Roy Agate’s Evacuee Memories

During the war I was evacuated to Warleggan from Croydon.  Early in May this year I finally returned to wander down Memory Lane.  The first person we met was John Keast, who obviously is too young to remember me.  However, he told me to call in on Cyril and Barbara as they would be glad to help me.  He was right – they were much more than kind and they quickly pointed me in the direction of old friends.

John suggested that I write a bit about my memories of Warleggan (he said not more than 20 pages but I’ll try to keep it below that).

While I was in Warleggan as a child I lived with Mrs Trethewey who took me in – a child that she didn’t even know – and treated me exactly the same as her own children.  In many ways she was more of a mother to me than my own Mum.

I have so many memories of that time.  We would walk from Warleggan to school in Mount, taking with us a Cornish pasty for dinner (Auntie Dor’s were always best).  Although it seems quite a long way for young children to walk now, we thought nothing of it then.  One morning we arrived at school to find a cow wedged tight in the corridor.  She had been trying so hard to get out that she had made her sides bleed.  Eventually somebody managed to get her out but I never did know how then did it!  (The evacuees went to school in the Village Hall, not the School, and there is a pathway around the back of the Hall).

Another incident involving a cow, which was much talked of in the village, was when the Nurse’s car (a black and chrome Morris 8) was dented when she somehow collided with a cow.  The other car that I remember from that time was Mr Webster’s (Barbara’s father) car.  A Rover with the thermometer on top of the radiator.  What a beautiful car that was, it smelt wonderful.

I was sorry to see that the Chapel is not used as such now.  I used to love the smell of the oil lamps which we would pull down from the ceiling to light when I went with Mrs Trethewey to light the stove and put out the hymn books ready for the service on Sunday.  We would all be dressed up in our Sunday best and Granfer Hooper would come to collect us in the pony and trap wearing his highly polished best brown gaiters – I loved those gaiters!

We spent a lot of happy times at Granfer Hooper’s.  I would stand just inside the milking shed door and Loveday would squirt milk, warm from the udder, into my mouth.  One day when we were helping to stack corn Granfer Hooper asked me to fetch the cows in for milking.  I was as proud as Punch.  I drove those cows down from the field in record time – far faster than he did.  Unfortunately I ran them down so fast that they were squirting milk left and right all the way.  I was so crestfallen when I was given a sound telling off.

My best friend from that time was Kenny Roberts (I was 7, he was 5).  We would spend hours playing at plough horses – in fact Kenny was my best horse, although he says he doesn’t remember that.  One day Kenny and I were playing and I made him soaking wet.  Auntie Dor dragged me down to the pump and held my head under the spout while she pumped water all over me!  Lesson learnt – don’t do to others unless you want it done to you.  Still it all ended in laughs all round.

I always remember my time in Warleggan.  In fact when I was older and I started to box I wanted to fight for money without losing my amateur status.  When I was asked for my name and had to make something up on the spur of the moment the first name that came to my mind was “Jack Langman”.

The war years in Warleggan had a big influence on me.  They helped to make me the person I became and they still influence me now.  I often thought of coming back but I suppose I was wary of returning in case everything had changed.

Quite recently we had a litter of pups for sale and a woman came to buy one.  She mentioned that she had lived in Cornwall and I said that I had as well.  When I asked her which part of Cornwall that was she said, “Oh, you wouldn’t know it.  It was a small village called Warleggan”.  It turned out that she had lived in the left hand Council house – the same house where I had earlier lived with the Tretheweys.  She told me that she had been back and that the area had changed very little so I plucked up my courage to face disappointment and came back myself.

I would say that the car has brought the world closer to Warleggan (not necessarily a good thing) but the families of the people that I knew still made us welcome with real Cornish hospitality.  When we went to visit Rita in Bodmin she greeted us with rolls, cakes, tea and a warm welcome (just the same way as Mum would have done).

We would like to thank everybody that we met, especially Cyril, Barbara, John and his wife for all their help and for the use of Tor House (although the décor does leave a lot to be desired and we would appreciate a makeover before we come again!).

We will be coming back again to see friends old and new, hopefully at a time when it stops raining occasionally.

More stories from the past…

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