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Working at Bude Sea Pool

Posted by on 8:21 pm in Article, Swimming Pool | 0 comments

Working at Bude Sea Pool

Talking to John Going, 94, of Widemouth, Dawn Robinson was interested to hear of his work on the terraces of the Bude Sea Pool in the 1960s: “I worked on the walls and terraces of the sea pool. I was out of work at the time, so I asked what (work) was in. There was only one job available and that was it. I ended up there until it was all finished, the terraces and that, for several months. I was a general labourer. Everything had to be moved from one place to another and that was my job. It (the sea pool) was a good idea from an engineering standpoint. It does save the cliffs. By shoring it up, it keeps the sea off with concrete and mass infill. The sea pool was already there, but there were only cliffs behind it, so the building was an improvement and made it safer. This was in the 1960s. The work was paid for locally by the council, but the local surveyor had oversight of it. The alternative was to let the cliffs tumble until the erosion got to the end of the pavilion and  the picture...

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The night they dug up the Bude railway tracks…

Posted by on 8:50 pm in Article, Railway | 1 comment

The night they dug up the Bude railway tracks…

Story told to Dawn Robinson by John Going, 94,  of Widemouth Bay. Sadly, I understand this dear man is now in hospital. He was very ill when I chatted with him late last year, so I wish him and his family well. It was a privilege to meet John, and to hear his tales. Here’s the first part of his memories of Bude, where we are reminded that trains were also used for freight, not just passengers.  “When we came to live down here, they were building Hillhead estate. The railway was a blessed nuisance in some ways, mainly if you missed the train.  I first came down (from Hertfordshire) on the train. I used to come down on the 11.50 at night train from Paddington to Exeter St David’s, I think it was. If you knew about it, there was a bus/coach that took the newspapers round Exeter. The railway went into Bude but you could be stuck for ages in the middle of nowhere, sometimes as there’d be nothing there. It was a good service though. Everyone was happy because you got to know the trains. There were several a day (I’m not sure if John meant passenger or freight) to London and some interlinked, but it was a poor form of transport if travelling deeper into Cornwall. My stepdaughter lived for a time in Camborne and could not do a return journey in one day. She would have to come one day and return the next, changing at Launceston and somewhere else. Day old chicks would come in, stored in the guard’s van which was heated, goods came in bought from catalogues, as did cattle. Lots of stuff was sent from here by train, too, to Holsworthy market, and stuff from the slaughterhouses went out. It was a lifeline to the rest of the world, used a lot for transporting goods. The trains were infrequent, so if you missed the Atlantic Coast Express, you had a big wait. I used to like going from Stratton to Holsworthy on market days on the train. You could get to places even if the times weren’t great, but you just fitted in with the railway timetable. There was a lot of argument about shutting the station and cutting us off because there was a single line into Okehampton and Halwill Junction. There was all this Beeching thing. One of the arguments bude put forward to not have the railway shut was the tourists in the summer. when we used to pick up my mother-in-law who would come for a summer holiday, there would be a row of taxis backed up to the station. It was a good system but it all ground to a halt. They were going to leave the rails in situ. I’m sure that was on the cards at the time. I’m a bit hazy but I remember meetings and things. The idea was that Beeching would shut all these little stations, Beaworthy and places like that, and leave the rails and everything in situ. Then, if it didn’t make any difference to the tourists input, and traffic into Bude and Holsworthy, then they’d shut it, but it was a big drop in service with lots of complaints. I had a job where I was working out...

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Rowena Cade at the Minack

Posted by on 3:49 pm in Article, People | 0 comments

Rowena Cade at the Minack

While not about Bude, most people who live in Bude will know of  the Minack Theatre, so here goes… You may not have heard of Rowena Cade. Born in Derbyshire, she was the amazing woman whose legacy stops me in my tracks every time I visit the Minack Theatre in Cornwall. A granite construction, with concrete seats, perched on the edge of the cliffs above beautiful Porthcurno, the Minack was created by a woman with vision, determination, resilience and the kind of sheer hard graft that would have me wearily fainting. It is now almost a place of pilgrimage for lovers of theatre and open air performance, but it is also a must-visit place in Cornwall. It is also an unforgettably incredible tale of female achievement. Rowena’s family moved to a house at Lamorna in west Cornwall, known for its artists and free thinking. She and her widowed mother bought the nearby Minack headland for a mere £100. She built a rather elegant and sizeable house there for the two of them, which provided the setting for many amateur productions. It must be said, at this point, that the area is fairly inaccessible, and remote. The ladies would have had time on their hands, and needed to make their own entertainment. Rowena designed and made the costumes for the amateur dramatics. Feeling the gardens were not appropriate for the play in the way it would have been for, say, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rowena ambitiously decided to stage The Tempest above Minack Rock, and set about making a stage and some rudimentary seating (old photos show people with deckchairs) which took six months. The first performance was in 1932, lit by batteries and car headlamps. It’s hard to imagine a more suitable site for The Tempest, especially if the sea fancied whipping up a storm. The germ of the theatre had begun. Rowena, 38, a philanthropist unencumbered by husband or children, began to build her dream. The work would have been back-breaking, as anyone who has climbed the granite steps from Porthcurno beach to the Minack could imagine. Hard to imagine this frail looking woman bringing up bags of sand (for the cement) from the beach and huge beams from the shoreline, but she did. Reputedly, she carried a dozen 15 foot beams from a wrecked Spanish freighter up the steps to create a dressing room. The police, understandably, did not believe her when she admitted to this, so she was cleared of suspicion of taking it. She continued working until her mid 80s, dying just before she hit 90. Her plans were eventually to have covers for the theatre to keep off the rain during performances, but they have never been actioned. She was also a whizz with cement, using a screwdriver to create her own designs before it set. The theatre has steep paths and steps, so be warned if you have accessibility difficulties. What sustained this woman? Well, she had two devoted local craftsmen, Billy Rawlings and Charles Angove, to help (the gardens are also incredible) and she had true passion. That’s what keeps people going against the odds. Maybe she was a tad eccentric, too. The Minack has an exhibition dedicated to Rowena Cade, as it should.  Photos of her in her later years show her...

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