A Trip though the past times of Delabole
I was recently given a copy of the Western Morning News, which carried a full-page article on “deprived” Delabole. The article claimed that at one time Delabole had eight shops including a large co-op. But I remember when it had double that number! I wonder how many readers of this website can recall them all?
As I remember, going from Rockhead and along the High Street., one passed: Radcliffe (the baker). Jacobs’ (general provisions), Benny Jacobs’ (hardware), Hawkeys (newsagents), Stephens (butchers), then the very large co-op (everything from coal to clothes), Moores (outfitters), Hubbards (general), Williams (chemist), a greengrocers opposite the school, and finally Cleeves (general), at Cleeves Corner.
In Medrose were, Cummins (home made rock), Nutes (general and post office). Roose (general) and Bill Hill’s fish and chip shop (Mr Hill used to go to Padstow with his motor cycle and box sidecar to get his fish fresh from the trawlers!). And there was Tuckers shop in Well Street.
In Pengelly were, Mules (butcher), Chapman (coal merchant), and Cooks (newsagent and barbers shop). There was also a shop next to the Working Men’s Club, and at the bottom opposite the pump was Frank Rush’s and by the quarry gate Dawe’s shop.
My parents rented the Tucker’s shop before taking over Nute’s shop and post office in the early twenties.
There were also mobile ‘shops”. Benny Jacobs had a horse-drawn van to transport his wares; Marwood Cummins had a horse drawn shop from which to sell his sweets at fairs and markets (his slogan was “When I’ve sold out I’ll go home”); and my father had a horse drawn fish and chip shop. Later he converted a Ford van into a proper mobile shop and served villages as far away as Davidstow and Michealstow.
Some 500 men worked in the quarry then, providing wages in homes over a wide area. It also gave the village street lighting long before it became a regular feature. It provided the village with a doctor (always known as “the Quarry doctor”) who also ran a private practice. When I was a schoolboy, I broke a leg, and Dr. Wickham came with his wife Dolly. Mrs Wickham told me to put my arms around her neck, and pull if I felt pain. Dr. Wickham proceeded to ease the broken leg in place, without any anaesthetics, before binding it up in wooden splints. And yes, it was painful!
When my uncle crushed a leg in an accident at the quarry, Dr. Wickham carried out the amputation on my grandmother’s kitchen table.
Yes, life could be hard in those days, but we had many simple pleasures and, in any case, we knew no other. I wonder if any of this would be of interest to your readers’? Or the fact that during the General Strike in 1926 the pumps at the quarry fell silent, and the huge pit half filled with water, making it look like a huge lagoon.
by C.H. Munday.