Bideford Buzz

Welcome to the  on-line edition of the Community Newsletter for Bideford   and adjoining towns, villages, and rural area.

‘Bideford Buzz’ is produced and distributed by a team of volunteers, with financial and practical assistance from  Bideford Bridge Trust, Devon Community Foundation, Bideford Town Council, Torridge Volunteer Resource Centre, Devon Library Services, and many others.   If you are interested in helping produce, develop, or distribute this newsletter we’ll be glad to hear from you.

Please note that for commercial notices there is a charge from £15 per month – cheques payable to ‘Bideford Buzz’.

You can submit your article on disc or by e-mail.    However, ‘snail mail’ is equally acceptable. Material for publication should reach us by the 15th of the month preceding the month of publication.

Editor – Rose Arno (Bideford Buzz),    c/o Torridge Volunteer Resource Centre (‘TVS’),  14, Bridgeland Street, Bideford, EX39 2QE.  (TVS opening hours Mon.-Thurs. 9.30am to 3.oopm).      Telephone 07929-976120, or E-mail:

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Ceremony of Bideford Manor Court – 21st March.

BIDEFORD residents are being called on to use an ancient right to make suggestions for town improvements.

Opportunity is being made for members of the public to take an active involvement in the centuries-old Manor Court Ceremony. Currently held on a Saturday in March, the ceremony was originally held to allow townspeople to bring issues before the Lords of the Manor for consideration. Nowadays, their ideas or “presentments” as they are known are put to the Town Council, which has an obligation to consider them.

Now the Town Council is opening the way for public attendance and is also calling for ideas and projects that would make Bideford a better place for the community and tourists to be put forward. Any member of the public residing in the Parish of Bideford who wishes to submit a ‘presentment’, should do so by 12 Noon, Wednesday 4 March 2015. The envelope should be marked for the attention of the Manor Steward.

Presentments submitted to the Town Council are considered by a chosen jury of 12 respected town residents and the most feasible are presented to the court.

Actions regarding presentments of the previous year are also reported.

Anyone wishing to take part in the occasion is invited to complete the application form and return it to the Town Clerk. If there are too many applicants a draw will be made by the Mayor to fill the available places. Those chosen will be able to take a guest and will also be invited to the Civic Reception following the Ceremony.


Notice is hereby given that Bideford Manor Court will be held on Saturday 21 March 2015 at 10.30 in the forenoon within the Town Hall, Bideford. Presentments from registered electors in the parish of Bideford for consideration of the Court are invited by submission in writing, addressed to the Foreman of the Jury, c/o the Manor Steward, Town Clerk’s Office, Town Hall, Bideford to arrive no later than 12 Noon, Wednesday 4 March 2015.

H J Blackburn

Manor Steward.


Download application form here.


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‘Free Range Friday’ : 17th February.


The good eggs at the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) are encouraging the nation to dig out their pancake recipes this Shrove Tuesday (17th February), crack open a few free range eggs and take part in a Free Range Friday fundraiser with family and friends.

The national charity is well-known for its pioneering work in re-homing commercial laying hens and through its nationwide team of volunteers has found homes for over 450,000 hens since it started in 2005. This year celebrates the British Hen Welfare Trust 10th Anniversary.

As well as finding homes for hens, the charity educates the public on how they can make a difference to hen welfare through their shopping basket.  Jane Howorth, the BHWT founder, explains: “Whilst consumers will often chose to buy free range eggs to use in cooking, they are unaware of how many eggs are used in processed food products.” The charity encourages people to check the labels on food products to ensure they are supporting high welfare where eggs are used.

The aim of Free Range Friday is to raise funds and awareness for the BHWT by asking individuals, companies, schools and community groups to hold a get-together with friends, family or colleagues and cook or bake using free range eggs. So this Pancake Day why not host a FRF and raise money to enable more hens to enjoy a free range retirement, whilst enjoying some delicious guilt-free pancakes!

The charity is even offering an exclusive prize, a gorgeous cockerel mat donated by the kind people at Turtle Mat, to the best fundraiser this February. So if you’d like to get involved with a pancake themed Free Range Friday fundraiser and be in with a chance of winning, email Sophie on or call Hen Central on 01884 860084 to order your FREE fundraising pack.

Photo courtesy of Guy Harrop Photography.

British Hen Welfare Trust

Hope Chapel, Ash Moor, Rose Ash, SOUTH MOLTON, Devon EX36 4RF

Registered Charity No. 11473556

Company No. 8057493


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February’s Youth Page.

A resolution solution.

Round about this time, just hauling ourselves back into normal life after the tinselly glories of the festive season can be anticlimactic. It’s the turning over of a new leaf, and you can do an awful lot with that. So while 2015 trips off the tongue quite nicely, a good omen if ever there was one, a lot of us have no doubt decided to give it the best possible start, and selected some New Year’s resolutions; to make sure the clean slate stays shiny for as long as possible. It’s a tradition seemingly as long as time itself- it’s hard to believe the cave men weren’t about after the winter equinox, vowing never to eat another woolly mammoth as long as they lived; sure it was a delightful meal, but no way was it worth the lives of 15 men and a skilled dog. Yet by the time February starts rolling around, with its longer days, the craving’s back, and our Neanderthal’s on the war path once more, rallied by pangs of hunger, ready to raid the mammoth tin again. And no doubt he feels awful about it too.

Even though we start off the 365 days with invariably good intentions, a lot of personal promises tend to fall by the wayside and each hopeful resolution broken feels like a crushing blow in the face for ‘new me.’ Then one man said recently that a good way to avoid all this upset, is write down something you’d never dream of doing any way- like gorging on Brussell sprouts- and you’d find it very easy to uphold.( If somewhat of a cheat.) Although his way is sure to bring success, it might not actually bring satisfaction; often the whole point is to prove to yourself you’re capable of change, not dupe others into thinking so. Therefore if a couple of ideas have already fallen through this time- we’re 744 hours into 2015 there’s been a lot of time for things to go wrong; then why not try this next year; and just vow to try? That way each hobnob avoided, paper left unwasted or whatever your own goal might be, is a little victory, rather than more pressure not to mess it up.

From everyone here at Buzz, we hope your year will be a great one, has already gotten off to a flying start, and that your slate may be forever sparkling!

Maths success.

Finally, a massive well done to Amy Walker ,Kieran Spittles, Max Heard and James Gould of the Bideford College maths team. All students from sixth form, they competed against 13 schools from around our Region and won. They now go on to the National finals in London in February where they will take on the other Regional winners countrywide. Huge congratulations are due all four of them – and good luck for the finals in Spring!

Millie Sutherland O’ Gara.


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Book news : February.

Love in the Library.

For adults: a selection of romantic books to tempt you.

For kids: Drop-in craft activity 10am – 12 noon  Saturday February 14th

Poetry competition on the theme of Love. Open to children of Primary School age. Doesn’t have to be serious so funny entries accepted.

Other events at Bideford Library this month.

Story time for under-fives.

Every Thursday. 9:30-10:00 am (except school holidays) With stories, musical instruments and songs.

For Adults:

Nifty Needles.

Every Thursday. 2 – 4pm

For anyone who enjoys embroidery, quilting, knitting, crochet and other handcrafts.

Board Games Afternoon.

Every Friday 2 – 5pm

If you enjoy games like chess, scrabble, backgammon or dominoes come and join others.

Feel Better with a Book.

(Please check with library to confirm the group is running each week).

Every Wednesday 10:30-12:00 am

Come and lift your mood through the joy of reading! The aim of the groups is to enable you to enjoy the pleasure and relaxation of listening to great stories and poems – No pressure and no reading required. The group is led by an experienced facilitator.

Reminiscence Session. – Take a trip down memory lane

Wednesday February 11th 2:00-3:30 pm

Remember back… and look forward to sharing your memories with others -

chatting, looking at old items, perhaps creating a book of memories together.

For anyone aged 60+

Refreshments provided

Meditation and Relaxation Group.

Wednesday February 18th 2:15- 3:00 pm

Guided meditation and relaxation group for adults with Nicola MacDonald.


Bideford Library Readers’ Group.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’ by Marina Lewycka. Discussed by Bideford Library Readers’ Group.

It is, as the title suggests, a history of tractors. The person writing this history is the 84 year old father around whom other story lines emerge, particularly after he remarries two years after becoming a widower – to a glamorous, thirty six year old blonde named Valentina! She turned out to be a gold digging mercenary who increasingly manipulate/bullies her elderly husband. Within a short period of time she has managed to completely disrupt the family’s life and secrets that have long lain dormant are awakened, secrets that they’d rather have left buried.

When the book was first published the Daily Telegraph described it as ‘Delightful, funny, touching,’ and this was reiterated by many other reviewers. However, although several in the group found it humorous initially it became increasingly dark as the tale progressed: some liked the contrast this provided. Overall, however, it was felt that the story line was depressing rather than funny.

As hinted at above, the book could be read at different levels although we were left unclear as to whether this should be regarded as a serious book with a touch of lightness or a light book with some more serious elements. Perhaps it’s this raising of questions that makes for either a good book or for, at least, a good discussion.

Peter Evans.

The Readers’ group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m. in Bideford Library. Books for the month are supplied by the Library and can be picked up at the meeting or from the Library desk. Discussions are very much centred on the book of the month and meetings usually finish around 3.15. If further information is required anyone interested can contact Peter Evans on 01237 47917. Book for discussion in February is ‘Scenes from provincial life’ by William Cooper.


Local book.

The Elder Queen- a modern fairy tale is John Kruse’s third novel and the story takes place between Bude and Bideford, centred on the fictional village of Darracombe.

The story follows the experiences of Darren Carter, whose family life is turned upside down when he meets a fairy woman at a local ancient monument. Marriage breakdown, eviction, loss of money and possessions follow, before redemption comes through saving the local area from test drilling for shale gas (with the help of the fairies).  It is published on Amazon Kindle priced at £3.00.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery – February.

Felicity’s Sustainable Recipes for 2015.

2015 is going to be an interesting year for sustainable food . We are planning a Fish Summer School to be run in and around the active fishing village of Appledore. We are running cookery sessions with local primary schools and preschool groups. This recipe is from the “Fish is the Dish – Fish Feed our future”, suitable for primary school aged children and their families. More family recipes on

Kedgeree with Smoked Pollack or Mackerel (serves 4).

300/400g Smoked Pollack /2 fillets Smoked Mackerel.

25g/1tbsp butter/sunflower groundnut oil.

I onion.

2 green cardamom pods

1tsp. tumeric and cumin, or 1 dessert spoon curry powder.

350g basmati rice.

500/600 stock.

At least 2 hardboiled eggs.

50gm spinach leaves if you like.

How to cook -

1.Preheat the oven 200C/Gas 6, or use centre shelf of the Rayburn/Aga.

2. Wrap the Pollack in foil and add crushed cardamom pod. Cook in oven for 8/10 minutes –check the fish will flake easily then it is done or remove skin from Mackerel and flake.

3. Hard boil the eggs.

4. Peel and finely slice the onion and fry in the butter/oil for 3 minutes in a large frying pan, then add the spices including the cardamom pods.

5. Add the rice and stock and boil, reduce the heat cover and simmer for 15 minutes then take off the heat.

6. Stir in the flaked Pollock or Mackerel (add spinach, if liked) and cook for 5-10 minutes.

7. Taste and season and add the quartered hardboiled eggs.

8. Serve with fresh parsley or coriander garnish, if liked.


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“Families for Children” adoption service.

Families for Children North Devon

Castle Hill Estate Office, Filleigh, Barnstaple, Devon EX32 0RQ

Specialist adoption agency and charity Families for Children are pleased to announce the opening of their new adoption service based at the historic Castle Hill House, Filleigh, near Barnstaple.

Families for Children’s North Devon office will be opening this Friday 23rd January in Filleigh. Whilst the charity has been working within the region for over 20 years it is hoped that by having an office based in North Devon they will be able to provide support for new adopters and their current families on a much more local level than they have in the past.

The service is being headed up by new Adoption Practice Manager, Jakki Parsons, who along with her team of social workers hope that having a local office will ensure the charity’s vital work both in placing vulnerable children with new adoptive families in North Devon and their adoption support continues.

Jakki, who has over 15 years’ experience in adoption, says “I am pleased to have joined Families for Children to head up their new office in North Devon. I feel it is essential that we can offer both our assessment and adoption support services on the doorstep and that we become part of the community.

We have been approving and supporting adopters from North Devon for over 20 years from our South Devon office so the move to Filleigh will enable us to offer a more localised, specialist service including information events and training for any potential adopters from North Devon more frequently.

As a specialist adoption agency and charity we like to develop personal relationships both with adopters and supporters that last a lifetime and hope we can emanate the success we have had elsewhere in the county up here in North Devon.”

The move to North Devon has been part funded by a Government expansion grant for voluntary adoption agencies and also from charitable legacies left to the charity last year.

Every year Families for Children has to raise over £300,000 to maintain their adoption support services. This money is used to be able to support all the children who they place from all over the UK with families in Devon, Dorset Cornwall and Somerset.

Without these funds the agency simply would not exist and these children would face a lengthy wait in Local Authority care. Families for Children pride themselves and specialise in being able to offer adoption support services for as long as it is needed. The children they place are often very vulnerable and have experienced extreme trauma in their early lives.

Katey McDonald, Families for Children says; “We hope that the new centre in Filleigh will help raise local awareness and dispel some of the myths surrounding adoption and encourage families to come forward. Families for Children are also keen to let people know that they do have a choice when considering adoption with both the Local Authority and Families for Children operating locally.

Whist the adoption process is broadly similar in both organisations, Families for Children have an excellent adoption support team that can support and advise the family and child for the rest of their lives, if needs be.

The agency can’t stress enough that we are specialists in adoption and we have a team of dedicated and committed social workers to guide potential adopters through the assessment process, matching with a child and on adoption support should it be required.”

Families for Children will be holding their first information morning from their new offices on Saturday 31st January from 10am to 12 noon.

To find out more or to book an appointment please phone 01271 522053 or visit


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Snowdrops are here !

When the first snowdrops start to appear you know winter is finally coming to an end. So what better way to celebrate the change in seasons than by visiting one of many National Gardens Schemes gardens that will be open over the coming months. From sprawling woods to romantic cottage gardens, it’s the perfect way to gain inspiration for your own garden or to simply while away an afternoon.

Cherubeer Gardens, 2 miles east of Dolton, Devon, EX19 8PP are open on Sunday 1st and Friday 20th February from 2pm to 5pm, with shady woodland beds containing carpets of over two hundred varieties of snowdrops.

To see all the gardens opening this year just visit


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A potted history of North Devon pottery.

In 1674 a visitor remarked that Bideford was …

a place of great trade, hath many ships of good bignes…it (Barnstaple) was lately a place of very great trade.. But Bideford hath stoln it all away since the river hath grown shallow..”.

Pottery made in Bideford, in the North Devon Tradition, is very important and significant to the history and prosperity of the town. It dates back to Medieval times, with the greatest days being in the 17th and early 18th Centuries. The industry grew as clay was available from Fremington, Peters Marland (white clay, also used for tobacco pipes) and Meeth. Pottery produced was typically domestic earthernware made from the distinctive red Fremington clay, glazed on the inside where contact with food was to be made. For example Baluster jars ( see picture)for transporting food stuffs to British Colonists and plates, large platters, cups, pipkins (saucepans), bowls.

Other, rarer, pottery forms also include Candlesticks and Chamber pots. Some of these were finely decorated with the signature yellow glaze and designs scratched into the surface – ‘Sgraffito’ ware. Traditional North Devon style pottery is made when the slip from white clay is scratched away from the surface into a design, revealing the clay beneath. Subjects are usually nautical, commemorative, natural history and harvest time. Hundreds of potters kept the industry going in and around Bideford and there were also potteries at Instow and Westleigh.

Bideford’s port . 17th Century Bideford was a significant town and port, with the boom time for pottery being between 1630 and 1690. There were a number of places of production with up to 30 or 40 kilns at any one time billowing out black smoke. As well as domestic trade, the ‘bread and butter’ trade was with Wales, particularly Swansea, Carmarthen and Cardigan and in the North Western and Southern coasts of England. Exports expanded the industry and contributed greatly to Bideford’s prosperity.

Trade with Ireland. Ireland was a major market for Bideford Pottery and the majority of its wares were exported there. A large amount of pottery was sent to Ireland in the 1600′s, to Dublin, Galway and Limerick. Butter booms of the 17th century expanded the trade, particularly with Waterford and Ross in Southern Ireland, contributing to both North Devon’s and Ireland’s prosperities.

Trade with the English Colonies. The other big markets were the English Colonies in North America and the Caribbean. These shipments only made up about 15% of the overseas export but they were very important in laying the foundation for Colonial trade. In Virginia the largest deposits of North Devon Pottery outside of Jamestown have been found – pre-dating 1650. Bideford merchant Thomas Smith regularly traded with Virginia. This expanded greatly towards the end of the 17th century. North Devon settlers were on the Eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina, down through the Outer Banks Region in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Merchants offered passage there by ship, carrying servants from Bideford and Ireland so merchants sent ships to Virginia and developed trade.

The 17th Century saw an important relationship between pottery being exported to Virginia and tobacco being shipped back to Bideford on return. This trade enabled Bideford ships to set up trade in tobacco with Northern Europe. Merchant ships were built in Maryland and the colonies up to the 19th century. These ships were then used for the trade in earthenware with the colonies. North Devon pottery has also been found in Newfoundland, connecting Bideford to the fishing trade there.

The heyday for North Devon Pottery and its exports was the 17th and early 18th Centuries – the end of the 17th century saw the trade with Northern colonies drop and then collapse. Despite a brief respite, overseas markets were lost and eventually plastic, enamel and glass replaced earthenware. The last traditional Bideford Pottery closed in 1916.

Evidence of the economic benefit of the Pottery and tobacco trades, coupled with the Charter of Incorporation granted in 1573, can be seen today in the architecture and infrastructure of Bideford – John Davie’s Colonial House (now The Royal Hotel) and the houses in Bridgeland St (1692), certainly show testament to the amount of wealth created in the development of the Port and town.


I have been researching the export of Bideford Pottery since 2010. This started with a prestigious Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to Virginia and North Carolina, and have continued with passion and enthusiasm ever since, finding sherds (small pieces of pottery) on the local beaches and estuary. For further information, or to book a talk – see my contact details below. Tel. 07530 508676.

Baluster pot image by David Green.


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Burton Art Gallery & Museum – February.

Having the Gallery open over Christmas was a boon to local families with visiting relatives, and also the coffee-time meetings for Gallery regulars. The Cafe du Parc is to be congratulated on the warmth of its greeting, the variety of food prepared with limited kitchen staff, and the good atmosphere of bonhomie and comfort on cold Winter days. We hope this is an omen for the future.

When the Gallery re-opens on 2nd February, you will be delighted to find, in gallery 2, a selection of watercolours by Judith Ackland and Mary-Stella Edwards, who lived and worked for many years in the Cabin at Bucks Mills. The National Trust has taken over responsibility for this unique cottage, and there are occasions when it is open to the public; one can experience a time-warp, where everything the two artists used, both for their art and in their domestic duties, is there, just as they left it. Naturally, they painted the area in which they lived: they loved the cliffs and rocks, the beach and its marine creatures, lacy seaweed and rock pools. They enjoyed living in the village, with its crooked rooftops and smoky chimneys, the woodland around it, and the sea itself, seen from the windows of their cottage when they awoke each day. The Burton is privileged to have such a large collection of their work, and has recently acquired some new additions. The Museum holds a collection of Judith’s ‘dioramas’ – figures inspired by famous paintings by Renoir and Fragonard, for example, as well as the tools of their artistic trade. This collection is on show until 9th March.

Torridge Schools Exhibition

Mums and Dads, Grannies and Grandads! Are you ready for a treat? Then come along to the Burton on 13th February, and you will walk into an Aladdin’s Cave of children’s art! This is the time of the long-awaited, comprising artwork by pupils from most of our local schools. Gallery I will be filled from ceiling to floor with dazzling colour. You will be delighted to see such a variety of talent in the form of paintings, ceramics, models, sculpture, textiles, created by children and teenagers, from 4 to 18 years. The exhibition continues until 15th March. Plenty of time to visit many times, just for the fun of it.

Diana Warmington.

Friends of the Burton Art Gallery & Museum.

Valentine Specials.

Love Your School – BINGO! Running Half Term 16th-20th Feb. £1 Donation. Visit the schools’ exhibition in February half term and take part in our unique and fun game of bingo. Complete your card and win the right to a lucky dip prize.

Nick Hammond and Lush Designs. During February the Burton Art Gallery & Museum will be ‘Loving The Lights’ by showcasing a collection of work from a range of lighting designs. Collections include – Hanna Nunn, Colin Chetwood.

The Art of Paper Cutting

Mix up a Saturday, 7 people, a pile of cutting boards, blades and a stack of black paper and you get the most inspired day doing something totally different.

I recently attended a “Paper-Cutting” course at the Burton with the artist Caroline Rees who has evolved her career as a sandblasted glass artist into a paper cut artist over the last few years.

So after the basic introductions – Caroline had travelled from Swansea to Bideford to run the course for us – we set to work practising cutting out simple squares on a piece of black paper on the chopping mat, using the blade.  In no time, most of the class were ready to move onto working on an image.  For some, this was hand drawing an outline and being smart enough to work out how to simplify the image and block it out ready for cutting.  For the rest of us we found an appealing stencil in Caroline’s collection, outlined the image on black paper and then, almost in a therapeutic trance, cut around the multitude of lines to reveal a stunning image.

If you fancy having a go at paper cutting, and you missed this course, there is a small selection of paper cutting books on sale at the Burton Art Gallery shop.  But if paper cutting isn’t for you, then Caroline’s limited edition paper cuts are also on sale at the Burton.

Lucy Goaman.

Artist Contact Details: CAROLINE REES, Studio (by appointment), Ty Glas, 2a Overland Road, Langland, Swansea, SA3 4LS (e) (t) 01792 447 547 (w) )


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One hundred years ago : February 1915.

2nd February 1915. The Union of London and Smiths Bank, who have an agency here in Bideford, have appointed girl clerks in one of their offices for the first time. This is seen as a radical step, as banking has always been regarded as a male prerogative.

On 9th February 1915 Messrs Stewart & Co., who have a shop at 52 Mill Street, were holding a 1/- (one shilling) sale. On offer amongst other things, were:

2 Large Brown Towels.

2 Large White Towels.

Large Rush Mats, 2½ feet x 5 feet.

4 yards of Check pattern Glass cloth.

Lots of complete sets of Ladies and gents underwear and many more items all at 1/-

Farleigh’s Stores, High Street, are advertising Pancake Flour, which – they say – makes delicious pancakes without the need for eggs or sugar.

At the annual meeting of the Bideford and District Tradesman’s Association, Mr H. Brain reviewed the progress of his earlier proposal that all business should close for lunch between 1pm and 2pm except on Tuesdays. He reported that the majority of local business owners are now in favour.

Bideford section of the Volunteer Training Corps held a training route march from Bideford to Westward Ho! and back. Played out of Bideford by the Wesleyan Brass Band and accompanied throughout by The Bugle Band. It rained all day, but the men were in good spirits and consider it their duty to train this way. All men who cannot join the Regular or Territorial Armies are asked to volunteer and should contact Mr W. E. Jenkinson at the Town Hall.

On the 16th February Bideford Town Council Refugee committee have acquired the lower room in the School rooms at Silver Street. These rooms were recently used as the Scout HQ. There are over 200 refugees from Belgium in and around the town and this will be a social club for them. (A week later the Gazette reports that the club is now open and 126 refugees attend the opening).

The Government are advertising for Shoeing Smiths to look after the horses being used in this country and abroad in the war effort. Pay will be 5/- per day and those who are qualified and under the age of 45 can apply at the local recruiting office. Service could be in England or overseas.


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‘Connections’ – Sir Michael Ansell.

This is the first in a series of articles called ‘Connections’ – people who have links with North Devon. We start at ‘A’, for Sir Michael Ansell.

Sir Michael Ansell (1905 – 1994), legendary equestrian

Michael Ansell was born at The Curragh, Co. Kildare in Ireland in 1905, into a military family. He trained as an army officer at Sandhurst, where he showed no aptitude as a scholar but considerable aptitude as a horseman, and spent the pre-war years travelling the world in equestrian pursuits, courtesy of the Army.

At the start of the war, however, he was involved in an an incident of ‘friendly fire’ where he lost four fingers on one hand, and the virtual loss of his eyesight.

He then spent some time in a prisoner-of-war camp, where the highlights were painful visits to doctors in attempts to save his sight, and discussion with other horse-loving officers on how they would improve equestrian standards , when they got back home. Here he developed some skill at knitting, both as a form of occupational therapy for his injured hands, and partly to bemuse and annoy his German captors. After several frustrating delays, he managed to get repatriated as an injured officer in a mutual exchange with injured German officers, via Sweden under the auspices of the Swedish government.

This was in 1943, and he decided to retire to a quieter part of the world, Pillhead House, on what is now the Old Barnstaple Road, just outside Bideford. He lived there until his death in 1994.

Unable to remain inactive for very long, , he decided to set up a horticultural business based at Pillhead, selling snowdrops, polyanthus, and later South African gerberas to Covent Garden, winning a silver medal with this at the Royal Horticultural Society show.

It was not long before his equestrian friends in London contacted him about improving the standard of equestrian competition in Great Britain, which had somewhat lapsed in the inter-war years, and he found himself away from home quite frequently. His main advice, personally implemented by him, was that the course and height of fences should be brought up to international standards,so that equestrian events were run efficiently, and on a sound commercial basis,considering the audience at all times, and insisting that show-jumpers be admitted from all walks of life rather than just the elite few.

As an ex-military man, he turned out to be a brilliant organiser, and was responsibe for the Victory Championships at White City in1945, re-started the International Horse Show in 1947, designed the show-jumping course for the 1948 London Olympics, and instituted the Horse of the Year Show in 1949. He was the manager of the British Olympic equestrian team at the Helsinki Olympics in1952, where Britain won a gold medal. He was awarded the CBE in 1961, and knighted in 1968.

He dominated the show-jumping world for the next twenty years, becoming chairman of the BritishShow-jumping Society between 1945 and 1965, and became a national celebrity. He appeared on one of the early editions of ‘This Is Your Life’, somewhat reluctantly until he and is wife discovered that at the end of the programme, they would meet their son, whom they had not seen for some time, as he was serving as a soldier in Cyprus. He was also a castaway on Desert Island Discs with Roy Plomley, and chose as his luxury item a pair of knitting needles and some wool.

Show-jumping and horticulture were not his only interests. He was an expert salmon fisherman, and could often be found on the river Torridge at Beam, near Torrington, using his unique casting method, which he had perfected with much practice on the lawn at home, depending on sound rather than sight for its effectiveness. On one occasion, he was just about to give up on the day’s fishing, when he decided to try one last cast of the rod, and caught a huge 19lb salmon, with which he struggled for more than half an hour before landing it, to be followed a little later by another almost as big.

He wrote three books, including his autobiography, Soldier On (1974).

In the meantime, in 1970, his first wife Victoria died after a long and painful illness. He married again soon afterwards, but his second wife, Eileen, after only six months of marriage,was killed when a lorry knocked her down when she was out walking.

He was a keen supporter of St. Dunstan’s, the home for blinded ex-servicemen in Brighton,where he died of pneumonia in 1994, having previously suffered from Alzheimer’s.

He had elevated British equestrianism to new heights, and Britain now hosts some of the world’s top equestrian events, as well as producing a number of medal -winning athletes of the highest calibre, as demonstrated at the recent London Olympics.

Perhaps one of his greatest legacies, though, was that he showed that having a handicap, being blind, need not be an obstacle to success, and can, in fact, provide an inspiration to all.

Chris Trigger (c.)


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Training the Army Horse.

(Whilst turning out old cassette tapes recently, I came across a recording in Devonshire dialect, made by my father, Percy Reed (1907 – 2001) of Northam, in 1985.

It told the tale of a childhood incident in which he was involved when his father was training a WW1 army horse.

I have since produced a 4-minute YouTube video which includes his recording, together with the script, for anyone who is interested! I have printed the script below.)

For the YouTube Video see:

I’d like to take ee back a vew years jist arter the first world war and tell ee bout Varmer Tom and the army horse. Now Tom was a master hand wi horses, what ee didn knaw bout em wadn worth the tellin. If anybody in the village had ort wrung wi their horse they’d come rinning to Tom and you may depain if ee couldn put en right twas a waste of time zending ver the Vet. Aye, ee knawed all bout horses sure nuff.

Wull twas like this yer. Arder the war the army had to zell off a lot of horses wot theyd vinished wi and zo they had these horse zales up to Exeter and anybody that knawed Tom would ax en to go up and buy one for em. This zeemed to work out purty well, they could trist Tom to git the right horse for em and nort plaized Tom better than to hav a day off to Exeter.

Now the one I want to tell ee about was one ee bought for eself an Ive yerd tell ee had a vine ole caper gitting en on the train up to St Davids til Tom thought about whipping off es best jacket and put en awver the horses haid and backed en in the truck.

Ive erd zay that zome of these horse traders when they wanted to zell a broken down ole horse theyd given a veed of Vuz chaff avore the zale to liven en up. Wull this one didn need ort like that, more likely ee needed something to quieten en down, zo Varmer Tom thought e’d try en out in the chaffcutter. Zo ee hitched en up and led en round a vew times to git en in the way au’t. Now me en me brither (jist boy-like) stood watching this gwain on, zo Tom axed us to leyd the horse round whilst ee went up to the tallet to git a vew wads of straw.

I dont knaw what thatole horse hed done in the war but whativer twas it didn include gwain roun-in-roun in little circles and no zooner hed Tom turned ees back he reared up and bevore us knawed what hed appened the horse was flat on the ground all tangled up with the tackle. Zo Varmer told us two boys to kneel on es neck while ee tried to git en free.

Wull us was only a couple of tackers and ver all the good us done us mayht jist as well ev told us to kneel on a vuz bush. The ole horse wadn gwain to let a couple of whipper snappers like us keep en down and twadn very long avore hes haid come up vollowed by the rest awn, and us two boys landed in the … wull I wont tell ee what us landed in but us didn smell very sweet, jist about as sweet as Varmer Tom when ee hollered “why didn ee keep ees haid down like I told ee”. Howiver there wadn no damage done but I can tell ee twas the last time thicky horse went in the chaffcutter.

Cynthia Snowden.

For the YouTube Video see:


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Exmoor Pony Centre – February.

Three more foals were taken in on Christmas Eve making a total of ten foals to feed and care for over the Christmas period.  The majority are for sale from their herd owners and are just temporarily with us so if you know of anyone wishing to buy a moor-bred foal, please contact the breeders directly or contact us so that we can put you in touch with the relevant people.

Santa Sundays were a great success and the ponies were all well-behaved – I didn’t see if Santa slipped them some carrots or if they were hoping for presents too! We are very grateful to the Barle Singers for the Carol Concert they gave in the Green Room to raise funds for the ponies and hope that they may make a return visit; our heartfelt thanks to the volunteer who organised the evening and supplied lovely mince pies and mulled wine too!

Unfortunately costs are rising all the time and going into 2015 we would love to find more foster homes for some of the ponies in our care; if you need a companion pony or have space for two or three, please ring us on 01398 323093 to talk about the possibilities.

Tuesday 17th February Pancakes and Ponies from 12 – 3; why not join us for some pony activities for children and refreshments and pancakes for everyone! No booking needed, just turn up on the day.

During February half term the adoption ponies will be back at the Centre to meet any adopters who book in advance to visit them; this is weather dependent so please call in advance to check.

New Volunteers are always welcome at the Centre so whether you like mucking out, prefer admin tasks or if you would like to organise a fund-raising event for us, please get in touch.

Why not join our Friends of Moorland Mousie Trust scheme and receive regular updates of our news for just £3 per month. Call for details or email All the money you give goes towards looking after the ponies and your support is greatly appreciated. You can also give by Texting MMTX22 £5 to 70070. Thank you.


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Bideford Film Society ; February.

We have some interesting films coming up, with at least two being tipped for the Oscars.

The other interesting venture is the 2015 Globe Theatre season. We’ve committed to take the first two plays in the series of five, the first of which, Duchess of Malfi, is at 7.00pm on Thursday 26 February with a matinee performance the following Saturday at 4.00pm.  This is the first theatrical production of the play to be filmed entirely in candlelight and has Gemma Arterton in the title role. Tickets will be £10 for adults, £9 for usual concessions, and £8 for members of Bideford Film Society.

Friday 6 and Saturday 7 February at 7.30pm at Kingsley School: The Theory of Everything (12A) Film ends 9.30pm.

Friday 13 and Saturday 14 February at 7.30pm at Kingsley School: Big Eyes (12A) Film ends 9.15pm.

Friday 20 and Saturday 21 February at 7.30pm at Kinsgley School: Testament of Youth (12A) Film ends 9.35pm.

Thursday 26 February at 7.00pm and Saturday 28 February at 4.00pm at Kingsley School: Globe on Screen 2015 season: Duchess of Malfi. Play ends 9.30/6.30pm (Note – not our usual price structure – see above).

Friday 27 and Saturday 28 February at 7.30pm at Kingsley School: Birdman (18) Film ends 9.30pm.

Doors open 30 minutes before film start time.

Tickets available at box office, or advance ticket sales (credit/ debit card) online.


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Shipping news No. 119 (November 2014/ January 2015).

In port – Yelland Quay.

Sormovskiy 3058 - built 1987; flag St. Petersburg; owners Russian; crew Russian; from St.Malo to Wismar; arrived 27.11, sailed 28.11.14; loaded 2,600 tons timber.

Fri Lake - (ex- Nassau 1999, Helena ’06); built 1999; flag Bahamas; owners Norwegian; crew Russian; from Glensanda to Sharpness; arrived 3.1, sailed 4.1.15 ; loaded 3,360 tons chippings. (This vessel is the longest, at 119.2 metres, to berth at Yelland jetty – normal length is around 90 metres – but not the largest in deadweight terms. She is not the longest recorded in the Taw/ Torridge estuary ; this was the Tankerman, built at Appledore in 1983, at 141 metres, and closely followed by HMS Scott at 131 metres).

Welsh Piper : 26.11.14.

Arco Dart : 21.11.14, 22.11.14, 6.12.14, 5.1.15.

Oldenburg returned to Bideford on the 4.12.14 after drydocking at Sharpness and will perform cargo runs to Lundy during the winter prior to resuming passenger service in late March.

The Second patrol vessel for the Irish Navy the LE James Joyce was launched from the shipyard on 23.11.14 (approx 17.45) and is now fitting out at Middle yard, Appledore. She is due for trials end of February 2015.

Bristol Channel Observations.

15.11.14 at 13.20 cargo vessel Vine 1, 8,200 tons d.w., owners Vine Shipping Inc Hong Kong China, inward bound for Newport.

16.11.14 at 10.28 cargo vessel Flinterzee, 6,075 tons d.w, owners Flinter Group Netherlands, inward bound for Avonmouth.

19.11.14 at 08.20 vehicle carrier Grande Italia, 12,594 tons d.w, owners Grimaldi Line of Italy, inward bound for Portbury. At 08.32 Ro-Ro vessel Ciudad de Cadiz, 3,500 tons d.w, owners Anita 2 Inc France, inward bound for Portbury. At 08.40 container vessel John Rickmers, 24,083 tons d.w, owners Einundvierzigste Alsterrufer 26 Hamburg Germany, outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 04.11.

22.11.14 at 09.42 cargo vessel Scot Trader, 4,500 tons d.w, owners Scotline Ltd UK, inward bound for Newport .

23.11.14 at 0832 cargo vessel Eva Marie Mueller, 3,722 tons d.w, owners Otto A Muller Schiffahrts Germany, inward bound for Sharpness . At 0944 cargo vessel Peak Bergen, 2,376 tons d.w, owners Lothe Invest AS Norway, inward bound for Sharpness. At 09.33 cargo vessel Beaumotion, 3,836 tons d.w, owners Beaumotion Netherlands, outward bound from Swansea, having sailed at 06.02. At 13.17 cargo vessel Ammon, 3,800 tons d.w, owners Ammon Beheer BV Netherlands, inward bound for Birdport. At 13.17 Chemical Tanker Orakate, 8,933 tons d.w, owners Kate Shipping Ltd Dordrecht Netherlands, outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 07.13 (having discharge a cargo of molasses) . At 13,43 vehicle carrier Grande Scandinavia, 18,440 tons d.w, owners Grimadi Line of Italy, inward bound for Portbury.

24.11.14 at 08.45 bulk carrier Anangel Innovation, 171,681 tons d.w, owners Anangel Maritime Service Inc Greece, outward bound from Port Talbot, having sailed at 05.05. At 13.00 vehicle carrier Autosun, 6,670 tons d.w, owners United European Car Carriers Norway, inward bound for Portbury. At 13.02 Arklow Raider, 4,505 tons d.w, owners Arklow Shipping Eire, inward bound for Avonmouth.

25.11.14 at 11.51 vehicle carrier Opal Leader, 12,000 tons d.w, in the colours of Nippon Yusen Kaisha Japan, outward bound from Portbury having sailed at 07.27. At 12.42 container vessel Endeavour, 9,167 d.w, owners J.R. Shipping Netherlands ; it now appears she is committed to the new rotation Bilbao/Liverpool./Avonmouth/Bilbao . At 13.02 chemical tanker Stolt Shearwater, 5,300 tons d.w., owners Stolt Nielsen Rotterdam, inward bound for Cardiff.

30.11.14 at 1533 cargo vessel Aasli, 6,630 tons d.w, owners Hans Martin Torkelsen Norway, outward bound from Port Talbot having sailed at 12.03.

1.12.14 at 0825 the vehicle carrier Coral Leader, 12,164 tons d.w, in the colours of Nippon Yusen Kaisha Japan, inward bound for Portbury. At 0828 the bulk carrier Nakhchivan, 6,693 tons d.w., owners Palmali Voyagers Two Shipping Istanbul Turkey, inward bound for Portbury.

2.12.14 at 0837 container vessel MSC Eyra, 22,500 tons d.w, owners Eyra Naviera SA Hong Kong China, inward bound for Portbury. At 0812 cargo vessel Warnow, 6,050 tons d.w, owners Rolands Ship Administration Germany, outward bound from Cardiff having sailed at 02.55.

8.12.14 at 15.03 self-discharging bulk carrier CSL Thames, 29,827 tons d.w, owners Pelican Water Investments Bergen Norway, inward bound for Portbury (she is a similar vessel to the Yeoman Bank, with a large self-discharge boom from forward to aft to discharge the cargo).

9.12.14 at 12.04 container vessel Endeavour, 9,167 tons d.w., owners J.R. Shipping Netherlands, outward bound from Avonmouth, having sailed at 07.22 ; at 09.43 container vessel Shasta, 22,420 tons d.w, owners Almond Shipping Investments Greece, outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 18.26.

15.12.14 at 09.18 bulk carrier Marina R, 37,785 tons d.w, owners Sea Satin Oceanway SA Greece, inward bound for Avonmouth . At 14.00 cargo vessel Hav Pike, 37,18 tons d.w, owners Hav Kattegat AS Norway, inward for Newport. At 14.26 vehicle carrier Jupiter Leader, 12,889 tons d.w., in colours of Nippon Yusem Kaisha Japan, outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 09.31.

16.12.14 at 08.18 cargo vessel Atlantic, 3,500 tons d.w, owners Hartman Beheer BV Netherlands, outward bound from Avonmouth, having sailed at 03.32.

17.12.14 at 12.14 cargo vessel Scot Trader, 4,500 tons d.w, owners Scotline Ltd UK, inward bound for Newport.

24.12.14 at 10.30 cargo vessel Aasli, 6,630 tons d.w., owners Hans Martin Torkelsen Norway, outward bound from Port Talbot, having sailed at 07.20. At 10.34 cargo vessel Harma, 9,455 tons d.w., owners Chrismar Corp Liberia, inward bound for Newport. At 10.35 cargo vessel Fluvius Axe, 3,193 tons d.w., owners Fluvius Ltd Crediton UK, outward bound from Neath, having sailed at 06.34. At 13.34 Fri Brevik, 3,771 tons d.w, owners Kopervik Shipping AS Norway, outward bound from Cardiff, having sailed at 08.23.

25.12.14 at 07.25 vehicle carrier Emerald Leader, 10,819 tons d.w., in the colours of Nippon Yusen Kaisha Japan, inward bound for Portbury. At 14.37 vehicle carrier Autosun, 6,670 tons d.w owners European Car Carriers Norway, inward bound for Portbury.

28.12.14 at 09.34 container vessel Shasta, 22,240 tons d.w., owners Almond Shipping Investments Greece inward bound for Avonmouth. At same time cargo vessel Aller 2910 tons d.w, owners Roland Ship Administration Germany, outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 01.48.

31.12.14 at 10.50 cargo vessel Calypso, 3,758 tons d.w, owners Alecto Chartering and Trading B.V Netherlands, outward bound fron Newport, having sailed at 02.12. At 11.10 cargo vessel Solymar, 4,106 tons d.w, owners Zillertal H & H Schiffahrts UG Germany , inward bound for Swansea .

3.1.15 at 16.54 chemical tanker Stolt Redshank, 4,449 tons d.w., owners Brovig Stainless AS care off Stolt Nielsen, inward bound for Barry. (Seen again 5.1.15 outward bound having sailed at 06.52).

14.1.15 at 16.00. vehicle carrier Jupiter Leader, 12,889 tons d.w., in the colours of Nippon Yusen Kaisha Japan, inward bound for Portbury.




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