Delabole Remembered

I started school when I was four and a half years old. At that time my family lived at the bottom of Westdowns which is about a mile from the school, on the fork of the road to Port Isaac and St Teath. As this was too far to go home at midday, I used to go to my Gran’s (Annie Pearn) House for my dinner instead of taking sandwiches and staying in the school, as a lot of children did who lived some distance away.

My Grandmother lived in Pengelly Road and at midday the men would be leaving their work at the slate quarry to go home for a meal. As it was very rare to see any cars or lorries in the village n the 1920’s the men would walk in the middle of the road 3 or 4 abreast, maybe about 150 men at the Pengelly end of the village and there would be others who would walk along the side of the quarry and up Medrose. Still others would have taken their food with them to work, as they lived too far away, some coming from St Teath and Tintagel and even further afield. At that time there were about 400 men employed at the quarry.

A cattle market was held at Delabole for many years. The field behind the Bettle & Chisel public house was used for this purpose. The farm workers would walk several miles with the sheep and cattle from out lying farms. I always hated going to school on Thursdays as this was market day and I was very nervous of the cattle. Meeting them in the road was a scary experience, and most of us children would try to get in a gateway until they had passed.

Most frightening of all was when the steers were being herded down Pengelly to the railway station to be sent of by train for the slaughter houses. You could hear men shouting and the thud of hooves before you saw them, and people would move off the road and shut their gates, it was almost a stampede, the animals must have been quite frightened as they were driven along. On one occasion one got into my Grandmothers back garden (the gate had been left open probably by me as I ran in) it took three men to drive it out again, with a lot of shouting and hitting with sticks. I remember the vegetable garden was badly trampled as you can imagine and my grandfather (Samuel Pearn) was not best pleased.

by Norah Hore nee Brown