Reminiscences of Jack Menear, 1930s to 1942

© HC (Jack) Menear 2006
Version 30 January 2006

I was born on 18 March 1932 at Nancledra and my parents moved to Lelant around 1933. My father was the local policeman, PC 39, and some people thought the 39 on his uniform collar was his age!

We lived in one of a pair of cottages the St Ives side of Trevethoe Lodge gates [2 Langweath Cottages]. The cottage had a Cornwall Constabulary plaque over the front door.

Our next door neighbours were an elderly couple, Lawry and Gertrude Hocken, brother and sister. Opposite was a working farm of Mr and Mrs Toms and their son, the last a few years older than me. Their fields opposite us always seemed used for spring flowers.

At Trevethoe Lodge lived Ned Courtice and his daughters. Ned had been head gardener for the Tyringham family.

At the bottom of the hill going towards Trencrom and Lelant Downs lived Mrs Slack and her family. She ran the laundry for the 'big house' in a building on the opposite side of the presentday roundabout from the Lodge gates. Before I was of school age I would be taken to the laundry to see the 'blue water,' that is tubs of water with presumably Reckitts Blue. I also remember an array of stoves for heating the flat-irons.

Lawry Hocken would often take me up to Lelant Downs beyond Splattenridden to a Mrs Roach's bungalow. She would always give me a splice off her 'heavy cake.'

On the St Ives side of Toms' farm lived Mrs Uren and her family of two boys and two girls [Lyncote]. One of the girls took me to day school and Sunday school when I first started. We still exchange Christmas cards.

Moving towards the village, on one's left after a copse, at the next dwelling [Landfall] was a family called Edmonds of several brothers and sisters, but only two brothers come to mind. One, a carpenter, had his shop opposite the village primary school when it was halfway down Church Road, and the other, Sammy, a butcher, had his killing house adjacent to his brother's carpenters shop. More later about Sammy.

Still on the left going towards Lelant village and at the bottom of Abbey Hill was a courtyard [Old Court House]. Opening on to this courtyard in a possibly one room cottage lived on his own a retired civil servant, Jimner Harvey. If my memory serves me right he wore a bottle green old overcoat and leggings and would be seen walking back from Lelant Downs carrying a bundle of sticks. I have seen him asleep in horizontal tree trunk up on Lelant Downs. He would every so often write to the home secretary about my father's incompetence.

On the other side of the road, still at the bottom of Abbey Hill, was the Methodist Chapel, a stream which was dammed back during the war for a pool for the Auxillary Fire Service, and two families: Daniels (Mr and Mrs and, I think, three girls, and one boy) who went to Bristol [Trendreath House]; and the Mortlocks who moved to Hayle before 1942 [Trendreath]. Mr Mortlock died soon after moving. There were two Mortlock boys and a girl. The Mortlocks' house was well below the level of the road.

Halfway up Abbey Hill is a big house in which lived a family called Paul. I understand one son, a pilot, was killed in the war.

At the top of Abbey Hill is Elm Farm where Mr and Mrs Smith lived with a daughter and a son John. Mr Smith was the farm manager for the brother of the Mr Toms who lived opposite the police house. My parents were very friendly with that family and the son was my friend at school. In the early 1940s they moved back to Kent.

Opposite lived a family called Jerome [Watersmeet, 1 Mount Pleasant].

Going towards the village on the left was the vicarage at the end of a drive; the reverend McWatters and his wife took Sunday school on Sunday afternoons. They had two daughters and an older son.

Entering the village proper on our left was a pair of farm workers cottage for the Carter and Phillips families [1-3 Fore Street]. Opposite there was a big house [Venayr]. Lieutenant Colonel Watson-Smyth live here. Was he lord lieutenant?

On the left going along the main street towards the crossroads next [Fernbank] was a family called Edwards, two boys, one of whom [Daniel Edwards] was killed in the second world war, in Italy I think. The next was Roy Chinn and Raymond Blight. Eventually, on the same side [Old Bank House], the family grocers, name of House I think, and then a large house [Cedar House] where lived Mrs Lowry-Cole who drove an invalid carriage.

Opposite the grocers was the post office [Trecott] owned by Southcotts - he was also an undertaker - and Sammy's butchers shop which opened only on Fridays during the war and, towards the Lelant Hotel [Badger], Harry's garage; no relation to my mother's family, a Miss Harry from Launceston.

The village school was halfway down Church Road on the right. Miss Noye was the teacher for the infants and Miss Harper for the older children. The learning was traditional with each pupil having his own desk.

When the evacuees arrived in 1941, their own teachers came with them, a Miss or Mrs Leslie and a Miss Darnell. The junior classroom was divided with a screen and locals and evacuees were taught separately. After a while many of the evacuees returned home and the remainder amalgamated with us locals.

We had no school playing field but did manage games of rounders on Lelant towans between the beach and the railway line. Miss Harper would take us to the beach until later in the war that area was out of bounds due to the beach being covered with barbed wire, mined, and with at least one AA gun emplacement.

To get to the beach one had to duck under the railway bridge and immediately to one's left was a wooden house in which lived Mr Couch, he being the ferryman for a rowing boat passenger ferry to Hayle. Opposite was what must have been a cafe-tea garden before the war but I never saw it in use.

Every so often during playtime we would be 'entertained' by the sight of a poor animal being dragged into Sammy's killing house right opposite the school gates. Sammy was always being teased by the children although we were half-afraid of him. Father, concerned about this teasing custom, was told by the men in the village that they did the same as boys.

Another source of amusement for us children was Willy Katern who lived in a wooden hut somewhere near Carbis Bay. He came around once either a week or fortnight with hand-outs giving the films showing at the two St Ives cinemas. He would be outside the school gate at playtime; we would get him to tell us a story or stories which I take he made up from his fertile imagination. By the time school finished he would have made his way as far as Harry's garage where he would be entertaining the adults of the village.

I don't think there was any higher standard of behaviour expected of me as the village policeman's son, at least I wasn't aware of it. I tended to play with Billy Toms opposite and John Smith from Elm Farm. With the war the main topic on the news, our play centred around the activities of the armed forces. There were no heroes of football or cricket to emulate.

From the war memorial crossroads going towards St Ives on the right was Stuart Glasson, the local stationmaster, two daughters and two sons.

On the same side of the road was the family 'Oise' [Hawes]; the two boys were known as Big Oisy and Little Oisy.

I walked to school twice a day and in the mornings a girl Joan Johns would pass our door from her home in a wood at the top of the hill leading to Lelant Downs. Her father was the woodman/forester for the estate. I understand she married and lived next to the old police house.

In probably 1940 a barrier of concrete blocks was placed across the road between our house and Trevethoe Lodge gates against a possible invading German army. Later soldiers using pneumatic drills demolished it and made provision for fixing massive angle iron tank traps should the occasion arise. There were Spanish soldiers amongst them. What became of them?

Every Christmas Mrs Tyringham and Mrs Lawry-Cole would put on a party for the village children at the village hall with presents and a punch and judy show.

Life in Lelant came suddenly to an end on about 20 March 1942 (my tenth birthday was on 18 March) when my father died in Hayle hospital of a fractured skull following a fall in St Ives while carrying out inquiries in his role as a police officer. I was taken that evening to my mother's widower father's home at Launceston where I lived until becoming a veterinary surgeon.

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