Memories of Gorran & Gorran Haven & surrounding area.

Do you have memories that you would be willing to share?

Why not jot them down on a piece of paper and give me a call or email.

I would like to add these memories to this village website  www.gorranhaven.org.uk so that they can be saved for posterity and read by all those interested. The website has had nearly 34.000 people viewing it in the last twelve months, so clearly there is an interest in our villages and the local area from both the local community and visitors. If you would like to add anything, do please contact me on 01726 844695 or email gorranheaven@outlook.com   Keith Oliver

GORRAN HAVEN & DISTRICT WAR DIARY

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, albeit virtually with the help of Haven Church due to the restrictions in place because of the current health emergency, it is right to pause and reflect on the enormous sacrifice that the wartime generation made in order to secure us the peace and freedom we enjoy today. As you read the various events and happenings listed below they will show village life continuing but from time to time impacted by the realities of war with its horrors, pain and sorrow. In his VE Day broadcast King George VI said “Today we give thanks to God for a great deliverance. Let us remember those who will not come back. Let us salute in proud gratitude the great host of the living who have brought us to victory. In the hour of danger we humbly committed our cause into the hand of God and He has been our strength and shield. Let us thank Him for His mercies and in this hour of victory commit ourselves and our new task to the guidance of that same strong hand.” So this VE weekend in Gorran Haven the Last Post will be sounded, the Tribute to the Millions will be read and a Service of Thanksgiving held thanks to the wonders of modern technology. Join in, be a part of your community, and be worthy of their sacrifice.

1939  
Sunday 3rdSeptember 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declares war on Germany for their refusal to withdraw from Poland.
Friday 8th September 1939 Gorran School spent the week making preparations for the arrival of the expected evacuees.
Monday 11thSeptember 1939 The evacuees had not arrived but about 20 children from evacuated areas had been admitted to Gorran School.
Friday 22ndSeptember 1939 Five more private evacuees were admitted to the school. One evacuee had left to return home.
Monday 30th October 1939 Heavy rain kept many children off school Only 21 of the 66 on roll turned up.
1940  
Thursday 4th January 1940 The Ardangorm struck the Gwineas in an ESE gale at night. At daylight 11 crew were rescued by Fowey lifeboat. The ship’s back broke on the 10thJanuary and wood & other material washed ashore to be salvaged by villagers.
Tuesday 16th April 1940 Mr Howard Whetter of The Goodwins, Gorran, ploughed part of the school playing field to form an emergency school garden.
Tuesday 7th May 1940 The local ARP warden, Mr Addy of Pabyer, Gorran Haven, made an inspection of the children’s gas masks at Gorran School.
Sunday 26th May 1940 Large congregations were found in all local churches as people responded to the King’s rallying call for the nation to pray.
Monday 3rd June 1940 Three unofficial evacuees were enrolled at Gorran School.
Saturday 15th June 1940 21 evacuees arrived in the village at 7.45pm.
Monday 17th June 1940 40 evacuees of the Chequer Street School, Clarkenwell, London arrived at Gorran School at 9.30pm.
Friday 28th June 1940 63 official evacuees to the village started school.
Wednesday 10th July 1940 Gorran Haven had its first air raid warning. The Headmaster, Mr Greenaway, wrote that school work was interrupted by the warning that commenced at 9.40am and ended at 10.20am.
Tuesday 3rdSeptember 1940 ARP wardens visited school at 3pm and checked all gas masks.
Saturday 7thSeptember 1940 Codeword Cromwell was issued meaning invasion was imminent. Gorran Home Guard and the Coast Watchers spent the night tensely waiting for the attack that never materialised. In Probus, the Home Guard got word the Germans had landed at Port Holland and squeezed into two cars to drive to the coast to head off the invasion. On arrival, they found it was a false alarm and meekly headed back to the village they should have stayed and defended!
Sunday 8thSeptember 1940 Church and chapels were again full in response to the King’s call for a National Day of Prayer.
Tuesday 24thSeptember 1940 Mr Greenaway left Gorran School having received his call up papers. Miss M Fanner took charge.
Wednesday 25thSeptember 1940 A 75 minute long air raid warning sounded at 12.30pm. Students at Gorran School were given a playtime afterwards for half an hour.
Tuesday 1st October 1940 An air raid warning 9.45am to 10.10am. R M Bell, a County Supply Teacher, took charge at Gorran School.
1941  
Saturday 8th February 1941 At 9.50am a German plane was shot down in flames in the sea by 2 Spitfires 1 mile NE of Dodman Point. A resident observed the 2 Spitfires engage the enemy plane & it fell into the sea. Despite a look-out being kept no survivors were spotted.
Sunday 23rd February 1941 Mrs Ellen Jenkin of Portloe reported to police that at 11.35pm she saw a small vessel, about 500 tons, blow up 3 to 4 miles SSE in the direction of Dodman Point. A search was made locally & by Naval authorities but no confirmation received by the police.
Wednesday 12thMarch 1941 During War Weapons Week a dance was held in the Village Club at Caerhays. A spot dance was won by Pte Wilkinson & partner, the prize being a pound’s worth of National Savings Stamps.
Saturday 15th March 1941 A German plane was shot down during the morning 2 miles off Dodman Point. Lieut. Byrne, the Home Guard Commander, who lived at Red Rock, Gorran Haven, told a reporter: “My house is on the cliff. Looking seawards, I saw a couple of planes, one behind the other. They were moving fast. Then I heard a sudden burst of machine gun fire. There was a brilliant flash in the air. The mass of flame wobbled a bit & then plunged into the sea. The other plane circled round a few times & then made off. The whole incident lasted only a few seconds. It was seen by few people beyond the coast watchers.” One of the crew had been seen clinging desperately to the wreckage but by the time the rescue boat had made the passage all trace of him had vanished.
Thursday 3rd April 1941 At 6pm a sea mine washed ashore at Vault Beach. The police & military kept guard until the Naval authorities dealt with it.
Friday 4th April 1941 At 8.55pm the fishing boat Ibis was machine gunned by an enemy plane ½ mile off Pentewan. One member of the crew received a bullet wound in the leg & was taken to hospital.
Monday 7th April 1941 At 12.20pm the Steamship Elizabeth, a cargo vessel travelling in convoy, was torpedoed & sunk off Greeb Point. Coastguards witnessed the sinking. 10 survivors were landed. 10 crew were lost.
Sunday 13th & Monday 14th April 1941 During Easter Sunday & Monday the grounds of Heligan Hall were opened to the public by kind permission of Mr & Mrs S Williamson as a fundraiser for the Red Cross. The Cornish Guardian reported, “There were many lovely blooms of daffodils & other flowers throughout the gardens. The greenhouses, too, were well stocked & had some charming plants. Mrs Williamson herself conducted parties over various compartments in the stately mansion and explained its interesting architecture as well as the delightful paintings by well known artists.”
Thursday 24th April 1941 The union of the benefices of St Michael & Caerhays with either St Goran or Tregony was discussed at an inquiry by the Bishop of Truro’s commission which included Dr H H Brind of Gorran. St Michael Caerhays was reluctant to join any union but the secretary of the PCC stated if there were to be union they would prefer it to be made with Gorran rather than Tregony.
Monday 28th April 1941 At 9.30pm 2 High Explosive bombs & a large number of Incendiary Bombs were dropped in open fields at Cotna Farm, Gorran. There was damage to the farmhouse but no casualties.
Sunday 11th May 1941 Boswinger Methodist Church anniversary services included a service of song called “Silver Lilies”. Solos, quartettes & duets were given by Mrs Vivian, Mrs Michell, Miss B Bray, Miss Ivy Grose, Mr A Patten, Mr L Bunney, Mr W Pill & Mr J Teague. Miss Ruth Smith was on the organ. Rev B C Solomon presided & Mr E J Michell tendered the annual report.
Wednesday 14th May 1941 At 1.20am an enemy plane dive bombed a group of fishing boats 2½ miles off Mevagissey. The plane failed to come out of its dive & crashed into the sea. The fishermen searched the spot but no trace of the plane or its crew could be found.
Thursday 15th May 1941 At 2.40am 8 bombs fell at Hemmick Beach killing Pte Gerard Moran of the 8th Btn Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment. He was the husband of Kathleen Mary Moran of Shibden, Halifax. Seriously injured was Pte Leonard Wilson, also of 8th Btn Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, and Coast Watcher Ernest John Oliver of Gorran Haven. Both were rushed to the Emergency Hospital in the Kendall Building of St Lawrence’s Hospital, Bodmin but both died of their wounds within 24 hours. Ernest left a pregnant widow Dora at Rice Farm. Nearly 500 attended Ernest’s funeral. The soldiers, according to their Regimental War Diary, were guarding the anti-aircraft post at Hemmick. There was serious damage to one house & one bungalow. One cow was killed. Leonard Billing of Gorran Haven escaped uninjured.

At 5.20am a fishing boat 3 miles out from Mevagissey was machine gunned by an enemy plane.

Monday 19th May 1941 The Germans again target Hemmick. 4 HE bombs & 12 IBs dropped at Trevessan Farm. 3 cattle killed; 5 cattle injured. No damage to buildings.
Tuesday 20th May 1941 At 5.20am 3 fishing boats a mile out from Mevagissey were machine gunned and bombed. No casualties or damage.

An unexploded bomb – UXB – was found at Cook’s Farm, Gorran Haven having been dropped in last night’s raid on Hemmick. The police and ARP were informed and precautions taken.

Monday 2nd June 1941 A tragedy was narrowly avoided when Miss R L Helverson, on holiday from London & staying at Prideaux, Portmellon, got into difficulties whilst bathing at Gorran Haven. Mr D E Bevan of St Austell, who was on the beach, took off his jacket, plus fours & shoes & plunged into the sea to help the stricken woman. In heavy seas he got to her but the current took them about 90 yards out. Men on the beach launched a boat but it capsized. The current took the two in the water and washed them ashore on Little Perhaver. They walked out of the water & Miss Halverson collapsed. First aid was given & a doctor summoned & she recovered & was taken to Portmellon in the doctor’s car. Mr Bevan quietly dressed & slipped away from the commotion. Without his presence of mind & unhesitating gallantry in fighting the waves & currents Miss Halverson would have drowned.
Thursday 19th June 1941 Gorran Haven Methodist Church paid 12s 6d for repairs to its harmonium.
August 1941 A highly successful Whist Drive in aid of the funds of the local detachment of the British Red Cross Society was held at the Church Room, Gorran. Some 80 people were present & heard how fortunate the parish was to possess a well equipped First Aid Post with a trained staff which had proved itself useful on numerous occasions. The post was at Cherry Tree, the home of Mrs Powell and boasted 3 beds, a decontaminating room & a reception room.
September 1941 Maurice Patten, only son of Mr & Mrs John Patten, Gorran Haven, returned home after 8 months in a naval hospital. Called up to serve in the Royal Navy, his patrol boat at Harwich was fired on by an enemy aircraft that had spotted sparks from the galley fire. Maurice was wounded in the arm. He was discharged from the service as medically unfit.
Sunday 19th October 1941 Jenifer Margaret Fischer Williams of Lamledra House married the MI5 agent Herbert Hart, having lived with him for the previous 4 years. Hart, a lawyer before the war, was engaged in capturing enemy agents in the UK. It was he who found German agent Ter Braak dead in an air raid shelter in Cambridge in April 1941.
October 1941 Parents & Prize Day held at Gorran Council School when a large number of parents, evacuee foster parents & friends of the school attended for the afternoon. There were songs by the scholars, a junior play called ‘Old King Cole’, a senior play ‘The Burglar’ & a report from headmaster Mr W Vivian. Principal prizewinners were: Class 3 – J Tregaskes, E Michell, P Teague, B Couch, P Tregenna; Class 2 – J Scoble, T Everson, J Ball, R Gimbel, Y Whetter, P Westbrook; Class 1 – F Fox, M Ball, H Whetter, B Vivian, I Steer, R Smith. Special prizes: Needlework – P Byrne; Basketry & Gardening – O Rowse, G Collett; Art & Handiwork – P Cobb; Art – E Steer.
Tuesday 11thNovember 1941 The combined sales of poppies in Mevagissey, Gorran & St Ewe raised a record amount of £67 16s 1d.
Wednesday 17thDecember 1941 On the day of what would have been his 21st birthday a memorial service to the memory of Leading Seaman Desmond Dowding, second son of Mr & Mrs H Dowding was held at the Church of St Just, Gorran Haven. The large congregation heard the vicar describe Desmond as a general favourite of a sturdy, cheerful, affectionate disposition & a keen churchman of Christian character. He was lost when his ship HMS Barham was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on 25th November 1941. The ship exploded as it was sinking.
December 1941 Mr J N Grose of Penare was nominated for the presidency of the South Devon Flock Book Association for the ensuing year at their recent meeting.
Wednesday 31stDecember 1941 A Carol Service was held at Boswinger Methodist Church with carols by the choir featuring “special parts” by Mrs W Vivian, Miss C Russell, Miss Ivy Grose, Mr L Bunney & Mr W Pill. The service was presided over by Mr W Grose. A faith supper followed.
1942  
February 1942 The Methodist Sunday School held their annual prizegiving on Thursday. It started with a tea party in the Institute where the scholars of the Congregational Sunday School joined them. An evening service in the chapel was led by Mr John Teague who also gave the address. Book prizes were issued. Sunday School numbers have been boosted by evacuees.
Monday 13th April 1942 One of Gorran Haven’s most elderly residents, Miss Sarah Kerkin, aged 83 years, died at her home at Sea View. The Rev C W Phillips took the funeral in St Goran Churchyard on Wednesday 15th.
June 1942 A successful Whist Drive was held at Gorran by the local Red Cross Detachment & raised £8 18s. in its first year of operation the detachment has treated over 40 cases including some serious accidents.
Thursday 6th August 1942 At 7.35pm Warwick Farm at St Ewe was machine gunned setting a straw rick on fire. 3 tons were lost & 2 bullocks injured. At 7.36pm Valley Road in Mevagissey was machine gunned but there were no injuries. This was done by the planes that had just bombed the Royal Cornwall Infirmary at Truro.
Friday 28th August 1942 Pentewan Bible Christian Chapel was destroyed by a direct hit when the village was bombed. 5 people were injured.
Saturday 12thSeptember 1942 Wireless Operator Gerald Robert James Davis, RAF, aged 22, from Gorran High Lanes, was lost at sea when his ship home from the Middle East was torpedoed.
Sunday 20thSeptember 1942 A Home Guard exercise attacked Pentewan & successfully captured it. Tea was then served by the defenders in the village school before a parade in the square where a presentation was made to Company Sergeant Major J Marshall of E Coastal Company for good service signed by Commander in Chief Home Forces. The award recognised the CSM’s work in the army, with the Junior Training Corps of King’s School, Canterbury (evacuated to Carlyon Bay) & with the 5th Btn Home Guard.
September 1942 A Farm Sale at Penare where Mr J Grose was retiring attracted farmers from many parts of Cornwall. Sold by auctioneers Rowse & Son were a flock of pedigree South Devon sheep, high grade cattle, horses & other farm stock & implements. Everything sold & fetched good prices: 1 SD hog ram bred by Mr W F Bice, 18 guineas, ram lambs 9 gns each, 2 teeth ewes up to £6 15s & 4 teeth ewes up to 6 gns each, a heifer & calf £52 10s, in calf heifers £37 each, young bullocks up to £28 each & a useful general purpose mare £78.
Sunday 15thNovember 1942 Church bells rang out for the first time since June 1940 to celebrate General Montgomery’s victory at El Alamein.
December 1942 Evacuees from the Priory School, Portsmouth attending ‘Gorran School For Girls’ performed at Blue Point, the home of Capt & Mrs Richardson. The programme included a number of songs, a play called ‘Fairy Prisoners’, a scene in French ‘Le Magasin de la Modiste’ & a playlet ‘Miss Postlethwaite’s Cure.’ Among the students taking part were Lisbeth Watkins, Michael Hackman, June Girling, Elizabeth Howgego, Ann Potts, Jane Watkins, Dorothea Dymock, Grace Kendall, Jeffery Kendall, Valerie Fieldsend, Jean Howgego, Patricia Wilkinson, Mary Ryley, Pauline See, Patricia Hackman, Mary Potts, June King, Patricia Bellis, Mary Sperring, Jennifer Walker, Susan Betts, Miriam Hawkins & Jane Potts. Staff were Miss Dovey, Miss Rapley & Mrs Moore (accompanist). Everyone involved was then entertained to a party at Gorran Haven Café by Mrs Dymock of The Willows. Father Christmas (Miss Sylvia Billing) distributed presents & Mrs Dymock organised games.
1943  
January 1943 Miss Vera Liddicoat, only daughter of MR & Mrs Alfred Liddicoat of Pebble Brook, Gorran Haven, married Mr Cyril Stanley Fowler of the RAF, the only son of Mr & Mrs J W Fowler of 56 Bury Lane, Withnell, Lancashire, at a choral service at the Parish Church. There were 3 bridesmaids, Miss Kathleen Fowler (sister of the groom), Margaret Williams & Florence Trevarthen. David Hocking was pageboy. Nearly 100 guests gathered at the Gorran Haven Café for the reception before the happy couple left for Lancashire.
Saturday 23rd January 1943 Two St Austell men were caught poaching at Heligan by Edward Rowe, Mr Williamson’s gamekeeper. They had shot a hen pheasant. Later in court the defendants were fined £1 each.
Tuesday 18thFebruary 1943 The National Trust bought a further 40 acres of land in the Dodman to add to those generously given anonymously in 1919 & those covenanted by the late Mrs Hext.
Wednesday 31stMarch 1943 Gorran Haven has set up a mixed social club at the Gorran Haven Institute (previously men only) to help revive village life in readiness for the post war years. Under chairman Mr M Hurrell they held a whist drive for their 50 members.
Sunday 16th May 1943 The BBC Forces Programme broadcast Sunday Half Hour with community singing from Mevagissey harbour at 5.20pm. The cry of the seagulls could be heard in the background across the airwaves.
Monday 7th to Saturday 12th June 1943 Wings For Victory Week:

Monday 7th – Whist Drive at Council School, 7.15pm.

Wednesday 9th – Film Shows at Church Rooms, Church Town, 2.15pm Children, 8pm Adults.

Thursday 10th – Grand Concert, Council School, 7.15pm.

Friday 11th – Film Show, Gorran Haven Institute, 8pm.

Saturday 12th – Social Evening at Council School, 7.15pm.

The following week the Cornish Guardian reported: “Gorran’s contribution towards the total money saved & invested during Wings for Victory week was exceptional. In a parish of less than 700 people, over £10,000 was invested plus more to come from the week’s social events. Sgt Ford, Sgt Durrant & Cpl Vivian of the Gorran Home Guard were the organising committee. £8000 of the total came through the parish post offices. The school’s target was £150. It raised £271. £10’s worth of savings were stuck on the 500lb bomb case which the travelling exhibition brought to the parish.”

Saturday 31st July 1943 With a view to fostering interest in food production in gardens & allotments, the members of Gorran Haven Social Club staged a very successful show at the Institute. An unusually high standard was attained with potatoes, peas, beans & shallots whilst the floral display was excellent. First prize winners were: J Hennah, L G Bunney, H V Couch, W Vivian, A Liddicoat, Capt Richardson, T Addy, Mrs M Hurrell, Mrs Liddicoat, Mrs I Coombe, Mrs Serville, Mrs L Kendall, Miss L Teague (twice), Miss B Teague, Miss Y Whetter.
Sunday 14thNovember 1943 The Americans chose Pentewan Beach & The Winnick as an amphibious landing training site. It was chosen because of similarities to Utah Beach. The formal request to the War Office was made on 23rd November 1943 and it was handed over to the Americans on 1st January 1944. From that time on the new hill to Mevagissey was closed to civilian traffic. The bus often had to dismount its passengers in order to make it up Old Hill.
December 1943 A party for over 60 children was held in the Institute. Tea was served by Mrs Dymock & her helpers. There were games followed by recitations by Davine Rubin, Ronald Rubin & Maureen Gregory with Mrs G Hurrell on the piano. There was a visit by Father Christmas who gave each child a present & a pack of sweets. He also gave Nurse Titford a birthday gift. It concluded with singing by the Christmas tree donated by Mrs Cobbold-Sawle.
Friday 31st December 1943 A New Year’s Eve Whist Drive at the Café & a Social at the Institute saw a sumptuous supper for 80 of chicken, goose, tongue with the usual etcetera’s, trifle, mince-pies & other seasonable fare. (Wartime rationing obviously hit Gorran hard!!) Whist drive winners were: Ladies – Mrs T Guy, Mrs W Nicholls; Gents – Mrs Whetter, Mr Addy.
1944  
January 1944 The 38 Engineer General Service Regiment set up their Headquarters at Heligan House.
February 1944 The Gorran Red Cross penny a week collection amounted to £5 0s 3d.
February & March 1944 The Americans had a number of exercises at Pentwean each involving one battalion and consisted of passing 2000 tons of supplies over Pentewan Beach and then reloading it. The exercises were called Cargo I, II, III, Tonnage I, II & III.
March 1944 531 Engineer Shore Regiment & the US Naval Combat Demolition Unit practiced the destruction of underwater obstacles at Pentewan Beach.
Monday 10th to Wednesday 12th April 1944 Operation Splint – the dress rehearsal for casualty evacuation from an assault beach for D-Day – took place at Pentewan Beach. 261 Amphibious Medical Battalion set up a tented field hospital in a field on Barton Farm. On the 12th a large group of VIPs travelled from London by train to Par to watch Splint. They included Eisenhower’s deputy, Lt Gen Lee, Vice Admiral Sir Sheldon Dudley, Director General of the Royal Naval Medical Service, Major General Sir Percy Tomlinson, Commander of the Army Medical Corps & a physician to the King.
Wednesday 12th April 1944 The celebration of the Golden Wedding of Mr & Mrs M Brown of Green Acres, Gorran Haven, brought George Ellis, the press photographer from Bodmin to the village.
Monday 5th June 1944 Many in the village witnessed the eastwards flow of shipping as the D-Day armada assembled for the assault on Normandy on the 6th.
Tuesday 6th June 1944 Church and chapels were opened to allow people to pray for our armed forces as they invaded the beaches of Normandy. Some allowed private prayer, some held a formal prayer meeting in the evening.
Saturday 17th June 1944 A Children’s Fete was held at Penrida. There was a Fancy Dress Parade around the village finishing on the lawn at Penrida with games & various competitions & prizes.
Friday 4th August 1944 Lt Richard Fitzgerald Lilley, Royal Engineers, aged 22, was killed in the Normandy Campaign. He lived at The Moorings, Gorran Haven where his father, Eric Gordon Lilley, had served as the Chairman of the Gorran Invasion Committee. Richard was the middle of three brothers.
Saturday 14thOctober 1944 The Gorran Agricultural Red Cross Show & Sale was held at Treveor Farm and included a ploughing competition. Farmers from near and far took part. Mr W F R Bice took part in the tractor class. Mr S Whetter of Treveague entered his mare Damsel. Mr Hawke who had travelled from Bosughan near Colan also took part in the horse drawn category.
Wednesday 22ndNovember 1944 Group 20 Royal Observer Corps gathered at their post R1 near Bodrugan Barton for a photograph with press photographer George Ellis from Bodmin. As their wartime role diminished, they had time for a picture for the album!
1945  
Saturday 24th March 1945 Lt Ronald Jellett Lilley, Royal Artillery, aged 21, was killed in the push into Northern Germany. Ronald, the youngest, was the second son Mr & Mrs Lilley of The Moorings, Gorran Haven, had lost since D-Day. The eldest son, Gordon, was recalled from the front to prevent his parents losing all three boys.
Tuesday 8th May 1945 VE Day. I have yet to find a single reference to what happened in Gorran Haven & district on VE Day.

 

Compiled by Phil Hadley from original documents including the Police War Diary, Gorran School Log Book, Gorran Invasion Committee papers, the Cornwall Air Raid Book, the Cornish Guardian & West Briton newspapers at Kresen Kernow, documents in the National Archives such as the Regimental War Diary for the 8th Btn Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, documents in the American National Archives such as those relating to Pentewan & Operation Splint  and published local histories.

If you have any information, documents or photographs relating to Gorran Haven & district during World War Two Phil would love to hear from you. You can email him at nosmallstiruk@yahoo.com

Phil is an author & historian who specialises in Cornwall during World War Two. His first novel set in wartime Cornwall is called No Small Stir and is available on eBay & Amazon. The second which was due to be launched at the Gorran Haven VE75 celebrations has been delayed by the printer being unable to operate due to the Coronavirus restrictions but will be available as soon as possible. It is called A Place And A Name and its climax is set in Gorran Haven.

FILM FROM 1947

I came across this old film of a Rotary Group holidaying in Gorran Haven in 1947. It’s a brilliant bit of film lasting 17 minutes.

I thought that you would enjoy watching it!

 

A Memory from the 1950’s

As a young girl in the 1950s I used to come to Gorran Haven regularly on summer holidays with my family (my parents, two sisters and brother).  Sometimes we were joined by my grandparents from Sheffield or my uncle from London. Granny never saw the magic that we saw in Gorran – she missed the city life and thought we were a bit mad to keep coming to Gorran. But Grandad liked it, even if he never had a pair of “swimming trunks” in his life and couldn’t swim. His idea of being at the seaside was to sit in a deck chair admiring the view or to pace anxiously along the water’s edge as we swam, calling to me not to go so far out. As for us, we loved it.
Dad and Mum would start talking about getting booked in January for our holidays in July.  It was by chance, in the Manchester Guardian, that they first came across a small advertisement. The price was just in reach and the place seemed so exotic, so removed from our everyday world in Bedfordshire.  We used to drive from Luton, a drive that in those days used to take about 13 hours. My older sister used to get quite car sick, but even with the not infrequent needs for a sudden stop for her, all of us used to get so excited as we got near to Gorran Church.  We knew that Gorran Haven was almost in sight (as I recall all the three old sign posts at each corner on the way down declared that it was 3/4 mile), then on to Foxghole Lane and up to Lamledra which would be our home for two weeks.  In those days, we thought of Gorran Haven as our secret holiday place: we thought the beaches were positively crowded if there were 4 families on them! As soon as we had unpacked, we would make it a point to go into Mr Tubb’s to make sure everything remained the same from last time, then to Cakebread’s and – am I really right with the name?  – Snowball’s, then to check on the wonderful beaches, the rock pools, the caves, the headlands.
In those days we would collect our daily newspaper from the little shop everyday, but because the paper was sent from Manchester, it was always one day behind publication date, but that was part of the charm in being in Gorran. While the beaches were the focus for myself, my brother and younger sister,  the coffee bar was a real thrill for my older sister who thought it very classy, frequented occasionally by a young beatnik artist from Newton Abbott with the last name of Oliver.  On days when we were bringing a picnic to the second beach (our preferred beach), we would drive down the narrow lane and park on the Lime Kiln car park,then, laden with deck chairs, beach towels, picnic baskets, and swimming costumes we would clamber over the headland, knowing that as the tide came in we would have to finish our day by climbing up the steps at the back of the beach with all our gear to get back up.  Would I be right in remembering Dad counting that there are 147 steps?  I know it was a lot.  Our days were spent swimming, playing cricket, rock pooling, picnicking, treating each other to afternoon ice creams,  playing catch, walking to Dodman Point and occasionally meeting up with a family from Bristol whose visits seemed to coincide with ours several years in so cession. As the strongest swimmer in the family, I was allowed to swim across the two bays to the quay; I enjoyed the taste of the salt water, the experience of the waves, the pull of the water – by comparison, the only option Luton offered was doing many laps in a chlorinated swimming pool.
I live in Canada now, but still look with great fondness not just at my old black and white Brownie camera photographs of Gorran in the mid-late 1950s, but also at my little brown leather  purse engraved in gold with a picksie and the name, “Gorran Haven” that used to hold my half-crowns,shillings, sixpences, threepenny bits, pennies and half pennies for ice cream treats, fishing nets and I Spy books.  I bought that in 1957 as my souvenir of Gorran Haven. It has travelled the world with me!
Glenys Godlovitch
Calgary, Canada