Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery, December.


Here’s a recipe for Christmas Eve or parties with friends and family. This is based on Darina Allen’s  Simply Delicious Christmas book and is rather retro as it was originally written in 1989! (and reprinted in 2002).

Ingredients for 4. (Can be scaled up for parties)

500g of monkfish or scallops.

I onion, chopped(50gs); 30g butter and 60g/2tablespoon flour/cornflour.

Dry white wine, 500ml fish stock.

125 g /4oz/cup sliced mushrooms.

1 tablespoon parsley, fennel and thyme mixed.

Salt and freshly ground pepper.

Creamy milk/half milk and single cream.

100gm /2oz Cheddar Cheese or Cornish Yarg.

Duchesse potato for piping or spreading around the edge of the serving dish.


1.Trim monkfish tail and cut into 1cm/half inch thick slices, cut fish at an angle – or cut large scallops in half.

2.Use a heavy saucepan – stainless steel or enamelled pan. Add fish slices and cover with white wine and 250ml half fish stock or water. Bring to the boil and poach for 2/3 mins only.

3.Remove fish and continue to boil the liquor until 200ml/2/3pint approx.

4.Cook chopped onions in melted butter for 5-8minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 mins. Stir in the flour and cook for 1min stirring all the time, add liquor with the milk added (300ml total) gradually.

5.Add the freshly chopped herbs /dried herbs. Sauce should be smooth and tasty – check taste. Correct the taste, add the fish into the sauce and cook lightly for 2mins only!

6.Pipe a border of duchesse potatoes -mashed and creamed or spread around the edge of a serving dish and add the sauce, sprinkle top with grated cheese. (This can be cooled and warmed later. When required, reheat in a cool oven 190F or Gas 5 for 20 mins. to melt the cheese).

To serve immediately, heat under the grill for approx. 5mins to melt the cheese.

Serve with a good green salad.

Happy Christmas and a very Prosperous New Year!


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“Fire Kills” campaign.



Torridge District Council is supporting the campaign launched by Fire Minister Brandon Lewis for people to test their smoke alarms after research showed that only 28% of all households who own one test them on a regular basis.

The “Fire Kills” campaign highlights the importance of having at least one working smoke alarm in your home and encourages everyone to test their smoke alarms immediately and then regularly every month. Analysis of fire data shows that you are at least seven times more likely to die in a fire in the home if you do not have any working smoke alarms. The cheap and easy to install devices are vital in ensuring that, should a fire start, individuals have valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.

There were 229 fire-related deaths in the home last year. The “Fire Kills” campaign hopes that by encouraging everyone to test their smoke alarms straight away, and then every month, more deaths could be prevented.

To help keep you and your loved ones safe, follow these simple steps:   Test your smoke alarm(s) now or when you get home · Make sure you fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly, even if they’re wired into the mains. · Whatever happens, never remove the battery in your smoke alarm unless you are replacing it. Some require a new battery every year. · Plan and practise an escape route and make sure that everyone in your home knows it. In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999. · Test others smoke alarms who are unable to test their own.     The Local Fire Service also offers free home fire safety checks for everyone.

Graham Rooke – Local Risk Manager for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service – said:

A key aim of the work we do locally is to try and reduce the incidence of fires and prevent casualties and fatalities through education and proactive campaigns. Having a working and regularly tested smoke alarm is vitally important. We are very keen for everyone to take up the fire services offer of a home fire safety check over the telephone by calling 0800 05 02 999. The checks may then be followed up with a home fire safety visit and the fitting of a free smoke detector if required. We also want to attend more meetings with community groups to advise people and promote good practice and welcome further enquiries in this area as well. Community groups interested in arranging a talk should call us on 01237 423859”.


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The past is a foreign country :

they do things differently there.

After umming and ahhing over a decent setting for my recent novel – Weekend Rockstars – I eventually settled on a fictionalised unnamed westcountry town that was unnervingly close to the Bideford I left over a decade ago. As I found myself lovingly describing pubs long gone and struggling to remember the names of streets I had walked down a thousand times I began to wonder why I ever left; and then I remembered, that Bideford only exists in my mind now.

To make it clear, I love Bideford, I moved there with my family at the age of five in 1983 and didn’t leave until 2004 – my parents still live there so I visit regularly. A lot of people I know left Bideford forever in their twenties because it was too small, rural and constrictive – and had I left five or six years earlier than I did it would almost certainly have been for the same reason.

But I didn’t, and it wasn’t. Eventually I realised I am a yokel and my life is an everyday tale of country folk. Despite my teenage swagger and insistence that I was going to get out of there and do something, I had always loved the small town life: I could walk into almost any pub and the staff would greet me by name and have my usual drink ready before I had even reached the bar (I don’t know if that says more about me than Bideford in the 90s, but it feels relevant) and I was only ever a short walk from somewhere big and green, where the air didn’t choke.

Some time at the beginning of the new millennium all that started to change, the pubs began to close in the wake of Bideford’s first superpub – The Tavern In The Port, cheap prices, no soul and a disorientingly fast staff turnover rate (see any modern Wetherspoons for reference). I was having to walk farther and farther out of town to achieve solitude and my then-dog had developed arthritis in protest – restricting us to Victoria Park perambulations that had to be so early that they would encroach on the middle of the night if we wanted the quiet. The once recession-bitten streets of boarded-up shop fronts began to be tarted up, new shiny modern buildings began to replace the crumbling edifices I had romanticised beyond their almost-certainly-dangerously-rotten reality. I didn’t like it, longing for the return of Scudder’s Emporium.

The famous New Year’s Eve celebrations had become massive, highly organised affairs, rather than the spontaneous outbreak of fancy dress and crazy it had always been before all the publicity. Plastic glasses everywhere and no space on the bridge at midnight (though the latter was always the case). While New Year’s is now undoubtedly a lot safer than back when we used to do the 21 Newcastle Brown bottle salute at midnight – it’s not for me anymore.

I have since realised that it wasn’t Bideford’s fault, it was me (it would have been a real cliché of a breakup letter I would have had to write were Bideford a lady). The ever-growing nature of all towns is perpetual, a middle-aged Bidefordian from the 1890s would undoubtedly have complained about all the horses on the Quay compared to when he was a lad. No town in the world is ever the same town as it was ten years previously. I found another place (an undisclosed small town in the middle of Devon. I would tell you where it is, but if you all knew then you’d all come here, and I’d be back where I started). The barstaff know everybody’s name and what they drink, if an event is put on, then the whole town turns up to see it (oh look! A thing! We must go, we must go…) though if there is nothing on, then the streets are curiously empty, and any person encountered therein will greet you as a long lost friend whether you have ever set eyes on them before or not – city-dwellers beware!

You are never more than five minutes walk from a completely empty, bleak, barren and utterly wonderful bit of moorland. Although at certain times of day it is full of fellow dog-walkers, unless you know the empty places and how to get to them (I do, it is glorious).

At our annual Chilli festival last weekend, the entire town had turned up – along with a smattering of newcomers, all of whom were being interrogated with smiles and enthusiasm. I was in a happy chatting group ranging from 80 something to 2 years old. None of us were related to each other (alright, the two year old’s Dad was with us). When the Chilli chow-down (don’t ask, it is hellish) began, several of the contestants were pretty new to the town, including the winner. They got as big a cheer as the local institutions who were sat, sweating and crying until they dropped out. One of the newcomers is a skinny, odd, twenty something musician with a funny haircut. Just like I was 12 years ago when I came here, escaping the sprawling metropolis of Bideford, that I had once found so small and constricting.mail-attachment

Dave Holwill is the author of Weekend Rockstars currently available as an Amazon exclusive in both ebook and paperback formats ; for more of this kind of thing visit www.daveholwill.com


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One hundred years ago – November 1916.


Several farms are advertised this month under the “To be let by Tender” columns. Lot 1, South Hill Farm, Little Torrington comprising 157 acres and all the usual farmhouse buildings and two workers’ cottages; Lot 2, Higher Cross Lawn, 11½ acres; Lot 3, Lower Cross Lawn, 32 acres; Lot 4, Broad Parks ,28 acres. All currently in the occupation of Mr D Howard.

Also to be let – Sudden Farm, Newton St Petrock, comprising 162 acres that are stocked with sheep. The taker will be required to keep the oil engine running together with the barn machinery. Farm labour is a worry with all able bodies conscripted to the War and several farms are unable to continue in these circumstances.

Mr S. J. Williams of ‘Rothsay’, Abbotsham Road, Bideford has been “Called to the Colours” and is selling his beloved Rover 3½ hp motor cycle and coach built side-car, together with lots of household furniture.

A correspondent to the paper signing himself as “Rouge et Noir” was answering queries about the number of grist mills in the area and he states that in 1866 there were 14 operating. Of these Upcott, Edge, Littleham, Halsbury, Goldworthy and Tithecott Mills have been discontinued. The only mill still working full time is Orleigh Mill, where the Sanders family continue to flourish.

Farleigh’s Stores are now stocking “Nu-Way” Egg Flour. One packet makes a big cake 2lb in weight, needs no eggs, yeast or baking powder. Each packet costs 3½d and the thrifty can buy 2 packets for 6½d.

A strange Public Notice appears in several weeks during November headed “To men now serving in the Army who were employed on roadwork”. It goes on to say that if these men or their relatives will send a considerable amount of personal information including their regimental number to R. A. Stone, County Surveyor at Barnstaple, they will “hear something to their advantage”. (Has anyone heard of this? Was this genuine, or a very early and callous scam?)

After a wet month the reservoir at Melbury is overflowing and millions of gallons of water are going to waste. The rainfall during October was over 9 inches.

We reported last month on a great storm which affected the area. Bideford Workhouse Guardians were told of considerable damage to Meddon Street premises. Slates were torn from the main roof; a piece of lead weighing 1 cwt was lifted from the SE corner of the boardroom and carried to within a few feet of the gates, 30 feet of guttering was knocked down and destroyed and a number of the Infirmary roof lights were blown in. No injuries were recorded. It seems this area escaped the heavy and early snowfall that accompanied the gale.

Under the auspices of Bideford Farmers Union, in the cattle market and in support of the British Farmers Red Cross Fund, a guess-the-weight of a bullock, sheep and a pig is to be held. Prizes consist of silver jug, tea pot and sugar basin and if one person wins all three J. M. Metherell, President, will give the Winner £5.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford & District Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. You can also follow us on our Facebook page, Bideford & District Community Archive.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery; November.


Here is a recipe from Rachel Allen Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland -more from them next month after I visit!

Preservation recipe when Herrings are glutting from Clovelly this month –

Pickled Herrings.

12 fresh herrings

600ml Vinegar

110g/4oz Sea salt

50g /2oz Sugar

1tbsp Black peppercorn -crushed ;1 generous tsp pimentos, and /or allspice berries – crushed.

6 Bay leaves.


Gut, scale and wash the whole fish leaving the heads on.

Put into a pottery container, pour over the vinegar and leave overnight

Next day. Mix the rest of the ingredients and put a layer into the base of the of stonework crock (large deep pottery bowl). Then layer with herrings and more dry mix. Pour vinegar over the herring layers keeping the herrings submerged.

Keep in a cool place -larder is best for 2/3 days -before eating.

These will keep for ages – ensure the vinegar is over all the fish.

Serve with bread, potato salad or green salad.


Clovelly Herring Festival – 10th Anniversary.

Sunday 20 November from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Clovelly harbour.

This year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Clovelly Herring Festival, which is held to promote these tasty, nutritious Silver Darlings and support sustainable fishing.

The village once depended on the harvest of herring, which are caught in superb condition for a short season off its coast. (Records go back over 400 years, and in 1749 there were a hundred herring boats in the port). When fishing was good, 9,000 herring could be landed at one time. Those days of massive catches are long gone and there remain just two herring fishermen ,who still employ sustainable fishing methods using drift nets and long lines.

There’ll be delicious herring specialities, cookery demonstrations, beer tastings, local food and craft stalls, live shanty singers, stiltwalker entertainment, face painting & henna tattos, a herring fishing photo exhibition, Herring Hunt and the National Trust event-themed children’s craft activities.

Maritime historian, Mike Smylie, will be returning with his “Kipperland” exhibition, which is devoted to the history of the herring. He will also be turning herring into delicate-tasting kippers and bloaters in his smokehouse.

There’ll also be net making, flax processing and a Curragh on show provided by ‘Flaxland’ and a Herring Art Competition organised by The Small School, Hartland with the participation of other local schools. All the art will be on display on the day to be judged.

Contact: Visitor Centre. Tel: 01237 431781. Email: visitorcentre@clovelly.co.uk


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One hundred years ago – October 1916.


This month the newspaper is overwhelmed with news from the war. Several pages are given over to “reports from the Front”. All the villages without exception are announcing casualties, injuries and, sadly, deaths to their men who had been called up to fight. Occasionally the news is gladdened with an account of heroism and a medal award.

An advert appears in the mid October edition covering 5 columns wide and half a page deep by the British American Tobacco Company offering to send cigarettes by post to soldiers in France. Orders may be taken in to any tobacconist and the smallest order was for 280 Wild Woodbines for 3/3d, 1000 will cost 9/-. More expensive Gold Flake are 280 for 5/- and 1000 for 15/- and the most expensive cigarette Navy Cut will cost 8/6d for 500 and 16/- for 1000. Orders can also be posted to troops in India. The advert concludes with this ditty:      There aint no shops to shop in and there aint no grand hotels, When you spend your days in dugouts doin’ ‘olesale trade in shells”

At home men aged 41 and over will now be called up and Notice papers A F W 3195 will be sent to all men shown on the military registers as belonging to one or other of those groups, attested or not unless they have been marked on the register as having some form of excusable work. It has been reported before of exemption courts hearing pleas from traders, farmers and businesses to keep what male labour they have, usually without much success.

Harvest has been completed and festival services are taking place across the area. However a great gale springs up towards the end of the month, and a Norwegian steamer, “Rollon”, laden with coal for the war and France which had recently loaded and left Wales suffered a catastrophic shifting of her cargo which capsized the ship totally. Fortunately all the crew were saved but the same gale in South Devon sent coastal trading schooners running for shelter. One was lost with 13 crew drowned.

In Clovelly there is a “Capital Opportunity for a person accustomed to the catering trade”. To be Let by Tender from next Lady Day is The Red Lion Hotel, currently in the occupation of Mr John Moss who is retiring. Enquiries should be made to the Estate Office at Clovelly.

We do not normally report on Court cases but the following illustrates the current situation on men’s reluctance to volunteer for the war. At a local Police Court Ronald Hupert Waldorf Jeffery aged 24 of a local address and described as an agent or tipster was charged on remand with obtaining from a local shop a gold watch and chain valued at £26.10.0d by false pretences and further that being a British national he did on an earlier date this year represent himself to be an American subject contrary to the Aliens Registration Order, further, with being an absentee from the Military Reserve. He was found guilty on all counts, fined 40/- and sent to prison for 6 months to be followed by military service.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford & District Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. You can also follow us on our Facebook page, Bideford & District Community Archive.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery; October.

fish ad

I visited Brixham Fishstock 2016 on 10th September and sampled the fantastic choice of fish street food stalls and pop up cafes. I ate salt and pepper cuttlefish with chilli sauce, freshly made local Devon fish sushi and Prawn Mac. I finished with delicious churros and chocolate sauce and coffee whilst listening to a great band from Dartmoor! Really worth a visit next year- shall we arrange a group visit?


Macaroni cheese with added flavours are quite trendy now. Here is my recipe –

Shellfish Cheesy Mac.


300g Macaroni, 100g Cheddar or Gouda cheese,100g Mozzarella cheese, 300ml/1pint milk 50g(large spoonful) flour and 50g butter/low fat spread(check it is suitable for cooking!)

Mustard, pepper and salt to taste

100g Smoked mussels or raw prawns -any size.

Any quantity of Croutons or toasted wholemeal bread.

Tarragon and Dill or Parsley, finely chopped.


Make up a cheesy sauce – Melt butter/spread in saucepan, add the flour and cook for 1 min. Mix in mustard and seasoning and then add the milk in small amounts stirring all the time to gain a sauce that shines (or you could make up a cheddar cheese sauce) and add the grated mozzarella. Add extra milk to keep the sauce runny.

Add the grated Cheddar /Gouda and then the Mozzarella. (This will be quite a runny sauce).

Cook the Macaroni as instructions on the packet (dried pasta has far less calories) – Drain and add to the sauce and stir in tarragon.

Add the smoked mussels or raw prawns and cook until pink, or for approx. 5 mins. Place in individual bowls (could be paper to eat outside).

Crumble the croutons, add finely chopped dill or parsley, and sprinkle over.

Serve Immediately-Yummy!




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One hundred years ago – September 1916.


On the front page of the 5th September edition is an advertisement for wooden 5-bar field gates, portable buildings, pigeon fanciers’ lofts and motor car houses. All are constructed in timber (creosoting is extra). The supplier is F. W. Barker & Co, Nottingham, and all goods are priced to include carriage paid to any station. This is the first time that “out of area” traders have used the Gazette for advertising.

A. W. Cock, Auctioneer, offers for sale the following Bideford properties: – 25 Victoria Grove, 19 & 20 New Street, 50 Honestone Street and 22 Milton Place. All these properties have tenants in residence.

On the 12th September edition there is a half-page advert “Labour required for building munitions factories”. Navvies and labourers not yet engaged in national work will be accepted. Every man enrolled will be given a certificate showing the service he has rendered to the country.

A public meeting of town traders convened by Bideford Chamber of Trade considered the question of closing shops earlier during the autumn and winter months because of the new public lighting order introduced by the government and to compensate for depleted staffing problems. The Chamber recommended 6pm closing on Monday, Thursday and Friday; 7pm on Tuesday and 8pm on Saturday. (Late night shopping is not a recent concept.)

The Vicar of Northam, Prebendary M D Dimond–Churchward, has announced his resignation due to advancing years. He was well known for his advocacy of Temperance and spoke extensively on the topic.

In Hartland, Mr W. T .Westlake has presented the United Methodist Church with a nice new clock.

At Parkham a slow corn harvest is blamed on the showery weather, rainfall during August having been 4.07 inches.

A heart-warming story comes in the District news from Alwington and we quote it here. “A good deal is heard about the young men slackers in North Devon. Many of them do not seem to have the same enthusiasm to serve their country as even the children, girls and women in their midst. Throughout the school holidays many of the children as well as their mothers, gave valuable help to the farmers during the corn harvest. One girl of 11 years led the horses for her father, while others assisted in binding. A farmer’s wife drove the horses whilst riding on the machine while another pitched the corn. Others helped by driving the loads from the fields. On one farm a Superintendent of Police, on holiday from the East Coast, rendered yeoman service in the field while his daughters milked the cows and also helped in the cornfields”.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford & District Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. You can also follow us on our Facebook page, Bideford & District Community Archive.


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One hundred years ago – August 1916.


Hay and Straw Harvest continues – 27 acres of corn in the ground to be sold from Stone Farm, Buckland Brewer, for owner Mr Grigg; 44 acres of corn and rape for Mr Dennis at Adjavin Farm on the outskirts of Bideford, and lastly Thomas Squance of Wood Town Alwington has 13 acres of corn and clover buds for sale.

4, Marine Parade, Appledore is offered for sale by auction by Messrs R Blackmore. The property has 6 bedrooms, box and linen rooms, a cellar for wine, one WC inside and another outside at the rear. It also boasts an artist’s studio in the attic roof. A Buckland Brewer farm known as Addipit consisting of 58 acres about a mile from the village is for sale. Also 16 acres of land adjoining the farm known as Big Merry Field are also for sale by Smyth Richards, Stapleton & Fox, Bideford Land Agents.

The problem of shortage of farm labour has been addressed by the Government. On Monday 7th August 1916 at 2.00pm from the balcony of the New Inn, Market Square a talk will be given about the new government scheme for the registration of women to work on the land. Government certificates and armlets will be issued to those eligible. Mrs Daw of Yeolden will keep a register. There will be another repeat meeting at 8.30 pm for those unable to attend during the day. (The following week the newspaper records that over 30 women were recruited.)

On the 8th August the Board of Trade announce that the Army Council has decided to release 27,000 soldiers to assist with the harvest. Applications for help must be made through the local labour exchange before 12 noon on 4 days hence, on the12th August.

Members of Bideford Bridge Trust have visited Old Town Council School Gardens. 12 boys in the higher classes have been instructed by Mr Baxter & Mr White on how to till and grow vegetables. Each boy has been given a square pole of land (just over 5 square metres) for which they are entirely responsible and the whole group are tending a further 4 square poles. The boys were congratulated by the Mayor on their results after 5 months of work. Kent White and Middleton Wadey, both members of the school gardening club, proposed a Vote of Thanks to the Bridge Trust for providing the means to learn and receive instruction on such a useful subject. Both boys have won scholarships to Bideford Grammar School.

Excitement at Westward Ho! Life Guard assistance, 1916 style. On Thursday evening Miss Violet Lewis got into difficulties while out swimming and called for help. Mr W. T. Braddick of Bideford who was on the Pebble Ridge was one of the first to see her in need of assistance, he swam out to her partly dressed and gave her support and directed her movements. Lt. W.A. Puddicombe, also of Bideford, who is home on leave injured, Mr T. Hobling, Mr A. Baglow and a gentleman from Weare Gifford were among those who went out to render assistance, and the young lady was got safely in, none the worse for her experience.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. You can also follow us on our Facebook page, Bideford & District Community Archive.



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HMS ‘Alliance’ visits Lundy.

During the month of April 1967, the submarine HMS ‘Alliance’ was operating in home waters in the South of England and for a day or two anchored off Lundy. One submariner, whose name is unknown, came ashore and probably spent some time in the Tavern. On his return to the ship something happened to him and search parties both from the ship and from the island turned out to search for him. He was found hiding in the bushes somewhere on the side of the cliffs. The seaman was returned to his ship where he no doubt received the ‘due attention of his officers.’

Robert “Dave” Davey, the engineer on the island at the time had apparently been instrumental in the rescue of this seaman. Dave Davey had arrived on the island in 1964; he retired in 1981 and died sometime in the early 1990s. Soon after this incident, he received a handwritten letter from the commander of the submarine thanking him for turning out for the search and apologising for the problems that the man had given to everyone. A transcript of that letter is given here.

“H. M. S. Alliance at Sea,

22nd April 1967.

Dear Mr. Davey,

May I thank you and your friends (I regret I don’t know all their names), for so willingly turning out to search for this very stupid man. He was hiding in the bushes slightly up the cliff. At present he has no idea what all the fuss is about and we are in the process of informing him. It was such a dangerous manoeuvre that not only did it risk his life but the lives of us and particularly of yourselves. Again may I thank you and I hope you haven’t too bad an impression of us.

Yours sincerely,

T. E. Woods (Illegible), Lieutenant Commander Royal Navy.”

I made enquiries regarding H.M.S. Alliance and was very pleased to learn that she has been preserved and now forms part of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport. She is the only surviving example of the A Class ‘Amphion’ class submarines. She was built by Vickers in Barrow-in-Furness and commissioned in 1947, serving in the Far East and in home waters. She had a crew complement of 5 officers and 56 ratings, was 87 feet in length with a beam of 22 feet and had a surface displacement of 1,620 tons. Her armament Allianceconsisted of ten torpedo tubes and two external 4 inch guns. She was decommissioned in 1973 and served as a training ship in Southampton until 1979, when she was preserved as a memorial to those British submariners who had died in service and is now part of the Submarine Museum at Gosport. She has been completely restored through an £11.00 million Heritage Lottery grant and is now available for visitors.

I contacted the Submarine Museum in Gosport, asking for any information they may have on the event and for the name of the commander of the submarine, as his signature on the letter is illegible.

I received a reply from the Portsmouth archives officer at the Museum. He confirms that the submarine was operating in home waters at the time and could well have anchored off Lundy, as she had made a Port visit to Falmouth around that period. He also confirmed the name of the captain, Lt. Commander T.E. Woods RN, in command of the ship from1966 to 1967. He has compared Commander Wood’s signature on the letter with his signature in the ship’s log book and confirmed that they agree. Apparently the records of the ship shed no further light on the incident.

There are many unanswered questions in this matter. Why did Lt. Commander Woods say that the seaman was ‘hiding up the cliff’? He does not say that he had fallen over the cliff side. He also states that the man ‘has no idea what all the fuss is about’, as if the seaman was either too drunk or otherwise incapacitated to remember the incident. In his letter Commander Woods states ominously that they are “in the process of informing him”. One feels that there should be an exclamation mark inserted after this comment.

This whole incident brings back memories of similar situations when drunken lighthouse keepers staggering back to the South Light from the tavern, fell over the cliffs and had to be rescued.

Roger Allen.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery; August.


This month I thought a recipe from Brazil was appropriate – Olympics on their way!

Brazil is famous for their BBQ restaurants – Churrascarias – where huge portions of meat are served. This recipe is good for any ”meaty” fish such as rock salmon . (This is also an inexpensive choice if you can find it).

We will be demonstrating recipes for this fish at the Cook’s Tale Cookery Demonstration in Appledore on Friday 18th August.

Brazillian BBQ Rock Salmon – (4 portions).


30g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped.

I tsp dried oregano.

150ml. light olive oil.

1or 2 tsp. dried chilli flakes.

35ml. red wine vinegar.

1tsp. sea salt/ 1tsp.freshly ground black pepper.

12 x 2inch chunks of Rock Salmon/Huss.


For the Chimichurri Marinade – blanch the parsley for a minute in boiling water before plunging into ice water. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Finely chop the parsley and place in a bowl with the rest of the marinade ingredients and stir well. Refrigerate in a sealed container and use within 3-4 days.

For the Fish : cut the Rock Salmon/Huss strips into 12 pieces , put them in a bowl and toss with the marinade until evenly coated. Cover bowl with cling film and chill for at least 4 hours.

Thread the Fish chunks on 4 metal skewers ; vegetable chunks such as peppers or onion can also be added.Lightly salt and pepper, and grill or BBQ for 2 – 3 minutes on both sides.

The fish should be opaque and feel just firm when lightly pressed.Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy what I hope will be a long hot August!

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Come and see us in Appledore from 18th-21st August and listen and learn from our ‘Sharks Tales’: more details on appledoresustainablefish facebook.



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Two Bideford-built schooners of the Nineteenth Century.

Buzz” was contacted in June by Roger Banfield of Scilly seeking information on the schooner “Vivid”, built in Bideford in 1851 (see Shipping Notes 136, July edition). Mr. Banfield undertakes maritime history research for his own interest, and also in support of the Isles of Scilly Museum.

He has now concluded his research on “Vivid”, and has sent us full details. In addition, he has provided details of another schooner, “Waterlily”, also built in Bideford, in 1841. “Buzz” is very grateful, particularly for his kind permission to publish his work in full.

These two monographs contain a wealth of detail on the ships, their histories, owners, voyages, crew, and also the history and background of their builders. They provide a fascinating snapshot of Bideford’s maritime past in the mid-nineteenth century.

Incidentally, Mr. Banfield has offered to help anyone researching the history of Scilly-built vessels. Any such enquiries (or comments on the article) can be sent via editor@bidefordbuzz.org.uk and will be forwarded to him, or else leave a comment on this post.

Vivid” – Schooner

Details of Ship:-

Built: 1851

Type: Schooner.

Dimensions: Length: 81.0 ft. Beam: 20.1 ft. Depth of Hold: 13.1 ft.

Tonnage: 131 tons (12years A1) (tonnage varied between 117 tons to 131 tons)

Builder: Thomas Waters, Cross Park, Bideford, Devon (In business from 1845 – 1873, see details below)

Owners: 1852 – 1860, Lebrey & Co. (Possibly Ann Banfield)

1861 – 1869, Possibly W. Nicholson

1867, William Burnyeat of Whitehaven

1880 – 1881, J. Graham, registered at Whitehaven.

Captains: 1851 – 1853, Lakey (possibly Edmund Lakey b. 1821) (Interestingly, there was a vessel called the “Vivid” built in Scilly in 1843, which was abandoned on 1st April 1851, and lost. The same captain then took over the “Vivid” that was built in Bideford).

1852 – 1860, E. Lebrey.

1861 – 1869, Possibly N. Beck

1863, Britton

1864 – 1865, Capt. Clegg

1880, Capt. J. Mayes.

Trade: Coastal & Foreign: Bideford, Mediterranean, Scilly, New York, Palermo, Bristol, Cardiff, Falmouth, Hamburg, Antwerp, Marseilles, Smyrna, Jamaica, London, Holyhead, Whitehaven, Dublin, Pomaron, Gloucester, Belfast, Liverpool, Messina, Pomaron.

Cargo: 1852, Coffee

1863, Oil.

1864, 1879, Iron ore.

1870, Bricks.

Port of Registry: 1852 – 1860, Scilly

1861 – 1869, Whitehaven

1880, Whitehaven.

Port of Survey: 1852 – 1860, Bideford

1861 – 1869, Whitehaven.

Signal: K.G.S.B.

Official No.: 9301

Demise: Wreck reported in the Times newspaper, Saturday, 5th March, 1881, page 12: ‘A small schooner was wrecked yesterday morning on Longness, Isle of Man, all hands drowned. A piece of a vessel marked “Vivid”, schooner, of Whitehaven, 117 tons register, has been picked up’.

1851, Seamen’s Crewlists for Cornwall:-

Browne Edward

Current Ship: VIVID of Scilly,  Trade: Foreign

Age: 21

Born: Kingstown           Ticket No: 241218


Date Joined: 11 Aug 1851         Place Joined: Bideford

Ellis James

Current Ship: VIVID of Scilly,  Trade: Foreign


Ticket No: 194996


Date Joined: 11 Aug 1851        Place Joined: Indentured at Bideford

Lakey Charles

Current Ship: VIVID of Scilly Trade: Foreign

Age: 22

Born: Scilly Ticket No: 157377


Date Joined: 11 Aug 1851      Place Joined: Bideford

Penrose William P

Current Ship: VIVID of Scilly Trade: Foreign

Age: 20

Ticket No: 490017


Date Joined: 10 Sep 1851        Place Joined: Cardiff


Source: “Ship Building in North Devon” by Grahame Farr. Maritime monographs and reports No. 22 – 1976.

The next building site, as we follow the river Torridge bank, is Cross Park, the downstream part of East-the-Water facing the town of Bideford. Several builders are described as of Cross Park and dates indicate the presence of at least two yards. Before dealing with the yards in the Port of Bideford, however, it must be explained that with a number of builders the precise location of their yards is unknown. They could have been anywhere in the Port. Others are known to have been at Appledore but the information necessary to pinpoint their yards has not been discovered.

CROSS PARK. Known builders at Cross Park begin with William Heard, who built the 15-ton sloop “Ville de Paris”, in 1793. This is an unexpected name when one considers the French declared war on Britain on 1 February in that year, beginning the First French Revolutionary War.

William Taylor was a prolific builder between 1802-30 and at least 37 vessels of his can be named.

William Brook built at another East-the-Water yard from about 1824 to 1843. An old map in Bideford Museum, dated 1842, shows it to have been the northernmost property save one below Bideford Bridge. The property beyond was Lake’s Limekiln, which can still be seen. The earliest vessel traced to Brook is the brigantine “Apollo”, 179 tons, of 1824, a Mediterranean trader. A total of seventeen can be listed and his last was the largest – the barque “Alice Maud”, 464 tons. In 1839 Brook had a contretemps with Thomas Corey, a Bristol shipowner, who alleged the barque “Milford”, 325 tons, was six months late on delivery. In fact Corey brought a tug from Bristol to fetch the vessel, but later denied he had taken her by force. The press reports are interesting in that they quote the contract price for the vessel – £2,752 7s. Such figures are difficult to ascertain in the absence of surviving company books.

William Brook fell ill in 1843 and died three years later, aged 51. In 1844 his yard was taken over by Thomas Waters – probably the same who was building ships at Clovelly from about 1827 to 1840. His first vessel at Cross Park was the sloop “Ebenezer”, 22 tons, in 1845. Other small craft followed, but in 1854 he built on speculation a barque which bore the temporary name of “Chieftain”, apparently his only venture above the 200 tons category. Soon after her launch she was bought by Thomas Evans, a local shipowner (probably in fact the former shipbuilder at Cleave House) who registered her as “Ellen Sophia”, but sold her on the very next day to Edward Fernandez, of Instow.

During 1857-9 William Waters signed three builder’s certificates, for the “Fairy”, Leader” and “St. Germans”, which probably indicates he was the son of Thomas. William seems to have branched out on his own in 1860 and built two schooners at the Sea Locks yard ‘above bridge.’ Thomas continued at Cross Park until 1873 and died two years later. Twenty-four vessels can be identified with his yard.

CLOVELLY. The only place in North Devon, west of the Torridge, where shipbuilding has been practiced on a commercial scale is Clovelly. There are several builders listed from 1801 to 1818.

We next find Richard Mill and Thomas Waters building the fishing smack “Ranger”, 30 tons. Vernon Boyle quoted the Exeter Gazette, October 1827, reporting the launch:-

Nearly the whole of the population ws on the beach and quay and all the fishing boats were tastefully decorated, not with colours flying, but with herrings and other fish suspended from poles and waving gracefully in the air, which was rent with the shouts of the multitudes when the “Ranger” glided gracefully into briny deep.’

Thomas Waters later built several sloops and smacks at Clovelly, and in 1840 the schooner “Providence” was attributed to John Waters, but this might be a mistake. The “Providence”, almost 60 ft long and of 76 tons register must have been difficult to launch down this exposed beach. By 1845 Thomas Waters was building ships at Cross Park, Bideford, as we have already seen.


Waterlily ” – Schooner

Details of Ship:-

Built: 1841.

Type: Schooner.

Tonnage: 84 tons (Lloyd’s Register of 1850)

Builder: Robert Johnson, East-the-Water, Bideford, Devon.

12 yrs. A1.

(see below for full details on Robert Johnson)

Measurement: Length: 59.4 ft. Beam: 16.2 ft.

Owners: 1842 – 1849, Williams.

1850 – 1852, Bastian & Co., Scilly. Harry Weymouth & S. Davies.

Captains: 1842 – 1843, C. Burtt.

1843 – 1849, T. Major.

1850, Francis Bastion

1851 – 1852, J. Bastion

Trade: Foreign. 1842, Bideford, Swansea, London.

1843, London to Bideford.

1850 – 1852, Liverpool to Mediterranean.

St. John’s, Newfoundland, Oporto, Boston, Falmouth, Scilly.

Registered: 1843 – 1849, Bideford.

1850 – 1852, Scilly.


Official No.:

Demise: 17.4.1852, Source: Daily News.:-


CASUALTIES. “Waterlily”, Bastian, sailed from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Dec. 17, for Zante, and has not since been heard of.

1851, Crew List:-

Ashford James

Current Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly Trade: Foreign

Age: 30

Born: St Martins Scilly Ticket No: 68417


Date Joined: 06 May 1851         Place Joined: Liverpool

Previous Ship: EXPRESS of Scilly

BT 98/: 2703

Bastian Francis

Current Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly         Trade: Foreign

Age: 33

Ticket No: 50704


Date Joined: 06 May 1851         Place Joined: Liverpool

Previous Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly

BT 98/: 2703

Clarke James

Current Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly Trade: Foreign

Age: 17

 Ticket No: 500495

Cook & Seaman

Date Joined: 06 May 1851         Place Joined: Liverpool

Date Left: 22 Jul 1851        Place Left: London

Previous Ship: SLANEY of Belfast

BT 98/: 2703

Ellis Edwin C

Current Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly

Age: 23

Born: Scilly        Ticket No: 71603


Date Joined: 05 Sep 1851        Place Joined: Scilly

Previous Ship: MINERVA of Scilly

Comments: MT 70089

BT 98/: 2703

Ellis Samuel

Current Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly

Age: 27

Born: Scilly        Ticket No: 247188


Date Joined: 12 May 1851         Place Joined: Scilly

Date Left: 22 Jul 1851       Place Left: London        Why Left: Discharged

Previous Ship: VESPER of Scilly

Comments: MT 58817

BT 98/: 2703

Hocking William

Current Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly, Trade: Foreign

Age: 27

Born: Falmouth            Ticket No: 296319


Date Joined: 06 May 1851          Place Joined: Liverpool

Date Left: 22 Jul 1851           Place Left: London Discharged

Previous Ship: CORK PACKET of Fowey

BT 98/: 2703

Parrott Thomas

Current Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly,  Trade: Foreign

Age: 20

Born: Llanelly           Ticket No: 480108


Date Joined: 05 Sep 1851           Place Joined: Scilly

Previous Ship: ANN of Southampton


BT 98/: 2703

Watts William James

Current Ship: WATERLILY of Scilly ,Trade: Foreign

Age: 15

Born: Scilly           Ticket No: 419567


Date Joined: 05 Sep 1851           Place Joined: Scilly

Previous Ship: First vessel

BT 98/: 2703

1851, Previous Crew Member:-

Leopold Charles

Current Ship: TELL TALE of Penzance,  Trade: Foreign

Age: 28

Ticket No: 483460


Date Joined: 20 May 1850           Place Joined: Liverpool

Date Left: 28 Aug 1850         Place Left: Labrador         Why Left: Deserted

Previous Ship: WATERLILY

Comments: aka Lepold

BT 98/: 2676


Source: “Ship Building in North Devon” by Grahame Farr. Maritime monographs and reports No. 22 – 1976.

EAST-THE-WATER. Close to the bridge, on the river Torridge, was the Johnson yard. It was old established, but who was there before Robert Johnson took over – about 1839 – is uncertain. Through two generations the output there was prolific, at least 78 vessels being attributable, the last in 1877. Robert Johnson died in 1855, aged 61, and his wife Ann took an active part for the following four years or so, even signing builder’s certificates. The son, John, carried on from 1858, at first using the title Robert Johnson and Son.

The Johnsons produced all manner of craft from smacks to barques. Their first was the schooner “Isabel”, 109 tons, of which the principal owner was Captain John Swinsdale, of Appledore. Other owners were of Liverpool, and in a short life of two years she shuttled between Liverpool and Egypt, bringing cotton on the homeward passage. One of Johnson’s smallest, the smack “Surprise”, 49 tons, built for Captain James Braund of Bucksh, was sailed out to New Zealand. The yard also built a number of vessels for Brixham and Dartmouth owners in the Newfoundland trade, for Plymouth and Bideford owners in the Mediterranean trade, and for Salcombe owners in the soft fruit trade. A few were run by the family themselves before being sold, and frequently they retained an eighth share. Their first vessel over 200 tons was the brigantine “Georgiana”, 231 tons, in 1853, for the local shipowner George Braginton, and in the next year the same owner had the brigantine “Clara Louisa”, 181 tons. Johnson’s first barque was the “Hugo”, 369 tons, in 1862 for London owners, and the largest they built in this rig was the “Florence Danver”, 498 tons, of 1865, which, with the “Beatrice”, 455 tons, in the same year, went to Swansea owners for the ore trade. On the other end of the scale John Johnson built the only two vessels of the short-lived Bideford Deep Sea Fishing Company, the “Dolphin”, 40 tons, in 1860, and the “Morning Star”, 49 tons, in 1867. An unusual job was the rebuilding of the Austrian bark “Pace”.

John Johnson built his last vessel in 1877, the schooner “Mary Walter”, which it so happens was wrecked on the Newfoundland coast in the following year.

Details of Voyages:-

12.7.1844, Source: Royal Cornwall Gazette.:-




THURSDAY – Sailed, the “Waterlily”, Major, for Liverpool.

11.4.1851, Source: Liverpool Mercury.:-



Waterlily”, Bastian, 72, Oporto – Cotesworth, Wynne, and Co.

23.5.1851, Source: Cornish Telegraph, Arrived at Scilly:-

Arrived: May 12. “Waterlily”, Boston, from Liverpool.

Sailed: May 13. “Waterlily”, Boston for Oporto

17.4.1852, Source: Daily News.:-



Waterlily”, Bastian, sailed from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Dec. 17, for Zante, and has not since been heard of.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery – July.


Here is my simple version of Seafood Tagliatelli.


Ingredients. (Serves 4, takes 20 mins).

350g/12oz Tagliatelli / Spaghetti.

2tbsb olive oil.

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.

400g can of chopped tomatoes.

200g jar of cockles in vinegar, drained and washed.

150g skinless fillet of Pollock, fresh or smoked.

Pinch of dried chilli flakes.

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or tarragon.

100g Mussel meat – optional.



Cook the pasta in a pan of salted boiling water for 10-12 mins, until al dente. Test by tasting or cutting easily.

1. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan then fry the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.

2. Dice the skinned Pollock fillet and add and cook for 5 mins, while draining and washing the cockles and chilli flakes, season and stir through. Leave to rest in the frying pan.

  1. Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Stir in the pasta sauce and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley or torn tarragon.


Next month, I will be looking for a skate dish to sample.

From Thursday 18th to Monday 22nd August we will be running events for Appledore Sharks Tales Events. On Friday 19th Aug. there will be a Skate, Ray and Huss cookery demonstration and lunch – and we will be shucking scallops too! Everyone welcome. See appledoresustainablfish facebook page.


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One hundred years ago – July 1916.


Hay and Straw Harvest.                           The 1916 crop is to be held for Army purposes. Under Defence of the Realm Regulations all hay, oat and wheat straw on the 1916 crop of England and Wales now standing in the field in bulk or as and when it is harvested will be bought by the Government. At this stage there are no instructions to farmers as to how they may secure their own supplies.

In the Bideford Borough Tribunal the Recruiting Sergeant has complained that Sidney Smith, aged 39, a motor driver in the employment of H. Hopkins, was to be allowed exemption to undertake driving duties for Mr Metherell who is required to go and buy hay and straw for the Government up to October this autumn.

The August Bank Holiday this year will be suspended. The Government, said Prime Minister Mr Asquith, has decided that it is essential in the national interest that there shall be no holidays, general or local and a Proclamation would be made to this effect.

Schoolboys both in Old Town Boys School and in the Grammar School have volunteered to help with the harvest. No extension to the set dates will be allowed despite several pleas from Councillors.

Bideford Town Council was anxious to secure a larger supply of water for the growing urban area. Late last year they had visited a possible site between Upcott and West Ashridge farms where a new reservoir might be built by throwing a dam across the Jennetts stream. In February this year an engineer had visited the site and measured water flows, and calculated that a reservoir of 27 million gallons could be built. It was envisaged the Gammaton Reservoir would continue to supply the summer requirements and the new lake will help with the winter demand.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery : June.

fish ad

This dish, developed in New Orleans in 1899, was named after the richest man in America – John D. Rockefeller – as it has a very rich taste!

Oysters Rockefeller.

Ingredients-for 24 Oysters to share

I garlic clove.

Half a bag of fresh spinach.

I bunch of watercress, stems trimmed and bunch of chopped spring onions.

Unsalted butter.

Half a cup of breadcrumbs.

1 tablespoon Pernod.

Half a tsp Tabasco.

24 fresh Oysters, shucked, reserved in their shells.

Parmesan cheese ,grated.


  1. Heat the oven to a high setting.
  2. Chop garlic in small food processor adding spinach, watercress and spring onions.
  3. Process until mixture is finely chopped.
  4. Place in a bowl then combine butter, breadcrumbs, Pernod, fennel and tabasco sauce in processor. Process until well blended
  5. Return spinach mixture to processor. Process briefly until mixtures are blended. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. At this point sprinkle rock-salt over a large baking sheet -half an inch deep and arrange oysters in rounded half shells on top. This keeps the shells upright and ensures they retain their juices.
  7. Top each oyster with 1Tbsp. of green vegetable mix. Sprinkle with cheese.
  8. Bake until cheese browns on top -about 8mins.

Serve hot with a refreshing drink.

Oyster Dressings-

Mother’s Ruin – Gin, lime red chilli.

Retro – Pernod, shallots, white wine vinegar.

The Wurzels – Apple, ginger, cider vinegar.

Turning Japanese – Wasabi, pickled ginger, rice wine vinegar.

Buck the Trend – Sea buckthorn, cider vinegar, Vodka, sugar.

The Frenchay – Shallots, red wine vinegar.

– or just Plain with a squeeze of lemon.


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