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Devoran School get to know Rhoda Mary

Posted on: 20th July 2017 No Comments

Last Friday saw the turn of the younger members of the Devoran community to hear all about the iconic vessel, the Rhoda Mary, which was built close to their village.

Our Memory Day in the autumn in Devoran Village Hall had provided us with rich pickings in terms of people willing to share their stories and as a result we made 4 digital stories illuminating the vibrant history of Cornish merchant schooners and in particular the Rhoda Mary. As with all our work at Storylines, the stories we gather and make into films are exciting tools that we use to creatively inspire others and so these films came into Devoran Primary School to inspire a class of Year 6 children. This was a continuation of our involvement in the Rhoda Mary Project and we were delighted to have Anna Brunyee from the team join us on that day.

As expected of a school perched close to the Fal estuary, the children were familiar with boats. We opened with 2 films describing the work of schooners, the voyages they made, their importance in the wider context of day-to-day living and life aboard. There was frantic note taking as the children gathered as much information as they could about the iconic Rhoda Mary from the local Ferris family film. The Rhoda Mary was the focus of this day so learning as much as they could about her was vital. They learned about her creator William Foreman Ferris, how and when she was built, the cargo she carried, the crew who worked her and the circular journeys she made. They were to turn all this knowledge into a poem in honour of her. And what a poem it turned out to be… ‘The Life and Times of the Rhoda Mary’… an anthem in rhyming couplets charting her life from birth to her present resting place on the mudflats of the Medway in Kent.

Devoran-school8wA further film about Robbie and Maureen Tatlow and their joint creative passions for schooners delighted the children and they were astounded when the couple later walked into their classroom to spend the rest of the day with them. Robbie and Maureen had brought artefacts from the time of the Rhoda Mary with them and so the children were able to handle sail makers needles and tools. Of course the burning question from all the children to Robbie was…. ‘How did you get that ship into that bottle?’

The afternoon saw a flurry of activity for the creation of the Rhoda Mary canvas. The children worked in groups to collaborate on this piece, with some painting the background with the expert help of Maureen, some creating a crew and painted nautical symbols for the border of the canvas and another group patiently repairing the torn sails of the vessel. Meanwhile the class scribe, copied out the poem on a special scroll which was to hang underneath.

The final touches Sail repairing Patiently writing the Rhoda Mary's poem onto a scroll The Rhoda Mary in a bottle as made by Robbie Maureen's painting of the Rhoray Mary The captain
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Patiently writing the Rhoda Mary's poem onto a scroll

While the finishing touches were made to the artwork the whole class joined Robbie and Maureen in singing the song they had written to celebrate the Rhoda Mary. To show their appreciation to Robbie and Maureen the children compiled a small ‘bottle’ book of drawings and messages.

The Rhoda Mary canvas will stay at Devoran school as a reminder of a very exciting and successful day and as a farewell gift from the Year 6 leavers. The children were excited to hear about the Rhoda Mary Project’s aim to rebuild the Rhoda Mary are now hoping to witness the return of this now familiar vessel to their village.

Robbie and Maureen holding up the finished artwork

Robbie and Maureen holding up the finished artwork

The Rhoda Mary Project is a charity which hopes to rebuild the Rhoda Mary; providing vocational training in the maritime trades to young people in Cornwall and across the UK through the reconstruction and operation of this legendary Cornish 19th century sailing vessel.

We would like to thank class teacher Katie Thurston for all her support, Robbie and Maureen Tatlow for bringing everything alive, Anna Brunyee from the Rhoda Mary Project for all her help and the Cornwall Heritage Trust for funding this workshop.

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‘Revealing City Hall: One Building, 1265 Voices’

Posted on: 4th July 2017 No Comments

As we have learned through our recent project ‘Landmark Travels- Our Past in a Suitcase,’ buildings are often steeped in stories. Historic buildings are at the heart of many Cornish towns and villages, providing a backdrop to 21st Century life. For some these buildings go largely un-noticed, for others they have played a key part in their life; places of work, romance, recreation and drama.

The Hall for Cornwall, once City Hall, in Truro, has a rich and unique 350 year history. Over the years, the building has been many things to many people. A fire station, Courts of Justice, cinema, skating rink, food market, rifle range, jail, theatre and seat of political power. It has survived fire and economic downturn; provided a platform for civic unrest and played host to award-winning shows.

In September 2016, Hall for Cornwall received development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to work on a pilot project entitled Revealing City Hall: One Building, 1265 Voices . This initial funding was recognition of the building’s importance at the heart of Cornwall’s history and community and will help them to progress plans to apply for a full grant later on this year.

Storylines was delighted to contribute to this project, and we have enjoyed spending time with a number of people with stories connected to the building, recording their memories and exploring different ways of sharing these.

One person we had the pleasure of spending time with was John MacCoughlan, who spent years working in the building as the maintenance officer. We loved his memories of Truro Fatstock Show, which used to be held in City Hall, so have created both a collage and a digital story. Enjoy….

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Do you have a story to share about City Hall? 

Whatever your story or memory – whether historical or present day, funny or sad, personal or public – the Hall for Cornwall would love to hear about it. Come and be part of their unique journey as they look to unveil previously untold stories of the building and shape an exciting new chapter in Hall for Cornwall’s history.

To share your story, please send a brief outline (150 words max) to Getinvolved@hallforcornwall.org.uk.

A wonderful afternoon with the Tatlows

What a couple!

Posted on: 27th June 2017 No Comments

Recently we wrote about some of the recordings that we have been doing as part of a partnership project with the Rhoda Mary Project. One couple we had the pleasure of spending time with was Robbie and Maureen Tatlow- a couple with a passion for schooners that was infectious and inspiring. We learnt a lot from our visits, so instead of making 1 digital story as we had initially planned, we ended up making 2 short films.

The first helps to explain what a schooner is; their role, size, journeys, construction and importance to local communities in Cornwall. This will be perfect for us to use in our upcoming workshop with Devoran School, and provides a really great introduction to merchant schooners-

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The next film weaves together family stories of schooners, and captures how Robbie and Maureen’s interest in these vessels has shaped their lives, hobbies and indeed their front room (or should we say museum).

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We are very lucky to have Robbie and Maureen joining us for our workshop with Devoran School, especially as they plan to sing the song they have written about the Rhoda Mary to the class.

4 members of the Ferris Family

The Rhoda Mary and other Ferris boats

Posted on: 16th June 2017 1 Comment

We are delighted to share this film in which 4 members of the Ferris family discuss their family boatbuilding heritage, as well as present day links to the industry. Stories of the Rhoda Mary, a famed West Country schooner, as well as tales about it’s designer William ‘Foreman’ Ferris, have passed down the generations, and this film captures just some of these-

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This film was made by Storylines in partnership with the Rhoda Mary Project as part of a community heritage project made possible with funding from the Cornwall Heritage Trust.
For more on this brilliant project, please visit www.rhoda-mary.co.uk.

Touch screen showing the digital stories

Tattoo Tales now at the National Maritime Museum

Posted on: 14th April 2017 No Comments

After all our hard work capturing people’s Tattoo Tales, it’s great to see the digital stories, images and quotes integrated into the ground-breaking exhibition now on at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, ‘TATTOO British Tattoo Art Revealed.’

Through capturing peoples tattoo stories, it’s been possible to explore how tattoos are entwined with people’s life stories, and also within the wider context of culture and Art. Every story we captured was so different, it was hard to select just 20 to turn into digital stories. Here’s a couple to give you a taster. First up is Trevor’s story, which was incredibly moving and personal-

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Here’s a very different story from student Daisy Pooley-Tolkien-

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Touch screen showing the digital stories

Touch screen showing the digital stories

These digital stories, alongside many others, can be found on a touch screen within the exhibition. Further extracts and images of everyone we recorded are featured on large exhibition panels.

The exhibition is truly fantastic, providing a fascinating incite into the history of British tattooing, with some incredible displays and exhibits. There’s still plenty of time left to go and see it for yourself, with the exhibition continuing to the 7th January 2018.

Tattoo Tales was run in partnership with the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, as part of the Collections Stories project with National Maritime Museum. The Collections Stories project is a national partnership project, led by the National Maritime Museum, to develop a shared understanding of audiences around the UK and their connection to maritime history. Collections Stories is part of the National Maritime Museum’s Endeavour Galleries project and the activities are made possible through an award of £4.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Robbie Tatlow with one his his model ships

A Passion for Sail

Posted on: 6th April 2017

Following the busy Memory Day in Devoran last October, delivered in partnership with the Rhoda Mary Project, we have been spending time with some of the people who came along to record their family stories on the theme of merchant schooners. It’s been fascinating to learn about these sailing ships, once so vital to trade and the communities they served. Through editing these recordings, and making a series of short films, we want to both celebrate these iconic vessels and highlight their importance in local history.

A wonderful afternoon with the Tatlows

A wonderful afternoon with the Tatlows

First off we were immersed in a world of sailing ships, in the home (or should we say museum?!) of Robbie and Maureen Tatlow. Sitting in their front room we were surrounded by paintings of boats (mostly painted by Maureen and her Father), model ships (meticulously handcrafted by Robbie) and a library of books on the subject. Then there’s Robbie’s collection of

Robbie Tatlow with one his his model ships

Robbie Tatlow with one of his model boats

over 2000 photos of schooners! As they highlighted, it’s in their blood, with both their families having strong links to schooners going back through time. Their passion for sail, in particular schooners, has provided them with a lifetime of adventure and stories. With so many stories, we have had to think long and hard about how best to honour these, and are currently putting the finishing touches to 2 films.

4 members of the Ferris Family

4 members of the Ferris Family

Another family whose history is entwined with boatbuilding and sailing, is the Ferris family. Indeed it was William Foreman Ferris who designed the Rhoda Mary, a merchant schooner built at Point in 1868 that had a reputation for speed. We had the pleasure of spending time with 4 descendants of Foreman Ferris to record their family stories. It is incredible how much knowledge and how many stories have been passed down through the generations. Both the Rhoda Mary and Foreman himself were themes that were talked about frequently within the family, and so it was a pleasure to record these. Indeed many of the Ferris family are still involved with boats in some way, and there is a strong sense of belonging to the area around the Fal estuary. Again this recording will be condensed into a short film, so watch this space.

The Amy

The Amy

Finally we recorded Adrien Willcocks, whose great grandfather sailed on a number of schooners and lived at Pentewen harbour. One particular story came to light after Adrien was contacted by the great grandson of a Dutchman who served on the schooner Amy alongside Adrien’s great grandfather. The Dutchman had kept a written account of his time aboard the Amy, including a fascinating story detailing how the Amy ran into difficultly off Lands End, only just making it back to harbour. This written account is read aloud by Adrien, and accompanied by his story of how it came to light, thus creating another short film.

We hope to complete these films over the next few weeks, and will later share these online, as well as using them as a starting point for further exploration with a local primary school.

This project is being delivered in partnership with the Rhoda Mary Project, and supported with funding from the Cornwall Heritage Trust.

Puppets outside the Well ready for the performance

The Legend of Dupath Well… rewritten!

Posted on: 10th March 2017 No Comments

Spring is nearly here and all around us primroses, snowdrops and daffodils are joyfully blooming… We have been tucked away editing these last few months and have just finished this rather humorous film, documenting the workshops we delivered with some very creative and talented children from Pensilva and Calstock Primary Schools. The workshops were part of the ‘Landmark Travels- Our past in a suitcase’ project and explored the very beautiful Dupath Well near Callington. Here’s what we got up to…

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‘Landmark Travels’ is being delivered in partnership with the Institute of Cornish Studies and Cornwall Heritage Trust, and is made possible with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cornwall Heritage Trust.

Photographing tattoos

Every tattoo has a story

Posted on: 23rd December 2016 No Comments
Recording tattoo stories

Recording tattoo stories

Tattoos are markers in our lives and each one has it’s own story. You choose the design, the placement on your body, when and where you have it done, who does it and who you then share it with. By conducting a series of audio recordings to explore these choices, we have been uncovering peoples’ tattoo tales as part of a community engagement project working alongside the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

One thing has become clear; our perceptions of tattoos are undergoing massive changes. Once generally reserved for the Navy, armed forces and those who have been in prison, tattoos are more common than they have ever been. Indeed many young people we have spoken to point out that it’s more unusual not to have a tattoo than to have one.

Our display on Mannequins to help attract people

Our display of Mannequin parts at Falmouth University

We have spent the last couple of months travelling all over Cornwall to collect these stories and document the tattos themselves. This has included days spent at the Royal British Legion social club in Tideford, Woodlane campus at Falmouth University, around Falmouth town and up to Battling On, a wonderful charity in North Cornwall.

Tattoos have provided such an interesting and evocative way of capturing peoples life stories and we have been blown over by how open people have been when sharing these. The stories we have collected are each unique, with huge variations in people’s motives and design choices. There has been humour and sadness, beauty and the grotesque, celebrations and losses. As always it is a privilege to hear these stories and be able to honour them as part of this work. We say it often, but it’s a human need to be listened to, to be heard.

Over the next couple of months we will be warmly tucked away editing these stories, which will feature in a ground-breaking contemporary exhibition exploring this history of British tattooing at the Maritime Museum Cornwall from March 2017 (read more here). These will be in the form of both written stories and digital stories. Here are just a few snippets so far…

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‘Tattoo Tales’ is part of the Collections Stories project with National Maritime Museum, has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Wadebridge screening

A Celebration of Memories in Wadebridge

Posted on: 7th December 2016 No Comments

What better way to draw to a close our highly successful ‘Landmark Travels’ Project than with a heart-warming gathering to showcase the personal memories of people from Wadebridge and surrounding area.

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Wadebridge screening

The room was full at the John Betjeman Centre in Wadebridge last Saturday as people gathered to watch a selection of the digital stories we had made from the recordings we had collected earlier in the year. Those who came were treated to short glimpses of the ever-changing lifestyles and landscapes described in these films. They heard about Ada Martin’s time as a housemaid at Pencarrow House, about Joe Skinner’s annual summer camp and Margaret Thompsoms memories of the vibrant community of Wellington Place. These in turn prompted a variety of touching, funny and revealing stories from the audience and a humorous insight into local rivalry between the towns of Wadebridge and Bodmin! Did you know that newlyweds in Wadebridge were honoured as they left by train for their honeymoon by a series of exploding detonators placed by staff on the railway tracks?

To end the screening we showed a very moving story from Ada Martin who sadly passed away after we recorded her memories. Here is her wonderful message-

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The screening of the digital stories was the prelude to the exhibition now showing at Wadebridge and District Museum ‘Remembering Wadebridge’. This provides another opportunity to watch the short films, including those not yet viewed, and to check out some fascinating archive photos and memorabilia.

The exhibition will continue to the end of March 2017 with the following content-

3rd December – 3rd February 2017

Ada Martin… ‘Working at Pencarrow House’ & ‘Look out for others’
Joe Skinner… ‘Summer Camp’
Margaret Thompson…. ‘Wellington Place’
May Garland… ‘I promise to do my best’

3rd February 2017 – 31st March 2017

Rod Thompson… ‘Remembering the Railway’
Margaret Irons…’ Veronica House’
Tegwyn Owen… ‘From Wales to Wadebridge’
Bernard Irons… ‘A Wartime Childhood in Wadebridge’

We would like to thank everyone who welcomed us into their homes and gave up their time to share their memories with us. Also to Wadebridge and District Museum for their support over the months and refreshments at the screening. The ‘Landmark Travels’ Project was a partnership between Storylines, the Institute of Cornish Studies and the Cornwall Heritage Trust. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cornwall Heritage Trust.

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Remembering Wadebridge film screening & exhibition

Posted on: 17th November 2016 No Comments

It’s not long now until the opening of our exhibition of stories from Wadebridge and the surrounding area, which launches with the screening of a series of short films at the John Betjeman centre on Saturday 3rd December from 2-4pm. Everyone is welcome to this free event, where there will be an opportunity for further memory sharing and tea and cake. The exhibition will then be hosted by Wadebridge and District Museum, where you can drop in to see what we have been collecting. Please do spread the word!wbexhibition-web

The digital stories we will be showing cover themes such as working life at Pencarrow House, Summer camps down the river Camel, life on the railway and community celebrations. It’s been a privilege to listen to peoples memories, many of whom are in their 90’s, and astounding to realise the enormous changes they have witnessed over their lifetimes.

The exhibition will continue until the end of March 2017, with a changeover of stories at the start of February.

This event and exhibition is part of the wider ‘Landmark Travels- Our past in a suitcase’ project, delivered in partnership with Storylines and the Institute of Cornish Studies funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cornwall Heritage Trust.