Keep calm & carry kids.

Being a parent can be hard. The lack of sleep, drinking cold coffee and eating burnt toast, never catching up on the housework you needed to do, trying to negotiate the world with a pram. It can seem a bit overwhelming, even though it’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever do. Using a baby sling or carrier can really make a difference. Before prams became popular in the last century, carrying your child in a shawl, piece of fabric or other carrier was the norm. In many cultures across the world, it still is. It’s an age-old practice that has fallen by the wayside in the recent past. Knowledge and techniques would have been passed down by close female relatives, or the wider community, just as it is in the areas of the world where carrying your baby is part of the normal daily activities. Through modern parents discovering the benefits of using slings or carriers, we are slowly bringing back this skill to our modern parenting. Commonly known as Babywearing, this practice is on the rise in the Western world.

Studies have been done that have shown many positive effects of carrying your baby close in a sling. The bond and attachment between baby and caregiver is higher, leading to happier babies with a greater sense of security. Breastfeeding is more successful, which has been shown to have an effect well into adulthood. There are also developmental benefits for the baby, and parental wellbeing is increased.

Anyone who has ever navigated small shops, or tried to get on a crowded bus knows that sometimes a pram isn’t always catered for. Anyone who has ever cuddled their baby but wished for free hands to make themselves a drink or do the dishes knows that babies love (and need) to be held safe and close. Slings can help make your life a little bit easier, without having to upset or leave your baby.

What we do as a Sling Library is help you to find a sling or carrier that suits you and your child, and to help you use it safely and comfortably. We have a monthly Sling Meet, where you can look at and try out the slings we have, get help with your own sling, ask any questions, and meet other local parents to help find new friendships. We also hire out slings for you to try in between Meets for a small fee, all of which goes back into expanding the stock and printing costs. The man hours we put in are entirely voluntary. We just want to see you, your baby and the wider community benefit from the knowledge we’ve had handed down to us by other Babywearers.

If you want to know more, please visit (, follow us on Twitter (@bidefordslings), email us ( or call Crystal on 07825 683586.


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‘Connections’ – Annie Coughlan (1872-1936).

This is the intriguing story of a Mrs. Annie Coughlan, who survived the ‘Titanic’ disaster and eventually came to live in Bideford, together with her sister, Phoebe.

She was the daughter of Alfred William Woodland (1838- 1899) and Sarah Saunders (1842- ?). The couple were married in Netherbury, Dorset in 1860, where Alfred worked as a butcher. They later moved to Guernsey, where he worked part-time as a butcher, but also ran his own pub, the ‘Half Moon’, in Les Caches Road, St. Martins.

Annie Woodland was born on Guernsey on 17 November 1872, had two older brothers and sister, and two younger brothers and sister. She married a soldier, called William Henry Martin, in Ireland in 1893. The marriage didn’t last, but she never divorced, and by 1912 was calling herself Mrs Coughlan, having presumably entered into a common-law relationship with a Mr Coughlan but unable to get divorced.. She gave her surname as Martin when registering for work, and is also described as the ‘widow of William Martin’ on her death certificate. Her legal husband died on 19 October 1918 in Wallasey, Cheshire of pneumonia and heart failure.

In the meantime, she had gained employment with the White Star Line as a stewardess on the ‘Olympic’, a sister ship of the ‘Titanic’. The ‘Olympic’ was, in fact, the same size as the ‘Titanic’, but the latter had greater tonnage because of its heavier interior fitments. Whilst employed in this capacity, she was believed to be on board when it collided with HMS ‘Hawke’ in the Solent in 1911. (The ‘Olympic’, unlike the ‘Titanic’, and its other sister ship the ‘Britannic’, survived to serve a full working life, and finished its active career in 1934. The ‘Britannic’ was sunk in the Mediterranean in 1915).

In 1912, Annie became a stewardess on the ‘Titanic’, giving her last address as Posbrook Road, Portsmouth, which was also the address of her younger sister, Phoebe. She was paid £3/10/00 a month, and embarked on the ‘Titanic’ on its fateful voyage at Southampton, when she was 39 years old. A few days later, as everyone knows, the ‘Titanic’ was hit by an iceberg, and sank within a few hours, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

At first, Mrs Coughlan, as she now liked to call herself, was thought to have perished, and appeared on the official list of the missing. She did, however, manage to get a place on one of the lifeboats (Boat 11), was picked up by the ‘Carpathia’, and disembarked in New York City on 12 April 1912.

Nothing is known of her whereabouts immediately after this. However, in the mid-to-late ’20s, she was known to have worked at The Royal Hotel in Bideford. It was also known that one of her sisters lived in Northam. This is assumed to be Phoebe Humby, her younger sister, with whom she was very close. After she left the Royal, she appears to have moved to Combe Martin, where she lived a quiet life, and where she died in 1936. A local newspaper at the time reported her death, mentioning that her husband (presumably Mr Coughlan), had drowned with the ‘Titanic’, adding that she had lived in Bideford, before moving to Combe Martin, and had a sister who still lived in Northam. Her sister moved to Barnstaple after this date, and died there in 1951.

If anything, the story of Phoebe is even more interesting. When she was a young girl of 14, she was convicted of attempting to murder her father. Her father, as mentioned above, brought up his family in Guernsey, where he worked as a butcher and a publican. At this time, he was separated from his wife, and he would often leave Phoebe alone at the bar, which she hated. Eventually, she struck up a relationship with a soldier, and they both decided to run away. However, her father found out about this before they had the opportunity to do so, and gave Phoebe a serious thrashing. In retaliation, Phoebe attempted to murder her father by poisoning his tea with oxalic acid. William felt nauseous after sipping it, and decided not to drink it. Apparently, there was enough oxalic acid in the tea to kill three or four people. Phoebe was sentenced to two years’ hard labour for her crime, and was widely reported in the national press at the time.

Phoebe died in Barnstaple in 1951.


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‘Connections’ – Lt.-Col. John Mervin Cutcliffe, C.B. (1778- 1822).

The Cutcliffes were a well-to-do North Devon family, probably descended from the fifteenth century Thomas Cutliff of Hartland. They acquired the estate of Damage Barton, near Ilfracombe in about 1505, and later Lee Manor at Lee Bay, and, amongst other properties, eventually acquired Weach Barton in Westleigh, near Bideford.

Two of John’s ancestors were of note: his grandfather, Charles Cutcliffe, was one of the first pupils of Bideford Grammar School, under the tutelage of Rev. Zachariah Mudge, and went on to become a solicitor in Bideford, but, after his father’s death, decided to take up the life of a country squire; and Charles Newall Cutcliffe, who was also a Bideford solicitor and one of the founding partners of North Devon’s first bank, which opened in 1791, under the name of ‘Cutcliffe, Roche, Gribble and Co’, but more commonly known as ‘The Old Bank’.

John, however, chose the Army for his career. He was born at Alverdiscott, near Bideford, in 1778, but resided in his early years at the family estate at Westleigh.

He had a distinguished military career.

He entered the Army in 1800, as a Cornet in the 23rd Light Dragoons. In 1801, he was made a Lieutenant, and in the same year took part in the Egyptian Campaign, which successfully cut off Napoleon’s troops in Egypt. In 1804, he was made a Captain, and from 1809 onwards, he served in Portugal and Spain in the Peninsular War, and was present at the Battle of Talevera, near Madrid. This battle was both bloody and inconclusive. The 23rd suffered serious casualties: 207 killed, wounded and missing, and 105 captured, giving them a 70% casualty rate. He was promoted to Major in 1813, and he accompanied his regiment in the campaign on the eastern coast of Spain, before taking part in the operations in the Netherlands.

Here, he was present at the Battle of Quatre Bras on the 16 June 1815, the action at Genappe on the 17 June, and then on the 18 June, he commanded the 23rd Light Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo.

According to one source, he was seriously wounded early on in the day, and on the recommendation of the Duke of Wellington, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. A few days later, he was awarded the Turkish Order of the Crescent for his services in Egypt, and on the 22 June was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.

The most interesting aspect of his story, however, is how he came to be in command of his regiment, the 23rd, at the Battle of Waterloo.

This was originally the post of the Earl of Portarlington. However, he decided to go into nearby Brussels on the eve of the battle for some entertainment, but on his way back, found himself caught up in the traffic of troops and supplies moving towards the battlefield, on the one hand, and civilians evacuating the scene to avoid the fighting, on the other. Heavy rain fell that night, only compounding the situation, and the whole area became a quagmire.

The Earl made it back in time to take part in the battle, joining the 18th Hussars, with whom he fought valiantly, but he was unable to rejoin his own regiment, so his second-in command, John Cutcliffe, had to take his place.

The Earl was ashamed of what had happened, but in spite of a letter of support and encouragement  and the gift of a snuff box from John Cutcliffe and his fellow officers in the 23rd, the Earl drank and drugged himself to an early death soon afterwards, having been reduced to living in a hovel in London.

At the end of the war, regiments were either reduced in size or disbanded, and the 23rd Light Dragoons was one of the first to be disbanded, perhaps because of the stigma attached to this incident.

In the meantime, John had married, in April 1808, the Honorable Charlotte Talbot, daughter of Baroness Talbot de Malahide, but died without issue in 1822 at Westleigh, where he is now buried.

The Battle of Waterloo ensured that no single power would dominate continental Europe militarily for many years to come, and led to a century of relative peace in Europe. This month ,of course, marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, one of the most significant in British history.


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One hundred years ago : June 1915.

The Gazette was proud to announce that 2nd class Air Mechanic J E Prance of the Royal Flying Corps has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallant conduct and valuable service. He assisted in repairing an aeroplane, which had been forced to descend near the firing line whilst being heavily shelled. The repair was successful and the plane flew again the following morning. Newly promoted 1st class Air Mechanic Prance is the eldest of the four sons of Mr S. Prance, the Bideford Harbourmaster.

Following the death of Henry Ascott JP,the licensee of the New Inn, his executors have instructed J. J. Braddick to sell by auction a unique and extensive collection of carriages and stable paraphernalia from the ‘New Inn’ stables. Among the vehicles advertised are 6 varnished Brakes, two of them with detachable hoods, and the two largest able to carry over 20 passengers each. There are also 2 Landaus, 2 Victorias, a waggonette, 2 dog-carts, a colt-brake and various luggage carts, as well as an extensive range of harness and tack. Mr. Ascott had been the licensee from 1878 until 1914 when it was transferred to Richard G. Court. The manageress in 1915 was Miss Light.

Including the New Inn there are 5 Bideford hotels which continue to advertise in the Gazette each week –

The Royal Hotel is under new management. The manageress is Miss Constable and the telephone number is Bideford 5. A charge of 6d per person is made to visitors wishing to view the famous Kingsley Suite with its panelled rooms and unique ceilings. The charge does not apply to hotel residents and those taking meals in the hotel.

The Hillgarden Hotel was situated in Mill Street. The proprietor, Mr W G Pearce, advertises a photographic dark-room for the use of guests and boasts that it is the only hotel in Bideford with a Bowling Green attached.

The Proprietor of the Kingsley Hotel on the Quay was Mr George Radford, but no proprietor is given for Tanton’s Hotel.

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


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Shipping news No. 123 (April/ May 2015).

In port – Yelland Quay.

Roseburg - (ex- Balticborg, 2003 ; Ivy, ’05 ; Forsetti, ’07) : built 1991 : flag St.John’s, Antigua & Barbuda : owners Russian : crew Russian : from Newport to Wismar : arrived 21/4, sailed 22/4 : loaded 2,100 tons timber.

Cemi - (ex- Cemile, ’04) : built 1991 : flag Nassau, Bahamas : owners Norwegian : crew Russian : from Glensanda to Newport : arrived 5/5, sailed 6/5 : discharged 4,151 tons fine stone.

Welsh Piper at Yelland 6.4.

In port – Bideford.

Frisium - (ex- Thalassa, 1998) : built 1992 : flag Sneek, Netherlands : owners Dutch : crew Dutch, Russian, Philippino : from Warrenpoint to Bendorf : arrived 13/5, sailed 15/5 : loaded 1,700 tons ball clay (two grades).

Activity at Appledore.

The Irish Patrol vessel Le James Joyce unfortunately did not sail on 4/5th; for her home port of Cork due to problems with the propellers ; next provisional date for sailing is the 17th

(The keel of the third vessel for the Irish Navy has been laid ; due for delivery 2016, no name at the moment).

Undertaking work at Appledore lifeboat buoy 27,28,29,30 April (sailed 1.5 for Ilfracombe – the States of Jersey tug Duke of Normandy.

Arco Dart at Appledore 17.4, 18.4, 19.4.

Bristol Channel Observations.

17.4 at 12.10 cargo vessel Nordesand, 4,512 tons d.w, owners Briese Schiffahrts GMBH & Co Germany, inward bound for Newport. At 12.16 cargo vessel Frisian River, 2,620 tons d.w., owners Frisian River BV Netherlands, outward bound from Birdport having sailed at 06.11. At 12.35 cargo vessel Eems Star, 2,650 tons d.w, owners Amko Shipping BV Netherlands, outward bound from Birdport, having sailed at 06.01. At 14.20 vehicle carrier Grande Anversa, 12,583 tons d.w, owners Grimaldi Line of Italy, inward bound for Portbury. At 17.35 cargo vessel Fluvius Plym, 3,211 tons d.w., owners Fluvius Plym Ltd Crediton Devon, inward bound for Avonmouth.

18.4 at 15.12 cruise ship Azores, built 1948, 16,144 tons gross, owners Portuscale Cruises Portugal inward bound for Avonmouth. (Readers may like to know the history of this vessel. She started life as the Stockholm and in 1956 off Nantucket Light Vessel New York she collided with the Italian Line Andrea Doria, which sank. The Stockholm was repaired, eventually sold to the East German Shipping Company VEB Deutsche Seereederei Rostock, and became the Volkerfreundschaft – she has had many changes since then, finishing up as the Azores).

19.4 at 12.39 vehicle carrier Morning Mercator, 23,096 tons d.w., owners Leif Autoliners Shipping AS Norway, inward bound for Portbury. At 12.53 ocean tug Graceland, 500 tons d.w, owners Neptune Marine Towage Netherlands, outward bound from Cardiff, having sailed at 07.22. At 13.10 cargo vessel Kinatsi ,18,901 tons d.w, owners Kinatsi Martime SA Greece, outward bound from Avonmouth, having sailed at 07.47. At 13.24 vehicle carrier AutoSun, 4,442 tons d.w, owners United European Car Carriers Norway, inward bound for Portbury.

26.4 at 18.28 vehicle carrier Autopride 4442 tons d.w, owners United European Car Carriers Norway, inward bound for Portbury.

27.4 at 10.59 cargo vessel Baltic Merchant, 3,110 tons d.w, owners Pohl Shipping Schiffahrts GMBH & Co KG Germany, inward bound for Newport. At 17.24 cargo vessel Lady Hester, 3,500 tons d.w, owners Wijnne & Barends Netherlands, inward bound for Cardiff. At 17.42 bulk carrier Aasli 6,630 tons d.w, owners Hans Martin Torkelsen Norway, outward bound from Port Talbot, having sailed at 14.08.

29.4 at 08.20 chemcal tanker Stolt Egret, 5,758 tons d.w, owners Stolt Tankers B/V Netherlands outward bound from Barry, having sailed at 02.10.

30.4 at 19.50 cargo vessel Eilsum, 2,376 tons d.w, owners Reederei Erwin Strahlmann Germany, inward bound for Avonmouth.

2.5 at 10.32 container vessel Endeavour, 9,168 tons d.w, owners JR. Shipping BV Netherland, inward bound for Avonmouth.

3.5 at 13.15 hrs cargo vessel Monica Mueller, 3,723 tons d.w., owners Otto A Muller Schiffahrt GMBH Germany, inward bound for Sharpness.

9.5 at 15.15 container vessel Endeavour, 9,168 tons d.w, owners JR. Shipping BV Netherland, outward bound from Avonmouth.

10.5 at 07.30 small cruise vessel Ocean Nova, 2,193 tons gross, owners Quark Expeditions (96 passengers), inward for Lundy – left at 11.30 heading in the direction of Milford Haven. At 18.56 vehicle carrier Viking Chance, 10,834 tons d.w., owners Gram Car Carrier AS Norway, inward bound for Portbury.




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Bowel Cancer Support Group.


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May’s youth page.

Party all night ( Or till 12 o’clock at the absolute earliest…)

Just like Easter is the light at the end of a long tunnel of fasting for many at Lent ( though if you’re actually seeing the light, you may have had enough of those small chocolate mousse-eggs. Mousses don’t lay eggs often, but when they do it’s a magical occurrence) those in the Bideford College sixth form got one final party out the way before embarking on a laborious month of revision, in time for the exams in May.

The theme was Good .vs. Evil, which explains all the cowboys, highwaymen and Mafiosi comparing bloody bullet holes with batman villains over a Red Bull, less so the two slow-dancing bananas in the middle of the floor- but then, their saintly potassium content probably swayed them over to the “good” side- which is just as well really, because “Good” had far fewer members. Everyone there was caught up in the spirit of the thing- even the three burly doormen who must have been intensely miffed to find they weren’t the only one with that costume idea, and no one simply came “as themselves, but on an evil day.” It also wasn’t the usual case of a shifty school dance, where five people jig about a bit in the centre and everyone else watches; it was a full four hours of screeched singing, mass dancing, and lemon-flavoured smoke machines that went a little out of control from time to time; woe betide you if you were doing “oops upside your head” in front of the nozzle, but those of us in a cape or poncho could really waft around in it. Near midnight, the evening wound down, and the strange conglomeration of heroes and villains bumbled away again into the darkness.

As well as a swansong for the free time and excitement that’ll have to be put on hold for a while, in order to concentrate fully on the final set of A-levels you’ve been working towards for the past year, it was also a good opportunity to burn yourself out for a few days. Parties like this need a long recuperation time, so people won’t have energy for anything other than some maths revision, and a skim through the Russian Revolution in between naps. It seems the best way to enjoy revision is when it’s an excuse not to do anything else; more like pancake day than Easter then, as you make yourself sick before lent, so the sweet treats and the chocolate are even easier to give up for a the long spell ahead.


Last month saw the Burton Art Gallery’s exhibition of Howard Hodgkin’s ‘Green Thoughts’. All inspired by some aspect of the surrounding country-side from ‘Storm cloud’ to ‘Sundown’, the 19 limited editions on display were made using carborundum relief and hand painting. The lush, vibrant colours and vital paint strokes speak to the viewer- though mostly it’s questions like, “What kind of storm clouds does Howard Hodgkin ogle?” and “I love the nice driftwood border he’s drawn, and this coastal delight of sea and sand, but why is the moon crying in a corner?” They’re abstract pieces, but they do require a bit of thought if you want to understand their underlying meaning. Otherwise, it’s just satisfying to take a step back from the wall and blur your eyes- let them eat up the feast of texture and hues, and not really worry what the peeling amoebas/raindrops are up to. And they really are a treat to look at, because Hodgkin’s managed to blend the spontaneity of nature- overlapping lines, and unconfined drips, but also kept the raw power or energy of what he’s trying to convey- be it raging conditions out at sea, or a calm, clear sunrise over rolling rural corn fields, a sense of this is all oozing from the works.

Inspired by Andrew Marvell’s 17th century poem ‘The Garden’ if that’s what we have to thank for these 19 limited editions, then we may well become Andrew Marvell fans as a result…

Millie Sutherland O’Gara


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One hundred years ago : May 1915.

At the Annual meeting of the Bideford Workhouse Guardians it was announced that 26 meetings were held during the year and only 4 of the elected Guardians had attended all meetings. Some had only been present at 10 meetings and one person had only made one attendance. The War has had an effect on the number of tramps calling overnight, falling from 80 the previous year to 37 and the numbers of men fully employed or going off to fight has caused the casual numbers to fall from 2220 to 1548.

Over the Whitsun holidays, May 22/23rd, traffic has fallen by a half. No railway excursions were run and with over 3,000 men from North Devon off to war families stayed at home.

George Boyle, Motor Cycle and Bicycle agent of Allhalland Street and Queen Street, warns of a “dearth of bicycles” due to the scarcity of raw materials and shortages of manpower.

Recruiting at Bideford is quoted as being similar to or better than other towns. 540 men have enlisted and have gone to the Devonshire Territorials who are now garrisoned in India, or to the Devon Yeomanry who are defending the east coast against possible invasion. A recruiting march was organised around North Devon which stopped overnight in Bideford. 130 men were recruited into the 6th Battalion Devonshire Regiment but more are needed. Currently there are 370 men between the ages of 18 and 38, fit or unfit, in the town. There is reluctance to volunteer, many saying that they will “Go if conscripted but not voluntarily”. Tattersill’s, the grocers in the town, had the advertisement (as shown) during May which seemed to reflect this growing unease generated by the war.

In other news:

For Sale at Pines Lane Bideford, 16 acres of luxuriant grass and farming implements together with one Guernsey cow in full milk. Offered by the Executors of the late H Arscott JP.

The town water supply is giving concern again. Supply is dwindling and Bideford Urban District councillors are debating whether to turn off the supply overnight.

Farleigh’s Stores in High Street are selling “tempting little breakfast hams” at 7d a pound. Miss A Littlejohns of York Cottage will give lessons in the new method of “Touch” typing.

Bideford & District Community Archive, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714


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Time capsules and the Port Memorial.

Saturday April 11th saw an interesting event on the Quay when the restored Port Memorial and Ornamental Gardens were re- opened by the Mayor following refurbishment.

Councillor David Howell had also organised a ceremony with the Sea Scouts to bury a time capsule containing items from local groups and organisations within the town, (including 4 years worth of Bideford Buzz on a memory stick.) The plan is that the capsule will be excavated in 30 years time and will give a snapshot of life in Bideford in 2015.

Councillor Peter Christie described the history of the Port Memorial, which commemorates how Bideford regained its port status in 1925 after losing it in 1882. This was echoed in an historical description by the Town Crier.

A rather wonderful terracotta mural has been designed and built by ceramicist Maggie Curtis, and this now forms part of the memorial. Maggie writes ;-

‘Being asked to make commemorative plaques for a public memorial is an honour, but daunting, especially when my knowledge of the history of Bideford Port was sketchy at best. However the research was fascinating; I found out why Harry Juniper called Peter’s Marland clay “pipe clay”, why, when on holiday in Portugal in 1967 at the Cascois’ Fiesta, the prize for the Greasy pole was a salt cod, and why there are so many Americans visiting the North Devon Maritime Museum in Appledore.

I decided to show Bideford’s mercantile shipping history by depicting two illustrated trade maps. Bideford’s shipbuilding industry played a crucial part in enabling Bideford’s merchants to trade, so I researched and found named Bideford-built ships throughout the history of both Tobacco and Salt Cod  and used them to represent the development of each trade and their subsidiary cargos.’

Interestingly Bideford has two other time capsules in place. Just at the entrance to Victoria Park is the Millennium Time Capsule, buried there in 2000. Another little book, ‘Secrets of Bideford’ (available at Bideford Library) describes the burying of art works in the fabric of the Quay when the flood defence scheme was completed.

Future generations of Bidefordians will have plenty of archive material to peruse!



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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery : May.

There are two Bank Holidays in May and lots of opportunity to eat local sustainable fish and shellfish. The long days enable the fishermen to start catching more regularly and the shellfish pots are all out now, enabling a wide variety of fish to be be available.Here is a simple fish curry that is quick to make and you can eat in a bowl outside or feed a a crowd if you have visitors for the holidays.

Thai Fish Curry


2-3 tbsp red Thai curry paste.

2.5 cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped.

50g cashew nuts.

400ml can coconut milk.

3 carrots cut in batons.

1 broccoli head, cut into florets.

20g fresh coriander, roughly chopped.

2 handfuls of spinach leaves and /or ransons (wild garlic), chopped.

250g White fish skinned and cubed –Hake or Pollack is a good local choice.


1. Put curry paste into a large pan, add the ginger and nuts and stir fry over a medium heat for 2-3mins.

2. Add coconut milk, cover and bring to the boil. Stir in the carrots, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5mins. Add the broccoli florets and simmer for a further 5 mins.

3. Cut the fillets of fish into cubes, add and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender-no more than 10 mins.

4.Take off heat and stir in the coriander and lime zest into the pan with the spinach or wild garlic.Squeeze the lime juice over and serve with boiled rice and garnishwith coriander leaves -Simple!!

There are more Summer Festivals with a Fish/Water theme. The Appledore Fish Summer School group has a stall at the Northam May Fair and the Bradworthy Arts Festival. Please come and find out about the Events and buy some fish for tea!

Felicity Sylvester.


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‘Connections’ – Herbert Ashley Asquith.

A Ship Sails up to Bideford

A ship sails up to Bideford,

Upon a western breeze,

Mast by mast, sail over sail,

She rises from the seas,

And sights the hills of Devon

And the misty English trees.

She comes from Eastern islands,

The sun is in her hold,

She bears the fruit of Jaffa,

Dates, oranges and gold;

She brings the silk of China,

And bales of Persian dyes,

And birds with sparkling feathers

And snakes with diamond eyes.

She’s gliding in the starlight

As white as any gull,

The east is gliding with her

In the shadows of her hull.

A ship sails up to Bideford,

Upon a western breeze,

With fruits of Eastern summers

She rises from the seas,

And sights the hills of Devon

And the misty English trees.

I am a native Bidefordian, and have to confess that I only came across this poem by Herbert Ashley Asquith by accident, whilst researching something completely different.

Its author was the second son of the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith (1908-1916), with whom he was often confused, and about whom not an awful lot has been written. Born in 1881, he was nicknamed ‘Beb’ by his family. He was educated at Winchester College with his brothers, then went to Oxford, where he was President of the Oxford Union, and afterwards became a lawyer, novelist and poet. In 1910, he married Cynthia Charteris, who was herself a writer. He served as Captain with the Royal Artillery in France during the First World War; several of his best poems are about the soldiers who died.

He would have had plenty of opportunity to visit Bideford during his life. His father often accepted invitations by Mrs Hamlyn to house-parties held at Clovelly Court whilst he was Prime Minister. At a later date, his younger brother, Arthur, married the inheratrix to the Clovelly Court estate, (Mrs Hamlyn having died with no direct heirs), and to which he retired at the end of the war, after a distinguished war career, and where he lived until his death in 1939.

His older brother, Raymond, was sadly killed during the First World War.

Herbert Ashley died in 1947. His father, the Prime Minister, was later made the 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith.

It is a rather fine poem; (there are others to be found on the internet.) The North Devon folk group ‘Hearts of Oak’, sadly now defunct, set it to music, where it gained a regular place in their repertoire, and can still be found on YouTube.

Chris Trigger

Part of our Connections Series.


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Shipping news No. 122 (March/ April 2015).

In Port – Bideford Quay.

Marley – (ex- Disburg 1995, Annleng ’96, Ardesco ’08) : built 1995 : flag Antwerp, Belgium : owners Belgian: crew Ukrainian & Russian : from Newport to Castellon : arrived 19.3, sailed 20.3 : loaded 2,730 tons ball clay.

(I understand from Capt Hoad the children of Tawstock School visited the Quay area and saw the loading ; they enjoyed the day, according to their teacher Jayne).

Trinity House vessel Mair alongside Bideford Quay 9.3 for work on their equipment on the Torridge Bridge and also at Barnstaple.

In Port – Yelland Quay.

Welsh Piper at Yelland 6.4.

Vessel Roseburg due to load timber between 16/21st April (Spring tide period).

Aberdeen - (ex- Stortebeker 2009, Wilson Aberdeen ’14) : built 2009 : flag Valletta, Malta : owners German : crew Russian & Ukrainian : from Glensanda to Briton Ferry : arrived 8.4, sailed 9.4 : discharged 3,500 tons chippings.

Kaie – (ex- Eversmeer 2005, Cady ’97, Skagen ’93) : built 1990 : flag Valletta, Malta : owners Estonian : crew Russian & Ukrainian : from Glensanda to Antwerp : arrived 8.4, sailed 8.4 : discharged 4,012 tons chippings.

Activity at Appledore.

The Irish Patrol vessel Le James Joyce unfortunately did not sail until the Spring HW period 16/21 April for her home port of Cork, due to problems with the propellers.

Tug Strathdon with barge Ur 96 (Owners Uglands) arrived at the shipyard on the 24.3 to load components of the second aircraft carrier HMS Prince Charles being constructed at Rosyth. The barge came out of the building shed on the 2.4, but could not sail due to swell in the bay . She finally departed on the 4.4, approx 18.30, with a large crowd on Appledore seafront to see her depart ; according to her AIS tracking she was proceeding north via the Pentland Firth and arrived off Rosyth 6.6 days after leaving Appledore.

Arco Dart at Appledore 19.3, 20.3, 21.3.

Bristol Channel Observations.

21.3 at 15.02 cargo vessel Albiz, 5,750 tons d.w, owners Muruera Naviera Spain, outward bound from Sharpness, having sailed at 08.21. At 16.02 cargo vessel Merel V 3200 tons d.w, owners Veltman H Netherlands, outward bound from Sharpness having sailed at 08.11. At 18.00 cargo vessel Iryda 34946 tons d.w, owners Iryda Shipping Poland, inward bound for Portbury.

22.3 at 13.51 cargo vessel Nicole C, 5,000 tons d.w, owners Carisbrooke Shipping Cowes I.O.W., inward bound for Avonmouth. At.15.06 Vehicle carrier Venus Spirit, 13,951 tons d.w, inward bound for Portbury.

23.3 at 16.20 cargo vessel Fri Karmsund, 5,935 tons d.w, owners Fri Karmsund AS Norway, outward bound from Newport, having sailed at 10.50.

27.3 at 1703 hrs vehicle carrier Autosun, 6,670 tons d.w, owners United European Car Carriers Norway, inward bound for Portbury.

28.3 at 09.31 vehicle carrier Autopride, 4,442 tons d.w, owners United European Car Carriers Norway I, outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 01.32.

30.3 at 11.33 cargo vessel Scot Isle, 3,154 tons d.w, owners Scot Line ltd U.K, inward bound for Newport.

31.3 at 10.47 chemical tanker Stolt Greenshank, 4,350 tons, owners Brovig Stainless AS Rotterdam, inward bound for Barry.

1.4 at 12.35 vehicle carrier Grande Mediterrano, 18,427 tons d.w, owners Grimaldi Line of Italy, inward bound for Portbury. At 15.50 cargo vessel Clipper Triumph, 3,0471 tons d.w, owners Clipping Group Management Bermuda, inward bound for Newport.

9.4 at 17.27 vehicle carrier Autosun, 6,670 tons d.w, owners United European Car Carriers Norway,inward bound for Portbury.

11.4 at 08.24 cargo vessel Westewind, 2,800 tons d.w, owners Wagenborg Shipping BV Netherlands, outward bound from Sharpness, having sailed at 22.12 10th . At 15.08 cargo vessel Vlieland, 6,000 tons d.w, owners Vlieland Shipping Netherlands, inward bound for Swansea . At 18.05 vehicle carrier Galaxy Ace, owners Mitsu OSK Lines, Japan, outward bound from Portbury, having sailed at 13.29. At 18.50 cargo vessel Lowlands Brabo, 32,280 tons d.w, owners Sea Wealth Navigation SA, inward bound for Portbury.

12.4.15 at 11.43 cargo vessel Sir Henry, 18,315 tons d.w, owners Revenge Shipping, Athens Greece inward bound for Newport.




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April’s Youth page.

Lawrence at the library.

This month, the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed some new sights to be seen round the Bideford Library. Alongside banks of books, computer stacks, and the odd secret passage way( we haven’t found any active ones yet, but there’s a suspicious looking ridge by the science fiction) sit sculptures of steel, driftwood and paint.

Hooked to ceiling brackets are a selection of Lawrence Luciano’s newest works. The self proclaimed bricklayer- who dabbles with some lovely artwork and poems on the side- has infiltrated the shelves and put on quite a display. You can easily walk round and browse both the books, and the art works- some of which are gazing out the window like some unhelpfully pretty gargoyles, more likely to entice things in than keep them out. Metallic wooden creatures peer down and meet your gaze as you wait for the computers to log on, while in the other room nonfiction shelves seem to be a duelling ground for a variety of strange beasts, namely a turbine enshrouded praying mantis that’s just dripping in heavy chainmail bling.

This is no happy accident though, as after visiting for a few months on 2009, Lawrence Luciano became captivated by Bideford as “the Heavenliest Devonliest” place he had ever visited, so upped sticks from Neath in Wales and moved here to continue his works- not only in the 3rd dimensions but also in verse, some of which like ’2 dead rats’ are pinned up at the back along with a brief biography.

This “Written off” expedition has no mentioned finished date as of yet, but that also means it could vanish suddenly , so if you’re interested in the woodland world that has sprung up, it’s well worth a visit sometime soon! (Can confidently say it will be here for the whole of April ed )

On the subject of exhibitions, the ‘Story of Bideford Black’ project was initiated way back in 2012- by local artist Peter Ward-and has now finally come to completion. A pigment found only in Bideford and mined until 1969 for use in paint, mascara and camouflage; Bideford Black was of huge importance in a bygone age and is still being recognised for its contribution today. With the intention of uncovering, gathering and presenting a hoard of fresh stories about one of our town’s most legendary natural resources, it’s received funding from the Heritage Lottery fund, an ‘all our stories’ grant and a generous donation by The friends of Burton art gallery. Already, 8 artists have agreed to compile the body of work- Richard Long’s display last year was one of the first followed by Luce Choules’ talk which took place on the 11th March. Hopefully, this brings a new celebration of Bidefordian history, as the Burton’s website sets out to archive it all:

Millie Sutherland O’Gara.


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‘Connections’ – Thomas Arthur, VC.

Thomas Arthur VC (1835- 1902)

Thomas Arthur was one of only four North Devonians who have been awarded the Victoria Cross.

Born in Abbotsham, near Bideford in 1835, to Thomas and Jane Arthur, he appears to have worked as a farm labourer for a short while for a John Beckalick at Parkham, before joining the Army at the age of 18 at Devonport for service in the Royal Regiment of Artillery. He was sent to the Royal Artillery Depot at Woolwich, where he earned the princely sum of one and three pence per day (the equivalent of 6p today) as a gunner. In November 1854, he embarked on HMS ‘Niagara’ from Liverpool, bound for the war in the Crimea.

Conditions in the Crimea were atrocious, and more men were dying from infection, fever, poor sanitation and hunger, than from deaths and injuries sustained in battle, and it was to rectify this situation that Florence Nightingale was famously sent, with 38 nurses to help her. Though she was largely based in Scutari Barracks, she did make two visits to Balaclava, where at one timeThomas was briefly hospitalised.

He was eventually stationed at Sebastopol, where the Russians were dug in at the Quarries.

The 7th Fusiliers attacked the position, and gained it, but Thomas could see that that the infantrymen were running out of ammunition. When night fell he ran, on several occasions under heavy enemy fire, with barrels of ammunition on his head, and at obvious great danger to himself,to keep the infantry supplied. He was said to have thrown the ammunition down at the soldiers’ feet, shouting “Here you are, my lads, fire away!”.

The Quarries were little more than holes in the ground in front of a fort called the Redan, the capture of which was the object of the exercise, and against which the Commander-in Chief, Lord Raglan, threw about a thousand troops, but without success. Only half survived the attack.

It was at this point that Thomas volunteered to form and lead a spiking party, to disable and sabotage the enemy guns, an extremely hazardous operation.

On other occasions, he was seen, lifting up and bringing back wounded officers and men to the trenches.

For all these acts of bravery, he was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

He left the Crimea with his Battery in February 1856, and arrived back in Woolwich in the middle of March.

Uncharacteristically, he took two separate days off without leave soon after his return. He was court-martialled and ended up serving a twenty-eight day sentence in Weedon Military Prison in Northamptonshire.

Fortunately, he was released nine days before he was ordered to march to Hyde Park, where, together with 62 other Crimean War heroes, he was awarded the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria .

The Victoria Cross was specifically created at this time to commemorate the deeds of those servicemen who had acted with valour under enemy fire, above and beyond the call of duty, and this was the first investiture of its kind. The medals were awarded in strict order of seniority of service and rank. Thomas was the twenty-third, being one of five Royal Artillery members – four officers, and Thomas.

A few days afterwards, on 6 July, he got married to Ann Goddard, from Hornstead in Berkshire.

They had eight children in all, his sixth child, Sophia being born in Bideford in 1876. This was after his retirement from the army in 1874.

He finally settled in Savernake, Wiltshire, where he died, of unknown causes, on 2 March 1902, aged 67. He is buried here in Cadley Churchyard

Proud of Thomas’s exploits and medal, many of his descendants have included the name Arthur in their sons’ name, one relative even calling her daughter Mabel Arthur!

It is well-known that Victoria Crosses are made from the gunmetal of one of two Chinese cannons, used by the Russians and captured by the British at the siege of Sebastopol.

Thomas’s own medal was purchased on 19 July 1902 for £47, purchased again at a later date by the Royal Artillery Institute, and is now displayed at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, for all to see.

Chris Trigger.


Additionally, from May’s ‘Buzz Word’ -

Thomas Arthur

Following up the extremely interesting piece by Chris Trigger about Thomas Arthur, readers might be interested to learn a bit more about the Abbotsham connection.Thomas was baptised in St Helen’s Church in the village in August 1836. His two elder sisters, Catherine and Fanny had been baptised there in March 1833, but there is no record of his parents, Jane and Thomas, having been married there, so it is probable that they moved to Abbotsham from elsewhere. Thomas’ father appears to have died before his son was born as the Parish register reords the funeral of a Thomas Arthur (s) in 1836. (all the Parish records show the family as Arthurs.) It is possible that Thomas’ mother married again later in life as a Jane Arthur (s) married a John Dinford at St. Helen’s in November 1847.

In St Helen’s Churchyard, by the foot of the cross commemorating the war dead is a small plaque dedicated to Thomas Arthur as one of the first soldiers ever to receive a VC for his valour in war. There is also a small housing development named ‘Arthur’s Lea’ in his momory.

Martin Wilson. (Abbotsham Community Archive).


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Buzz Word – April.

Verren Family.

I am a descendant of the Verren families from Bideford, living in Canberra. I am trying to contact Verren family members who may be able to help me with the following information :

Living Verren family members still in Bideford or family members buried in Bideford Cemeteries.

Information on Verren family members who have moved elsewhere

Birth, Death, Marriage information, especially around or prior to  the 1797 birth of Albert and William Verren [twins] born in Bideford.

Also any information on the Verren families, who were Huguenots, and who fled from France to England during the 16th century. Any known derivatives of the Verren family name.

*I am attaching information about the Verren families given to me from a cousin. I attach relevant found Verren family information of birth and death in Bideford.

Ruth Page


*Can forward this extra item to anyone with information as well as other contact details.



Bideford Hospital – last month’s front page.

The photograph shows the opening ceremony of the new Bideford and District Hospital, held on Wednesday 23rd September 1925 – the ceremony being performed by Sir William Reardon Smith, Bart.

The cost of the building was approximately £21,000 and it was built by Messrs Mardon, Ball and Co of Farnham.The foundation stone was laid in 1924 by Lord Glanely.

The persons present: – Sir William Reardon Smith – seated left of the Matron; Lord Glanely seated right of the matron.Also present Hospital staff – nurses and doctors. The Mayor – Edwin Josiah Toye, born London 1871. Having been medical officer for Northam he came to Bideford where his surgery was at Stanhope and where he practised for 40 years. He was elected to Bideford Council in 1923 and was made Mayor in 1925. His daughter, Miss Keene was his mayoress. Dr Toye died suddenly in January 1938 at the age of 66.

Mike Davy.


Bideford Stroke Support Group.

We are a small friendly group who help people whose speech has been affected by stroke.We need a new volunteer / leader to take a pro- active role in our little group. Could you spare a couple of hours on alternate Tuesday mornings.Tea and laughter are the order of the day.Give us a buzz! For more information….07713 629774

Cammie Escott.


Machu Picchu Challenge.

In August I will be going to Peru to complete the trek to Machu Picchu. I am doing this to raise funds for the new chemotherapy unit at Barnstaple hospital. However, this is a massive challenge for me and I am doing it because I have beaten cancer twice and I now want to beat my lifelong fear of heights. The trek climbs to a height of 4,200 M. It really is completely outside of my comfort zone – I used to have to close my eyes when driven over the new bridges in Bideford in Barnstaple. Thankfully I cope with them a lot better now! I have also never slept in a tent, so for the first time in my life I will be sleeping in a tent, up a mountain, with a stranger. Not something I can say I thought I would ever do!

I have to raise a lot of money to complete this challenge, but I want to let people know that I have had to pay for myself to go out there. My main fundraising event is hosting an Elvis/Rock’n’Roll night at Pier House, Westward Ho! This will take place on Friday 17th April at 8pm and tickets cost £7 from me on 07713636905. Phil Brock will be performing his amazing Elvis act which is probably the best in the West Country. If you want a great evening of entertainment I hope you feel you will be able to support me. If you are not able to be there, but would like to support me, please visit my page on

Helen Finn.


Bideford Quilt Group

Bideford Quilters meet monthly on the last Saturday of the month. We are now meeting at Northam Hall again – where we originally started.

We have had exhibitions at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum; the last one was in November/December 2013. For each of our exhibitions we have made a ‘group quilt’ which has been raffled in aid of North Devon Hospice. After a previous exhibition we had a lot of people wanting to join us so we started a second group – ‘Tarka Quilters’ which meets at Fremington Methodist Hall on the second Tuesday of the month. We have now decided to amalgamate the two groups so that members can go to either meetings.

Meetings are from 10-00 – 2.00 pm normally, and from 10.00 – 3.30 pm when we have a workshop. Sometimes we have ‘in-house’ tutors and at other times we use outside tutors to come to us.We have people of all abilities in our groups – from beginners to very experienced.

We are planning to start a ‘block a month’ where a different technique block is made each month leading to producing a sampler quilt – this is very helpful particularly for beginners.

If anyone is interested in joining us they would be very welcome – please ring Kate 01237 470846 or Steph 01237 470570 for details.


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