Childhood memories of old Newlyn


Whilst sitting over the fire my thoughts have flown back to my boyhood days in old Street an Nowan. Those were the days when we had to make our own fun —fun which I know, now, must have been a source of worry to the village folk. One of the games was "Ticking" windows. How often have I seen the old folk come out to see what was going on? I remember a dear old lady coming out with a candle to see what was the cause, but seeing no one, I heard her say, "No one here, my dears." We spent the evening on that game. Then again we had our tin band. What a din! Often, we had to scatter, for the policeman would cause us to disband, but we soon got together again and kept on our way through the street. I remember how we used to sing when on the march. We had some rollicking tunes. If my memory serves we rightly I think we started with “Shall Trelawny Die?" Then had "You will never miss the water till the well runs dry." Our favourite was "Adam and Eve in the Garden." Then to finish up we sang "John the Bone.” Then again we had what we called trap hatch night. We would dig deep on Killally Sands and put sticks across the top, then paper and cover with sand, and wait for our first victim. I wonder if the boys do this kind of thing now? We only had one policeman in those days. So you may be sure he had something to look after. I remember on one occasion we were watched by him. I can hear him saying now, "I know you all, and mentioning some of our names.” Maybe he was too timid to venture on to the sand. We knew he intended to catch us, so we slipped away to the bank, where the fish market now stands and we mixed among the men who were talking.

We listened very intently to their conversation. It was very interesting, as it had all to do with fishing. They were saying where they shot, and who lined them down, and what mackerel they had in the buckle net, and how the catch faded away right on to the tays.

Where they interested us very much was when they began to talk about the fastest boat of the fleet, about the cut of thee "Fo’ssil" and Mizzen, and what boat passed us on the weather bow. It was a real evening's entertainment.

Those were the days when Newlyn had a fleet of drifters. What a sight to see them going and coming from the fishing grounds. It was in the days of boat building. I can remember the Agamemnon being built, she was built where the post office and where Mr. Barron's shop now stand. How we boys used to play around the inside of that craft. The owner, a Mr. Trewavas, used to give us a warm time.

We always locked forward to Saturday. It was a day of real pleasure. We would start off early for a tramp to Chyenhall Pool, to sail our corkers. I remember my corker had the yellow ivy for sails. Perhaps that was my favourite colour. What a good time we had; my word. How hungry we got when it came to dinner-time; we knew where to appease our hunger in the farmer's field of sweet Rutabaga turnips. If we got thirsty we would go to the farm nearby and ask for water. But we would be certain to get a glass of milk.

Even though it was scalded, it was very acceptable. When the time came to make tracks for home we did not walk, but ran all the way, for the hot saffron cake was uppermost in our minds. I am afraid our mothers had to check us or there would not be much left for the others. What a grand day we had. Those days live with me still. On Sunday, of course, as good boys, we were off to Sunday-school. After the morning school we were all marched to chapel. Our superintendent at that time at the school was Mr. Wills. I remember his favourite hymn was "Around the Throne of God in Heaven, thousands of children stand." I am sure his old scholars revere his name to this day. I remember our minister at that time was the Rev. T. T. Lambert. What a wonderful preacher! One of his sermons has been impressed in my memory. It was from the 2nd Kings, 5th Chapter, 12th verse—"Are not Abana and Pharpar the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? Go, wash in them and be clean."

May I say how we looked forward to Shrove Tuesday?" We used to prepare for that evening. What a store of winkles we got for the occasion. It was an evening of "pulling" doors. The rattle of those winkles was like the rattle of machine guns. Then there was Guy Fawkes Night. How delighted we were to watch our elders swinging the torches around their heads as they walked through the streets. I remember, too, how we used to go bush-beating with uncle Tom Paul. When near the Came Rocks I missed the bird, but smashed Uncle Tom's lantern. Enough said.

How we looked forward to May morning, when we went around with our fife and drum band. What a time we had. Then when Christmas came, how we looked forward to the guise dancers. Then there was the carol singing. To us it was a great joy. Christmas will soon be with us once again, and the old carols will be heard again in old Newlyn.

This article was written by an unidentified author in 1934 about his childhood in Newlyn village in the 1860s
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