Messing about on the creek will be something many a Briton has been doing this long weekend – one of our bank holidays. The grim squalor of intensive urbanisation in the 1800s made the seaside seem an ever more appealing destination ... then made easier with the advent of the railways.
Gladstone’s Railway Act 1844 compelled railway companies to provide safer, cheap carriages for the less well off – the tiered charging system ... but the sea towns (resorts) benefited from this influx of visitors and their commercial spend.
The great Victorian era ushered in numerous regulatory Acts protecting workers and benefiting them in other ways – as well as opening the doors to one ‘surprised’ tour operator: Thos Cook – he was a committed temperance campaigner!
The Bank Holiday Act in 1871 allowed the Nation’s pent up desire for a leisure break to really come into its own. This Act enshrined the provision of universal holidays at Christmas, New Year, Easter, Whit Monday and today, what is known as the August Bank Holiday (at August end).
So this weekend ... our last Bank Holiday before Christmas 2011 rolls around and the last week before schools go back!
I give you a poem sent to us by a friend in Cornwall – this was published in the “Tramway” Summer 2010 magazine from the Parish Church of Devoran, Carnon Downs, Point and West Penpol – and sent to us as a conversation piece for my mother and I – together with her accompanying pictures.
It was on this Creek we learnt to sail in a Redwing, and messed about in a dinghy for one long six week summer holiday ... Devoran Parish is further inland ... but we were happy to be ...
MESSING ABOUT ON THE CREEK –
by Clare Chipman
Out on the sea filled creek
Paddling? Rowing? Sailing?
Down with the west wind, Point or Pandora?
Dangle a line and drift awhile.
Up with the flood, wriggle past the mooring lines
Dreaming of water rails, otters and ratty.
Through Kenny’s cut and up the Perran,
Still dreaming of ratty, otters and the ever invisible rail.
Find the channel through to the Kennal,
Up to the Norway or back down to the island.
Sea pinks and asters, samphire and ducks galore,
Maybe a flashy blue kingfisher, osprey, or seal.
Young of all ages jumping the channels,
waiting for the tide to come back,
to slide and slither, tarry black
home to hose down and tea.
Those wonderful days of messing about in a boat, paddling on the creek, jumping amongst the rocks, seeing if you can be Canute amongst the breakers, watching the birds wheel above ... dive down, or float rocking atop the waves, or scratch amongst the seaweed and sand for a fishy feast.
Home again - kids days, happy days ... ruddy-cheeked, tousle-haired, eyes streaming while tales are told of the day spent messing about on the creek – the delight of a warm towel, dry clothes, a toasty Cornish Cream tea – and the happy memories of children with bright eyes, laughing faces, exhausted by a day of excitement in the great natural outdoors.
Glossary – for enlightenment ... supplied by Clare!
Tramway – “Tram” – is the name of the narrow road, which has replaced the horse drawn railway track, which carried ore for smelting a mile down river to Point, where the tin smelter was found in the 1800s.
(Copper ore was shipped to Wales, as it needed much more coal; coal was then shipped back to the Devoran tin smelter). Devoran was the Port for the Redruth and Chasewater Mineral Railway (1825 – 1915). It ran half way across the Cornish peninsula from the mining area around Redruth to the port of Devoran on Restronguet Creek off the Fal estuary.
Kenny is a very splendid local who dug a channel to link two of the three rivers (Kennal, the Carnon and the Perran) which meet here, to become Restronguet Creek. This improved the outgoing tidal flow, by scouring the river bed of some of the silt to improve its depth.
The Norway Inn – how could I forget ... where I could get a drink! – is a large pub on the Falmouth road as it runs beside the Perran. The name derives from the Norwegian vessels which once brought loads of timber for use as pitprops in the mines. The timber would be seasoned for several months in shallow tidal ponds.
I hope you have all had wonderful Bank Holidays or will have Labour Day holidays with family and friends ... Autumn beckons each day ... and on towards Christmas ...
Dear Mr Postman – nothing much changes here ... but we are peaceful and comfortable which is all I can wish for my mother.
We pray that our East Coast friends were not too battered or damaged by Hurricane Irene.
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