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

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Ken Eastment remembers the war years:

I was born at Lowertown, School Road, in a cottage next to Ken Crocker on January 1 st 1934. Later I moved to Hoopers Cottage opposite the old school and started at the school in 1939. The infant teacher was a Miss Belbin, I think, who came from Trewint.

On the first day at school I ran a splinter of wood under my finger nail, but Mrs Comstock in the post office, being a nurse, took the splinter out. My father, George, was working in the gardens at Port Eliot and later at Poldrissick Quarry. Many local men were employed at Poldrissick, Notter Bridge and Treluggan Quarries. Dad was on the barge ‘Blue Elvin’ which took stone to Plymstock and Pomphlett for the Admiralty. The mate on board the barge was Wat Ellis from Tideford.

Until the outbreak of the war, we used a pump for our water supply. Failing this we used the well at the bottom of Ducky Lane. This well was also used by Mr.Scantlebury who lived in a cottage opposite the Hall, and those who lived in Moor View House.

When the war started, we young ones at school were unable to understand who that man Hitler was and why we had to go to the Hall to be fitted with gas masks.

I well remember playing in the school field on the Blunts Road and seeing German bombers flying down the Tamar Valley towards Plymouth. After the night raids on Plymouth, Arthur Chiswell, ( my best pal ) and I used to pick up shrapnel, the aftermath of the Carkeel ack-ack guns.

The nights were very frightening with total blackout, air raids going on all night, guns like thunder going off and search lights all over the sky.

We boys used to collect waste paper for the war effort, also scrap metal and take it to the heap in the CCC lay by at the top of Blunts Road. We had gas mask drill down the old road under the trees.

Everyone in Landrake knew everyone in the parish and helped each other in many ways. The younger men were called up for wartime service and the not so young for the Home Guard, etc..

Many hours were spent at the blacksmith’s shop. Mr Scholer used to make us a hoop out of iron for 6 old pence ( 6d ). Mr Menheniot’s bakery used to make buns about the size of a saucer for 2d and a smaller penny bun with fruit in it.

We were very proud of the Landrake Band, the practice room was in the old Liberal Club.

Many children were forced to evacuate from the big towns during the war and with the school overflowing, many of us in the junior class, with Miss Churchward, had to take our lessons in the Liberal Clubroom or Chapel rooms. Mr Tucker was our headmaster during and after the war - ‘one of the best’.

When it was the celebration service in church for the Victory In Europe, it was packed out to the door. The Vicar, the Rev TA Walton took the service and all the local children were given a New Testament by the Landrake Red Cross working party.

My mum was a member of the Church Council, also of the Landrake Mothers’ Union. Arthur and I used to sing in the Church choir. We also had a very good boys football team in later years, mainly going by Haddy’s taxi, push bike or bus to away games.

There was a good brass band in Landrake. From about 1945 until 1955 the band played for carnivals, May Day Celebrations, VE Day, the Flora Dance around the village and many at other events both locally and further away. The band master was Enos Barrett, and later, Mr Davey. Those in the band were: W Smale, the two Eade brothers, W Scholar ( the blacksmith ), W Thomas, C Thomas, P Rawlings, H Chiswell, A Chiswell and a couple of others from outside the district.

During the late 40’s and early 50’s, after the church services, the church and two chapels used to unite for about an hour in the Hall for community hymn singing. Landrake had some very fine singers!

Mondays in the 1940’s and 50’s was film night in the village. Admission 1/- for adults and 6d for children. Mr Hicks from Kelly Bray did the film shows. The news reel before the main film could be at least a month old but it didn’t matter to us - remembering this was well before the days of TV s. I remember one night during the war at the film show there was a big air raid on Plymouth. Mr Hicks kept us in the Hall for safety reasons until the All Clear. That night we saw Mickey Mouse about three times over!

It was very sad to see the old Sir Robert Geffery’s School go, along with many old pals. But on leaving school I trained for five years as a plumber at Saltash then joining the RAF for three years. I came back to my trade after the RAF, married and have lived at Cargreen for forty two years, but I am still a Landraken!

Miss Churchward would not be at all pleased with my scribble… “You duffer Eastment!” still rings in my ears.

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