Landrake with St. Erney - a rural parish in south east Cornwall.

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Memories

Frank Congdon remembers:

My association with the village of Landrake commenced on 17 th September 1918 for it was on that date that the village experienced the sale of the century. The Earl of Mount Edgcumbe who owned most of the village and all the land surrounding it had to sell it all for death duty purposes (someone had to pay for the war).

It was then that the farmers bought their farms and many people their cottages, including my father who bought ‘The Barton’ and its 226 acres, just 3 weeks before I was born. So I was a baby in arms when I was carried into that farmhouse.

I can’t remember much about the first few years, but of course I spent the first 11 years at the old Landrake School with Mr W Jane as headmaster and Miss Churchwood as the junior teacher.

 

I suppose the most significant difference between life at that time and now was that almost all the inhabitants obtained their work at home or within walking distance of home. In the 1920’s and 30’s there were about 65 families who made a living on the land of the parish, either as farmers, small holders or farm workers. It has always amazed me from how small an acreage of land many families made a living . Now there are just five families who live from farm income only in the parish.

Landrake was lucky later when stone quarrying at Poldrissick and Treluggan provided jobs for many men.

The number of cars in the village was very small, my father and his family travelled only by pony and trap up to about 1927 when he purchased his first car.

At about that time or a little later, the Western National Bus Company started to run a service from Tideford through Landrake to Saltash. This of course made a lot of difference to life for the young people of the village. School leaving girls who previously had only the option of working as domestics in the large houses or farm houses, now were able to go to work in Saltash. Many of them commenced as shop assistants in the new Co-op Store recently built in Fore Street. Of course, the village in those days had its own shops. The largest was the bakery owned by Ald E Menhenick where he employed a full time baker who baked bread, cakes, etc. in an oven at the rear. He also employed 2 full time roundsmen who travelled the villages and farms for many miles around selling the bread and cakes. Next door to the bakery, Mr John Henry Kelly ran a shop which sold almost any item you required including groceries, confectionery and even drapery and shoes. The first Post Office I can remember, was run by a Mr Hancock in the house inside the railings in the Square now known as ‘Rosedale’. Later sites for the Post Office were in School Road and Tideford Road. Because horses were the main source of transport and power, the blacksmiths were important members of the community, shoeing those horses and also repairing the farm implements. Children had to make their own fun and one of the toys we all used was a ring of iron formed into a hoop which we bowled along the roads with a piece of stick. Sometimes the join would come apart and then, if you caught the blacksmith in a good mood, he would get it hot in his forge and hammer it together again whilst hot. In the 1920’s everyone wore boots, shoes were only for wearing on Sundays. These boots were made only of leather, no plastic throw aways then. So the cobbler too played a great part in village life. Boots were soled and heeled with strips of leather, cut from large slabs. We had 2 cobblers in Landrake at one time, but the last was a Mr Bill Rawlings. He had a cobbler’s shop for many years at Home Park House in Pound Hill. I can almost hear the tapping of his little hammer every time I passed that little window beside the back door of that house.

Landrake had its own butchers shop too in Tideford Road. In the early years it was run by the two brothers called Panter, who purchased cattle from neighbouring farmers and sold the meat to the farms and villages around the area. The slaughter house was at the rear of the shop. There was another slaughter house through the large doors, leading to the rear of Manor House in the village square. This was run by three brothers called Rogers who too purchased cattle from the farmers but sold their carcasses to wholesale butchers in Plymouth.

Another good industry for Landrake at one time was the Strawberry gardens run by Mr Preston on the steep land opposite the garage at Notter Bridge. He employed 2 full time men there, and many of the ladies of the village during the picking time.

Landrake was always in the forefront of progress in the county. Ald.Edwin Menhenick was a great chairman of the County Highway Committee for many years, K G Foster of Treluggan was Cornwall County Chairman when the Tamar Bridge was built. Solomon Brown of the Penlee Lifeboat fame, was a tenant of the Barton Farm in his time. Of course not forgetting our own famous Sir Robert Geffery.

Ald. Edwin Menhenick called the first meeting which considered the forming of a club for young farmers and it was at that meeting that we formed one of the first YFC’s in Cornwall. Landrake was in the forefront again and what a great organisation that has become? The officials at that first meeting in September 1937 were Sir Montague Eliot of St Germans, President; Miss Barbara Henwood (later Hicks) Secretary; Mr Norman Brewer, Treasurer; Mr John Tamblyn, club leader, and myself (F R Congdon) Chairman. I now remain the only one of those five alive. These foundation officials remained in office for the first 3 years of the club.

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August 2014
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