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Memories Page Three

A bit about Lillian and Maurice's interest in the town. They told me about the beautiful cliffwalks we used to walk in Torquay being made by the men returning from the first world war..a job creation scheme.
As well as visits to the local beaches with the wider family we used to meet up with Thora and Dudley and family as you can see in the photos mostly on beaches, Slapton, Blackpool Sands,Thurlestone Bantham and some times Falmouth. We also holidayed together at least once in Cornwall. Thora went on a recce by train to find these chalets... our family spent a summer holiday when I was about fifteen/sixteen [ probably after Gertie died ] at Gorran Haven. Spencer has written a great poem about Slapton Sands.
We had a wickerwork picnic basket which usually contained a wolemeal loaf, made by Lilian or cheese and fresh fruit with some vegetarian bars of dried fruit and cereals like those becoming more and more available recently We often stopped at cafes and hotels for a cream tea on the way home.

Labrador Cottage was a ruin when I walked the coast path as a teeager red sandstone from Torquay to Teignmouth. All mother would tell me about the cottage was that it was destroyed by a landslide and post and food were delivered on a wire from the coast path. Thalia

It is an intriguing story full of interesting characters such as Captain Trapp who had links with the real Labrador in Newfoundland and brought cod into Teignmouth; smugglers and a Jacobite spy called Pierre Ducross; a Cornish fisherman by the name of Treloar and various families who ran the Labrador Bay hotel, a jewel in the South Devon tourist crown until it burned down in 1938. It acquired other names in more recent years such as Labrador Inn (1908), Labrador Cottage (1914) Labrador Tea Gardens (1918) and Smugglers Haunt and The Smugglers Cottage, at other times. Trapp built the a cottage for his retirement "with possibly a little smuggling on the side". There were 400 steps on the winding path leading to the hotel .
Victorians enjoyed strawberry teas made from fruit grown on the spot and, when the "honeymoon hotel" was in full swing, enjoyed peaches grown against its walls.
The landslide in the late 1950's brought down the 400 steps leading from the hotel to the beaches below


When we went to the beach we had knitted swimming costumes, cotton sunhats, metal buckets with pictures on and wooden spades.
Green canvas deckchairs could be hired, there were stacks of them at the top of the steps at the top of the red sand beach. The Denmeads were dad's friends and their children were always in lots of clothes, socks and shoes, long trousers and we in next to nothing.. Later we wore boys Jantzen swimming trunks until we reached puberty, mother had a fine silk scarf she wrapped her hair in before putting on her swimming cap.. Thalia


1940's knitting patterns for the beach

1940's knitting patterns for the beach

Our knitted swimsuits

Our knitted swimsuits


An Afternoon Outfit

An Afternoon Outfit
1940's Britain was a high point for handknitting - women on the Home Front could make a contribution to the war effort by knitting for the troops using patterns that were given away free. Once the war was over both clothing and knitting wool were still rationed so people turned to knitting as a cheap way to enhance their wardrobe.

winter beret

winter beret

The introduction of Reard’s bikini (named after Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific where atomic bomb testing had taken place) caused quite a stir in the United States. That was nothing, however to the reaction in predominantly Catholic European countries, including Italy and Spain, where the powers that be actually banned women from wearing bikinis on their beaches!

After the war we had a Morris ten DUV 788 blue and grey, we began to go out in the country and to beaches further afield and the moors. Few people had cars in those days and we bought black market petrol from Mr Ely at Ely's Garage on Newton Road. We had the country side almost to ourselves. We were vegetarians and did not smoke so the Bakelite ashtrays were filled with water and posies of wild and garden flowers.. It was quite brave to be so different.. Later we got a bigger car a black police car a Wolsey PV 3984.

We often holidayed with our cousins from Plymouth, one year Aunt Thora went on a rece by train to find a different place and found the wooden bungalows on Hayle Towans in Cornwall. The dunes were still mined from the war, one show off man used to walk through the minefields. We had several joint holidays there, grandmother came too. Sometimes we had separate chalets, sometimes we shared a large one. There were chemical toilets emptied once a week by a man called Mr Bumpack - Yes Really !!!. We used to dress up in seaweed fronds with our cousins and we improved our swimming, it was great to spend time with our cousins and grandmother. Recently one of these cousins (Newton) has bought one of these chalet houses.
We also had a beach hut at Corbyns Head, red gravelly sand, lots of seaweed and rocks. Later when I was a teenager we had a hut at Oddicombe beach.


A refurbished chalet today

A refurbished chalet today

The dunes today

The dunes today

Maurice and Ted Stannard were best friends and the two families spent a lot of time together especiallly in the summer holidays on the beach, there are many happy snaps in the family album...

We saw the Stannards every summer. At least once In 1952? the Stannards took a chalet at the village of Strete overlooking the sea.It was glorious weather .We were all old enough to roam the countryside on our own, us four with the three Stannard Girls. There was a real closeness between the two families.
There were two large cart horses a few fields away in the valley .We spent a lot of time trying to ride them bare back. They were patient lumbering animals. God knows what their owners thought!!!
It was a very happy carefree summer. I remember the adults in different combinations going off to buy the Sunday papers and shop for milk and bread in the village and food in Dartmouth. There were trips to Slapton and Blackpool beaches, picnics, evening meals in the chalet.
We may have had a chalet too or gone home each night. Can anyone remember?
We stayed with them at a manor house in Trowbridge.
I went to see Ted and Margaret in Wales. Ted was middle class with a posh accent and a very smooth confidient attitude. I had not noticed this as a child - a class difference. Mother was a bit of a culture snob and thought a shop keeper not much of a catch however posh his shop and comfortable her life.
On the Welsh visit we talked family and the war. But I had not seen them for years. They then moved to Cornwall and I lost contact.
When Lynne was born Gertie was sent with Julia and Spencer ....May be Sue too?
to stay with Thora. A mid wife delivered Lynne....Vina (my best friend )and I were sitting in the garden as mother gave birth. One of them told me Gertie burst into tears when the tel message about Lynne's arrival came .
I dont think it was all that long befoe Gertie went into the Home although she did spend some time in bed at 81 Teignmouth Rd...,,,mother with the new baby etc .....what a stressful time it must have been at our house. Spencer had to fend for himself more or less and the others too.
Then dad going off travelling selling suits's like putting together a jigsaw

Ted was a very jolly and extrovert man and I liked him a lot. He was always more than a family friend - we called him Uncle Ted remember? Aprile


With the Taylors and Stannards

With the Taylors and Stannards
Many joint holidays in July and August were spent with Len and Ada Taylor and their son Roger who came down to Torquay every year. Until a couple of years after Lynne was born when Maurice turned them away and told Len they weren't a Bed and Breakfast place and not to come again. But there are still later photos so perhaps they stayed with Thora and Dudley?
Ada Taylor was the daughter of Louisa Warren (m. Rogers) from Dudley Worcs Edith Warren's sister. Spencer went to stay with them once, in the Midlands.

Ada Rogers married Leonard Taylor in the September quarter of 1933 in Dudley. (Janice)

With Lizzie Roger and Ada

With Lizzie Roger and Ada


With Lizzie - Edith Warren's sister who also visited every summer



Photo sent to Pansy from Lilian July 1954

Photo sent to Pansy from Lilian July 1954

The Stannard girls

The Stannard girls
Do the photos tell a story?


The two families together on the moors
The Diver
11th January 1996

Deep amber sleeps there still in sandy beds,
Untouched by winds that storm the purple hills.
As fancy takes me there so I will tread,
And trespass on abandonment and youth.

Down grassy tracks our cars would heave and sway,
Like boats in line upon a swollen sea.
To where the waters drift beneath the trees,
Across that dark deep pool eternally.

They said there was a cave beneath the cliff,
And once a man had drowned within the rift.
I held that thought and watched him as he'd strive,
Up to that highmost ledge to take his dive.

He'd stand and view the scene with pensive eye,
A statue on his plinth and mounted high.
Then launch and make that splashing echo sound,
And fade amongst the shadows in the gloom.

Then he'd rise as yellowed flesh turned pale,
To stagger out across the gritty shale.
And scale the bank of sand to join his kin,
Drying spangled wetness from his skin

She'd break her amble on a shingle bed,
Where suddenly the rills and ripples spread.
Behind our isle of grass and dappled glade,
Secluded under birch and hawthorn shade.

Deep amber sleeps there still in sandy beds,
Untouched by winds that storm the purple hills.
As fancy takes me there so I will tread,
And trespass on abandonment and youth.

Maurice Bird

We were never hit or smacked and very rarely were voices raised. I saw how wonderful this was as my knowledge of other families grew and as our children acquired partners and new generations are growing up.This is the magic they speak of about in their happy childhood despite poverty and hard graft!
There was a special closeness in our family as two brothers married two sisters and there seemed to be real fondness between them.

Tied in with the lack of violence...the only discipline I remember was at the end our beach / moor days out some times when we were over excited and tired and behaving badly we were turfed out of the car about a mile from home and had to walk the rest of the way. They got a bit of peace and quiet and we had time to calm down.
Probably the paid help my mother had in the house and the presence of Gertie as well as their secure financial position helped them to live up to their beliefs..our parents used distraction, dire warning of the results of our actions,bribery and lots of praise we had an exceptional unusual childhood There is a quaker poster which sums it all up .
The schools I attended also abhored violence..Miss Rainford at KHS said 'spare the rod and spoil the child ' could be interpreted as an instruction to do just that and she always said that if you resorted to shouting and violence with children you had failed both as a parent and as a teacher.
I must look up where that quote comes from.
Its amazing how long its taken me to get round to that lack of violence bit!! Perhaps it was not evident in all parts of the family.

Maurice Childs' Shop

Maurice Childs' Shop
Dad told me the most profitable year he had was when the Gatt conference after the war came to Torquay. He described how difficult it was to get stock during the war for example
rough beigy brown shirts which he had dyed and when sold to customers and when washed and hung out to dry, the dye came out and stained the side of the customer's house. Mother described a dress in some cheap artifical fabric she wore during the war, she got caught out in the rain and the dress just shrivelled up to nothing.
Dad visited people at home for fittings and described a couple of visits to me, an ex diplomats wife who wanted a skirt made from silk scarves with points at the hem. She made him tea in a very luxurious sitting room. her house was in the best part of Torquay. There was a large brown stain in the centre of a silk carpet, she saw Dad looking at it and explained that it was her husband's blood when he was murdered by freedom fighters in one of the African countries. Keyna I think. Another visit was to a horsey family on Dartmoor who wrote books about horses ..I read their books as a child.
I asked Dad why he did not open a branch in say Exeter but he said he made a good living and had no desire to expand , it was a charmed life ...the shop had a family feel about it. I remember some people he employed who did not live up to his standards and the struggle he had to get rid of them. He had a chance to buy the shop but continued to rent it until the lease ran out in the 1970's
Mother said to me she was cross when the shop was not making profits and Dad lived on his capital. Women in those days were treated as airheads... she did not have the space to fulfil her potential. Mother worked in the shop for a while before she had children.
The shop had a steep overgrown back garden with steep steps up to the road at the back ..the only time I remember going up there was to watch the yearly fire works show over the harbour in summer.
Maurice's shop did medals with all those bright coloured ribbons and military uniforms He helped Ian fit his RNR uniform.When he was at Scarborough College doing the CCF Ian used to take pupils away every summer on a MFV 75 feet ship in the Clyde. Maurice gave Ian many very expensive suits to use when he stood for Parliament and Euro Parliament.... luckily they were the same size....

Ronald worked as the Manager of the shop leading up to the War and Maurice paid him good money for those days. When he was called up and went away during the War Maurice promoted an assistant as Manager in his place. When the 'boys' came home it was the law that each man had to return to his previous job at the same level. Ronald returned to the shop so the assistant promptly left and set up his own business in the town in competition.
Ronald worked on there for a while after Harry Bird had bought his sons the Hotel so he could earn some money whilst they were doing it up so that they could take in their first guests.

I remember mother saying to me Maurice always had the most beautiful bespoke suits. Latterly he had a very nice tweed one with multi coloured specks in it. He always made my parents laugh as he called it his BIZ suit saying that when a bird landed on his shoulder and 'messed' he didn't have to brush it off as it always blended in the material. He certainly had a sense of humour!! The 'biz ' bit was certainly correct as Dad used to laugh about it as well.

In November 1993 we attended Iris and John's Golden Wedding Party. Mimmo always had bespoke suits made at Thresher and Glenny in the City. He wore a beautiful three piece Prince of Wales check hand made suit with a button fly, designer French tie and polished black shoes.
Maurice approached him immediately and said he hadn't seen such an excellent example of good material for many a long year. (It was fine wool from a Yorkshire mill, Maurice knew the Company well) The two of them struck up a conversation and got on like a 'house on fire'. Evidently he was forever telling Sue about it and how impressed he was with Mimmo. Sue initially was over the top with her friendliness towards me. Everytime she rang me she kept inviting us down and saying 'Daddy had told her about Mimmo' and she couldn't wait to meet my 'lovely lovely' husband whom she had heard all about! Sadly we still have not met up ( I wouldn't want to anyway ) and I doubt whether the invitation still stands, as Spencer informs me Sue now thinks I'm 'despicable' ( The compliment is returned ! )......



I remember the excitment of catching the steam train on Torquay Station to go to college in Matlock and that stretch by Dawlish is magnificent with the red sandstone tunnels. One year I was in a carriage with a middle aged business man and had to wrestle off his sexual advances in the tunnels whilst out of the tunnels he looked as if butter would not melt in his mouth.....