Peep at the Past

By Sam Acourt in Feature

100 Years Ago

There was a very large supply of cattle at Totnes May Fair on Tuesday, and there was a brisk sale. On the Plains in the afternoon there were half a dozen entire [uncastrated] horses paraded. Probably for the first time in living memory there were no ‘fairing’ stands in the Borough on Tuesday.

50 Years Ago

When the annual general meeting of the Dart Amateur Rowing Club was called there was insufficient attendance to form a quorum, but when the meeting was called a second time, at the Dart­mouth Inn, there was a very good attendance of both older and junior members, including lady members, which augured well for a successful season, especially with the encouragement of the new boat.

It was stated that the financial position was that £20 had to be added to the £365 raised by the ‘We Three’ organisation for the boat, because of the extra cost and transport down, but when the meeting closed, Mr R Murch, of ‘We Three’, handed the chairman Mr John Rumbelow, a cheque for a further £20, amid the appreciative applause of the members.

Mr Rumbelow also pointed out that they had entered crews for various regattas but they did not turn up to row at all of them, which soon amounted to something like £5 in entry fees having been lost.

Discussion ensued as to the name which should be given to the new boat, and it was eventually decided to be ‘Bill Yeoman’, in memory of a much revered club captain, with ‘We Three’ in small letters below to acknowledge the wonderful effort of that organisation. A special opening night is to be arranged, to include the christening for the new boat.

Mr Wilfred Tozer referred to the efforts he had been making to obtain donations from old rowers to provide paddles for the new boat, and said they had had wonderful support from various people in the Totnes district, not only from people who had been members of the Rowing Club, but others who had been most generous with the donations.

When Mr Murch presented the cheque for £20, Mr Tozer, who had been elected chairman, commented, ‘But for ‘We Three’ the Rowing Club would not be in existence’.

Officers elected were: President, the Mayor of Totnes; Vice Presidents, Messrs H Herbert and A Claude Taylor; chairman, Mr Wilfred Tozer; vice chairman, Mr H J Sollars; hon secretary, Mrs Irene Sollars; hon treasurer, Mr D K Hicks; Captain Mr Bill Doble; Vice Captain, Mr Graham Alford. ­

25 Years Ago

EC bureaucracy looked set to end a harmless Totnes fair this month – until its organisers realised that Brussels had nothing to do with gooseberries.

The annual Gooseberry Pie Fair, held for the past ten years on Vire Island, was cancelled after Totnes Elizabethan Society members claimed they were told they could not sell unwrapped pies and open clotted cream because of new EC regulations.

But this time the ‘Boys from Brussels’ weren’t to blame when Society chairman Sandra Hancox realised it was a huge mistake.

The mix up even caused Prime Minister John Major to become involved when South Hams MP Anthony Steen wrote to him asking for help.

In a letter to Mr Steen, Society secretary Mrs Mary Bowling, said: ‘We are no longer allowed to sell Devon clotted cream unless it comes in individual portions.

‘Who is going to want to buy gooseberry pie without traditional Devon clotted cream?’ she asked.

Mr Steen passed on the letter to the Prime Minister and added his concerns about EC regulations being ‘the continual erosion of our freedoms’.

It took South Hams District Council Chief Environmental Health Officer Mr John Bloomer, to point out that any laws laid down for the fair were part of council health regulations laid down in 1966 – and nothing to do with the EC.

‘One of the requirements to open food is that there must be washing facilities available. The last thing in the world the council wanted to do was cause a cancellation like this’, he said.

Ms Hancox said the fair would now take place on Saturday, May 23rd.

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