Bude, Stratton & District Old Cornwall Society Report

It is well worth joining this organisation to attend their monthly lectures. Here’s a report on the first one by Helen Bartrop Hocking.

With Autumn Equinox behind them, and a full moon due that very night, members of Bude, Stratton & District Old Cornwall Society gathered for the first of their monthly ‘lectures’ marking the start of a new term.

The early part of the evening was given over to Membership Subs. currently standing at £9 per year, including two glossy publications and invitation to summer and winter festivals, as well as a variety of ‘activities’ held throughout the District.

The Parkhouse room that was once classroom to many, warmed with conversation of resident and visitor alike, all ‘How do you?’ and ‘Where be to lately, Boy?’ until the voice of their Chairman Alan McIntosh, called them round to attention with a request for silence in memory of Mrs. Leila Harwood, a long time Society member and supporter of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, who passed away, on Sept 6th.

In reminding everybody to book a place for the winter festival events in Bodmin, Alan went on to introduce the evening’s guest speaker, Colin Vosper, and his Talk; ‘Maritime Shortcuts – Canals of the Westcountry and Overseas.’ Highly recommended to the society as ‘One of the best!’

Mr. Vosper did not disappoint his audience. Lively and enthusiastic, informed by first-hand experience, as well as intellect, the lengthy, in depth address was captivating from start to finish. A veritable display of modern day computer techniques unfolding, as bite-sized information flowed seamlessly accompanied by fine colour illustration from the hand of Barry Hughes.

Commencing in 1566, this real life story held many an idea that failed to materialise, due to natural obstacles that man made technology was as yet, unable to surmount, such as the ‘lay of the land’ and lack of sufficient rivers. Thanks to Civil Engineers; John Rennie Kennett, Thomas Telford, John Green and the lesser known American artist, Robert Futon, incredible feats of human endeavour did on occasion, prevail. Built to withstand the test of time, many are still utilized to date, for their historical worth and tourism value or as in the case of the mighty Suez and Panama hugely developed, as industrial, globalised trading routes of our modern world.

Costing the earth, in money and fresh water, yet working, quite literally to the narrowest of design margins! Reference to Bude Canal was plentiful with its sea lock gates, ship basin (and ‘short barge’ waterway up to Rodds Bridge) original tub boats at Helebridge, rescued and preserved and later used as template for others to be authentically made from and Hobbacott inclined plane with a formidable land rise of 225ft, all getting a mention.

Thanking the speaker, Society President Owen May said: ”When I saw the subject of tonight’s talk I thought to myself, ‘That could be interesting.. and my goodness, it has been. More than a hour has just passed in what seemed like minutes.”

Before the usual Raffle and Refreshments Society Recorder, R.M. Heard announced that with support from the Committee, he has published a detailed pamphlet complete with photographs for Bude, Stratton & District OCS, titled ‘The Growth of Bude—Stratton from the Grenville Estate.’

Many happy returns and best wishes were shared with Audrey Aylmer, Society Archivist, on reaching a ‘significant’ Birthday.

The next talk on the 29th Oct. at 7.30pm in The Parkhouse Centre, is about ‘The History of Rodda’s Creamery’ with Philip Rodda. One and All very welcome. More info. available from helenhocking@yahoo.co.uk ~Hon. Secretary.

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