To build on the oral histories we had collected in St Mawes and St Just for the A Window in Time: Roseland Remembers Project, we arranged 2 days of Memory Walks where we guided local people around the historic square of St Just and the seafront parade of shops and dwellings in St Mawes. Memory Walks are a great way of triggering memories as there will always be some sign or landmark that will catch someone’s attention and out will pour a story. In this case actually being in front of many of the historic and iconic buildings in these two beautiful villages brought forth fascinating narratives that had been hidden behind facades for decades.
The 2 days we had earmarked for the walks provided us with beautiful weather, perfect for dawdling along pavements and relaxing together in detailed conversations. We were very fortunate to have Tim, a local volunteer for the Heritage group as our film maker and he politely herded us around so that he could get the best shots whilst stories were being recounted.
We started with the village of St Just and its quaint square. This walk was always going to be challenging due to the noise of passing traffic. However we managed and Peter, Rosemary and Sheila rose to the occasion despite the difficulties and shared some fabulous anecdotes. Peter and Rosemary had had a milk round since their early married days and so they filled us in on all the families who lived around the square and how the houses had changed. We heard about the day when services like water and electricity were finally installed in the village and what a massive difference this made to people’s lives. Everyone had firm memories of the blacksmith’s shop as children and the evocative smells and sounds that came from it. We learned about Bertha Pasco’s shop where you could buy anything and the changing position of the Post Office. Sheila was the only person to have been at the village school so she recounted those days and took us to see the Peace tree still growing behind the school building. One special delight was visiting the local Institute building which prided itself in being the village hall with the best view ever… and what a view it was overlooking the estuary!
In St Mawes we conducted 2 walks and we found the perfect location on the edge of the quay so we were able to face the row of buildings and shops we wanted to concentrate on. Local deliveries and construction work went on around us but this didn’t dampen the stories which came fast. What quickly became apparent from everyone was the changing nature of the sea front and the actual pavement that we were standing on. Over the years this pavement had morphed from a beach with the lapping waves to the quaysidewe were standing on. These descriptions brought frightening tales of bad weather and its consequences to the village. One familiar trope our 6 participants referred to were the characters that could be found around this seafront. We heard about Brenda Pye the artist who had a flat above Pomery’s Garage, about Mr Mosely who it seems virtually owned the village, Mr Chester who bought the first television sets into the village and Peter the Viking who ferried people to films across in Falmouth. At one time it seemed that St Mawes was the drinking capital of all Cornwall so of course we had lots of pub and drinking stories which were hilarious. One very fascinating and sobering topic that arose naturally due to the fact we were concentrating on a row of shops, was the changing nature of
consumerism. What was sold decades past bears no resemblance to what is on offer now.
The stories and footage we gathered on these 2 days will contribute to the films that will be made shortly. These films will be used with local school children and the youth club in a series of workshops and will also be screened for the final celebratory events for this project. These will take place at the Millennium Rooms in St.Mawes on Monday 21st October and at the Institute in St.Just on Monday 28th October 2019.
Thank you to Peter, Rosemary, Sheila, Alan, David, Judith, Jenny, Rob and Kevin who gave up their time and shared their fantastic recollections of these two fascinating locations. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope you did too. See you at the screenings in the autumn.