My Nan lived at 1 Enfield Cottages. She had seven kids of whom my mum was number one! She had four boys, Norman, Gerald, Bob and Cliff, all of whom were very handsome, they along with their friends were known as the Babbacombe boys and also three beautiful Babbacombe girls, Barbara, Joyce and Shirley.
Cyril Chaney, Brian Redwood, Ray Slocombe and Sam Tonkiss were some of their friends. They were always dropping in and out of Nans which was a bee-hive of activity, and they could all be seen playing football, or cricket on Walls Hill.
We loved the lazy, hazy summer Sunday afternoons watching the cricket match and sampling cream teas from the tea hut. On the way home we stopped off for a choc-ice at Ted Halsteads little kiosk, at the beginning of Walls Hill just up from the Roughwood Inn. Nan was born in that cottage which is now now called Honeysuckle Cottage in St. James Place. She started out working in the Babbacombe Cliff Hotel which was the home of Lady Mount Temple. My great-granny was said to have been courted at one point in time by John (Babbacombe) Lee who brought her flowers.
I remember her neighbours were our own Aunt Nancy, and her daughters Margaret and Hazel, and her granddaughter Mary. Frank and Mable Cox and Fred and Josie Ralph and their daughter Muriel completed the row. Opposite in “Homefield Cottages” lived Taffy Evans and his wife, (he being a fisherman), the Brownings, and the Davies who provided more Babbacombe kids.
My mum and dad met at the Roughwood Inn and played darts matches there in days of yore. I remember being taken to the garden with my sister on a Sunday for crisps and lemonade under a big red umbrella whilst they went inside. At age 13 I had my first summer job washing up and serving soup in a local hotel on Babbacombe Downs next to the Grange Hotel.
On the main street of Babbacombe there was Callards the baker where we could buy a bag of day old doughnuts for a penny. Opposite was my school, where on my first day I cried and escaped through the open gate by the infant’s playground and ran home to Nan. Some of my old Babbacombe school chums were Carol Bevan, Marilyn Dingle, Lorna Hawkes, Linda Tonkiss, Sally Heale and Bernice Hammond. I am still in touch with two of those lovely ladies today.
On the right of Enfield Lane was Bowdens the greengrocer, Jack Wright the butcher, now Hanburys Famous fish and chips, (incidentally owned by my cousin Dave), then Avis’ another tobacconist/gift shop. Their granddaughter was called Valerie. Carol lived at the Caprice Hotel and Marilyn’s mum owned a guest house at which the famous Derek Jacobi stayed with his parents whilst working at the Babbacombe Concert Hall. Carol and Marilyn’s mums always put on the best birthday and Christmas parties ever. On the left of the Lane going down was Colombinis, the Globe, Kennedys and Castles, Dingles and the Fish shop called Canns. I remember Jean Kennedy, and Pat Jordan.
On the other side of the road was St. Anne’s Hall, where we kids had some fun times. My Mum went to Sunday school there. I remember a fancy dress party where I dressed up as “Bunty” the comic book character and won 2nd prize. Mrs. Dingle helped me with that.
More Babbacombe kids were Christine and Ronnie her little brother, from the Erskine Home on the Downs. We all lined up along Babbacombe downs Road waving little British flags as the Queen and Prince Phillip drove by in a black limousine one sunny afternoon.
Moving onto the other side of the road was a hairdresser, a tobacconist, another greengrocer called Stevens and Ramshaws on the corner. Turning the corner into Reddenhill Road, the Co-op was on the corner, Felces, where we got the best yellow Devon ice-cream ever next to it. I remember Widdicombes was another butcher where my Mum worked and then Wrens, owned by two brothers and a sister. It was my favourite shop and I could often be seen gazing into the front window at the kid’s books, planning on which one I wanted as soon as I had saved enough sixpences. Going down a little further was Langlers where my Uncle Cliff worked as a boy riding a bicycle with a big basket on the front full of veggies and bread for delivery. In the Lane next to Enfield cottages was a warehouse which my great-granny had once used as a laundry. It then became a Pottery run by the Raymonds and now converted into a house.
I rode Mr. Locke’s ponies up the top of Locke’s Lane which in those days was only a cart track. I remember Pat, Yvonne and Sandra Locke who also ran the pony rides.
Granddad Wilson, who was the Chief Engineer in the 2nd W.W. on the aircraft carrier “Illustrious” at the Battle of Taranto Italy, and Uncle Gerald actually drove the boats named the Oddicombe and Babbacombe Belle which can be seen in one of the photos submitted by Glynis Castle. Does anyone know what happened to these beautiful boats? My sister and I often stowed away under the wheel and enjoyed free rides to Torquay and back.
In retrospect those days in Babbacombe and Torquay were some of the best days of our lives.
I now live in Canada