MARCH 2023

This month I must start off by thanking the retiring Village Hall Caretaker, Bookings Officer and overall stalwart Dale Summers.
Dale and Eileen have been the face of the Village hall for as long as I can remember, and I know that Tony Chidlow would very much want me to pass on the thanks of the History Group for all their help over the years – if ever we had a problem prior to a social evening, Dale was always available to give us a hand and sort things out.
So Dale and Eileen – on behalf of MLHG .. thank you and enjoy your free time together now.

We have our next Open Meeting coming up on FRIDAY 03 MARCH 2023 @ 7:30pm in the Village Hall, when Robert Hesketh will give us an illustrated talk about “The Weirdest Buildings of the West Country”
The talk is free for all Members and just £3 for Guests.
There will also be teas, coffee and biscuits afterwards.

We continue with the memoirs of David Best – Part 2.

Marldon had one over-riding asset in its economy – it could grow grass, and to convert the grass the red South Devon Cow.  The animals outnumbered the population and in the village itself there were three working farms.  As important as the grazing of cows was the movement of cows from the fields to the farms at milking time. Sometimes different herds would meet each other on the way and cows forgetting which group they were supposed to be in would go off to the wrong place.  The resulting mix up would take a bit of sorting out at the other end. From time to time stragglers would go trotting off on their own pursued by some irate farm hand, and the animals would become a severe hazard not to the non-existent traffic, but to the food produced from local gardens. Furzegood could be safeguarded from these incursions by the heavy wooden gates at the entrance and this feature separating parts of the village remained for many years.  Chickens would also wander down the road picking up bits thrown out for them and most found their way home again.

Despite rural isolation, technology had started to filter through.  The roads had not long received the first covering of tarmac, thus enabling the second charabanc on the outing to follow in the wake of the first free from the customary swirling cloud of white dust.  Several motor cars had appeared.

The vicar chose an early Terraplane, high and unwieldy and an altogether dubious vehicle, the school master more traditional in a Flying Standard and generally thought by the kids to be the fastest thing on four wheels.  The first tractor had been delivered to Love Lane Farm!  A late bus service had been laid on at 9pm running as far as Maidenway and this was available as an alternative to the last Marldon Bus, which left Paignton at 6 o’clock.

Builders had learned how to build in brick instead of stone and a ribbon of new bungalows had just been built from the cross-road to Five Lanes, followed by another towards the village.  Hardcore had been laid to form the entrance into Belfield, but it would be many years before the developers cut the first sod.  Had the events in 1939 not occurred, a few houses would have been built sooner, but the war did account for the greatest acceleration of change in the village history. The older folks with established attitudes would not change easily, but the young, quick to latch on to new fashions, were willing to accept as normal all the existing and abnormal things which were about to happen.  From that time the gates would open and let in a flood of new faces from all parts of England and later from the U.S.A.

The effect was staggering in the village where even the children knew nearly all the inhabitants. The strangers would bring with them new customs, an innovation and, being for most part, young men, a good measure of vitality and glamour.

Within a few brief years, all the new faces would be gone and after 6th June 1944, an air of sadness would descend as half the population left for the beaches of France.

For a time the village slipped back into its old ways, but the aftermath of a visiting army had left its mark, and things were never quite the same again.

Next Time – The peace is shattered as war comes to Marldon.

Derek … MLHG Chair

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