Issue 6 (2001)
New Penwithian Issue 6 (2001)
The year 2001 will be remembered for the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and there are few people who will not have been affected by this barbarous act. The old PGS was not without its contribution and loss. I write this in early October having just attended the Memorial Service in Hayle Parish Church for Rick Rescorla who I am sure most of you know by now was a fellow Old Penwithian. An article highlighting Rick’s extraordinary life and heroism is below.
We also remember two other old boys who are no longer with us John ‘Bijou’ Harvey and Charlie Paull both ‘characters’ at school in their respective days.
The year has also been an active one for the Association. The new association tie was launched successfully and has nearly sold out of the first 100 ties ordered. It has been spotted as far afield as Manchester, but I can tell you that there are also ties lurking in France, Canada and USA. I also had the great pleasure in calling on Mr Rising and presenting him with a tie on behalf of the Association.
If demand is there, we will order more ties. See the advert for further details.
We have also decided to proceed with the reprint of ‘Three Score Years and Ten’ and Bill Burnett our Database Manager has given more details on page 5. Please support us in this long overdue venture.
Our Summer BBQ held at the North Inn in late August attracted over 30 members and their partners and Dr Arnold Derrington one of our more senior members has given you a flavour of the evening in his write up on page 2 As a result of the evening £50 was raised and will be used to help defray some of the administrative costs of running the Association. We have every intention of repeating the event next year at about the same time, so watch out for details.
Those of you who attended last year’s reunion at the Queen’s will recall that we displayed some of the old school photos that used to hang up the school’s front staircase. John Richards, the Editor of the New Penwithian, has spent a lot of time scanning these on to disc and your Committee has now agreed that the originals should be presented to the Morrab Library where they will be kept in the town archives. This will mean that they will, not only be properly preserved, but also be available to anyone who may wish to see them in future. We are investigating the possibility of creating a CD and making them available in future on a website. We are also grateful to those who have submitted articles for this year’s edition. Howard Curnow and Ben Richards take us down memory lane and their reminiscing will strike a chord in all of us. “No boy with a receptive heart and open eye should be one-sided in the land of Lamorna Birch, Humphry Davy and King Arthur” so said Mr Rising in his report for 1963. Barry Lambe’s feature on the Lamorna Trust will perhaps open your eyes to their activities and may encourage your interest and support.
Finally, I must say that I have been heartened by the support that members have shown over the past year and I have tried to give readers a flavour of some of those visits, and letters in ‘Where are They Now?’
Last year we appealed for members to put their names forward as representatives for their year. A few stalwart members volunteered their names and they are given below. For those who may be interested it might be useful if we outlined what we thought were the duties of a Year Representative:
* Attempt to make contact with members of their year and invite them to join the Association
* Organise Year Reunions
* Pass on personal details for the database
* Pass on information for Where are They Now’
* Encourage articles, advertising and general support for the New Penwithian
* Help publicise Annual Reunion
1946 David Mann
1949 Fred Pellow
1950 John ‘Howie’ Richards
1951 Brian Cuddy
1952 Stuart Guppy
1954 Barry Lambe
1955 Andrew Coak
1959 John Richards
For all other years we have no volunteers. Are you interested? If you would like to become your Year Representative get in touch with the Association Secretary.
The Summer Barbeque 2001
I do love reunions – and some of these go back to friendships formed in the late 1920s. Our Old Penwithians had a very happy meeting at the North Inn in Pendeen on Saturday 18th August. John Coak (1952) our Chairman, is the licensee there – and it was an ideal venue. His brother, Andrew (1955) is our Secretary and he had done his best to ‘rally the troops.’ At least 30 of us assembled – some with partners – and the Inn was comfortable and full of chatter.
Possibly I was the oldest there (1933) but I do meet OP’s older than myself. From 6.30 onwards we reminisced and shared good company. Overall, those present were mainly 1950’s to 60’s vintage at P.G.S. One man I met for the first time – Martin Harris (1950?) has retired from Manchester to Gweek. His wife Jeanette is the daughter of an OP, F. Harold Rogers (St.Ives 1916) whom I taught with in 1940. Martin was a Professor in the Histopathology department of Manchester University. One man, Hedley Nicholls (1939) recognised me as the preacher at his chapel 20 years ago when it re-opened in Goldsithney after re-decoration.
The evening went on until past 10 and it was an occasion of good fellowship and friendship. We should have had more locals’. I had hoped my son David (1957) could have been there, but he was holidaying elsewhere. The evening was such a success that those present can help by publicising it to those they knew were absentees. We are grateful to our host John Coak and for the good barbecue Andrew laid on in the open air. We look forward to the next time when ‘Onen Hag 0l’ are there.
Can you recall OP’s you met in wartime? And who is the oldest one you know. There is so much we can talk about and enjoy each other’s company.
A P Derrington
Where AreThey Now?
‘By Memories Chain We Linked Remain’
One thing I must say is that one of the things that the new tie has done is to open up the channels of communication. I have had correspondence from Old Penwithians from all over the place and to help with identification I have given the year of entry in brackets after each name. STUART GUPPY (52), a regular correspondent throws light on some of the missing names in our 56/57 Football XI photograph in last year’s issue. He also volunteers himself as year rep for 1952 entry. MIKE HUNTER (44), a keen supporter of the Association and another regular correspondent, is still awaiting the arrival of his Grammar Sow Stickpin (I do not know what happened to that venture). Still you did get your photos Mike – don’t expect too many miracles in one year.
BILL TREMBATH (52) now back living in Penzance, involved me in my first experience of typetalk, a service run by BT and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf. Bill subsequently called on us at the North Inn. As did LIONEL POLLARD (46) who called in for a crab sandwich and a beer and a long chat, having already warned us in a couple of letters from France where he has lived for 40 years.
GEOFF LOTEN (31) from High Wycombe remarks that the new tie seems brighter than his vintage one which was black with a narrow red stripe. He also thinks that the Hut featured in the last issue was Hut A. No it wasn’t -that had more steps.
JOHN ‘HOWIE’ RICHARDS (50) from St Ives (he set up his brother Ben to write the article on page…) has volunteered to become year member for 1950 entry.
KEN REYNOLDS (59) from Redruth tells me that he has some early copies of the Penwithian. Morrab Library does have a wide range of copies of the original Penwithian magazine, some bound in leather, others in single copy, but there are some gaps. If you know the whereabouts of any copies from the years 1927, 1935-45, 1950, 1965, 1973 or 1982, then please let me know.
RUSSELL VINCENT (47) writes from ‘the frozen wilds’ of Aberdeenshire where he has lived for the past 30 years, but still insists on being referred to as a Cornishman. I should hope so too Russell.
JONATHAN PAGE (62) who has recently joined the Association sends news from Calgary, Canada, where he has been a mining engineer since 1996. Previously he was in South Africa.
BARRY LAMBE (54) dropped us a line about writing an article for this issue on the Lamorna Trust and then called to see us with Ina in early October, which coincided with an encounter with…
MARTIN TUTHILL (54). Martin happened to be supply teaching in Pendeen that afternoon and had popped in to obtain his Association tie (only 10 months late!). What a reminisce we had including memories of Fred Jarvis, Alan Tregenza’s punch up with Nico De Niet and Tut’s Tourist Traps on Sennen beach – that’s another story.
JOHN JENKIN (52) wrote with apologies for his belated tie money but they had been through worrying times with the fight to keep Foot & Mouth off their farm at Great Witley near Worcester, where they have built up a herd of goats as well as some Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle and Black Welsh Mountain sheep. He and his wife Margaret, The Countess of Mar, make an excellent range of Mar goat cheeses and are members of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association.
PHILLIPS PENGELLY (40) has I suspect a unique record. He arrived at PGS in 1940 and is still there 61 years later. He was deputy Head of Humphry Davy School from 80-89 but since retirement has returned to teach English Literature and some Greek.
And talking of Heads I was very pleased to call on TOM AND TINA RISING in October. Although he has now suffered three strokes and has lost some of his mobility, at 96 he is still very much with it. I enjoyed an hour of reminiscing about School, Singapore, Turkey, Afghanistan, my time in Oman and many other topics. Mrs Rising is still as sharp as a tintack and obviously keeps Tommy on his toes. I presented him with a tie from the Association and we agreed that, although he does not wear ties too often these days, he would wear it for Christmas lunch. He did ask me to pass on to all members his warmest regards.
JOHN HARPER (43) writes to express pleasure with the new tie, tells us that he wore it in London recently when he met up with GRAHAM GRAFTON (43) for a 70th birthday dinner.
Likewise ANDY WEARNE (66) from. Newlyn took the trouble to write and thank us for his tie and to confirm that he will wear the old school tie with pride.
The wife of MICHAEL ROSENBERG (51) wrote asking the whereabouts of the honour boards with prizewinners’ names – Michael won the Humphry Davy Science Prize in 1957. It appears that the boards were taken down in 1980 and it is believed that they were disposed of. Does anybody out there know what happened to them. Please let me know so that I can pass on the good or bad news to him.
IAN CAMPBELL (44) now retired from secondary teaching and living in Bournemouth has kindly provided a few observations for the rewrite of ‘Three Score Years and Ten’ and identifies the lady teacher in the ’47 staff photograph as a Miss Williams (History) ‘a real heart throb for us developing boys’. He recalls too that Alan Tregenza (French teacher to some) used to enjoy solving puzzles, but it came to an abrupt halt one day when he noticed everyone copying down his blackboard solutions – it was their algebra homework.
BILL MARRETT (27) now aged 83 must be one of our older surviving members. He tells me that his sons PETER (59) and JOHN (62) are also old boys, but not members of the Association (Come on Peter and John fill in the form and register – Your Association needs you). He served for six years during WWII but was a prisoner of war for three years spending the last 18 months as forced labour. I did promise to call on him in the hope of tracking down a full article for the newsletter but ‘the road to hell etc.)
MIKE LAKE (55) wrote asking for news of the Association. He is now the Director General of ‘Help the Aged” and has been honoured with a CBE. Congratulations Mike.
B W CALESS (61) writing from Tunbridge Wells, where he is a doctor, has been able to identify the wicket-keeper in the 1963 U15 cricket XI photograph. It is John Baker. He also purchased a tie for his brother TOM (52) who still lives in Heamoor. Other members who have dropped me a line are as follows:
SAM RICHARDS (43) and brother ROY RICHARDS (49). EDDIE PERRY (54) from Hayle who hopes to make the next reunion. EDWIN EDDY (47) writes with the news that he retired to Newlyn in August 2000 after 38 years in the steel industry.
Also contact from:
DAVID ‘BRUSH’ HUTCHINSON (1975-1980); DR. R. W. (BOB) DYSON (1960-1967); ALAN DREW (1968-1975); DAVID PAUL (1969-1976) and ANDREW SAUNDERS (no dates)
From the Database:
PAUL TAYLOR (1951-1957)
ROBERT EVANS (1966-1973)
IAN A. VOSPER (1959-1966)
LIONEL POLLARD (no dates)
TONY “Chunky” PENHAUL (1958-1966)
W. I. TREMBATH (1951-1958)
A plea from the Database Manager: If the address on the envelope which brought your copy of the New Penwithian is incomplete, or if you have moved and it was forwarded to you from a previous address, please send us an update of your address.
Rick “Tammy” Rescorla – New York Hero
It is with a very deep sadness that I am writing these words of tribute to my dear lifelong friend Rick Rescorla. Although he changed his name to Rick many years ago, to family and friends of his age, he will be remembered by his Christian name Cyril, or as we knew him, “Tammy”.
Tammy and I were best friends during our young days at Penpol Primary School in Hayle, and at Penzance Grammar School during the early 50s. Tammy Rescorla is well remembered and much respected, especially for his athletic and rugby prowess. He was a very powerful player, and I’m sure that many players lied to Stan Harris, the then sports master, about their house colour so as they wouldn’t have to play against him.
After PGS, Rick left Hayle to embark on various action packed careers that took him worldwide. Although he was away from Hayle and his beloved Cornwall for many years, his heart was right here with his mother and family.
For many years Rick had been coming home to see his mom and to visit his family and friends, all of who would get a huge hug. Once Rick had hugged you, you would never forget it! He was a huge man in every sense of the word. Being so interested in what was happening in Hayle and to his friends, we kept in regular touch by e-mail.
Rick is now being hailed as a hero by the world media and by the thousands of his work colleagues he helped to evacuate from the World Trade Centre on that terrible day in New York on the 11th September. Before that happened, Rick was already acclaimed a national hero in the USA. He won the Silver Star in the Vietnam War, for his many brave deeds in front line battle. As a platoon leader Rick would lead his men into battle under fire singing Cornish songs, such as Trelawney and Going Up Camborne Hill. He must have been a fearsome sight, but gave great courage to his men (as reported in the best-selling book We Were Soldiers Once and Young, in which Rick is depicted on the front cover. He was the last man out of the Trade World Centre after the 1993 bombing.
And again, as reported by the people who came out of the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers, Rick was singing Cornish songs. Again giving courage and strength to his fellow man. Rick would have had no thought for himself on that morning. Because of his vast military experience, Rick knew that that building had to be evacuated, even before it was hit by the second aircraft. He got most of his fellow employees of Morgan Stanley, out and away from the building before it collapsed. He would not have left until everybody was out. But, unfortunately, he ran out of time.
In a memorial service, held in Hayle, Stephen Newhouse, Chairman of Morgan Stanley International, of whom Rick was a Vice President and Head of Security, paid the following tribute to Rick .. .
“Morgan Stanley’s experience in this disaster had been described over and over again as miraculous. We had nearly 3700 people in the complex, 6 did not escape, including Rick. There is no question that Rick was the man behind that miracle in a very, very real way. Many, many people owe their lives to him. There are some 60,000 people in the Morgan Stanley family of companies, and Rick is legend to each and every one of them”.
For giving his life so that others might live, Rick has become a mighty Cornish legend.
On behalf of many thousands of people, we thank you Rick. Old Penwithians Salute You
Mervyn M. Sullivan
John “Bijou” Harvey (1933-2001)
John was born a “Newlyn Towner” on January 19th, 1933 and was probably one of the first 11+ boys to enter the Grammar School following the Butler Education Act of 1944. He was always quick to inform you that he was there before “Craske”. Mr. Rising came as Headmaster in 1945.
“Bijou”, as he quickly became known, (who did not have a nickname at school?), made a major contribution to school life during his years at PCGS. He was renowned for his quick witty style both oral and written and his literary contributions to the “Penwithian” frequently fell foul of the censor’s axe as Mr. Rising was not amused at jokes at the expense of the staff, no matter how clever! Even when he reached the dizzy height of editor, no copy was allowed to pass the eagle eye of “the Boss” who sat, red pencil poised ready to consign yet another Bijou gem to the cutting room floor.
Although renowned for his literary skills, Bijou was also a member of the Debating Society and took part in many a verbal battle with the likes of “Piggy” Norton and Billy Leah particularly if the motion touched on ‘Home Rule for Cornwall’ or ‘Urban Development’ (i.e. Newlyn!)
Not just a man of letters, Bijou was a member of the School Choir and was no mean cross-country and middle distance runner. His great love in this sporting life however, was rugby football, a veritable Alpha and Omega; he began his career as full back and ended up consigned to the denizens of the front row as hooker. Now there’s versatility! John played in the first official team to represent the school at rugby, until 1953 only soccer was played. Teammates of that era included David Lawrey, “Pert” Tanner, Colin Kelynack, Owen May, Bobby Vingoe, Billy Stevens, Jimmy Glover and the illustrious Humphry Davy (“Duffy”).
No-one quite knows how, but Bijou suc-ceeded in staying on at school until 1954, when he left to go to Saint Lukes College at Exeter, where he trained to enter the teaching profession. He took a teaching appointment at Exmouth and remained there for the rest of his “life. His heart however stayed in Newlyn, and there it will remain, as John’s ashes will be interred in the family grave at Paul. John died on 17th August at his home in Exmouth.
Charlie Paull (1947-2001)
Charlie grew up in what is called the ‘Battlefield’ area of Penzance, attending Lescudjack Infants School and then the old St Paul’s School in Taroveor Road where he took his ‘eleven plus’ and first showed his sporting prowess against other local schools and particularly rugby against St Erbyn’s where the headmaster was the great rugby stalwart – Mike Jenkin. Like many budding sporting youngsters of the time, Charlie would spend a lot of hours at the ‘Rec’, (the Recreation Ground opposite HDGS) honing his ball skills whether round or oval. When he eventually arrived at the Penzance County School in 1959 he immediately showed his strength at sport and represented the school at every age group in rugby and soccer until he left for college. He also gained many representative honours on the way. He also showed at an early age his natural talent for tennis, and competed and excelled at a level many years above his own age group.
I think it can be said that ‘Charlie’ probably played and represented PCGS and HDGS in every sport that the school participated in, although the ‘Scavengers’ might have been an isolated case. He played for Penzance and Newlyn Colts well before the usual age level and represented Cornwall at rugby and tennis, as well as soccer up to Under 15 level.
After leaving school he went to college in Northumberland and taught in Whitby and Scotland. He eventually moved down to teach in North Devon and then to Essex. ‘Charlie’ lived what many would call life to the full and died an untimely death earlier this year and will be sadly missed by his surviving family and all who knew him.
Life Is Rarely Fair?
Looking down ‘Memory Lane’, in a recent edition of New Penwithian brought back floods of memories of those great achievers in the fields of athletics and academia as witnessed on the Milocarian Trophy and the Honours Boards in the Hall. Not only were these (invariably older) pupils to be seen everyday in the corridors or in the playground, but others, having achieved similar greatness in their youth, had returned to teach us. To be constantly surrounded with such mountains of mental and physical prowess tended to leave lesser mortals feeling a trifle inadequate.
However, I am reminded that, spurred on, no doubt, by these great achievements of my fellow students, I too strove to reach for the lofty pinacles of that august edu-cational establishment, and I succeeded.
In relating this particular event I must mention that some teachers, in particular Mr. Jarvis and Alan Tregenza, took a keen interest in autographing one of the back pages of my Journal at regular intervals. This caused great concern to Ben Batten, my form teacher and of course to my parents. This I now regret, but can only conclude that it was fortunate they didn’t know half the story!
Many will recall the practice of kicking around a tennis ball or similar spherical object in the tiny space between C & D rooms and the huts during breaks. In the early 1950’s all of tHs was made much more difficult by the erection of a forest of scaffolding poles against the wall of the main building. Contractors were building (a new library?) on top of rooms C & D. Far from being a nuisance, these obstacles merely added to the challenge, with passes being bounced off the walls or lofted high into the air. Not infrequently the high passes did not come down but remained on the new flat roof some 20 feet above our heads. On the day in question we had lost yet another ball in this manner and the game came to an abrupt standstill.
There were ladders lashed to the scaffolding of course, but none at ground level, the wise builders having removed the temptation . . . but they didn’t know about Mr. Stiles tall step ladder which was kept in the cloakrooms, through the door in the corner of this particular playground. Ready hands steadied the step ladder whilst I scrambled up and onto the planking at the first level. From there it was easy to climb the next two sets of ladders onto the new flat roof. Wow! What a view of Treneere Estate!
There were 6 or 8 balls lying on the roof. I took great pleasure in hurling the old, soggy, spongy ones at the mortals far below, but put the best two in my pockets and prepared for the descent. Just a minute, I thought. If Phyllis Selleck’s home estate could look so good from this platform in the sky, what must Penzance and Mount’s Bay look like? To reach this stupendous view involved the very safe (?) manoeuvre of scrambling up the gully of the pitched roof (somewhere above G Room I guess) to the ridge where I sat gazing in awe at ‘the whole world laid out before me’.
But, back to the game. The soggy balls weren’t much good and my presence – or that of a decent ball – was being demanded from below. Down the first ladder, along the planking and down the second ladder, then over the edge and carefully down the rickety old step ladder. I was no more than half a dozen steps from the bottom with my class-mate Peter Tutthill holding on to the steps when around the corner came Hugh Harvey.
“What are you two boys doing on the scaffolding”, he thundered.
“Nothing Sir”, we replied in unison.
“Up to the Headmaster, immediately”, he concluded, and carried on his way.
A certain amount of heated debate ensued as we dragged our heavy feet up the stairs. My side of the story, being affected by the relief at not getting caught on the roof, was that we should say we had invented a game which involved being on the bottom step of the ladder – which just happened to be there. Peter, knowing that every morning in Assembly the scaffolding was placed totally out of bounds, argued that he had not really been on the ladder or the scaffolding, he knew full well that it was I who had committed the crime, his was just a humanitarian gesture to help me to safety.
We timidly approached the ever-open door to the head’s study. He was sitting at this desk. He looked up, “Well?” I remembered that I wanted to go to the toilet. “Mr Harvey caught us playing around the bottom of the scaffolding Sir.” T. Craske Rising was a man of few words in such circumstances. “Fetch your journals!” he barked and then proceeded to deduct three conduct marks each.
I wonder how many readers recall that if you had ‘five off’ all in one go you had the cane and then were asked what your offence had been. ‘Three off all in one go and you were asked what had been your offence, then, maybe, given the cane. The Head must have been busy because after the entry in each of our journals he was ready to dismiss us. However, there was an unhappy ending to my tale.
During that term I had already accumulated ‘ten off’ for which you automatically had the cane. This extra three brought my new total up to eight, so I was free to go. Sadly for Peter his total before this incident was seven .. . “Wait outside Tutthill.”
As I scarpered down the stairs as fast as my legs would carry me I heard that dreaded whistle as the tip of the cane reached supersonic speeds in its descent onto my poor, innocent accomplice’s hand.
One of the lessons I learned early on was that life is rarely fair!
Howard Curnow, St Hilary, August 2001
The Tale of the Grammar School Window Smasher
In January 1944, I entered the then Penzance County School back door for the first time. I was filled with awe. Quite how long that lasted I’m not quite certain, but it was a year or two before I broke my first window – the staffroom in those days was adjacent to the Chemistry Lab storeroom and its windows dead in line with the ‘goal’ posts (two coats) we set up in between the old pavilion and the gymnasium. By the time I’d got to the third year, I had a powerful if somewhat inaccurate shot with the tennis ball we used for our breaktime and lunchtime soccer matches. The broken window tally began to mount, as did my negative conduct marks, but since I enjoyed celebrity status as a hot shot and window smasher, negative conduct marks were no disincentive.
I’d spent a whole term at Truro Hospital and at Perranporth Convalescent Home following a knee operation and as a result, had lost the plot as far as academic work was concerned. Sport was my only salvation and soccer in particular. We all tried to hone out skills on that sacred piece of playground, sometimes as many as fifty of us. Well as I said, my broken window tally mounted and by the summer term of 1949 had reached a total of seven. Then one lunchtime I smashed my eighth. With some apprehension, I went up to tell Mr. Rising that I had accidentally (!!) broken another window. To say that he was none too pleased was an understatement; in fact, he was rather cross and after having added ten negative conduct marks to my already high total, delivered the Coup-de-Grace – he banned me from ever playing tennis ball football anywhere on the school grounds. I was crestfallen but knew what the consequence would be if I defied him – expulsion!!
I crept down and out to the pavilion, gloomily watching my mates having a great time. I resisted participating for a whole fifteen minutes and then the ball bounced invitingly in front of me. I couldn’t resist it and with my right foot, caught it on the half volley; it was a wonderful shot and flew past the goalkeeper, straight through the staffroom window – again!! I roared with laughter and then recognised the enormity of my situation! What on earth could I say to Craske? More importantly I knew what he would say to me, so desperate measures were needed – and pretty quickly too.
It’s at times like this when you find out who your real friends are and Roger Sleap from Hayle became my friend for life. I persuaded him to go and tell the head that he had smashed the window. Craske went ballistic! “I’ve just had Richards up here and now you!” he bellowed, or words to that effect and proceeded to lay on the cane with vigour. Poor old Roger really caught it and was really angry with me. “I’ll pay,” I said, referring to the “Ten shillings” (50p) required to pay for the window. “You’ll pay alright,” was Roger’s retort and he wasn’t talking about the money!! Incidentally, my father’s weekly wage was just over £3, so two smashed windows really dented the family budget.
I left in July 1950 and never saw Roger again until just a few weeks ago on Friday 29th June. I’m chairman of a children’s charity here in Gloucester and on that particular day was in the building when Roger came in with his wife and one of his close friends, Colin Gardner. I’ve known Colin for several years and knew that he had retired to Taunton. He’d supported the charity for a long time and we were buying the building from him. He knew that I was Cornish and introduced me to Roger, a fellow Cornishman. Well you can guess how the ensuing conversation went!! “Where do ee come from? Hayle?
What, Hayle Smiling Morn? Yes. Well where did ee go to school? Penzance Grammar. When? 1944-50. Who are ee then? Roger Sleap!!! Two hours later, we were still exchanging stories and memories. And did he recall saving me from Craske’s wrath and expulsion? He did, and just as every word here depicted it. Fifty-one years may have passed, but it was as yesterday that the tennis ball went through a window for the ninth time. My school record will stand for ever.
Going To Press
At a meeting of the Committee of the “Old Penwithians” Association in September, the decision was taken to push ahead with the reprint of Three Score Years and Ten. In spite of the fact that, with advanced orders, donations and interest free loans, we are still well short of the ‘target’ figure, it was felt that to wait any longer would put the project out of our reach.
When this idea was first mooted the cost of production was estimated at about £1500. This would have allowed us to sell the book at £5.00 per copy, including postage and packing if necessary. However, the cost of printing has escalated since then and the latest estimate is at least £2,100 for a minimum of 500 copies. This does not include typesetting and other production costs.
The short-fall in money raised will be met from Association funds and by the Committee and production will commence as soon as the content of the book has been edited and updated. There are some errors and omissions, such as names missing from photographs, and an extra chapter will be added to bring the book up to date. The task of word processing to enable electronic type-setting will be shared by volunteers, but we would like some help with the editing and up-dating. To that end, sections of the book will be photocopied and will be available at the Reunion on 29th December. Those attending will be asked to look at these copies and to give any corrections or additions to names, dates or other information to John Richards – who is coordinating the project. If you already have a copy of the book, or you know a man who has, and you have any such corrections or additions, please send details to Andrew Coak our Secretary. With luck, the re-print should be under way early next year.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that if you want a copy of the book it will now cost you £7.50, including postage and packing. Those who have already paid in advance will receive their copy at the old price -though the Treasurer wouldn’t be too unhappy if they decided to cough up the extra £2.50 If you would like to reserve a copy at the new price, please send your cheque for £7.50 to the Treasurer, Phil Dennis, at the address given. Phil would also welcome further donations and interest free loans towards the cost of the re-print; which would reduce the burden on Association funds – not to mention the committee!
Cheques payable: “Old Penwithians”
The Lamorna Society
It was the reading of Austin Wormleighton’s excellent book on the life and times of Samuel John ‘Lamorna’ Birch which led my wife and I to the Retrospective Exhibition of his work at Falmouth Art Gallery. Then followed a walk, conducted by A W and Keith Gardiner, son of the painter Stanley Gardiner, in Lamorna Valley, taking in the gardens, houses and cottages of the artists, poets and writers. Vastly over subscribed it had to be split over two days; people from the length and breadth of the country joined in. A great frisson abounded; the words ‘We can’t leave it here’ led to a meeting a month later in Wokingham at our home. The Society was born.
Four years on we have over 100 interested and interesting members from across the UK. Adam Kerr, grandson of Lamorna Birch is our very active patron. Both he and his wife Judith are very competent artists, they have a tremendous input into the Society, regularly inviting us to Flagstaffe Cottage, overlooking the cove, where Birch lived for most of his life. It was here one winter afternoon when one of my most exciting moments occurred. Around 20 of us were in the garden watching the cove boil in the grip of a force 9 southerly gale. “We’ve recently found this”, announced Adam, unrolling with great difficulty a large canvas, it was a fabulous Birch oil of the same scene more than 50 years ago.
Austin Wormleighton is very much on board, a source of endless information and inspiration. We have another leading expert on the UK’s artists at the turn of the century with us, brought up in the valley and able to regale us with anecdotes of life amongst the artists. We have direct descendants of the artists, active local historians and authors and many working artists. The generosity of many members who open their homes to view their privately owned works of art is much appreciated.
We have a very active social side and a substantial percentage of the members come to West Penwith for the busy autumn AGM weekend. We have just held our AGM for this year and, whilst it is all fresh in my mind, I will run through the main events of the weekend, hoping it will whet your appetite.
Friday evening; dinner in The Turk’s Head with poet David Prowse giving a great hour of readings. Saturday: Members exhibition in Lamorna Village Hall with books, paintings, pottery, printed fabrics e for appreciation and sale; a private viewing of the Harold Harvey exhibition at the Penlee House Gallery with a talk by Allison Lloyd the gallery director; in the evening our annual dinner at the former home of Stanhope Forbes, now the Higher Faughan Country House Hotel, followed by a talk by David Chapman of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, a great photographer with a deep knowledge of his subject and a natural orator. Sunday was champagne and birthday cake for our 4th birthday in Lamorna Cove, lunch in the Cove Cafe and the Wink public house; then over to St Hilary church to view the fabulous paintings by the Newlyn artists Harold Knight, Norman and Alethea Garstin, Gladys Hynes, Ernest and Dot Proctor, Annie Walke and Joan Manning Saunders when she was only 12.
A footnote of particular interest to Old Penwithians: Our first AGM in 1997 was highlighted by, for me, our best speaker ever, Ben Batten. He gave us a magical hour talking on ‘His Newlyn’ and where the artists fitted in. As I drove him and Margery home, he said quietly, ‘Well boy, that was my swansong’. Sadly he was right.
There is a core of 20-25 of us who attend other weekends which focus on the Lamorna Birch legacy. These ‘awaydays’ have taken us all over the country. Here are a few examples: inaugural dinner at the Chelsea Arts Club; a weekend in the Lune Valley where Birch began painting in his teens; a coffee morning with the daughter of Birch’s benefactor from the 1880’s; a visit to Dedham to view the Munnings Exhibition; Lamorna Birch; ‘In Focus’ exhibition at Penlee House; Cheshire to view Birch’s birthplace and the galleries in Liverpool; IMS concert in Paul Church; weekend in Ashbourne Derbyshire, where Birch painted extensively plus a visit to a member’s private mansion to view his art; the Tamar valley, guests of a member whose home fronts the Tamar with visits to Endsleigh and Cotehele Manor. The ‘big one’ is a proposed visit in 2003 to New Zealand for a month following Birch’s footsteps of his 1930s trip.
If you have any interest in learning more about us, see our small advertisement in this newsletter. We have a brochure we can send, or telephone my wife Ina or myself on 0118 9791765 evenings or weekends. We publish a magazine, ‘The Flagstaff’ twice yearly, now around 20 pages, but growing in size as more contributors join us. You are welcome to receive a copy at £3.00 incl. p&p.
I have been encountering some technical difficulties as regards the production of ‘New Penwithian’, the whole of this edition was on another computer’s hard disk which had refused to work. You would have thought this
would not be such a problem with a brand spanking new system acquired, with the whole of this edition re-keyed and scanned, but then it refuses to print on the required size of paper, deadline looming and passing! So hence your new A4 printed and stapled edition for 2001, hope to be back to normal for your 2002 edition. ED.