The Memories of Peter Ward
You may have read how my Mother, Sheila Maureen Carey came to live at Singmore Cottage in the 1920’s. Later she married my father, CPO Geoffrey William Ward, RN in Birmingham and then went to live in Plymouth, where he was an Instructor on HMS Defiance. I was born in Devonport , Christened in Marldon Church and visited Marldon regularly with my Mum, to see my grandparents who still lived at Singmore Cottage. It was easy to travel by bus to come up to Paignton and get back home in one day quite comfortably.
When the War broke out in 1939, Dad decided that the Dockyard would be an obvious target and moved us (for Safety??) to Birmingham. He died on active service in 1941. I received the rest of my education in Brum, served an apprenticeship at ICI Witton for 5 years and then went for National Service.
Whilst I was away, Mum moved back to Marldon and with two of her brothers and sister-in-law bought Singmore House to run as a B and B, and to use the cottage for the family Summer holidays. When I came home I worked for a short while at a local garage before applying for a job at STC in the Rotunda at Oldway. I was asked if I would go to Ilminster until the move to Brixham Road took place. I did this for 18 months travelling weekly (meeting David Best, we were surprised to find we both came from Marldon!) before returning to Oldway and then the factory, where I worked until I retired in 1997.
That is the dull bit as to how and why I finally came to settle in Marldon early in the 1950’s.
At that time Marldon was still a village, a few bungalows going up from Five Lanes to the (Marldon)Cross. This piece of road was supposed to be widened on the right hand side even as early as the start of the Fifties. We are still waiting! The Ring Road was just an idea, what is now a footpath was the road, all traffic coming up Shiphay Rd and on through Five Lanes past the Smokey and down to Tweenaway. You can probably imagine the noise, confusion and smell. Holiday makers thought once they had reached Exeter that was it. It was usual to see steam coming from under bonnets. Moor View was still Smallwell Lane, where the Top Shops are was allotments, Cox’s garage was the field where Donkey Daniells overwintered his Beach animals, much of the Belfields was fields, as was the area opposite the School, Singmore Road and most of the houses and bungalows on the left hand side between Five Lanes and the Smokey. Now I was on home ground, got married and started married life at Singmore Cottage, and lived there for four years, when we moved to Furzegood in 1962 when our second child was born on Dec 31st. It was an interesting trip to Paignton Hospital due to the snow !!!.
The Marldon Village Players was a drama group putting on plays twice a year. They were short of men, I was coerced into joining, and took part in plays by various authors, well known and not so well known. We had several producers such as Marlow Heath, Violet Purry, John Bennett and whoever wanted to try their hand at producing. This was in the OLD village hall, scenery store being the air raid shelter. Cramped conditions for dressing room and make up were alleviated when the new kitchen was built onto the side and nearly up to the quarry wall, Max capacity was approx 100, seats being fold-up wooden, for an extra 6d cushions available for the first few rows. Later on Health and Safety got involved and demanded rows of seats had to be joined together. This was done with J bolts and pieces of 2×1. With so many of the cast dependent on Summer jobs, plays fell off to one and a panto, the last being a bit of a job on the small stage, using the Billiard table suitably covered made a useful stage apron. I took part in most of these, then when the NEW Hall was built, carried on until I had to give up due to Shift work. When that finished I rejoined the group in Cinderella as an Ugly Sister, (type cast?) and played various parts in subsequent shows.
An off shoot of being in the Marldon Village Players and pantos, I was asked by Miss Clarke if I would help in a fund raiser for the King George V Fund for Sailors she was arranging. This was to be in the Old Hall, to take the form of a “Lord Mayor’s Banquet”. I was to be the Mayor (type cast?), with a “wife”, a visiting Russian dignitary, Trumpeter, Mace bearer and pages. Miss Clarke had borrowed the real Robes and Chain of Office as well as uniforms etc. This was to be followed by an entertainment. The Mayoral Party entered the Hall to applause and after the Banquet sat down in front of the stage for the entertainment which was by the Evening WI. The curtains opened – “My Lord Mayor, This is Your Life”. I had been well and truly set up by my wife and her friends. Although one of the participants was wearing my scout uniform and another one of my sweaters, I had no prior knowledge of what had been planned. It was said that I had been found under a gooseberry bush in Nether Meadow, had a liaison with a luscious blonde who came to confront me with offspring, you name it, I had done it before reforming! It was a success but could only be a one -off to work. ( Names can be found if required and a photo I think)
APPLE PIE FAIR.
The Apple Pie Fair was restarted in 1958 as a Village “Do” to raise funds for the Village hall and for a new hall. Children from the School were chosen from the top form for the Princess and the other forms for attendants. The first few years were simple, pies made by the WI, Bingo, second hand books, Baby Show, Ram roast and a Mouse Race, a draw for which mouse went in which maze on the course and the winner was the first to reach the middle. The mice were changed at regular intervals to give them a rest. Probably not allowed today! The present Fair (2010) is much more commercialised but the increase in Stalls all helps the Hall funds.
My son started School when it was opposite the Church, Miss Dunthorne was the teacher and they all moved to the New School when it opened in 1964 ( I think). When my daughter started School, Mr Fillan and Fiona both started on the same day. Originally the School was built to take only the existing number of pupils (80), despite the fact that the Village had increased in size and it would be obvious it would have to be enlarged to cope. I was the Parish Council representative on the Managers (which became Governors!). The 111 Club was formed to help pay off the Diocesan Loan for the extensions to the School and as enlargements became necessary. It still plays a valued part as a fund raiser. We helped with the digging of the Swimming Pool, to “drown-proof children” its aim, and I was the first person to use it. Members of the PTA acted as supervisors during the holidays. The PTA also ran Firework Displays to help raise funds for the School. We had two very successful years, then other schools caught on, prices rose, Health and Safety was a problem, and we gave up. The same sort of safety snags arose with the swimming, now the pool is gone and the space a quiet area. The School still retains its excellent scholastic record as witness the enlarged attendance of 180.
BITS AS THEY COME BACK TO MIND.
My son-in-law was a RN Observer, flying from HMS Osprey at Portland in Lynx helicopters. On one occasion Plymouth Navy Days coincided with the Apple Pie Fair, so on the way back from taking part in the flying display, they went back to base via holding over Compton until 3pm then flew over the Meadow streaming the White Ensign. He also had to train Photographers, flew up to Marldon, photographed the Church where he married (this went to Fr.Grant) then went on to take shots of the work on the Ring Road construction (1990) which have been on show at an MLHG meeting. (MarldonLocal History Group)
After Toll Cottage and the end of Singmore House were demolished, a pair of mini-roundabouts were painted on the roads at Five Lanes, many were the “just in time” brake applications!
The bell ringers re-formed under Fred Westaway as Captain. My son Geoffrey came along as a teenager, and gave up when he went away to University, after which he got married and eventually went to live in North Yorkshire and took up the hobby/pastime/exercise again. He is now Tower keeper at St John Baptist in Knaresborough, and still rings down at St John Baptist, Marldon when visiting.
Mobile tradesmen were common. We had two milkmen, a baker, butcher, grocer (Lionel Garrett from Compton), who doubled as a paraffin salesman once a week when not delivering groceries, fish merchant, greengroceries (Jim Furze). There was coal, coke from Preston Gasworks, (also could supply creosote) and when civilization (television!) reached Marldon, a Video rental service and competing Ice cream salesmen. There was also a Post Office down in the Village, and I can vaguely remember as a small boy when visiting Grandparents before the War being taken to Bridgeman’s shop to be bought sweets. Can’t remember where it was.
Vague memories of a story when living at Singmore House that during the War a barrage balloon had broken free and had got snagged around the chimney pot, and another tale from my Mum when the Ring Road was being constructed, she had a visit from a man enquiring if she knew anything about the Americans leaving an Army Tank buried in the field opposite the Cottage either when they left for D-Day or closed the Camp down. Any takers for either of these stories?