John Dawe Smith

For quite sometime I have been interested to find out who were the first to live in my house at 78, Pengelly, on finding out I discovered it was John Dawe Smith and family with his wife Jane, daughter Minty, son William, son Sidney, daughter Clara, son Harry and mother in law Ann Honey.

John Dawe Smith was born in Tintagel and at the age of twelve or before worked at the Delabole Slate Quarry. This information is from the 1891 census, it also mentions that the family lived at Quarry Lane; this was on the northern side of the quarry pit. At that time there were about six dwellings there, by 1900 these were demolished and John
Dawe Smith and family moved into one of the 28 new houses that had been built for the slate quarrymen and their families, the house being 78,Pengelly.

The original Delabole before 1840, 26 workers cottages, as a report mentions were swallowed up by the development of the quarry, hence the name of the company, ‘The Old Delabole Slate Company’. The location of these cottages was on the Western side of the quarry pit in a valley. The levels over the years have heightened with the build up of quarry rubble. On finding out more about John Dawe Smith here is a brief account of his experiences taken from a report in the Cornish and Devon Post on 11′” August 1923.

The Delabole Brass Band was founded in 1864. The first Band Master was Mr Home who left after twelve months. Mr J.D. Smith, at 19 years of age took over, he played solo comet. Mr Home returned for two years after which Mr Smith took over again. Mr Smith was a bit of a rover, leaving Delabole, with some other band members, to work in Scotland for three months on one occasion and Somerset on another, but always retuning to home and the band.

Mr Smith was persuaded to play the organ at Pengelly United Methodist Chapel and also acted as choirmaster. Whilst playing there at a mission service he ‘found peace” and was converted to Methodism, He gave up his worldly life and settled down. Yielding to representations of the band he set up a new ‘Temperance Band’, all members were total abstainers.

The band continued until 1891 when Mr Smith was among several people to emigrate to America. He sent musical compositions that he had completed in America back to Delabole for the choir to sing at anniversary services. The choir presented him with a watch which was sent to him in America.

He became bandmaster in Chapmansville USA. His son Tom went to America and became a cornet teacher. Mr Smith came home and restarted the band which continued until the Great War and was reformed again after the war. 

by Wesley Mills