Showing posts from 2011

TUT, TUT...! Trees Under Threat!

They may have been condemned as diseased, dangerous and past their sell-by date - a bit like me and quite a few of my Budleigh Salterton neighbours I suppose - but the unexpected loss of those two magnificent 25-metre high Monterey pines on West Hill has saddened the town's tree lovers.

Surprisingly the two trees, situated between Woodlands and Sherbrook Hill, were not covered by a Tree Protection Order (TPO). But even if they had been their fate would have been sealed when one of the pines was discovered to have been attacked by the Sparassis fungus, better known as cauliflower mushroom, pictured above.As the name implies, this parasitic fruiting growth is edible although it is usually eaten by squirrels rather than humans. But for pines like the West Hill specimens the fungus is usually fatal when it spreads into the roots. The second tree was apparently rotten within the trunk.

Lloyd Fursdon, of Knowle Tree Services, the firm which supervised the trees' removal estimates …

People from the Past: 3. Reg Varney (1916-2008)

Reginald Alfred 'Reg' Varney was an English actor, most notable for his role as a cheerful Cockney bus driver in the 1970s TV sitcom On the Buses.

For ten years he lived at Dark Lane House on picturesque Dark Lane in Budleigh Salterton, seen above.  Millions of television viewers remember him with affection. He has been described as belonging to the old school of comedians, with his dislike of much contemporary television and his pride in never using swear words to get a laugh.

Varney was born on 11 July 1916 in Canning Town, which was then part of Essex but is now part of East London. His father worked in a rubber factory in Silvertown and he was one of five children who grew up in Addington Road, Canning Town. He was educated at the nearby Star Lane Primary School in West Ham and after leaving school at 14, he worked as a messenger boy at the Regent Palace Hotel, pictured above.

Above right: A Windmill Theatre poster. The first 'Revudeville' act opened in 1932. The show…

People from the Past: 2. Andrew Stuart Hibberd MBE (1893-1983)

Above: Stuart Hibberd's memoirs, published in 1950 as This - is London...

Stuart Hibberd was one of the best known voices on radio in the early days of the BBC. He joined the Corporation in 1924 and was its chief announcer until his retirement in 1951. He settled in Budleigh Salterton, living in Westfield Road.  

Stuart Hibberd was born on 5 September 1893 in Broadstone, East Dorset, and educated at Weymouth College from where he won a choral scholarship to St. John’s College, Cambridge. He was always proud of his West Country roots and remained as Vice President of the Society of Dorset Men until the end of his life.

On the outbreak of war in 1914 he joined the Dorset Regiment, serving with distinction in the Gallipoli campaign and also with the army in India, where he gained the rank of Captain.

In 1923, he married Alice Chichester, a cousin of the future round-the-world sailor Sir Francis Chichester (1901-72). From a military family, she was the daughter of Lt Col Gerard Chicheste…

People from the Past: 1. Robert Proctor (1868-1903)

Robert George Collier Proctor, bibliographer, was born in Budleigh Salterton. He is chiefly remembered for Proctor order, the method of organising incunabula - books printed before 1500 -  first by country, then by town, and then by printer and edition. 

It was this method, used in his Index to the British Museum and Bodleian collections which earned for him the title of 'the great bibliographer.' In his short life he managed to revolutionise the study of 15th century printing.

He was born on 13 May 1868, the only child of Robert Proctor and Anne Tate. A Robert Proctor is recorded as living at 2 Lawn Villas in Morris and Co.'s Commercial Directory and Gazetteer of 1870. 

Although his father had poor health the family had private means and the young Robert Proctor grew up in a bookish environment. His father, educated at Eton and Charterhouse, had "imbibed a strong love of the classics" according to his British Museum colleague and biographer Alfred Pollard, and it s…