didn't tip over!"

"Oh! Do go on, please", said Jenny. "l bet you've never seen Berrynarbor though." "Well, it might surprise you, but as a matter of fact I have." replied Marina. "I'll tell you how it happened."

"Firstly, it had been very wet and all the rivers and streams had risen higher because of the rain, and the Sterridge was no exception. l, of course, entered the river at Watermouth, passed the elvers you often see there and then, as I got near the caves, I saw a mother duck with her ducklings. I swam on past the lake near Mill Farm, where at one time there were two herons with a nest on the island. And then I swam under Pitt Hill bridge. Do you know that the mill pond to Mill Farm was there at one time? I went on past all the Lee farms until I had to stop where the Sterridge had a wide part, something like a pond. 'What a lovely, peaceful place to stop', I thought. But no, suddenly there were three big splashes in the water and it was those naughty otters! Round and round they chased each other, weaving in and out, ducking and diving, wanting me to join in. But they were too fast for me, and off they went down the river. 'Peace at last', I thought, as I lay back in the water. Then there was a rustle in the bushes beside the water and presently a nose poked through. It was a young deer that had come to have a drink. Through the afternoon, other animals came for drinks - a fox, a badger, a hedgehog and a little vole, who popped into the water. Then the birds came to see me, even a kingfisher, but he was soon gone in a flash of blue. The robin stopped for quite a while. By now it was getting late in the afternoon, so I made my way back downstream and out to Watermouth again. What a lovely day I'd had!"

"What about you?" She asked then. "Where do you go and what do you do when you are not at school?"

Jenny thought for a moment, "Well, I sometimes help with the milk deliveries to people on Hagginton Hill, or go to Miss Cooper's shop in the village, or up the Valley to buy tomatoes. Sometimes I help with the harvest and I like leading the horse when they are getting the hay in. I walk a lot and one time when Auntie Con came to stay, she said we'd go on a very long walk and we did, all the way to Heddon's Mouth! My legs ached for days after that."

Marina smiled, "I've been there too. What a lot of large rocks there are."

Jenny and Marina met quite often down at the swimming pool and one day Marina asked her how her father was. Jenny said he seemed to be feeling a lot better, but then she noticed that the glass ring on Marina's finger was now hardly visible.

"Ah," said Marina, "l can see you are looking at my ring, and it has nearly gone. Soon it will fade to nothing and the magic of it will be over, but your father will be strong and fit again, I promise you. Soon it will be time for us to say goodbye, as I can tell you will grow into a fine young lady and our meetings will just seem like a dream."

The next time they met, it was very sad for it would be the last time. Marina's ring had completely disappeared and she told Jenny there were other things she had to do and they would not be near the old swimming pool. Jenny and Marina both had tears in their eyes as Marina swam slowly out to sea, turning to wave now and then.

Jenny sat by the pool for a while, 'Had this been real or had she been day dreaming?' Who knows?

When Marina and Jenny met at the pool
To each it was just like finding a jewel.
Their friendship grew and lasted a while,
They parted with tears, but then came a smile.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester

Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


The story I am going to tell took place in the 1970's. Geoff Petitt, a member of our local cine club, was friendly with two other members, Charles and Margery Long, and in the course of a conversation, Charles told Geoff that he had fought in the 1914-18 War at Passchaendale in Belgium and his great friend was another serviceman, Sidney Nash.

In the battle of Passchaendale, Sidney and Charles were ordered 'up and over' the trench and sadly Sidney was shot dead at that moment, much to Charles's horror.

In all the years after the Armistice, Charles wondered where Sidney was buried, or whether there was an inscription somewhere. Talking to Geoff about this, it was agreed that he, Margery and Geoff would go to Belgium to find how what had happened.

This research mission took them to Zeebrugge and on to Passchaendale and Ypres, where they visited several cemeteries and the War Graves Commission, but all to no avail. They went to the Menin Gate one morning, looking at the names of hundreds of lost men engraved on the wall, but Sidney's name did not seem to be there. They agreed to go for lunch and then return for another last look in the afternoon.

Close to the wall was a form of pier in which there were holes, rather like portholes, but without glass. The sun was shining and as the three of them stood there looking, their eyes settled on a round patch of sunlight shining through the hole in the pier and on to the names. Right in the centre of several illuminated names, was that of Sidney Nash! it was a very emotional moment for Charles and now all three felt that their mission had been accomplished successfully.

I knew Charles quite well - for some reason he usually played the part of the vicar in our fiction films. Despite the appalling conditions he had experienced and endured in that dreadful war, he lived to the ripe old age of 95. Geoff's amateur film of all that I have written was genuine and certainly food for thought.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Upon leaving our house, if you turn left there is a bus stop a few yards down the road, and if you turn right there is a post box, again just a few yards away.

As I set out one day to catch a bus into Colchester, I heard a loud voice call out.

"Hello, Tony, I'm just going up to the post."it was my neighbour, Mrs. Rettcha.

"I must tell you this," she continued, "You know our Ben has had an accident? Well, when he went into the A & E he was seen straight away, but the funny thing was that he met an old flame. She's married now of course, with three children. Been married before, of course. Her present husband has too. They had just come back from Australia. She looked very brown. I said to Ben, 'You'd better look out, she might be after you again.' Not that I would mistrust him, but you never know do you? By the way, I bumped into Fred the other day. You know, the one with the big nose. He's had a boil, you know, nasty things, very painful. I said to him, You do look poorly.'

He said, 'Yes, I feel rotten.' I said, 'Go home and make yourself a nice cup of tea.' 'You won't tell anyone about my trouble will you?' he said, and I said, 'My lips are sealed'. He gets embarrassed easily, that's why I keep quiet about these things. Oh, I must tell you this. I saw your granddaughter snogging with a lad in town on Friday, in a shop doorway. Didn't like the look of him. He might be alright though, you never can tell these days. Hasn't she grown? She must be about fourteen now. Shouldn't worry if I were you."

I thought 'What a comforting sort of person this is'! She prattled on for another ten minutes about the rather unpreferred side of our world, then looked at her watch and said, "There now, if you hadn't kept me talking like that I wouldn't have missed the post."

Never mind that my bus had long gone. Do you know, I really enjoyed the walk into town and I think it did me good!

By the way, did you get the anagram of Rettcha? Chatter!

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Towing for 125 miles

It was about 1957 and I had only been married a few years. Like most young couples, Betty and I were glad of any chance of extra money. This chance came up in the following extraordinary form.

My mother owned and let a caravan on the cliffs at East Runton, near Cromer in Norfolk. However, the caravan had to be taken off site for the winter as the land was 'half year' land and had, by law, to revert to common land during the winter. Her caravan 'wintered' at a garage block in Sheringham.

In November there was a 'phone call from Mr. Ginby who had an Estate Agents in llford. He was selling a house in llford to a client who was not happy about the decorations and his client fancied a caravan holiday whilst the work was carried out, and as mother had a caravan, could we help? He put his client directly in touch with us to see what could be arranged.

I told Mr. Short, the gentleman in question, that our family car was all right for short towing distances, but not for long journeys.

"No problem," said the Mr. Short, "I'll lend you my Armstrong Siddeley, it's got six cylinders. So, if you would like to collect your mother's caravan, I'll arrange to hire a site at Hulbridge for a couple of weeks and I'll pay you £10 and, of course, your mother for two weeks' hire."

Mr. Short had a tow bar fitted to the Armstrong Siddeley and told me that he had provided a gallon can of oil, 'just in case we needed it'!

On the Saturday morning, Betty and I set off and things seemed to be going well until we got to Long Melford. The car had a preselected gear lever on the steering column - that is you selected the gear, then depressed the clutch and released it, and hopefully you were in the required gear [i.e. if you were approaching a hill].

Well, I pushed the clutch down and let it up again, and up it came, about six inches out of the floor! Leaving Betty in the car I walked to the nearest garage, where the man didn't seem to be interested in my problem, but sent me on to another garage further down the road.

"Bung yer foot down 'ard on it, mate", the man said, "It'll go back inter place." This I did on my return, and all seemed OK. However, I thought it wise to check the oil whilst we were stopped only to find the dipstick showed half the amount it should. Thank goodness we had that can with us!

Since the AS was on its last legs, we arrived at the Sheringham garage just as it got dark, so we decided that the best thing was to sleep in the caravan in the garage.

In the morning I tried to start the car, but the battery was flat. I said to Betty, "If we push it down the road and I jump in, hopefully I can put it in gear and it will start." This we did, and fortunately the engine fired just before I ran out of road and went over the cliff! Now, I noticed, the petrol gauge showed almost empty! We hitched on the caravan and just made it to Mr. Crow's garage and filled up.

Now, the oil was up and the petrol was up, all should be well. But no! Every hill had to be climbed in first gear, that is until we came to Halstead Hill. This time everything ground to a halt. Whilst I held the handbrake on with both hands and my foot hard on the brake, Betty got out and walked to the garage, the sign of which we could just see on the road ahead. She soon arrived back in a van, driven by the garage owner. He hitched on to the AS and between us we managed to haul the caravan up to the top of the hill.

By this time it was raining hard and to add to our troubles, we had a puncture! There was no spare, so I lay in the fast-flowing gutter and jacked up the caravan with a bottle jack. Putting the tyre in the car, I detached and left Betty in the caravan, whilst I went to get the tyre repaired.

Luckily this did not take long and we were soon on our way again.

There were no lights on the caravan - in those days they were not required by law if you were only towing in daytime. However, the daylight was fading fast and so we pulled into a pub with a large car park. "Yes, you can pull in for the night," said the landlord's wife. She lit a fire for us to dry out by and the next morning sent us on our way after a really good breakfast.

So we were on our way again, but the darned car was so slow we couldn't see us getting to our destination at Hullbridge that day, so headed for my mother's at Billericay, where we stayed the night.

The next morning dawned and it was still raining! But, we had a job to do and set off once again.

To get to the caravan site, we had to go down a narrow road, called Watery Lane. It was well named! It was more like a river with only the sides visible, but fortunately it wasn't very deep as you could not turn back. Eventually we arrived and were directed to where the caravan was to be left. The ground was saturated and as we stopped, the caravan sank with a noise rather like when you finish a drink with a straw!

We had been accompanied on the last leg by my mother and half-brother, Gerald. So off we set to return to Billericay for a nice cup of tea!

I returned Mr: Short's car to him and believe you me, was I glad to see the back of that Armstrong Siddeley!

Some days later, I rang Mr. Ginby to ask how Mr. Short and his wife were enjoying their holiday. "Oh," said Mr. Ginby, "Short's wife got the 'flu and they went home after two days"!

The caravan was later collected and taken back to Sheringham by a man with a Land Rover, but I think you will agree that Betty and I earned our £10!

Tony Beauclerk, Colchester


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


As some of you may know, I now live in the Colchester area, close to the Essex-Suffolk border. At one time, I lived about ten miles from here, in a village near another village. Now it was rather strange, because if I ever asked anyone, "Excuse me, please, but could you tell me the way to Tudwick?" they would nearly always reply, "Oh, you mean Tudwick Treacle Mine." Then they would walk on. I thought at first they were having me on, but since so many people said the same thing, I though it would be interesting to explore the matter.

I began to delve into books, old records, documents and even had the full co-operation of Gelderstein University, who were most helpful. Gradually, I pieced together a picture of what had gone on many years ago in the early 1800's.

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

Samuel Truneon was a much respected man in the Tudwick area and was a quite substantial landowner. He had large grounds to his fine house, of which he was very proud. In a very wet winter, between showers, he would take a stroll around his garden to admire the fine shrubs, trees, rockeries and so on. It was on one of these days, when he was about half way on his usual walk, that he was startled at finding a huge subsidence. An area about 30 feet across, more or less circular, had dropped some 15 feet, showing a 'cliff of sandstone'. Mr. Truneon called his gardener, who was bending weeding and totally unaware of things.

"Go and get a long ladder Olley, " Mr. Truneon ordered, and before long Olley had returned with the longest ladder he could find. "Will this do, sir?" he enquired. "It certainly will! Now put it down there and go and have a look." Olley duly obeyed. "While you are down there, have a look at that line across the sandstone and tell me what it is."

Olley scrambled across and examined the line. Thinking of oil, Truneon told Olley to put his finger on the line and to taste it. Olley did. but it was sweet - and this was the beginning of the treacle mine!

Samuel Truneon, being very astute, and after much testing of the substance, formed a company to go into production. Due to the nature of the very soft sandstone. only small tunnels were driven and only shortish people could be employed. His advertisement for staff even reached Zurich, and several people [under 5 feet tall] came over to work. The pay was good and they sent a lot of money home where their relatives opened banks.

Production survived for quite a number of years, upsetting the local bee keepers, who found the competition difficult. But, thirty years on, the treacle was beginning to diminish. People were made redundant and the works became run down. Luckily, in 1847, a new black treacle seam was discovered and production and prosperity bucked up. But nothing seems to go on for ever, and gradually this, too, dried up. Employment shrank to nothing and the mine was closed. In later years it became a rubbish tip, then it was filled in and grassed over. Today, sadly there is no sign of the old mine, people walk their dogs over the site and only have any knowledge of it, because I made the whole thing up!

I should, however, like to mention that the method of collecting the treacle was similar to collecting the latex from rubber trees - using little copper buckets pegged under dips in the seams with six inch nails.

"Mazed as a brish, I be." Cheers!

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester