History Group Minutes February 2011

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A Meeting of The Widecombe History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 2nd February 2011 at 7.30 p.m.
Ruth Parnell, Margaret Phipps, Ann Murphy, Carl Heywood, Doug & Lynn Pigeon, Roger & Dot Dickinson, Barbara Norrish, Pat & Val Watson, Sue Booty, Jenny Pascoe, Roger Whale, Dot Jones, Rose & Arthur Wrayford, Jo & Syd Pontin, Jim Churchward, Betty Andrews, Mary & Alan Goodall.
Mr Terry French
was in the chair and 37 members attended.
Widecombe Fair Tuesday 13th September 2011.
Arrangements are continuing well as reported by Aileen & Peter Carrett. The four Devon Lace makers have agreed to attend. The genealogical research section is organised. Memorabilia of the bus services is in hand and as far as the kitchen utensils are concerned there is still a request for more. Please let Mary Pascoe and Aileen know if you have anything that you are prepared to loan. Looking ahead to 2012; it is hoped to show Mike Wright’s working model of a tin mine complete with minerals on display. Maggie Faulkner hopes to look at Tourism and associated businesses. Please ask Sue Boustead for a sight of the current membership list to check that your contact details are up to date and accurate. Members are urged to sign Gift Aid forms if appropriate.
Storage cabinets: Richard Wells has done a great deal of work reorganising our artefacts and cataloging them.
Heritage & Educational Centre:  There was little to report at this meeting.
North Hall: 
Peter Rennells is preparing a leaflet about North Hall, outlining his research so far, with a ‘pocket history’, diagrams and interesting facts about the site. He is hoping to get these printed off soon so that when we get visiting groups we can supply them with something to take away as an information sheet.
Peter is continuing his contacts with the current owners for access and future cooperation.
We would be pleased to know how the cider making turned out! Some photographs of the cider making process were taken, copies of this activity need to be preserved. This is the beginning of what may prove to be a regeneration of the orchard and the site.
Millennium Book and CD:
Secretary to ask the editor of the Parish Link to mention the fact that we are still looking for it.
We must contact Chris Mayhead about this as he was the instigator of this project.
Digitising the Parish Documents:
Roger & Ann Claxton reported that they have been successful in obtaining a grant towards the cost of digitising equipment and they hope to start soon with this project. They hope to begin with a simple course of computer skills and then recruit at least three groups of FOUR to carry out the digitising of our records. These sessions will take place in The Church House, where our papers are easily accessed. There is a need for a few more volunteers, please contact Ann and Roger if you feel that you would like to be involved.
Widecombe Music:
Watch this space!
Walks, talks etc.:
The Peter Hirst Memorial Walk this year will be held on Monday 29th August, Peter’s birthday.
The walk will include a visit to Haytor Quarry, The Granite Railway, and follow the rail track down to The Edgemoor Hotel. There is a possibility that if the day proves well that we may then move on to Stover Canal. Richard Wells and Mike Wright are arranging this year’s walk. More details later.After a very successful walk around Challacombe last year. Pat Watson suggested that we should revisit the site in the spring when the bracken has died down and more of the archaeology of the area would be visible. He has suggested that we do this on Friday 1st April and this was approved. There was a suggestion that if we met at Challacombe at 11.00 a.m. and walked to Headland Warren, then on to Warren House Inn for lunch at about 1.00 p.m. After lunch, walk back to Challacombe via Golden Dagger, Soussons and the plantation. The meeting thought that this would be very interesting. Provision could be made for anyone who could not do all the journey (approx 4-5 miles), for cars to be taken to Warren House Inn prior to the walk starting so that a break off option would be available. Some could turn back at Headland, some at The Inn, perhaps even some at Soussons! This will be finalised at the March meeting.
A. O. B.:
In response to the question of whether there was a blacksmith at Jordan with the name of Hext. No record can be found but Mary Pascoe stated that there was a blacksmith called Hext living at Cockingford Cottage recorded in the 1881 census, James 46, his wife Mary 42, William16, another son aged 9, George 7, John 3. Our treasurer reported that he would like all legitimate expenses forms to be returned to him by the March Meeting as our financial year ends at the end of February. Appropriate forms are obtainable from him, Sue Boustead or the secretary.Sue Booty pointed out that she has been editor of our six monthly Newsletter for the past ten years and she would like to stand down at our AGM in May. She suggests that a volunteer should offer to do this perhaps bringing a new perspective and a fresh ideas, she would be prepared to help the new editor if required. Volunteers please. Reference to email (a) in January’s Minutes. Secretary has replied to Chris King, with details pointing out that Miss Winifred Penn-Gaskell supported Widecombe Fair until her death in 1949 and enclosing a photograph of the cup which is still competed for at the Fair. Her collection of air-mail stamps is in The British Museum. This has been archived in our W. Fair file.
Also archived under our Widecombe Fair File is a copy of a song written by W. Gregory Harris (published date unknown) sung to the tune of Widecombe Fair, this has been given to the group by Ian Bowman. It refers to the Liberal Party's welfare reforms 1906-1914 and the creation of The Old Age Pension Act of 1908. It states Asquith, Lloyd George and Churchill amongst others in the chorus of the song. N.B. Churchill left the Liberal Party in 1922.
Diary Dates:
Members were informed that on Tuesday 1st of March Princetown LHG have a talk by Sue Andrews on “The Three Hares”. It was brought to the meeting’s notice that we have similar talk on Wednesday September 7th this year. Wednesday 2nd March a coffee morning at Leusdon memorial Hall 10 a.m. till 12 noon. Wednesday 2nd March we have an illustrated talk by Philippe Planel on “Investigating Landscape History - Parishscapes Approach”.
Emails and correspondence:
The secretary has been inundated with work this past month and he brought several points to the notice of the meeting.
1. A request for details of the Caunter family. Dawn Nosworthy promised to find her copy of the family tree and the secretary will then pass on the information.
2. A television company wishes to visit Widecombe to make a film looking at traditional farming where the same family has been for a number of years. It was suggested that this should be passed to the Parish Council and The Widecombe Fair Committee. Agreed.
3. The MED Theatre Company based at Moretonhampstead is hoping to create a chance for young people in the area to research John Ford a playwright who lived in the Ilsington Parish in the 16th/17th Centuries. It was suggested that they should be informed of The Ilsington Book by the late Dick Wills and another book by Bill Ransom about Ilsington. It was also noted that much of Dick Wills’ notes and research is deposited at The DRO.
4. A day workshop will be held at The Devon Rural Archive, Shilstone, Modbury on Friday 18th March from 10 a.m. until 3.30 p.m. at a cost of £15 per person. The workshop is entitled “How To Research Your House’s History”. Contact Diana on 01548 830888 for more details. Peter Rennells expressed an interest.
5. A friend of our group Todd Gray has written pointing out that the DRO is likely to lose some of its funding and therefore the service which they have provided to the general public over the years may well get reduced. It was suggested that the secretary should write to those concerned with the decision regarding this expressing our concern that this wonderful service to the county with all its wealth of knowledge will become so much more difficult to access. The possible reduction of staff can only make it so much more inaccessible to people living in rural areas.
6. It was noted that elections for the Parish Council and the Teignbridge District Council will take place on 5th May. It does appear that the role of the Parish Council will become increasingly important and anyone wishing to be involved in either should call 01626 215113 for more information.
7. If a group of TEN people in the parish should wish to be involved with a new project “Talking Teignbridge Residents’ Panel” contact Laura on 01626 215893. It was agreed to pass this to the Parish Council.
8. A Sophia Wise is hoping to attend our March meeting as she wishes to make contact with anyone that may be able to assist her with her research towards a BA(hons) Photography Degree. Anyone who has photographs relating to the district and local agriculture could use our usual ‘tea break’ to speak to her.
9. Several emails have come through from America regarding a film shown there on television about Widecombe. They claimed that the village was presented as a ‘ghost village’ amongst other things. The secretary has replied to them giving them a short history and pointing out that we are very alive here. It is possible that we may receive a copy of part of the film to see ourselves.
10. The Wren Trust are launching a ‘Baring-Gould Folk Song Archive’ details are available from Melanie on 01837 53754.

A discussion about Old Widecombe

Two pictures of the centre of Widecombe showing Kernick's Shop, the Forge and the Blacksmith’s Shop created a lot of discussion. The oldest picture showed the Old Forge. Beside it was the dilapidated thatched roof of where the shoeing took place. To the right a heap of stones that looked like a collapsed building and to the extreme right a substantial stone building. The second picture showed Kernick’s Shop built of wood and corrugated iron where the rubble was in the first picture and two petrol pumps, one of ESSO (Ethol) and one of SHELL (Petrol). This caused discussion as to where and when the first petrol pumps arrived in Widecombe. C1934 seemed the most probable as that was the date of the picture of Kernick’s. Wilfred Beard built his petrol station in that year as well. Previous to that Ernest Beard sold ‘unleaded petrol’ from Linchaford. This was also used for lighting the Church House. The lights were pressurised and burnt with a ’mantle’ if memories are correct. There were petrol pumps in living memory at Haytor, Poundsgate and Dartmeet as well as at Widecombe and Merrypark (Church Lane Head). Kernick’s shop itself depicted a great deal of china, picture postcards, a poster claiming sole distributor of Devon Ware China. Upstairs was the ‘hardware store’ where boots, hooks, agricultural tools etc were sold. A picture of Wayside Cafe and Post Office with a mail van registration number YX 4630 outside with the postman and others posing for the picture which prompted the question what make of van was it? C1920s there was a postman who came to Widecombe each day and spent the whole day in the pub. When it came time to return to Newton Abbot he was generally in a pretty sad state and Sidney Beard when leaving school would drive the van to Ponsworthy, where he lived, and the postman then drove on. That van then the family recalls was a Renault. But what was this one? Old pictures of The Church House, showed how it had evolved from a thatched building to present day slate roof. Amendments to the east side of the building and the chimneys and windows could also be noticed. Some more modern pictures showing how the post office has moved around the village, how some old sheds, now houses have been altered, the millennium stone under which is buried a ‘time capsule’. One photo created great interest showing four people with hand shears, believed to have been taken at Great Dunstone and showed Sylvester & Arthur Mann, Sam Cannon and Bill Oldrieve. Others showed Widecombe Fair on the village green, the Jubilee Seat, the ‘Saxon Well’ recently described in a book as a ‘Holy Well’, this has never been claimed as such by locals. The agricultural theme continued with pictures of a Wain, and a Jingle, the craftsmanship of both creating discussion
The meeting closed at 10.00 p.m.

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