My Name is Anthony R. Allen, people call me Tony. I lived in a little wooden home called NAVARAC near The Jam pot on the Towans from February1950 to July1952. I had worked underground at South Crofty from September 1948 to September 1949, then living in Tuckingmill with my wife and new daughter Elizabeth, before going to The Camborne School of Metalliferous Mining Engineering (CSM). In 1950 we had the opportunity to move to a place of our own on the Towans.The rent was right at one pound a week and we had a lot of students as neighbours, names I recall were Dave Williams, Nigel Doyle and Edith, Keith Mandel and Inger, ? McKnight, Gordon Harris and Meg, a polish chap, forgotten his name, and a few single fellows sharing accommodation. Many of the married students, like myself, were ex service men completing their education after the war. Most had a child or two. The Mandels lived in the brick bungalo near the entrance to the Towans.
The Jam Pot was run by a friendly couple, Billy and Mickey. My wife and I became friends of the Jampot ladies. The grocery cum general store was run by Mr and Mrs Toy. The Autumn and winter months were pretty harsh. The rain fell horizontally in the howling gales which swept across the cliff tops. The walk to the bus stop to go to school every morning was memorable on these days and one was usually soaked to the skin and shivering cold. Equally memorable were the halcyon days of summer loafing on that gorgeous beach, cooling off in Sheep's Pool, messing about in the rock pools off Godrevy Head, gathering mussels, and doing summer things.
I remember one Easter Holiday laying out a survey grid on the beach from the Red River almost as far as the Hayle Estuary and meticulously sampling the top six inches of the sand for tin analysis. The tin originally came from the Red River which took the tailings run-off from the gravity concentrators upstream and was extremely fine particles moved onto the beach area by the tidal currents and reconcentrated by the wave action, similar to the action of the buddles in the mills from which the stuff escaped.Tehidy Minerals was the outfit paying for this work.
The living conditions were rather primitive by today's standards. There was electricity in Navarac to serve two or three light bulbs. Heat was provided by a kerosene Valor Stove, there was no sanitary plumbing, the Elsan Toilet buckets were carried by the students and wives in the dead of night out over the sand dunes where five foot deep pits were dug to dump the waste and then covered up with sand. Water was provided by a manually operated pump about a hundred yards up the sandy trail going from tne Towans into the village of Gwithian. Laundry was hand done in a square gavanized bath tub in the yard. Years later with the migration of the sand dunes the evidence of the former disposal methods were columnar accretions standing out like the statues on Easter Island.
I now live in the United States. One year in the mid 90s My wife and I, with our two daughters who were born in Redruth Hospital, and one of our grandsons went to Cornwall on a trip down memory lane. We all thoroughly enjoyed our time in Cornwall. The Canadian grandson became addicted to Tiddley Oggies.
Thanks for the opportunity to tell this bit of local history.
Yours Truly, A. R. Allen
My mum, dad and brother spent every holiday at Gwithian from the early 1960's until the 1970's. My parents were both Cornish and we had and possibly still have family in Camborne, although have lost touch with them over the years. We always stayed in the last week of August and the first week of September. The middle weekend was always used as catch up with the family in Camborne. I can still remember my excitement as the build up to the holiday came to fruition. We always travelled through the night, with a very early night and then everyone up at 1pm for a 2pm departure. My brother and I would sleep in the Mini Traveller with makeshift beds made from the collapsed back seats and the luggage piled high on the roof rack. How we all managed in such a little car beggars belief as the journey was at least 12 hours. Our excitement never left us though and became greater as we turned onto the road that would lead us down to Gwithian and the first cry of "I can see the lighthouse." Having found our chalet, which was always one of those on the front (we thought we had truly arrived the year we were able to stay in the chalet right next to the Stores), it was straight into the Sunset Stores for supplies of crisps, dandellion and burdoch Carona, cornish pasties and saffron buns, together with buckets and spades (these were bought new every year!), although I'm sure that other food must have been purchased! We didn't unpack, it was always straight down to the beach with our cozzies and towels and straight into Sheeps Pool. My brother and I would spend endless hours whilst the tide was out swimming from one end to the other, or jumping from the rocks into the middle where the water was deeper. We always sat in the same spot, every year and the same families also seemed to be down there each year. My brother soon made friends with a family from Redruth. Their surname escapes me, but their son was called Ryland. I often wonder if they still go. When my own children were little we took them back a few times, although never stayed on the Towans. My memories were such happy ones and I can only ever remember one wet day in all the years we were there. I still remember the smell of the salt air, the seagulls and the dew on the grass last thing at night and first thing in the morning and more importantly the light of the lighthouse.
Godrevy was always such a magical, mysterious place. I didn't appreciate our time and would have preferred somewhere much more exotic, but looking back now those days were the happiest of times and I wish I hadn't wanted to be elsewhere. Its been lovely reading some of the other stories and hearing about the Jam Pot with Billy and Mick. I had forgotten all about them.
I've been coming to Gwithian for over 50 years now and still can't manage a 'proper' holiday anywhere else but there! If I miss a year I feel cheated, they say the grass is always greener but it's just not true!! My memories are repeated in many other families up and down the country but when I was little we used to stay in a chalet called Chy an Dunes (now St Gothian?) just a couple of doors along from the Jampot and as the youngest, I had a tiny little bedroom with a curtain for a door. I can remember lying in bed and listening to the lighthouse wailing on stormy nights, sometimes creeping out to Mum and Dad who would sit in the covered veranda watching the light beaming out to sea warning the ships not to come too close!! I also remember cows grazing down in front of the chalet. Oh yes, and the fact that there was no road over the top field then, you just had to pick your way through the ruts, we often had to get out and walk so Dad could manouvre the old car without damage!! We became great friends of Billy and Mick who ran the Jampot (and named it such) and knew them right up until they died a few years back, both aged well into their 90's. They used to sell ice cream to people on the beach and if the customers didn't have their money with them, they would just ask them to bring it in later!!! I remember Dad was offered the bungalow next door (the one that was knocked down recently) for £800 but he couldn't buy it because he was a policeman and they weren't allowed to have other business interests back in those days!!! Can you imagine the profit margin on that now!!!! I learnt to swim, along with my 3 older brothers, in the sheep dip pool below the lifeguard hut and watch the fabulous sunsets from the rocks. It's not a proper sunset if it doesn't sizzle into water in my opinion!!! And the Red River - we would see who could stand in it the longest and get the reddest feet and ankles!!!! It was flippin' cold most days!!! And Godrevy Lighthouse...........well it's been the most favourite sight of my life for as long as I can remember. In these modern stressful days it's still a beacon of peacefulness and happy times for me and now my husband and family. We would dearly love to live in Cornwall as it's just so much a part of us but unfortunately, mortgages and jobs dictate otherwise so we satisfy our thirst with holidays as and when we can afford it.
Annon Nmae and Address suppilied
Hi, Just some memories from my childhood of staying at Huween, a holiday chalet on the Towans owned by a family member, situated in the field behind what was then the Sunset Stores.I remember the first view of the lighthouse as we came down the road into Gwithian Village, and the Romany caravans at the gate on entering the Towans. We spent many a happy summer holiday there, usually for two weeks in August. We have photos of our family in the chalet garden or on the beach and our hamster "Radar" is buried in the hedge behind the chalet as he died on his 4th Cornish holiday! I remember clearly the long hot days and particularly the Summer of 1976 which was unusually hot.We enjoyed the simple things in life, always starting the holiday with a new bucket and spade and a Famous Five book to read in the evenings. We walked along the beach regularly, over the Red River and on to Godrevy Point, collecting shells and interesting pebbles along the way. The chalet was well positioned to view the whole of St Ives Bay and we watched many a spectacular thunderstorm from the picture window in the lounge. Later in life I have brought my own children to the beach and taught them to fish in the rock pools just as my Dad taught me. Now my granddaughter will be introduced to this jewel of the Cornish coast and I hope she will continue the family tradition of 'Summering' at Gwithian. I hope that the area is not developed commercially, as the beauty of the Towans is their 'back in time' feel. I hope I can return to this magical place in years to come and still recapture my memories. Lynn Blows.
I first had a holiday in Gwithian about fifty five years ago. We came down from Swindon and later from Reading, by train and got a taxi or bus to the Towans. We stayed at my Aunts chalet - Godrevy View. We usually had three or four weeks at the Chalet, then went up to my Aunts farm Ludbrook Manor near Modbury. An ideal holiday for any child. Free to roam the dunes, play on the beach and go to talk to the digger driver at the sand works. The little train that carried the sand to the works was always of interest.
I remember going to the Jampot for our shopping and being served by Billy and Micky. The milkman and his family lived in the chalet just behind it. The Morrisey family from Cambourne had a chalet two away from Gwithian View.
Coming in by car was a bumpy ride along the sand tracks. The walk to the bus down Sandy Lane to the village would be lit by glow worms at night and had the constant sound of the crickets.
Now we have retired and moved to the other end of Cornwall, but I still feel that sitting on the cliffs at Gwithian with my arm round my spaniel, watching the sun set was one of the special moments in my life.
1A Sheviock Lane
We are Don and Joan Showell living in Stoke Gabriel. Joan is a cousin of Sally Scott, from whom we got your address. Joan says:-
My name was Joan Kennard and I am now 96. My mother and her siblings were born in the house next to where the refinery stood. I was brought up in Gonew near Trencrom. My mother’s grandfather, a Mr. Stevens, was the assayer at the nearby tin mines. His son, David Stevens, my grandfather, wanted to extract the tin in the tailings brought down by the Red River from the mine’s Wilfley Tables, but his father said if you do this madcap thing I will cut you off with a shilling! However David went ahead and built the refinery on the beach and in the end made a lot of money!
Please contact us on this email if we can answer any questions. Don Showell.