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.
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
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.
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.
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.