Memories by Trevor Dalley

In 1956 after about ten years of cycling to and fro from Praze to Camborne every day in all weathers, loading the wagon with fruit and vegetables, fetching and hitching the horse to the shafts father decided sell Polly and bought a commercial vehicle. It was a Racing Green CAV Bedford van, registration number XAF 186. Polly was sold to a farmer at Penponds and when she eventually died she was buried in the corner of the meadow adjacent to Trevithick’s Cottage now owned by the National Trust.

Photo by Brian Pierce

Because of the Suez Crisis that year those whose livelihood depended on their ability to drive but hadn’t yet passed their driving test were allowed to drive solo on a provisional licence. After growing up with the parameters of our lives confined to how far we could cycle, walk or take a bus and very occasionally a train. Suddenly, all that changed and Cornwall became our oyster. After a hard week’s work father would empty the paraphernalia of his fruit and vegetable business from the van and Sundays became excursion day. Albeit my sister Carol amd I were confined to the back of the van sitting on apple boxes peering over mother and father’s shoulders.

In the 1930s father was assistant to the surveyor at Greatwork Mine, Godolphin and after biking to and fro Praze, eat his evening meal and then cycle on to Redruth Night School. Unfortunately the mine closed and father had to curtail his education in mining techniques.
So, wherever we went we seemed to pass a mine or two. Not too difficult in Cornwall! He was full of historic facts about Cornish mining history but most of it went in one ear and out the other unfortunately.
Godrevy was a firm favourite. Father and I would gather limpets from the rocks, take them back to the cliff top and mother would cook them on a Primus Stove. Ansum! Lots of salt, pepper, vinegar and buttered Bordeaux’s bread washed down with either lemonade or tea.
Memorable trips to Mevagissey and Looe where we would occasionally meet up with fathers brother, uncle Gordon and Auntie Bernie. Uncle was a coastguard. Other Sundays we visited Newquay, Perranporth and of course everywhere we went there was a mine. A preferred direction was down west and the area of St Just. Father worked at Geevor before his time at Greatwork.
One such Sunday we took a trip to Coverack and father paid for a boat trip around the bay. The wind was brisk that day and after we got back on the pier father paid the boatman with a ten shilling note. Just as he handed over the note a gust of wind took the money straight out of his hand and it blew flat against the pier wall, the wind keeping it flat against the granite.  Father peeled the ten bob off the wall and paid the man with relief written all over his face.