Evacuation Part 2


Miss Jane Cundy, formerly of Castle Barton Farm, Compton

 I was born in 1932 and my family moved to Castle Barton Farm, Compton, Marldon  in about (I think !)September 1938 and lived there until September 1952.

There was a bus service.  Bus No 63 from Paignton used to come to Compton and turn in the entrance to the castle.  (This would have been between about 1938-1952).  The area adjoining what is now Castle Barton Restaurant was the site of three or four cottages fronting the road, with two other cottages behind. One was occupied by an old lady known as Granny Vowden.  Whenever there was heavy rain the stream opposite to the cottages overflowed and flooded them badly.  After the war, sometime later than 1952, they were demolished and the bus from Paignton then No 110, turned in the area where they once stood.

My father, Bertram Robert Cundy, was a tenant farmer of Castle Barton who also ran a dairy in Belgrave Road, Torquay.  Milk was bottled at the farm and delivered by vans around Compton, Shiphay, Chelston, Marldon and to the dairy.  If the vans broke down or there was heavy snow as in the winter of 1947, it had to be taken by horse and trap.  We had to be careful on Sundays because the bells ringing in the church would have spooked the horse with disastrous consequences for the milk!  I was roped in to deliver milk and have delivered many pints to most of the local families one of them being the Everard family. (This family lived at Occombe near Marldon Cross and are mentioned in the memories of Mrs. V. Dissington, in this section MLHG.) 

During the Second World War my father was the ARP warden for Compton.  Early one evening in the late summer of 1942 or 1943 my father received a telephone call from the Reverend Trevaldwyn’s daughter, now Morwenna       Lea-Wilson, who was on holiday from London and staying in the vicarage.  Her parents were out when she received a routine call from London to check the alarm system was working.  She thought it was a raid and alerted my father.

My father went outside the back door and sniffing the air decided that there was a very funny smell.  In his anxiety he had not taken into account the fact that we had a large boiler in the top yard boiling up the food waste from hotels in Torquay -the pigs loved it!  Hastily he returned to the house, put on his gas mask and collected the rattle which he used to warn the residents of a possible gas raid.When he got outside, his faithful sheep dog Nero took one look at him in his gas mask and fled over the farm.  He wasn’t seen again until the following morning!

My father made his way up through Compton twisting the rattle and making as much noise as possible.  One can only imagine the worry and panic in the houses en route – particularly if there was a baby that had to be put in a ‘pram like’ box  gas mask which was much more difficult!  Very quickly it was found out that a mistake had been made and there were no bombers on their way.  By the time he returned to Castle Barton there was another telephone call which told my father to give the all clear!

I cannot remember if my mother managed to get my sister Grace (DOB 24.7.42) in her baby gas mask, but I can remember seeing Mary (DOB 24.1.36) in her Micky Mouse gas mask- they were rather cute with a nose that could be blown up and down. I often wonder if this was the only gas attack alarm in the country during the war, albeit a false alarm?

Gas attacks were a source of anxiety for everyone after their experience of the First World War.  My sister Betty (DOB 25.2.34) reminded me that during the war there was a large house in the lane between Station Square and Dartmouth Road that had a notice in its window.  This notice read ‘In the event of a gas alert you are welcome to shelter in this house.’  We used to pass this every day on our way to school.  Thank goodness we did not have to take up this kind offer!

The house was quite full during the war.  There were my parents, an aunt, two live-in Land-Girls and six children under eleven when Marion and Terry Kimberley arrived in June 1940 as evacuees.  We were able to take in Marion but had no room for Terry who went to stay with the Underhill family.  Marion stayed with us for about nine months. ( Note- this would be the family of Roy Underhill, who lived at that time in Furzegood. MLHG)

Meal times were highly organised as you can imagine!  We did not fit around the kitchen table so an extra table was added for the oldest children.  Terry would come down from Marldon to visit Marion and have tea with us.

Marion left us and went with Terry to the Harvey’s which was also a short stay. (The Harvey family lived in a small cottage at the top of Church Hill, at its junction with Ipplepen Road, so this may have been the reason for the short stay.)  From there she went to a children’s home in Totnes and then in April 1943 she was moved again to Compton to stay with Miss Fawden who ran Compton Village Shop . She attended the village school and enjoyed playing with the Headmaster’s daughter Joan (Harris).  From there she went to the Grammar School at Torquay. ( This is Joan Ewing, who still lives in the village and has been a member of the MLHG since its foundation.)

VE Celebrations

In the photo of the VEDay celebrations above are three ladies and a man standing behind the wall.  From the left are  Miss Cora Wakeham, (the ‘aunt’ who lived with us), Miss Fawden, Mrs Kimberly, who had come down from London to visit her daughter Marion, and Mr Westaway.  There was a prize for the youngest child.  This was Grace but she did not get it as she told the judges she was 22! (I suppose that is what happens when you have three older sisters.) Stafford Low, the younger brother of Terrence, won the prize and he was one month older than Grace.

I remember the Hamilton Jenkins family at Farthing Cross. (Also mentioned in the memoir of Mrs. V. Dissington in this section) They knew the Cole Hamiltons and must have been related in some way.  My mother was friends with Mrs Cole Hamilton who had very young children.  Her husband was a Commander and once when he was away Mrs Cole Hamilton cut the front lawn and ran over the flex and was electrocuted in front of the children.   Unfortunately she did not survive the shock.

The sewerage system was extended to Compton in June 1951. This date sticks in my mind as we had to make quite a detour for my father’s funeral as the road back up to Marldon was closed.  We had to travel via Whilborough, Moles Lane, Monkshaven and down to Lovelane to the Church- that of course was way before the bypass!

In the lead-up to World War II there were fears that the Germans would attack the UK with poisonous gas, so by 1938 the government had issued respirators to every man, woman and child in the nation. More than 40 million gas masks were issued.


In America there was a gas mask for children that looked like Mickey Mouse, with the character’s nose and ears and even a picture of him on the gas filter. Walt Disney helped in its design. This mask is the British ‘Mickey Mouse’ gas mask. It did not resemble the cartoon character but it used the red and blue, like the American version and kept the name. It was given to children aged 18 months to 4 years old to allay their fears about wearing a respirator. It was also made lighter than normal masks so it was easier to wear.




The 110 bus to Paignton, in the turning area at Castle Barton.





This photograph shows my father Bertram Robert Cunday holding the head of a handsome horse, on which are seated seven small children including his three daughters and four evacuee children. My Sister Mary (2nd left), our evacuee Marion Kimberley, (3rd left) my Sister Betty (4th left) and myself (on the end). The other 3 children are Cousins,from Norfolk, but evacuated to Kingskerswell





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