Showing posts from March, 2016

Otter Busyness

Congratulations to Fairlynch volunteers Mike and Margaret Wilson, looking pleased with themselves, as well they might, for completing their display in the Museum’s Local History Room.
Following on from my previous post at I wondered whether they would make the deadline of the Museum’s new season opening. After all they’re only just back from Australia where the temptations of all that winter sunshine might have distracted them from serious matters like preparing displays on how the River Otter has changed its course over the centuries.
The River Otter panel at the entrance to Fairlynch’s Local History Room has been deliberately placed to emphasise that the Museum is supposed to cover the whole of the Lower Otter Valley, rather just the town of Budleigh Salterton.

Back in 1967 however, when Fairlynch first opened, it was known by the title of Budleigh Salterton Arts Centre and Museum.

Would you like to buy an original Reg Varney painting? (1)

River scene with bridge, with two figures on a path, a red brick wall and two cattle grazing. Oil on canvas, framed, signed by the artist.490mm W x 400mm H (approx.)
From today, you have the extremely rare opportunity of owning an original painting by Reg Varney and supporting a wonderful local charity. 

The star of The Rag Trade and On the Buses was a talented artist as well as a successful actor and gifted musician.  In his autobiography he reveals that his dream as a boy was to go to art school, but he failed the maths test.  The above sketch of two dogs was done by Reg at the age of 13. 

As part of Fairlynch Museum’s exhibition ‘Our Little Clown’ his paintings are being offered for sale by his family to raise money for The Children’s Hospice South West.
To buy a painting, choose one you like. Make a note of its number. The one featured here is Number 1.  Seven paintings are being sold and the best way to see them is to visit Fairlynch Museum where they are all…

Raffle prizes sought

Newton Poppleford Local History Group is seeking raffle prizes for the coffee morning that it has organised for 21 May. Any contributions gratefully received. Please contact

For news of the Group’s activities click on

Roger recommends… The Beer, Bangers and Bands Concert: Budleigh Food & Drink Festival Fundraiser!

Fairlynch trustee and former museum chairman Roger Sherriff, pictured above, tells me that he is looking forward to the big Budleigh event on Saturday 16 April in the Public Hall whenthere will be live music all evening along with food and drink from 6.00 pm until midnight. 
Locally produced real ales, cider and wine will be on offer with a selection of Good Game’s award winning artisan sausages to buy for your supper, including a ‘Beer Bangers and Bands’ special banger!

The double headliner concert features the local Folk, Roots Rock band ‘Sam Green and the Midnight Heist’ and R&B, Blues & Rockabilly band ‘Hucklebuck’ with Budleigh’s own Ian Briggs, supported by the ever popular Budleigh Ukulele Rat Pack, with Budleigh duo Savoy and Exmouth’s Poppy Freya to open the night from 6.00 pm.

Fairlynch values the Valley

Along with the Otter Valley Association and many local councillors Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum rejects the conclusions reached in the recent Boundary Commission report, and will continue to cover the history and culture of its traditional area in its exhibitions.

Newton Poppleford war memorial
‘A recent example was our much praised Great War at Fairlynch exhibition,’ said museum Chairman Trevor Waddington. ‘It focused on the way in which the 1914-18 world conflict affected the communities along the River Otter.’ 
Friends of Fairlynch Mike and Margaret Wilson, from Woodbury, have been hard at work on designing the above panel which aims to show how the Otter was once a busy river. They aim to have the panel installed in time for the Museum’s opening on 25 March.
‘Communications by sea provided excellent trading opportunities for Otterton, the principal settlement, as well as East Budleigh and other small estuary ports,’ they point out.‘However the gradual silting of the upper rea…

Our Little Clown is out and about

Partly based on Varney’s autobiography The Little Clown (1990) this new title has been published to accompany the 2016 exhibition at Fairlynch Museum. 
Our Little Clown follows Varney’s upbringing in London’s Canning Town and his early introduction to show business. A self-taught musician, at the age of 15 he was entertaining audiences in East End working-men’s clubs, playing the piano, piano-accordion and singing. 
World War Two saw him initially working in factories before he joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). Later, along with the likes of Harry Secombe, Eric Sykes and Spike Milligan he joined the Stars in Battledress, entertaining the troops. His post-war career took off as he developed his skills as a comedian, appearing on the West End stage and topping the bill in music hall. Then came his success in shows like The Rag Trade and On the Buses. 
Varney’s talent as a straight actor is seen in his tragicomic performance as failed drag artist ‘Sherry’ Sheridan…

We’re collaborators, not competitors!

Spring is a lovely time of year for leafleting. And yes, I do mean the mundane job of putting leaflets through doors as well as delivering them in the usual tourist outlets. The sky is often blue, I enjoy looking at people’s gardens and getting to know our local towns and villages. 
And of course it’s good exercise I tell myself as I slog round the streets with a rucksack full of literature delivering to hotels, B&Bs and of course Tourist Information Centres in our corner of Devon. And the work of publicising our museum goes on, with the arrival of summer and the thought that one can combine a day’s outing with a leaflet drop or two. 
I do wonder whether it works however. The Direct Marketing Association’s research shows that 48% of consumers actually visited the shop advertised, requested extra information or bought a product after receiving a leaflet through their door. But then they would, wouldn’t they? They’re in the business of promoting the whole leaflet manufacturing industr…

Drawing the collections

A small group of amateur artists is engaged in depicting objects at Fairlynch, some of which have rarely been exhibited in public. Martyn Brown and Lyn Cooke explain:  

The idea  of starting a group to draw the collections developed from the Museum’s Puttee Group, established in 2014 to work on puttees as part of theHeritage Lottery Fund WW1 project.Members of the group had participated at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter in an arts group, using their collections creatively to inspire visual and written responses. 
For Fairlynch the idea was picked up by Museum volunteer Lyn Cooke and she proposed the ‘Drawing the Collections’ pilot group via Trustee Martyn Brown.

The first session took place in October 2015 after the Trustees had agreed the pilot project, and the group has met monthly — usually consisting of five or six people. On each occasion two or three objects from the collections have been selected and a ‘still life’ has been set up in the Exhibition Room.

Objects …