1940's SHOW

Our own Songbird, together with others, will be putting on a Show with a wartime theme and celebrating 75 years since the D-Day Landings, at The Globe on Friday, 7th June, at 8.00 p.m. Go along to the Family Room to enjoy the evening and if possible get dressed up in some form of 1940's gear!

There will be a draw and money raised will be going to the School, so if anyone would like to donate a prize, that would be great!

See YOU there!



When I was but a callow youth - wa'da you mean, I couldn't have been! I, like my mates, spent some time birds' nesting in Watermouth Harbour.

At this time, Monkey Island [Sexton's Burrows*] was home to a large colony of Oyster Catchers. They used to dive bomb a fella when he was near their nests.

As I remember, the most prolific gulls were Common Gulls, the next common were the Lesser and Greater Black Backed, and the least common, the Herring Gulls. How things have changed!


Illustrations:Paul Swailes

The oyster catchers here are now non-existent, I can't remember the last time I saw a common gull and the black backs are few and far between. But, the herring gulls have taken over. They have the unfortunate habit of taking other gulls' eggs, although most gulls will do this but they seem to be more successful. It just goes to show how the strongest seem to survive, whether it be by driving the other gulls away, or by rubbish dumps, or by pinching your fish 'n' chips. You have to say, as much as I dislike them, they are survivors. Cheers.


*Sexton's Burrows is a narrow rocky peninsular which forms a natural breakwater to the harbour of Watermouth Bay on the North Devon coast.

Shite-hawk [also spelled shitehawk] or shit-hawk or shitty hawk, is a slang name applied to various birds of prey that exhibit scavenging behaviour, originally and primary the black kite, although the term has also been applied to other birds such as the herring gull.




Whilst looking through some of Mum's old paperwork, we came across a letter regarding The Chevrons holding a dance in the Manor Hall, which stirred up some memories for me. The Chevrons were started in the 1960's by Mike Warburton [of Hammonds Farm] and myself, with Lew Baglow and Mike Carless, on drums completing the band.

We used, in those days, to run our own dances - more money to be made! We played at the Railway Inn in 'Combe High Street in conditions that health and safety would not allow today - the floor would literally be bending under the weight of dancing bodies.

The band's highpoint was competing in the final of the Melody Maker National Competition at the Wimbledon Palais. 3 coaches went from Ilfracombe as we were tipped to win, but we actually came 2nd. Pink Floyd was knocked out in round 15 - how the mighty have fallen! Judging the event were Kenny Everett, Graham Nash of The Hollies and Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, and Muriel Young. Also making appearances were, amongst others, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker and Twinkle.


The Chevons: Gary Songhurst, Lew Baglow, Mike Carless and Mike Warburton at Wimbledon Palais


Dear Mrs. Songhurst

Enclosed is the receipt for last Saturday's Dance. Claude Richards made one point about the Dance. Stiletto heels on the girls' shoes marked the floor it appears, so he wondered if the girls could be warned to avoid such shoes. I am only passing on his comment as I haven't seen the floor.

Do hope Saturday's dance is also a success.

Yours sincerely,

Vera M. Cowperthwaite*
Treasurer for the Hall

* Mrs. Cowperthwaite was my primary school head teacher

The bus and driver were to bring people from and return them to Ilfracombe.

Costings of Items for the Dance, other than the Band

Advert [NDJ]50
Mr. Smith [Caretaker]50
Orange Squash50
Pepsi Cola180
Taken on Door1900
Taken for Refreshments2150

It would seem there was a profit for the evening of £14.0.0.

Have you noticed that no alcohol was served at that time? I believe this was because the Hall had a grant from the Carnegie Trust and alcohol was not allowed by the terms of the Trust.

I recall that Lewis Smith called the music 'Devil Music' but I also remember Jan Draper sitting in the Hall with his trilby in his hand, clapping at the end of each number. A large number of adults came along to listen to the music, which was mainly of The Shadows type. In those days we couldn't afford a PA system. How things have changed!

Songbird [Gary Songhurst]

All four Chevrons continue to play, but not together. However, to celebrate their 60th birthdays they did get together after 42 years, and made a CD.

Since the Chevrons, Gary has been entertaining us with music with Renard, Living End, in a duo with Dick Vallance, 18 years with The Parcel of Rogues, the Elderly Brothers, the Knowleberries as well as Tuxedo Function. Thank you for the Music, Gary!

The Chevons: Gary Songhurst, Lew Baglow, Mike Carless and Mike Warburton at Wimbledon Palais



I have just been reading the Berrynarbor Newsletter and looking at Tom's pictures of the Castle.

The guide book of c1960 says it is difficult to establish when the Bassets moved there. I have heard two reasons for the move and the building of the castle. The first was that it was built as a wedding present and secondly when they learnt that the railway would be running close to Heanton Court they decided to move to Watermouth although they would have owned the land that the railway was built on and, I suspect, were paid a tidy sum for it.

During the occupancy of Mr. Black the property went downhill and he removed the lead in the valleys on the roof. I remember working on the roof slating and found that he had missed a few and on one of the front left hand valleys I found the initials and date scratched in the lead of the workmen who had roofed the castle in the first place. I think the date was 1849.

The Castle was one of the first jobs my father worked on when we came to the village. It was then, in 1958, owned by the Braine family and I think I am right in saying that Mr. Braine wanted the land for caravans and the castle was in such a state that it was thrown in for little or nothing.

Illustration by: Helen Armstead

Dad started by repairing the oak doors to the conservatory and then the rest of the building. Some of the bedrooms were turned in to flats. one of the rooms was reported to be haunted by a grey lady [you could think of a less common colour than that!]. Dad was asked to make a new casement for the window of the room as it was always open. The frame was made and fitted, but Mr. Braine said he could never keep it shut.

I went to work there in the summer holidays to earn a bit of cash. There was no electric light in what we called the dungeons and that was where the building materials were kept. The Castle itself had a generator but it only worked upstairs so we had to use hurricane or tilly lamps in the cellars - 'twas a bit spooky down there by yourself!

After a while Mr. Braine had restored enough of the building to open it to the public and Charlie Dredge had the job of Tour Guide. As I said, the light downstairs was by tilly lamp although at that time gas lights were being fitted in the cellars.

One of the gas fitters was called Norman Bryant and as Mr. Dredge was showing the rapped visitors the 'Norman Arches', Norman jumped up from behind a wall and said, "I'm Norman and what the hell do you want?" There were a few gasps and screams.

When the sub-tropical gardens were being cleared, and I mean cleared, Fred Davy, who was the gardener, found ornamental ponds under the ferns and brambles. I think one had a statue in it. The Gardens were lovely.

I remember when Frank Brown had the pond at Mill Park drained and dug out, he stocked it with course fish. Like most youngsters, my introduction to fishing, apart from tickling trout, was catching small perch there. Ray Toms and I decided to put some in the ponds in the tropical gardens, so we put some in a bucket and started off to the Castle.

It was summertime and the light was dimpsey, or dimmy, as we say round here, and it suddenly struck us as we walked up the path to the gardens that there was no noise - no birdsong or anything. We dumped the fish and ran like hell! I found out later that one of the gardeners' sons had fallen in the pond and drowned - 'twas a bit spooky!

There are many more stories to tell about the castle, but I'll stop boring you now . . . if you haven't nodded off already!




Given the weather this summer, it was amazing that we managed to make any cider this year. But, last Saturday was just the ticket for any outdoor activity.

The Warburton Mk II Press was erected in the garden of 'Chez Wild Violets' and the hoards descended from far and wide - Manchester, Tiverton, Barum and 'Combe. Apples were picked and this year's vintage was begun.


It was decided apples should be measured in Qwerts [old Berrynarborian measure]. 2 Qwerts = 1 Trug = 2 Gallons.

The usual production line swung into action:

  1. Cutting apples,
  2. Shredding apples [in the Mk I Warburton Chopper - an old garden shredder],
  3. Pressing the apples and
  4. Pouring into the barrels.

The Press Maister, Mitch Warburton, brought with him three trees of the Bens Red Variety. These can be struck by just pushing a small branch into the ground. After the planting, the well-known wassailer, Ray Thorn [as seen on TV], blessed the orchard - all three trees! I think I should mention that during all this, some of last year's cider was being hastily consumed - no wonder I lost count of the Qwerts!

At the end of a thoroughly good and slightly drunken day, 85 gallons had been poured in to the vats. A BBQ ensued with entertainment provided by part of the Berry Skiffle Ensemble, and Chris Townsend was last seen being pushed home in a wheelbarrow! 'Yers tu next yer.'

So, having told you all about the Berry pressing - a balmy, late summer day, with a gentle zephyr breeze blowing down from Lee hills and the sun sliding into the sea over Hele gasworks, the smell of new mown cider - truly stuff that halcyon days are made of - what happened a week later?

It's off to Combe Martian for the Silver Mine Pressing. I think we'll call it the Gloom Martian pressing - the site, although covered with Barum Boxing Club's tarpaulin, resembled a cross between Glastonbury on a bad day and a good day on the Somme! But in true stoic bulldog [no, sorry, this is North Devon] Jack Russell spirit, the merry band set to work. Children covered in mud ... no change there then! Adults covered in mud ... no change for me!

The work was going well, all be it slippery. The Mine Captain, Mitch Warburton, had a party of visitors from the Friends of Devon Society to show round the silver mine site - I'm not sure what they made of our antics - so we were left to puddle on unsupervised. It's hard treading apples when they are wet! All this said, another 50 odd gallons were poured into the waiting barrels.

We have been asked how the general public can obtain some of this highly medicinal potion ... only licenced persons are allowed to purvey it. Unfortunately, none of us have a licence.

We have tried other legal applications: a hair restorer - Mitch tried it but he still looks like the white ball on the Institute snooker table; an underarm deodorant - attracted too many fruit flies; a soap on a rope - liquids tend not to stay on bits of string; paint stripper - no good. I guess we'll just have to drink it ourselves.

[Gary Songhurst]



The Start: Just before Barnstaple Fair Week, an old friend, Mitch Warburton, asked if I would be interested in making some cider. As a few village worthies, myself included, had been thinking about this for a couple of years, "Yes", was my reply.

The next week, the Warburton Apple Processing Plant, Mk 2, was dropped off at Wild Violets. The press, which is portable, was sited behind the weeping ash tree and after a few site adjustments, was ready for use!

The Process: The apples, delivered in trugs, wheelbarrows, trailers, plastic bags, sacks, etc., are first cut into quarters. Then they are shredded, by an old garden shredder, into a mash. This is then put in between layers of straw which are laid in the barrel of the press ready for pressing when sufficient mash has been made. When pressing takes place, the juice is collected in a bucket before being strained into a barrel. The process is then repeated.




The Workforce: In part, the idea of 'the press' is to bring people together. T'was truly international! There were Combemartians, Barnstaple folk and, of course, a fair smattering of Berry people. The children were getting the apples from wherever and taking them to the ladies who were sitting around tables slicing them before they went through the shredder, to the press and then to the barrel.

The apples that were brought were loaded into a builder's trug [1 trug = 2 gallons], that way we were able to measure how much everyone had brought.

Finally, it was the turn of the 'tasters' [the men took that in turns!].

The Result: After two days' work we had made 140 gallons of cider, not bad, eh? Each day finished with a BBQ and, surprise, surprise, music supplied by our local musicians. The press was then taken to Barnstaple to do its job again.

The Future: Having surfed the net for information on the keeping of cider we've found diverse accounts. Some say it can be drunk after 3 months, others say leave it a year. One says it should be drunk only after the cuckoo sings, and given the number of cuckoos I've heard over the last few years, it could be some time! So, I think its going to be up to the individual's willpower.

This year's press has now been racked, so those of you who have yet to collect your spoils, it's ready and waiting. We hope to make this an annual event, so if you have some apples or pears, even better I think, and the inclination, bring them next year.

Songbird, on behalf of the Berry Suiciders



'In the Beginning'

Well, that's the end of an era for me. All that remains is to reiterate my thanks to the many people that have performed, helped and attended the performances over the years. I know that I speak for Stuart as well when I say this. This year's Show was a credit to everyone who took part, as has been the every year. We all have our favourite memories of past acts, but in their own way they have all shone. A lot of the acts over the years have been a 'first performance', but the performers still came back for more!

The proceeds from the Shows have gone to a diverse selection of charities. Although most of them have been local village ones, other organisations, for example the Special Care Baby Unit and Children's Ward at the North Devon District Hospital have also benefited from the efforts of the BBC. I think that the total sum raised over the years is close to £20,000.

For those of you interested, a recording has been made of the last Show, which will I think include clips from past years. There will be a village Get Together later on in the year - all invited - just our way of saying 'Thank You' for all your support.

Our accounts will be made available should anyone wish to see what has been achieved over the years. The equipment that has been bought by the Show has been left in the Manor Hall for the use of the village.

Thanks again.

Songbird [Gary Songhurst]

'It's not where you start but where you finish' - the BBC

It all began as a 40's Night at The Globe and for 15 years under the guidance of Songbird - our own BBC has brought great entertainment and fun to so many of us and realised the multi-talents of villagers - old and young alike, with some participating as toddlers through to teenagers.

Many local charities have benefited from the proceeds - the Newsletter being just one - and I should like to take this opportunity to thank Gary and everyone involved with the Shows over the years for the hard work and dedication they have put in to give us first class entertainment.

The BBC must also be thanked for the fittings and equipment with which they have furnished the Manor Hall and for donating it for the future use of the village. 'It's not where you start but where you finish, and you've all finished on top'!

Judie Weedon


[as reported by Songbird]

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.  No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student; but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot.  She spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.  He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is to Blame and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone. If you still remember him pass this on.  If not join the majority and do nothing.








The first meeting of the 2005 BBC [Berrynarbor Broadcasting Company] for next year's Show - to be staged in March 2005 - is being held at The Globe on Sunday, 5th December, at 8.00 p.m. Anyone who is interested in joining - on stage, backstage or front of house - is invited to come along - the more the merrier! It is hoped to have the script and backing music CDs available and rehearsals will begin in earnest in the New Year.

The BBC looks forward to seeing YOU on the 5th!



The first meeting of the BBC [Berry Broadcasting Company] to discuss next year's Show - March 2004 - has been arranged for
Sunday, 7th December.

Anyone interested in participating, either on stage, back stage, front of house or in any way, is invited to The Globe for 8.00 p.m.
The more the merrier!

It is hoped that both the script and the backing music CD's will be available and rehearsals will begin in earnest early in the New Year. The BBC looks forward to seeing YOU on the 7th!



Ten years ago [when I was thirty], I had a notion that March, being a 'flat' month, it might be a good idea to put on a show. Just a one-off, you understand? Bring the people of the village together, that type of thing - a 40's night, just the ticket. After extensive market research in The Globe after 10.00 p.m. on a Saturday night, it was decided, the dye was cast.

A flurry of activity started, the back room boys and girls were on a mission. Papier mache tin hats were made by the dozen; grandma's wartime cook book [and grandma], were rummaged out of the cupboard under the stairs. Its amazing what you can make from chicken bowels and pigs bladder! Children were dragged from their beds and scrubbed in a tin bath in front of the fire - why should they miss out? Wartime loomed over Berry, which was just as well 'cos it missed the last one!

Lynne and Jo, 2 Evacuees!

The pub was transformed with fire buckets, hoses, camouflage nets, bits of tape on the windows, etc. The audience made the night. We had soldiers, sailors, airmen, the Home Guard, evacuees and even an SS Officer - how did he get in? The room was packed and we were entertained by Vera Lynn, Flanagan and Allan, Noel Coward, the Andrews Sisters and many more. It was a very good night. . . and so the Village Show began.

Due to the sheer volume of the audience, the show moved to its now permanent home, the Manor Hall. The aims are still the same, keeping the village, old and new, together and raising money for charity, and those aims to date have been a resounding success. Apart from the Berry folk, we now have international acts from as far afield as Shamwick and 'Combe. The acts have been diverse over the years - the Village People, Laurel and Hardy, Tommy Cooper, Hinge and Bracket, the Spice Girls, River Dance, even the king himself, Elvis ... and so on. We raise on average £1000 a show and the beneficiaries have been our School, the Play Group, the Manor Hall, the Special Care Baby Unit and many more. This being our big 'One O' year, we intend to push the boat out, so watch this space!

Our Musical Master, Stuart Neale, must be mentioned. Stuart has been there from day one - his patience is extraordinary and his talent amazing. His dedication to the show has been unflinching and I know that a very large cheer and 'thank you' comes from everyone - cast and audience.

In ten years we have come a long way. Initially, we collected the stage in two bits in Derrick Phillips's horsebox - one from Braunton School, the other from Ilfracombe Community Centre. Both of different sizes, so planks of wood were used to level up. Everything was begged or borrowed.

Now we have a purpose stage, lights and a sound system all of which are for the use of the village community. In the ten years of the BBC, the people in the wings, the gofers, scene changers, raffle prize givers and the lady who says, "Get out of the bar and get your backside on the stage", have been brilliant and we couldn't do without you.

There are some very talented people in our village and every year they raise the game. Because of the number of people involved [about 60], it isn't possible to name every one, but you know who you are. Last, but not least, a big thank you to the folks at The Old Sawmill Inn, who every year provide us with a nice warm rehearsal room, arrange and run the bar at the show and organise the fish and chip supper. They give us the bar profits, which over the years has boosted our takings by hundreds of pounds.

I've run out of paper - so that's it, folks! Book early for the 2002 show, 'tis going to be a BIG one! But, 'twill never be as good as last year!

Best Wishes, Songbird