Widecombe History Group Minutes August 2005

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A Meeting of The Widecombe & District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 3rd August 2005 at 7.30 p.m.

Apologies:-      Michael & Andrea Veneables, Peter Rennells, Mary Pascoe, Ruth Parnell, Arthur Johnstone, Rosemary Mortimore, Sue Booty, Val Watson and Joyce Heath.

Mr Rodney Cruze was in the Chair and 37 people attended.

The Minutes of the July Meeting were read and signed as correct.


            Projects -

                        Lead:   Production of the souvenir paperweights has commenced. We are using a mold kindly made by Mr John Hodges of Torquay and the result is very pleasing. Jim Churchward, John Kimber, Rodney Cruze and Anthony Beard have made 50 so far and Mary Pascoe and Wendy Beard are packaging them after firstly fixing a felt cushion to the underside and adding a card which reads:-

Widecombe & District Local History Group have produced this souvenir paperweight from LEAD salvaged from Widecombe Church Tower when it was refurbished in 2000 A.D.’

They will be sold at £5 each and the proceeds will be divided equally between Widecombe Parochial Church Council and the History Group. Orders being taken now.

            Drop Cloth:  Peter Rennells and Rodney Cruze have permanently fixed the Drop Cloth used in the year 2000 to seal off the tower during renovation.  It is now secure in the Church House.

            Ponsworthy:  The collection of photographs and details of Ponsworthy is continuing.

            Widecombe Fair:  Research into the history of Widecombe Fair is continuing well with more and more material becoming available each week and plans are afoot to visit Spreyton, Sticklepath and the surrounding areas soon.  Mr. Fred Daw informed us that in the early 1920s Widecombe Fair was held in Smooth Meadow (Smooth Moor) the site of the present Widecombe Primary School.  Fred was also able to name some of the people portraying the characters of the song depicted in some old postcards. We have loaned Kim Paley, who is devising the Fair’s Programme for this year, a couple of old photographs and we are asking her to add the caption - “Who are these people?”  Fred Daw told the meeting that one was Arthur Brown and another was Arthur’s Father.

            The Heritage Marquee at Widecombe Fair on Tuesday 13th September 2005:  Plans for the staging in the Heritage Marquee are well in hand.  Display boards will show the work done so far in researching Widecombe Fair, Ponsworthy and North Hall.  Also on display will be old photographs relevant to the above, posters, catalogues and other memorabilia concerning the parish, scrap books showing the activities of the Group, some prehistoric items found within the parish and much more.  It is to be hoped that visitors to the exhibition will be able to recognise people in the photographs and will be able to add more information to that gathered so far.  Peter Rennells, John Kimber and Rodney Cruze intend to man the marquee for most of the day and many other members have agreed to help at various times during the day, as follows:-  Mike Jones, 10.30 a.m., Terry French 10.30/11.00 a.m. Pat Watson 11.30- 12.30 p.m., Roger and Ann Claxton 12.00 - 2.00 p.m., Richard Wells 2.00 p.m., Audrey Mortimore 2.30 p.m., Dawn Nosworthy 3.00 p.m. and Jenny Pascoe 3.30 p.m.  Aileen and Peter Carrett, Jim and Ruby Churchward and Betty Andrews have agreed to fill in at any time during the day. Others hope to be available to do the odd half hour.

The History Group will be selling copies of its Books “All Along Down Along Widecombe Way” and “Dartmoor’s Policeman Poet” as well as copies of “The Widecombe Chronicle and Dartmoor Gazette of April 1875” and The Souvenir Paperweights.

The marquee will be shared with Colin Pearse selling copies of his book ‘The Whitefaced drift of Dartmoor’s  praper Sheep” and Margaret Phipps promoting local holiday accommodation.

The important thing is that any information offered on the day must be recorded and the details from whom it is obtained and contact addresses and telephone numbers must also be recorded so that information can be followed up.

E-mails:  August 05/01:  Correspondence from P. Stroud requesting details of the Fishing Feast. 

Replied: that in the Western Morning News of July 2005 in ‘pages from the past’ it reports that 75 years ago “the annual pilgrimage to Burrator for Ye Ancient Fyshinge Feaste to celebrate Sir Francis Drake’s great achievement in bringing a water supply from Dartmoor to Plymouth nearly four hundred years ago was observed on Saturday”.

            July 05/01         From Mary Sawtell passed to Ruth Parnell for her family to deal with. To date they are still researching a reply.

Guided walks around Widecombe.

Peter Rennells, Roger Whale and Anthony Beard recently lead a group of 80 members of The Devon Women’s Farmers Union around the village and the ladies made a generous donation to the group and also between them bought 32 copies of our “All Along, Down Along Widecombe Way” books. We have since received from Wimple History Society a copy of a Whiteways Cider catalogue of 1934 depicting illustrations regarding Widecombe Fair. We have sent them a donation to cover their expenses. We shall try and organise a visit to Whimple to view their museum.

The Hartland Project

Roger and Ann Claxton emphasised that for the Widecombe History Group to undertake anything similar to the above would create a need to get considerable financial grants and entail a massive amount of time and dedication on the part of a small group of people.  While it was agreed it would be a wonderful achievement to record all documents etc. of Widecombe on to C.D., it could not be entered into without a long term commitment by a dedicated group of people.  This ideally should be reviewed from time to time.

Projection Screen

This was used for the first time this evening and will remain in the Church House for the use of any organisation hiring the Hall.  A vote of thanks was recorded to Aileen and Peter Carrett and their daughter Hilary for their assistance in obtaining the screen.

A reply to Mrs. O’Kelly’s letter regarding War Memorials needs attention.

Richard Wells is continuing the mammoth task of recording the archives.

Local Notices:  Saturday 13th August Widecombe Social and Entertainment’s Group Summer Party for children at 12 noon in Widecombe Fair Field and from 7.30 p.m. for the whole family, details from 01364 621294.

Aileen and Peter Carrett have a Coffee Morning at their home at Liverton at 10.30 a.m. on Thursday 4th August.

Aune Head Arts have produced a CD of the bells of 32 churches of Dartmoor ringing out over the countryside. The CD will be launched on Saturday 6th August 2005 at Widecombe Church during the Annual Ringing Festival which began many years ago.

The SIX bell competition is for a cup given in memory of Bill Miners one time captain of the Widecombe ringers.

Peter Hirst Memorial Walk:  Richard Wells and Mike Jones have organised this for Monday 29th August (Peter’s birthday).  Meet at Brimpts Farm at 5.30 for 6.00 p.m. for cream tea, £4 per head, to be followed by a walk around Brimpts and a chance to see the water wheel that Peter and his colleagues erected at Brimpts a few years ago.  The Secretary understands that the Peter Hirst Memorial Stone has not been engraved yet

            P.H. 1931 - 2004            and he will take this up with the Dartmoor National Park immediately in the hope that it can be in place in time for the walk.  A list of those wishing to attend is being drawn up, contact the secretary.

The Walk along the Moorland Erme, lead by Mike Perriam on Saturday 9th July was a great success.  Mr. Rodney Cruze suggested that a walk from Ivybridge to Cornwood, along the River Erme is very worthwhile.

Dipleigh:  The visit to Dipleigh was enjoyed by all those who attended and a vote of thanks was recorded to Miss Sylvia Needham for her hospitality.  Sylvia in turn thanked all those who had contributed to making it such a success. Peter Rennells and Peter & Aileen Carrett have given Sylvia a few photographs taken that evening for her to keep.

It was suggested by Peter and Dilys Harvey that similar evenings could be arranged at other members homes and they offered to arrange an evening at their home in the near future.

Freda Wilkinson expressed sincere thanks to members for their ‘get well’ card after her recent accident.

2006 Programme:

Ann Claxton and Wendy Beard will soon be devising a programme of speakers and outings.  Any suggestions by members would be appreciated.

Peter Carrett brought samples of his collection of bricks from local brick works. Mention was made of several brickworks of Devon and their marks on the bricks. Of particular interest was the one stamped “G.W.P.” (Great Western Pipes Bricks & Tile Works) the forerunner of Candy Tiles at Heathfield.  Mike Jones explained that “G.W.P.” could also stand for Great Western Potteries, their address was Chudleigh, as at that time Heathfield had not been developed, the firm also produced decorative pottery and art ware, in the early part of the 20th century.  As a collector of this pottery he offered to give the Group a talk on the subject in the future. We look forward to this. The name of Sid Dart was mentioned who threw the pots. Peter Harvey mentioned Harry Weston who also threw pots and the fact that the pipes were made by wire cuts and when fired often had slightly off level edges.

The next meeting is on Wednesday September 7th when the Speaker will be Helen Harris and her subject will be “Devon Century of Change”.

The Speaker at the October Meeting on the 5th, will be Commander Charles Crichton and the subject is The History of Devonport Dockyard.  On Saturday 8th October Ann Claxton has arranged a visit to the Dockyard, leaving Widecombe at 9.30 a.m. arriving home at 5.30 p.m.  The cost is £13 which includes morning coffee/tea.  Cream teas can be pre-booked at £2.50.  Light lunches are available in the cafe on the base, or you can take your own packed lunch.  Names and money by the September meeting please. Ann will try to get this outing mentioned in the September Parish Newsletter.

Roger and Ann Claxton showed the meeting an entertaining video of our trip to Morwellham (singing in the rain).  They also showed a display of photographs of views around the area and given to the Group by Ben Knibbs, and, a series of photographs taken in the 1970’s including Peter Hannaford cutting ‘Vags’, and the old way of cooking with the ‘Vags’ and given to the Group by Freda Wilkinson.  A vote of thanks was recorded to them all.

The Meeting closed at 10.00 p.m.

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