Firstly, a belated ‘Happy New Year‘ to you all!
We had a very good turnout for our last Social Evening of 2022 with a better-than-expected membership renewal rate. Paul Rendell entertained us all once again with his images and stories of a winter wonderland on Dartmoor.

Our next Social event takes place on 03rd March at 7:30pm with an illustrated talk on the Weirdest Buildings of the West Country” by Robert Hesketh.

Free to all Members, with a nominal admission charge of £3 for non-members.

You may or may not know that Marldon Local History Group has a wonderful archive, we thought that over the next year we could perhaps share some extracts from that with you. Below is an extract from ‘Memories of Wartime Marldon’ by David Best.
David was born and lived all his life in the Westerland area of Marldon, next to the land and buildings which were to become “the camp” mentioned so frequently in these memoirs. He attended the old Village School (opposite the Church) before going to Torquay Grammar School.
David committed his wartime memories to paper in 1982/83 and they were published in the Parish Magazine at that time but realising that is some 40 years ago we thought it may be time to share again.
We are very grateful to Mrs June Best for giving us permission to produce the instalments on our Website www.marlodnlocalhistorygroup.com The memoirs have also been produced as a booklet.

Part 1 – Change Is Coming.

At the outbreak of the war, Marldon was a quiet and peaceful country village, much as it had been for the previous two hundred years.
These recollections are those of a ten-year-old boy, just old enough to have seen a glimpse of the enclosed rural way of life which has now disappeared and willing to accept as normal all the exciting and abnormal things which would follow over the next few years. Today there is little difference between town and country life, where the same amenities can be enjoyed by all, but before the war a decade could have separated the pattern of living between the two communities. The town with its shops and services was a different world to the village which had retained an almost unchanged rural identity where personal differences were dropped only at Christmas and Harvest time when the harvest was so important that many villagers turned out to participate.
The population was quite small, about a hundred houses more than half of which were scattered up to a mile in all directions, and many built where the spring waters came near the ground surface. At other dwellings, the water would be drained from sloping corrugated iron or lean to roofs and collected in 100-gallon water tanks obtainable from all good merchants. With a smaller number of houses, the significance of the public buildings was thereby increased. Least popular to a child was the schoolhouse, with its high windows, inadequate coke stove heating and earth closets in the toilet block. It was indeed a good place to leave behind in the afternoon, and perhaps if you were lucky you could cadge a ride on a mangold cart making its way up the hill to one of the farms.
Across the way the church was kinder to little children and, more important, less hostile to small boys, although even here it was possible to pick up a cuff on the ear from an elder for letting a concealed six gun off during choir practice!
The jewel in the crown was the Parish Hall, barely four years old and still smelling of new timber. Even in those days it escaped all forms of vandalism from local lads. They might tie the pub door to the rail outside and run in fear of their lives, but the Hall was never abused. It was a place where someone truly made jam, weekly whist drives (at least twenty tables so better arrive early) dental treatments for school children, magic lantern shows and now and again dances for quite old people with ladies in long dresses. Marldon was a poor village, and many families knew something of poverty.
An incident one August afternoon brought tears of the eyes of a hardened farm worker. They were threshing corn close by Moor Tor and one of the men feeding the sheaves had for some reason taken off his new boots which had been placed for safety on top of the thresher. Somehow a fellow worker fed the boots along with the corn into the machine. The apparatus jammed immediately and ground to a halt, although the traction engine continued to chunk on. There was a bit of a row and a lot of shouting, and when they eventually fished the boots out, it was obvious that they had been ruined. The owner almost cried and they finally got him quietened down but the damage had been done. After the excitement of seeing grown men nearly come to blows, we watched the steam engine for a bit, then got fed up and went home.

More to follow….

Take care.
Derek … MLHG Chair

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