Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery – March.

Felicity’s Sustainable Fish through the seasons.

It would be useful to consider which fish are sustainable – and why?

Here is a short list of fish available in North Devon – gurnard, dab, herring, mackerel,hake, sardines/pilchards, trout. Shellfish – cockles, mussels, & oysters. Squid and octopus. Crabs and lobsters in the summer.

These are sustainable because they are landed locally and their stocks are plentiful. How the fish is caught is important ; fish caught on hand lines and in pots is most sustainable, as they have the lowest impact on the seabed environment.

The main principles when buying and eating fish is to choose locally-caught seasonal seafood. If you have to buy in a supermarket, try to use the store that sells the most certified MSC fish – see the labels on the fish. However, it best supports the local economy if you can endeavour to buy from local stalls and suppliers. This keeps the money circulating locally. For more information and recipes visit www.brilliantfishonline.co.uk

Here is the recipe for March. Gurnard is available all year, but needs to be well-filleted because of its small pin bones. It has a good flavour and is quite firm. Its pinky red skin looks good with this sauce.

Red Gurnard with celery and walnuts

Serves 4


4 red gurnard fillets

3 celery sticks thinly sliced

2 apples chopped into small chunks

4 spring onions, chopped

25g/1oz butter

275ml/10fl oz single cream

1 tbsp French flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tbsp chopped walnuts for decoration


Preheat oven to 230C, Gas mark 8.Butter an ovenproof dish. Place in it gurnard fillets, sprinkle with celery, apple and spring onions.

Pour over single cream, cover with foil and put into oven.

Cook for 10 mins, uncover and cook for further 5 mins.

Decorate with parsley and walnuts.

Serve with broccoli and mashed potatoes sprinkled with parsley.


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One hundred years ago : March 1915.

The government have announced increased separation allowances for soldier’s families from the first of March: 12/6d for wives, 5/- for the first child, 3/6d for the second and 2/-for any subsequent children. These allowances will finish at the end of the war and will make a big difference to many local families where the breadwinner is away fighting for his country.

The first batch of wounded soldiers has been received at “Commons” Auxiliary hospital. Provision has been made for 36 patients in total. The house is situated at the left hand side of Atlantic Way and opposite Lakenham House. It was formerly the residence of the late Colonel Wilson Hoare, Commander of the Royal North Devon Hussars.

It is reported that after much negotiations Messrs Kynocks Ltd, ammunition manufacturers, intend to establish a works for the extraction from wood of acetone or cordite in its lowest state. The site is just beyond the allotments at East–the–Water and will be connected by railway sidings to the L&SW Railway and also to Barlett Bayliss timber yard who will supply the wood required.

The Licence of the Blacksmiths Arms, East–the-Water, has been transferred to the adjoining premises. The tenant is Mr Beer. Structural alterations to the New Inn have been approved and the tenant is Mr R G Court. Police sergeant Doidge said the police had no objections and the magistrates approved the changes.

Above is George Boyle’s advert this month which states the “There should be a sewing machine in every home”.


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Shipping news No. 120 (January/ February 2015).

In port – Yelland Quay.

Welsh Piper - arrived & sailed 8.2.15.

Vessels due – 1) approx. 20/ 21.3 with chippings from Glensanda.

2) To load timber for Germany.

In port – Bideford Quay.

Fehn Mirage – (ex – Harleriff ’06, Wani River ’05) ; built 2002 ; owners German ; crew Russian ; from Avonmouth to Castile ; arrived 20.1, sailed 22.1 ; loaded 2,770 tons ball clay.

Vessel due end of March to load for Castellon.

Arco Dart at Appledore 19.1, 20.1.15.

At the time of going to press the Irish Patrol vessel Le James Joyce is due to leave Appledore 5th March 05.46 on her first sea trials.

Barge due 24th March 08.29. to load further pieces for the aircraft carrier at Rosyth, in tow of tug Strathdon.

According to reports in the ‘Gazette’ the cruise ship Prinsendam is due to visit Ilfracombe on July 26thI will only believe this if I see the ship on the day, as other visits have failed to materialise! Also due to return in 2016.

Bristol Channel Observations

17.1 at 15.42 cargo vessel Sormivskiy, 3,134 tons d.w, owners Zagranperevozk Russia, inward bound for Avonmouth.

18.1 at 09.13 Mikhail Dudin, 3,030 tons d.w., owners North Western Shipping Joint Stock Co Russia, outward bound from Avonmouth, having sailed at 01.45. At 10.07 vehicle carrier Viking Odessa 4693 tons d.w, owners Gram Car Carriers AS Norway, inward bound for Portbury.

19.1 at 11.40 vehicle carrier Grande Ellade, 18,440 tons d.w, owners Grimaldi Line of Italy, inward bound for Portbury.

21.1 at 07.35. vehicle carrier Figaro, 30,140 tons d.w, owners Wallenius Wilhelmsen Norway and Sweden, inward bound for Portbury.

24.1 at 08.15 cargo vessel Anzoras, 5,750 tons d.w, owners Miurueta Naviera SA Spain, inward bound for Newport. At 09.16 cargo vessel Scot Venture, 3,262 tons d.w., owners Scot Line UK, inward bound for Avonmouth. At 16.15 vehicle carrier Grande Mediterreaneo, 18,427 tons d.w., owners Grimaldi Line of Italy, inward bound for Portbury.

25.1 at 10.04 vehicle carrier Talia, 21,021 tons d.w, owners Wallenius Wilhelmsen Norway and Sweden, inward bound for Portbury.

26.1 at 12.05 vehicle carrier Viking Odessa, 4,693 tons d.w, owners Gram Car Carriers AS Norway outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 08.07.

2.2 at 11.30 cargo vessel Scot Venture, 3,300 tons d.w, owners Scoline Ltd UK, inward bound for Newport. At 12.04 chemical tanker Bit Oktania, 13,586 tons d.w, owners Tarbit Shipping AB Sweden, inward bound for Cardiff.

3.2 at 08.14 cargo vessel Peru, 4,279 tons d.w, owners Gerhard Wessels Germany, inward bound for Sharpness. At 09.07 cargo vessel Blue Tune, 5,193 tons d.w, owners Bernd Meyering Schiffahrts Germany, inward bound for Sharpness. At 16.25 cargo vessel Aasfjord, 6,053 tons d.w., owners Hans Martin Torkelsen Norway, inward bound for Port Talbot.

4.2 at 09.07 cargo vessel Eva Maria Meuller, 3,722 tons d.w., owners Otto A Muller Schiffahrt GMBH Germany, inward bound for Sharpness. At 10.30 vehicle carrier Grande Portogallo, 12,594 tons d.w., owners Grimaldi Line of Italy, outward bound from Portbury having sailed at 05.56.

6.2 at 09.06 hrs bulk carrier Aasli, 6,630 tons d.w., owners Hans Martin Torkelsen Norway, inward bound for Avonmouth. At 14.24 bulk carrier Kydonia, 92,828 tons d.w, owners Koronis Marine Ltd Greece, outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 07.16 . At 16.57 vehicle carrier Glovis Courage, 20,661 tons d.w, owners GL NV4 Shipping Inc Seoul South Korea, inward bound for Portbury.

13.2 at 17.07 tanker Qi Lin Zuo, 75,567 tons d.w, owners China Shipping Tanker Co Ltd Shanghai Chine, having sailed from Portbury at 10.21.



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March diary.

Monday 30th

10am-12pm Appledore Community Art Group at Appledore Community Hall.

11.30am- 1.30pm & 2- 4pm Happy Cafe,Westward Ho! – pottery workshop, £16 per person.  To book, call Sue on 07976-321603.

2pm Bideford Ladies Club, Marlborough Court. 421925

6pm Happy Cafe, Westward Ho! – shellfish demonstration & hands-on prep evening, £5 per person.  To book, call Sue on 07976-321603.

6.45pm Breakaway Social Club for adults with learning/physical disabilities.

7.15pm Appledore Singers rehearse at Appledore Baptist Church. 420652

8.30pm N. Devon Jazz Club at the Beaver, Appledore. Sirkis/Bialas Quartet.

Tuesday 31st

10am- 12noon Happy Cafe, Westward Ho! – free, Marine Litter craft workshop.

10am-1pm Lavington Church coffee and lunches.

10.30am Walking for Health. 421528

11am- 12noon Happy Cafe, Westward Ho! – free, Mermaid story teller.

2- 3pm & 3.30- 4.30pm Happy Cafe, Westward Ho! – “I Can Cook : Fish”, fish cookery for children ; £6 per child.  To book, call Sue on 07976-321603.

2-3.30pm Salvation Army ‘Fun & Fellowship’ Club meets at Baptist Church Upper Hall.

6- 7pm Happy Cafe, Westward Ho! – free, ‘Edible Seaweed’ talk (with samples).

6.30pm Bideford Band Beginner’s Group at Band Room. 475653

7.30pm Northam Choral Society rehearses at Northam Methodist Hall.

7.30pm Bideford Camera Club at The Stables, Kingsley School. 479462

7.30pm Lions Club meet at Royal Hotel.

8pm Torridge Male Voice Choir meets at Woolsery Village Hall. 470913

Palladium Club – Jam Night.


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“Driving Safer for Longer”.

(Case study with Colyton Link and Chris Pope, ADI)

On any given evening across Devon, the chances are there will be interesting talks in progress in village halls, community centres, Scout huts, and the various draughty rooms adjacent to churches of all sizes and denomination. Topics might include the plight of the high brown fritillary, how to make the perfect lemon drizzle cake, the wonders of the universe, and Iron Age settlements of the Outer Hebrides (with slideshow).

They could, and certainly should, also include a session on Driving Safer for Longer, which have been being delivered to organisations, clubs, groups and societies for free by one of the advisers from Devon Travel Academy since the scheme started in 2008.

For reasons which are perhaps obvious in hindsight, the 30 or so drivers of the Colyton Link service gathered to witness one such workshop from approved driving instructor Chris Pope and, figuratively at least, have never looked back.

They may seem the obvious choice of audience for a talk focusing on the age-related changes which can affect driving, but there are many more car owners out there for whom the subject would be of great benefit, as Chris explained.

At a talk we highlight the areas where older drivers may be more vulnerable at some point and suggest coping strategies,” he said. “We don’t want it to sound like we’re telling people who have been driving for 50 years that all of a sudden they need a driving lesson. Our aim is to enhance their driving and make them aware of the things that might be, or might become, important to them.

I would say that the appeal of a talk would be that it helps to cover changes in the rules out on the road, because a lot of them have changed over the years. Vehicles have changed, the technology has changed and there are better ways of dealing with that.

Potentially the message is really in the title: to give some assistance in the little things they may or may not realise they are having difficulty with and give them a chance to continue driving, in safety, for longer than they may otherwise be able to.”

But the real beauty of the Driving Safer for Longer scheme, thinks Chris, is that it adds action to words, in the form of a one-hour assessment drive in the owner’s own vehicle after which confidential advice and support is given. As a driving instructor of over 35 years, he is at pains to point out it is not a test, and nor is it an excuse to remove anyone’s licence.

He said: “You want to see what the individual’s driving technique and needs are, and seeing how they are coping with the vehicle they are now driving, which will almost certainly be very different to the one they were driving in the past.

We are not making judgments on whether people should be driving or telling them what they’re doing isn’t very good; it’s really an advisory session in a way that is more like coaching to do things better, with the aim of improving confidence.”

If that was the aim, it was more than met for the 30 Colyton Link drivers who went from the talk to the assessment. The committee decided to poll their members following the experience, and were delighted with the response.

Certainly, everyone benefited from it,” said Colyton Link’s honorary treasurer, John Lewis, who was able to take advantage of the offer of a free trial assessment for group organisers.

In my own case I’ve been involved in travelling an awful lot, through my job, and calculated that I must have done about a million miles over the years – and I still got a lot out of it.”

Indeed, even experienced motorists are capable of adopting bad habits from a working life spent behind the wheel, which is another reason why Chris sees the assessment as such a vital factor in keeping drivers safer on the road as we get older.

In most cases the driving of people who take the assessment has been very sound– if you like, very average,” he said. “The nature of the people who are involved with Colyton Link almost defines them as people who are very conscious of what they are doing anyway.

But most people adapt and adopt certain styles. The one hour practical driving session can help pick up on bad habits which have crept in behind the wheel and made themselves comfortable. The workshops and drives help individuals stay safer on the roads, for longer.”

For more information about Driving Safer for Longer, to arrange a free workshop from an advisor, or to inquire about a one-hour practical driving skills assessment, contact Devon Travel Academy on 01392 444773, or visit www.max-driver.co.uk

Driving Safer for Longer is a scheme organised and run by Devon County Council in partnership with Devon and Cornwall Police and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.


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Moreton Court, Bideford – Sanctuary Group.




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‘Nightstop Devon’ – volunteers required.

Local charities tackle North Devon youth homelessness.

Volunteers needed to help young people at risk of homelessness

Can you help prevent homelessness?

Encompass South West, a local poverty and homelessness prevention charity, has joined forces with Community Housing Aid have expanded their ‘Nightstop Devon’ project into North Devon.

‘Nightstop Devon’ was established in 2001 and provides emergency accommodation to young people aged 16-25 who have nowhere safe to stay. Volunteer ‘hosts’ offer this emergency accommodation one night at a time to young people who find themselves homeless. Hosts have a spare room for the young person to stay in, and provide an evening meal, breakfast and a listening ear for their guest.

All volunteers receive expenses of £15 per night, full training and vetting and a member of staff is always on call.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering as a host or as a driver please contact Nightstop Devon on 01392 274853, visit www.communityha.org.uk or tweet @Nightstopdevon.

Kaye Corfe, Project Worker, said: “Nightstop is a fantastic project for young people facing homelessness and there is a real need for it in North Devon. A lot of our clients who take to sleeping rough or sofa surfing are vulnerable and may be putting themselves in real danger.

If they have somewhere safe and warm to sleep, even for one night, it can make such a difference. It shows them that society does care and that there are people willing to help them if they ask for it.”



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‘Winner takes all’.

North Devon film-making project Boat Stories has come up trumps again with ‘Winner Takes All’, an exciting short film capturing the thrills of women’s gig racing in North Devon.

The five-minute documentary follows Appledore Pilot Gig Club Ladies ‘A’ Team as they compete on home waters at last year’s Appledore Gig Regatta.

When Boat Stories producer Jo Stewart-Smith met the Ladies ‘A’ Team she immediately spotted a good story. “I was impressed with the welcome I was given” says Jo, “how hard the teams trained through the winter – how competitive they were and yet the friendships they made through the team and the club carried on into their social life so that they were a tight knit group at work and at play. “

Emily Lea, Vice Captain of the team, says they were really excited when Jo approached them with the idea of making a film and they are thrilled with the result. “The film captures the great passion and incredible dedication members have at Appledore Pilot Gig Club. While watching the film, I went back to those gruelling training sessions, those competitive, goose bump moments where we almost beat our rivals and that sheer feeling of giving all you have got, for those incredible minutes of racing!”

“Rowing is already a popular sport, but with the help of this film, I feel it will promote the sport in a positive light, and encourage more people to get fit, and what better than to row in a boat!”

The sport is popular with both men and women; a lot of Appledore Pilot Gig Club members are married, which brings healthy competition between the sexes. The ladies have three racing teams (‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ crews and an intermediate group, who will be forming a ‘D’ crew this season). There is also a group of ‘women of a certain age’ and Emily says “We are very lucky to have the amazing “hot flushes” – they compete in the vets and super vets races, and often win silverware for the club. We are all very close and it just proves age really doesn’t matter when it comes to rowing.”

“Women of today are so busy juggling home and work life, rowing is a welcome escape, you can step into the boat in a stressed and bad mood and leave after a good row feeling refreshed, confident and ready to face the world!”

The team’s next battle will be in The Isles Of Scillies at the World Championships, where they will be rowing hard but also celebrating 4 hen dos. Emily notes “This of course will be happening after we have competed. There is a strict rule amongst the woman of no drinking until the last day … that’s the beauty of rowing though, we don’t need alcohol to have fun!”

Along with the other Boat Stories short films ‘Winner Takes All’ can be viewed at the Boat Stories website www.boatstories.co.uk where you can read more about gig rowing in North Devon and the making of the film.


The ‘Boat Stories’ series of short films is available to view free online at www.boatstories.co.uk.?Filmed and edited by Matt Biggs of Artaura Productions in Bideford

Camera 2 – Stu Gaunt.

Sound – Josh Hawker.

Music – Alice Bollen.

Directed & produced by Jo Stewart-Smith.

‘Boat Stories’ is a series of ten short films, Produced by Jo Stewart-Smith, about life on and around the water in North Devon. Funded by Northern Devon FLAG, Bideford Bridge Trust, Tarka Country Trust, Westcountry Rivers Trust, North Devon + and managed by North Devon Moving Image. Contact for further information: Jo Stewart-Smith, Producer, boatstories@outlook.com 07816 815761  www.boatstories.co.uk

Northern Devon Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG): The Northern Devon FLAG is a partnership of stakeholders that has come together to support all aspects of the Northern Devon fisheries, including the marine environment, fishing culture and local seafood. It has been successful in securing funding from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) to support the sustainable development of fisheries areas in the North Devon and Torridge districts. http://www.northdevonplus.com/what-we-do/flag_home.aspx

North Devon Moving Image CIC is a community film making organisation creating, collecting and sharing short documentary films about life in North Devon. Contact: Amanda McCormack, Creative Director, northdevonmovingimage@outlook.com 01271 860610 www.northdevonmovingimage.org.uk


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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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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 www.fishisthedish.co.uk

Kedgeree with Smoked Pollack or Mackerel (serves 4).

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

25g/1tbsp butter/sunflower or 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.”

To find out more or to book an appointment please phone 01271 522053 or visit www.familiesforchildren.org.uk


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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.

sadie@greengallery.co https://www.facebook.com/northdevonpotsherdsblog

http://sadie-green.blogspot.co.uk/ Tel. 07530 508676.

Baluster pot image by David Green.


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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: http://youtu.be/FOnb1HVOvV4

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: http://youtu.be/FOnb1HVOvV4


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