Showing posts from June, 2016

I admit defeat!

Budleigh Salterton War Memorial
Well, I’ve stuck out WW1 for almost half of its grim catalogue of senseless slaughter. But as the centenary of 1 July 1916 approaches, with its list of eight men from the Lower Otter Valley who lost their lives on that one day alone, I simply cannot go on.  
As readers of The Great War at Fairlynch have seen, I had originally intended to mark the centenary of each of the 168 casualties linked to the area with a commemorative post on the above website.
In most cases an account of their lives has already been published on excellent sites like the one at  in which researchers from Fairlynch have already been involved.  Inevitably there were extra details which I wanted to explore, or photos that I felt could add to the picture.
But there are limits!

The two-year Great War at Fairlynch exhibition ended at the Museum in 2015. Inevitably, with the centenary of the November 1918 Armistice, …

Fit faces: Arthur Gascoyne Robson

The recent visit to Fairlynch by children from St Peter’s School seeking to know more about the Second World War made me wonder  exactly how much memorabilia of the period the Museum has managed to gather.  
We are most grateful to the benefactor who recently enabled Fairlynch to acquire the copy of the ship's badge that I mentioned here. 
So when Budleigh resident Shirley Williams, pictured above, called at the Local History Room to seek out a folder mentioning her grandfather it was a pleasure to find almost immediately the exact page on which he is pictured. 
The Museum always welcomes any help in identifying people in photographs from the past for whom we lack names.

So we now have two names of people in the group of staff from the Beaufoy Institute which was evacuated from Black Prince Road in the London Borough of Lambeth to Budleigh during World War Two. Shirley’s grandfather, Arthur Gascoyne Robson, is standing at the far right of the photo. The other person, sitting in the f…

'Budleigh rocks' say local schoolchildren

Two groups of children from Budleigh’s St Peter’s C of E Primary School learnt at first hand about the area’s unique geology from experts at Fairlynch Museum. On Wednesday 8 June, Sycamore Class and Cedar Class explored fossils and rocks with the Museum’s Head of Geology and Environment Nicky Hewitt and Kate Somerby, Fairlynch Trustee and Arts Education Specialist.  

The two museum volunteers are seen, left, in the above photo as they greeted pupils and accompanying teachers.

The children were fascinated to learn about the collection’s oldest fossil, named after the town where it was discovered and known officially as Orthis budleighensis. They learnt how the fossil, a rare brachiopod similar to a mollusc and at least 445 million years old, had come out of a pebble on Budleigh beach. 

BEFORE THE BUSES - words, music,more music, and dance!

Apparently some people who’ve seen my beautiful poster for the Reg Varney event on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 July thought that it was advertising a talk.

No, it’s very far from a talk. 
And it's not On the Buses. Sorry, no Jack, Blakey, Olive & co. 
Before The Buses is a show of about two hours, based on Reg Varney's little-known early life as a gifted singer and musician, making his way in the difficult times of the 1930s and telling us in a charmingly honest way about some of the amusing and often embarrassing experiences that he describes in his autobiography The Little Clown - well worth buying if you can find a copy. 
I thought I'd show you in advance, page by page, the souvenir programme. 
Click on each image to make it bigger. 

Yes, it's at the Football Club and this time I've inserted the postcode so that people can find it more easily. There's plenty of parking if you're coming by car. 

And there are professional performers! 

All very talented and well …

Buses’ star ‘an inspiration’ for Canning Town’s Madalaine

It’s a long way in many senses from London’s East End of London to the tranquil coastal setting of Budleigh Salterton. But for thousands of fans who look back with nostalgia at the age of British sitcoms like The Rag Trade and On The Buses the little East Devon town is making quite a name for itself.
An exhibition at the local museum, free vintage bus rides and pebble art on Budleigh’s famous beach… it’s all to mark the centenary of Reg Varney, better known by many including more than 12.5K members of the On the Buses Fan Club as Cockney comic bus driver Stan Butler.
There’s even a musical show in his honour, staged at the local Football Club. But  Before The Buses, as the show is called, deliberately focuses on his little-known early years when he started out as an 15-year-old self-taught pianist and singer playing in the tough environment of working men’s clubs.

By pure chance one of the show’s stars, Madalaine Pearce, born and raised in nearby East Budleigh, currently resides in Can…