Tamerton Foliot Bygone Days
This page contains stories written by local people about earlier years in Tamerton Foliot
This description of Tamerton Foliot was written by Arthur L Clamp in 1981 and is edited from the introduction of a booklet Portrait of a Village and its People.
Tamerton Foliot was incorporated into Plymouth in 1951, yet of all the localities surrounding the city which now form part of its large area it can rightly claim to have retained its village appearance and atmosphere more than any other place. Indeed when walking along the roads or down the creek one could quite easily conclude that the valley was miles from any main area of population. It is about five miles north of the city centre, it has access to the sea past Warleigh Point and down the Tamar, it possesses a very fine church, had a railway station, manor house, three public houses and can still boast of the “Tamerton Strawberry Fair”, a well known annual event throughout the area.
Its people have left their mark on the locality in the form of buildings, both secular and religious, farms, large private residences, slaughterhouse, old wharves, horticultural enterprises, blacksmith, small industrial buildings such as the mill, shops, roads and bridges and many other small things in the way of milestones, a village pump, ornamental ironwork, etc.
It was predominantly a self sufficient community where the need to “go to town” was perhaps once a month at the most. Independence was the key of yesterdays’ citizens. Clothes were hand made, much of the family food was grown in the home garden or allotment and the local farms would readily supply milk, cream, butter, etc., and meat when animals were slaughtered. Its children had the opportunities of as good an education as other villages through the endowed Mary Dean’s School, entertainment of a wide variety was available through the enthusiasm of many people by staging plays, festivities and other similar events in the parish “hut”. Other events on the village calendar were the char-a-banc outings when people travelled together and not singly as most do today in the car, local football matches, visitors coming up by boats and a host of minor activities which brought people together.
People still come together of course, and for many reasons, a new one being the protection of their village from over development through the ‘watchful eye of the conservation society set up in 1975. The area has seen the steady outward growth of housing estates from the city and also from Southway. Some farms have gone, fields built upon and the rural patterns of a few years ago have almost disappeared. These are now times of caring for the environment when the pleasures and pastimes of yesterday have taken on a new meaning. During the night of Friday, 18th September, 1981, fire broke out in the roof of the parish church of St. Mary’s causing considerable damage to the structure and fabric of this very fine building.
RECOLLECTIONS OF TAMERTON FOLIOT written in 1983 by Betty M. E. Bryant
I have always felt privileged at having been born in the early 1930s and was sufficiently old enough to be able to understand and remember the village just before the Second World War and the great changes which took place in its wake. The village not only changed physically but the old way of life, the community spirit and the togetherness of the people changed as well.
The generations that follow mine will never experience the companionship of a whole community who, like one large family, cared for each other, sharing one another’s heartaches and happiness. Also like large families we did not always live in blissful happiness, but no matter what differences people had, just let one person, who was considered to be an outsider, say one word against feuding parties and he would be told off in no uncertain manner. There was a very strong sense of loyalty years ago.
The cottages in the 1930s varied from excellent to very poor and I am pleased to see some of the better ones have been tastefully restored and modernised. I lived in two different cottages in Gay’s Place and they have long been demolished. By today’s standards they would be considered primitive with only one room up and down and no indoor water or sanitation. The tenants of the four cottages used the same water tap at the bottom of the path and there was a row of lavatories with flushed water facing the lake. Who would think now of leaving a warm, carpeted room and having to tread carefully out into the night to use these facilities as most people did in those days?
Summer Evenings at Undercliff, Swan Pool and Blaxton Quay
Following school many of the village children went along Station Road to Undercliff for the evening in the summer where many of us learnt to swim under the watchful eye of older children or adults, a lesson we all learnt following the drowning of Kenny Risdon in the creek during 1932. During the holidays we packed our dripping and jam sandwiches and took a bottle of water, cold tea, or, if we were lucky, lemonade and stayed there all day swimming and enjoying ourselves. Days spent at Blaxton Quay were looked upon as real holidays. Who needed holiday camps or the Costa Brava? Most sunny Sundays and bank holidays saw troops of people loaded with baskets and bags of food and drink, bat and ball (for cricket and rounders) and gramophones and cases of records. All the world and his wife were out from the village to the beach. Everyone was chattering to one another and made light of the walk to Blaxton. Many were dressed in their Sunday best and we would stay on the beach all day. For one shilling (5p) Mrs. Crocker, who lived at Blaxton Quay, would boil large kettles of water for tea making, a tradition carried on by Mrs. May and Mrs. Chanter. Why did the road home seem much longer on the return trip than in the morning?
Charea-banc, Coach Trips and River Trips
These were well organised trips arranged by the church, chapel, Mother’s Union, Women’s Institute or Mr. Hancock and Mrs. Floyd. We all saved very hard for these excursions and looked forward with excitement to the day when we all got up very early and assembled by the village shop in readiness for the outing. It was evident that the only people left in the village were the working men and women as we youngsters and many elderly folk, with helpers, crowded the vehicles for the journey either to Westward Ho!, Exmouth, Paignton, Bude or down to Cornwall to Looe or Newquay. There was, of course, the sing-song and the promise of a fish and chip meal to whet our appetite on the return journey. Our river trips usually started at First or Second Quay, down at the creek, and we were often taken up the St. German’s river by steamer. Unfortunately I do not have a photograph of these trips and I cannot remember who organised them.
Garden Fetes, Parties and Sports Days
These were the other big summer events in the calendar of the village held either at Cann House, by permission of Mrs. Grigg, the vicarage by the Rev. and Mrs. Wood then the Rev. and Mrs. Soady, in the Chapel garden by the Maddock family and then, of course, the strawberry feast, fair or fruit banquet as variously described. I remember only one large fete at Warleigh House but have been told there were quite a number of them during the 1920s. There were also Football Club and school sports days in which we children participated.
The visits and walks along Station Road were now for collecting wood in readiness for the winter months. This was a family project, at least for the ladies and children, as the menfolk used to meet up over Pound or Paddon’s Corner and chat about the news of the day and then go to their favourite pub. The Seven Stars was in Star Lane with Mr. Bolt, then Mr. Skinner, The Queen’s Arms, also in Star Lane, with Jim Paul and the King’s Arms in the main street with Mr. Tweed then Mr. Glover. Others who did not drink went to the Men’s Club at the back of the parish but to play snooker, billiards, darts and, I suspect, to gamble with cards. As for us if we were not collecting firewood we turned to gather blackberries, elderberries, nuts for Christmas and mushrooms for breakfast.
Dances, Concerts and Plays
In the pre-war days dances involved the whole family and not just the young teenagers. Everyone used to go from babies in arms to grandparents who would sit watching the dancers and all be warmed by the two coke stoves at either end of the hall. Music was provided by a small band of enthusiastic musicians. The dances were organised by either Frank Hancock, Mrs. Reddicliffe, Ted French and later by Roy Axworthy. Mrs. Finnemore introduced her old tyme classes and these proved to be very popular catering for all age groups. The whole village appeared to have turned out for some of these evenings. Concerts of various kinds attracted great support which became a weekly event when Mrs. Reddicliffe was raising money for the Benevolent Fund for the village men and women in the forces. Help was also given to families whose breadwinner did not return from the fighting. Many people took part in these concerts but the stars of the shows were Mrs. Luke, Douglas Southwood with his ballads, Margaret Gaylard with her tap and ballet dancing. She was a member of the Geraldine Lamb’s group which performed at the pantomimes, and on the vicarage lawn and at some fetes. We must not forget Mrs. Reddicliffe herself and her act, first with Mr. Fred Bellamy, and then Harry Chanter. They always sang the same song and made us laugh with their rendering of “There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza”. The church and chapel Sunday schools and Mary Dean’s school did their concerts and nativity plays at Christmas. I was always an angel or fairy. Many of the rehearsals were at my parent’s house or at the vicarage and we children were expected to be word perfect and our timing was second to none. I was suppose to magic myself off as the fairy queen and return about two minutes later as the witch my last words being, “I must away now”. I fell down the back of the stage and I with a bent wand, battered crown was pulled on to my feet and quickly draped with a black cloak and pointed black hat and pushed back on the stage much to the delight of the audience who thought that everything had gone to plan! It was all such good fun.
Our Weekly Cinema
This was on Friday evenings during the autumn, winter and spring months and shops did a brisk trade in sweets from pocket money supplied on Dad’s pay day. Mr.Ellacott ran the shows first with silent films and then talkies. The show would begin with a cartoon like Popeye the Sailorman followed by a feature film and then end up with a serial the ending of which would tempt one back the following week to see what happened to the unfortunate hero or heroine. There was only one complaint at the film shows and that was the cold. We all sat on hard wooden benches or chairs in our hats, coats, gloves and scarfs and, in spite of one stove being lit, we were always cold and said we would not come again but we always did. There were lantern shows in the chapel and Warleigh room before films came to Tamerton.
The War Years
So many things could be written about these years that they would fill a large book. There were the Girl Guides, Sea Scouts, First Aid classes, jumble sales and all the games we used to play as children oblivious of the problem caused by the war. For material things the old days were not so good but for company and entertainment they cannot be beaten.
Tamerton is still very much a village and no doubt the children of today take things as they find them but, perhaps, depend too much on provided entertainment and material possessions. I have been asked to jot down some of my own memories about the village during the 1930s and hope you find these of interest. I am greatly indebted to the following people for loaning photographs and other items to me for inclusion in this second illustrated booklet. Miss L. Langman, Mrs. F. Britt, Mrs. V. Bryant, Miss D. Maker, Miss C. Finnemore, Mrs. M. Brighton, Mr. G. Risdon, Mr. S. Worrell, Mrs. E. Watts, Mrs. F. Morgan, Mrs. J. Stone, Miss V. Rounsfull and Mrs. D. Senior. Finally, Mrs. Jill Tooze and Mrs. Pam Howe must be specially thanked for allowing their homes to be collecting points for the photographs. Mr. A. L. Clamp kindly offered to give advice and help in this second title and supported my suggestion of another booklet with his technical and editorial skills. Were it not for these, the memories of the village could have disappeared for ever.
This video is by Harry Chanter about growing up in Tamerton Foliot
Harry also composed a song about Tamerton Foliot: