Anecdotes from my book "Leaning on a
by Clifford Lugg
I was born at Porthallow in 1909 and had three sisters, two of which died very young. It was a great loss to my parents.
My other sister was called Olive.
I think I was very lucky to have lived in this part of Cornwall, with so many strong-armed men and lovely ladies.
There are good living people all around St. Keverne parish.
They are second to none in any walk of life. I lived with these characters all my life and enjoyed their company so much for so long. I thought I should like to keep these names as characters as long as possible.
I hope the people that read these little stories will respect and remember, they worked very hard. They were always happy in those days and they were nearly always singing and dancing.
The memories of my young life days. At the age of seven I remember being told about a lot of things and seeing things about the First World War. I can remember my uncle going out coast watching with a walking stick to spy for submarines, and we had to darken the windows because of submarines.
There were no aeroplanes then.
I used to go up with my Auntie to light the Chapel oil lamp for prayer meetings three times a week. It was good fun. The men would start praying in very low voices and finish up nearly jumping over the seats. When people came to chapel they would have to close the door quickly because the wind would blow out the lamps.
On Sunday evenings, the young men would sit in the back seats of the chapel and Mr. Bryant, when the services started, would go to sleep and sleep until it was collection time. Then after the service he would count the money in the collection box and he would find a lot of washers.
Mr Bryant was a shoemaker and his boots would last for a long time.
The fishermen would have their sailing boats on the beach all ready to go to sea for a shoal of pilchards. The huer, watching for shoals, would call "hobo" when he saw them.
He would need to have good eyesight to see the colour of the fish in the water and then he would direct the course to go and if they had a good catch they would put them in the salt containers.
Nearly every housewife put 100 pilchards in salt for winter - they were lovely because they were very fat fish and delicious.
There were two tugs in Falmouth. They were called "The Victor" and "The Tridon" and when there was a boat in distress they would race to see which could get there first for the job. The ship "Volene" was torpedoed in the English channel and "The Tridon" took her in tow hoping to get to Falmouth but she sank outside Porthallow with a cargo of flour, cigarettes, tobacco and chocolates which was for the troops in France. After a while the east wind came and most of the cargo came to the beach.
There was a pleasure tug at Falmouth called the "Queen of the Fal". The Band of Hope would hire it for an outing for the day and nearly all came home drunk.
It was a very busy village and the cove would be full of fishing nets which the women would mend. The fishermen would be making their crab pots in their sheds. They would grow their withies in different places. Nobody would be doing anything on a Sunday and when the wind was blowing from the north you could hear the Falmouth Dock's hooter and train whistle, and when the wind was south east you could hear the Porthoustock quarries blasting.
They were all sailing boats and big sailing yachts at that time. There were four-mast grain ships from Canada and Australia. There were very big sailing yachts for the regattas at Plymouth and Falmouth - they were great days then.
Mr. Louis Hayden told me that he would be reading a series of stories and he would go up to "Nance Cross" and wait for the mail horse trap to come and he would read the stories before he got home.
The sea would bring a lot of big stones on to the beach and Mr. Eddy Williams lost a part of his leg at the quarry. He used to hire a farm horse cart from a farm and bring the stone in a pile and then he would crack them to a certain size with a hammer. The council would then buy them and when the steam roller came they would carry them to repair the road. He would also make "spars" for thatching houses and all for just a little money.
Then the barges would come in with the cargo of coal, sometimes manure and sometimes maize. They would have to hire three farm carts to unload them. I think it would take about three tides to unload.
Mr. Si Reynolds would be working at the mill - it had the water wheel working at that time and it made a lot of noise.
One day when my cousin Willy Lugg and Elvet Tripp came home from school, the carts were carrying the grain to the top doors of the mill on the hill. There were about fifty fowls picking up the corn which had been lost from the bags as they were unloading. Most of the fowls were in the mill eating and they closed the mill doors. They said they had heard nothing like it. The feathers of the fowls were coming out of every hole in the mill because the belts on the wheels were pulling the feathers out of them and some fowls had very few feathers left. Mr. Si Reynolds was swearing and shouting at the top of his voice. In the end he found out who it was, and watched with his stick for them passing. He chased them but they were glad he could not catch them.
I have been told that Mr. Ike Sobey went to Helston Harvest Fair to buy a pony to drive in a trap and soon after that he changed his mind and was going to America in the "Titanic" and was drowned. He had put his pony with Mr. George Tripp at Halwyn and they called it "Sobey" and looked after it until it died.
Nearly all the people in the village had big gardens. They kept one or two pigs in the corner and fed them on small potatoes and barley flour. They were very fat and there were special men to kill them. When they were opened up children would go with our mothers to pump the water to clean the skins and we would have them stuffed in a roasting pan. They were very nice and children would have the pig"s bladder for a football.
My father Nelson Lugg used to play very old tunes to which to dance on the concertina and accordion. I heard him say that he played for Mr. Hancock of Mullion to step dance to and he was the champion "rassler" of Cornwall.
They had a brass band in Porthallow in 1890. My grandfather John Rashleigh was the bandmaster and I have been told by my father that they had very smart uniforms and even had small oil lamps on their shoulders by which to read the music cards.
Billy Scoble could not read music. He never went to school, he said. He did not like to learn too much in case he went off his head. He could play any music - he used to play "The Circle" Bass. He had two nights extra to keep up with the rest of the bandsmen and they had a big engagement in Helston under the town clock, something to do with royalty. When they came to finish the Kings Anthem, Billy had the bass part to do. He missed the right note, the band stopped playing and the band master started to sing.
There was a large article in the papers about the incident.
Just after the First World War the Prince of Wales came to St. Martin, near Helston to see the ex-servicemen from the war and all us children from the schools in St. Keverne Parish went in harvest wagons to see him. We were very excited over it and after the parade he went to Trelowarren to lunch.
He was a very smart looking young Prince.
There were three brothers living at Roscorwell and they were called the Mildren brothers. Back in those days they had toilets outside in the gardens. One of them had a friend in London and he had rheumatism very badly. He had a letter from his friend in London who wanted to come down for a little holiday and he asked Mr. Mildren if the church was far from the house. Mr. Mildren, not knowing that his friend was thinking of the outdoor toilet, said the church was a mile and a half from the house and if he was not able to walk, he could have the donkey trap to ride there, not knowing that the friend from London called the toilet the "church". They had a good laugh when they realised the mix-up.
I have heard my uncle, John Lugg, say that years ago they used to have a private oyster bed at Bosahan, Manaccan and Sir Vile had a keeper for all the oyster beds which were private. The two Lugg brothers (one was a dwarf and the other was a big man) went down to get some oysters one dark night. They were doing very well when the keeper came from nowhere and caught hold of the small brother (Josie). He was going to put him up before Sir Vile but the big brother thought it would not do. The gamekeeper had a very long nose, so the big brother put a hand of mud on his face and duelled on the mud. The big brother threw the gamekeeper's face down into it and then the two brothers ran as fast as they could home. Some people say today that the hole is still in the mud from his nose.
We lived at Tregarne Mill in 1916. I can remember my uncle selling a horse to an army officer for the war for £100 and to Mr. Hoskin from Treleague for £110 and they both went away to the war together. We were all very upset because we liked our horses and we did not like them to go to the war.
We had a very hard winter in 1917. We had a lot of snow, birds were dying all around us and they were poor as coots.
Miss. Queenie Harry from Kestle Farm used to collect the rabbits and birds for the troops in France. The lapwings were fetching a shilling each and we used to pick them up and sell them.
My uncle had to teal corn down in Tregarne Mills which was hard work for man and horse. The corn was sown by hand and cut with scythes. There were contractors in those days. There were three men for cutting with scythes and when they had finished cutting the last swish with the scythes, one man would pick up a handful of corn and say "I 'ave' ee". The second man would say "What 'ave' ee?" and the third man would say "the neck". Then they would shout "hooray" as loud as they could and neighbours around would all do the same. Then there would be a good supper.
The farmers would leave their corn in the scythe dram all cut so straight and nice for nine dews before they would bind the sheaves and there would be about eight or nine men and women and the women would roll them into sheaves and the men would bind them. Nearly all the tradesmen could bind sheaves.
The young children and wives would carry the sheaves in a circle and then the harvest men would make the 'knee mow'. They would leave them in the fields to dry until September with the Harvest Moon and as they were making the corn ring they would have a jar of cider.
They drank a lot of cider when harvesting and a good many of the harvest men would drink too much, go in the hedge and go to sleep.
Nearly all the farms around St. Keverne parish would have orchards and they brewed their own cider. When a tree blew down it was always replaced by another of a good sort. Most farm houses had an 'apple chamber' and pears and plums were also grown in quantity. It does not look like the same parish now with the orchards all overgrown or gone.