Widecombe History Group Minutes March 2004

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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe, on Wednesday 3rd March 2004 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 32 people attended. Margaret began by welcoming three first time visitors to the meeting and expressed the hope that they would enjoy the meeting and become regular supporters of the group.

Apologies:- Arch & Audrey Mortimore, Peter & Dylis Harvey, Fred Daw, Phyllis Pascoe, Tony & Joyce Heath, Sylvia Needham, Jack Elliott, Peter Rennells, Michael Nosworthy and Pat Gibson.

The Minutes of the February meeting were read and signed as correct.


Drop-cloth:- It was reported that the church drop-cloth has now been positioned in the Church House and the brackets to hold it will soon be fixed permanently, thanks recorded to Peter, Richard, Arch and Anthony for doing this, and to Arch and Lloyd for providing the roller on which it is stored. Thank also to Wendy for making a calico wrapper for storing the cloth.

Librarian:- Richard Wells (librarian), has at last been given some assistance to begin cataloguing all our archives. Richard is developing a system of storing, recording and filing our archives, which includes a list of items that members can view and borrow from our collection, to read and research, by a simple signing out system.

Lead:- Contact has been recently made with Mr Hodges of Torquay, who is developing a mould for the production of lead paperweights to sell for Church Funds.

Future Programming:-

Several contact addresses were given to Ann and Wendy to consider, for future outings and speakers.

Ruby & Betty showed a photo of the launch of the film "All Along Down Along Out Along Ley" featuring A. J. Coles, held at Ashburton and produced by Stuart Keen in 1961 which led to the question:- "Where’s the film now"? We shall try to locate it!

Neighbouring Groups:-

We have received a list of Chagford Group’s programme of speakers and walks.


Feb ‘04/01 - The Piskies poem.

Anthony has obtained a copy of the poem and read it to the meeting and sent a copy to Matthew Casey.

This was published in a book "Poems of Today" (second series), published by The English Association in 1935 by Sidgwick & Jackson, the poem was written by T.P.Cameron Wilson, originally from a book of poems by him called "Magpies in Picardy" published by The Poetry Bookshop (through a Mr Monro), so it is not anon as mentioned in February’s minutes.

Feb ‘04/02 - Heathercombe Brake.

Anthony contacted Deborah Hannaford and she was able to give him several details concerning the school and its staff. He has sent on this information to Brian Bartels and received from him a letter of thanks.

March ‘04/01 from Brian Coaker - Re minutes Aug’02, John Coaker who witnessed the marriage of George Tanner & Elizabeth Davis in 1815 was the same one who was listed as attending Widecombe Fair in 1851. In 1818 he was innkeeper at Postbridge.

March ‘04/02 from June Kernick - She is currently replying to enquiries about Nosworthy and French but there is another researcher looking for details of Smerdon family:-

Mrs J. Philp

Honeywell Farm, Ilsington, Newton Abbot, TQ13 9RX.

Any Smerdon family may contact her direct. Michael Smerdon took details.

March ‘04/03 from Tony Adams (formally John Oakford of the South Devon Journal)- interested in Vian Smith and our speaker for April, Bob Mann. We shall pass on the details. Secretary to contact Bob Mann regarding transport.

Widecombe Parish & Social Club:-

This has got off to a good start and monthly draw tickets are obtainable from Sharon & Mark Hutchins on 01364 621294.

St Antony, Cornwall:-

John Kimber has again made contact with that parish and is hoping for further information when St Antony House opens in the early summer. This refers to the storm experienced there in 1640 which is so similar to our 1638 storm.

Dartmoor Trust:-

Anthony reported on his visit to John Earle, when he was able to explain our concerns to him personally about the proposed "Dartmoor Leat Recording Project". The result was that both our History Group and The Trust have put a piece in the March Parish Link Newsletter about the idea. It is now up to any local landowner who wishes to partake in the project to contact The Dartmoor Trust direct.

The Community Landscape Project:-

Following on from Sean Hawken’s talk to the group in February. Anthony has agreed to be interviewed by a Dr Mark Ridley who is also involved in this project, for an ‘Oral History Project’ allied to the C. L. P. above. The newsletters promised by Sean have not yet arrived, secretary to follow this up, and write a letter to him expressing our support for the continuation of the funding needed for this scheme.

A. O. B.

1) Widecombe Parish Council is prepared for us to look into the cost of obtaining a fire-proof box for the storage of The Parish Documents.

2) On Friday 5th March there will be a slide show at Buckland Parish Hall to raise funds for The Hall and the Church, this will be given by David Perryman.

3) The Police, through The Community Messaging Service, wish everyone to be aware of various ‘scams’ and bogus calls/callers. There have been callers pretending to represent The Pension Office, Waterboard, Raffle Sellers for disabled children etc.

Police state that :- You do not invite them into your homes or give your personal or bank details to any telephone callers or door callers or visitors. If in doubt hang up the telephone and call the company back to check and do not permit anyone to enter your home unless you have made a previous contact and appointment for them to visit you.

The meeting closed at 10.00 p.m. precisely.

After the tea break we had a most interesting discussion on Ponsworthy and the immediate area. Peter Hirst produced some maps of the area and the meeting benefited from several ‘Local to Ponsworthy’ people who led the discussion.

Roger Whale who collects postcards and photographs of the village, showed some very old and interesting postcards from which it was possible to see how the village has changed from the late 1800s to date. Thatched rooves have in some cases been replaced with slate on some houses, one good example is that of the mill which in about 1910 had its walls raised before being slated, the removal of the stone surround at 1 Fernhill, the renovation of the cart shed at the wheelwrights, and the make-up of the road surface. He also described how it is possible to date some of the cards by the extent of telephone wires visible on the poles.

Bessie French was able to tell us so much, her memories of what it was like at Ponsworthy in the early 20th century, having been born at Corndonford, less that a mile from the centre of the village, her knowledge was fascinating.

Midge Westwood brought a wonderful collection of hand written records of her personal research into the village over the past 40 years, again most interesting, this included some research by the late Iris Woods, she then offered the group the opportunity to copy it for our archives. This offer was most generously accepted.

There follows a transcript of much that was said at the meeting - all this information is too good to lose!

It is to be hoped that members will read it and pass comments on it, correct what is necessary, add more information and continue to record what they can about Ponsworthy during the past 100 years in particular!

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The information on this page was last modified on March 18 2013 12:55:14.

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