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Childhood memories of Ventonleague

by cornwallcsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Dorothy Cook
Location of story: 
Ventonleague, Hayle
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
16 June 2005

The following story has been submitted by Nina Davey with permission from the author Dorothy Cook who is aware of the website rules and regulations.

Children’s games in Ventonleague seemed to rotate through the thirties. We gathered together with our marbles proud of our ‘taw’ and ‘bully’ enthusiastically playing ‘pit’, ‘ring’ or ‘town’. The whipping top, which one would spin the longest. The hoop was rather exhausting when it was made of iron. Wooden ones were thrupence each but we happily truckled them along the lanes. Skipping ropes, if we had thrupence we could buy one with wooden handles. Most of us had an ordinary length of rope that was not kind to the hands. Kites came in focus made with brown paper and bamboo. We flew them from the top of the hill. Rounders had its session at the bottom of the hill, this seemed to be an evening game. Hopscotch, statues, leapfrog and erkie were always popular.
Ventonleague pond was a haven for adventure. Thousands of tadpoles were caught with a penny net. We all worked hard making our camps, amazing what we could do with the oddments we gathered. We made palaces out of discarded cushions, lace curtains, tablecloths and twill bedspreads. In Cowboys and Indians the girls were always the Indians, we were all dead in an hour. The pirates invaded from the water. How did those boxes stay afloat? We never got captured or lost our valued possessions.
May Day was a day to remember. Girls were decked out in colourful crepe dresses I recall being dressed as Bo-peep with my friend as a Harlequin. Some villagers gave us pennies for singing but one old man was not impressed, he threw a bucket of water over us.
Everything was gathered for the bonfire on top of the hill. The boys pulled ‘trade’ from wherever they found it. Percy Williams’ horse and cart and Mr Hockin’s lorry were used by the men from the village to bring loads from Wheal Alfred. The men built, lit and supervised the fire. We had lots of fun I do not recall any accidents. We always tried to outdo Phillack and Copperhouse Hill.
Tea-treat was a day to remember. We gathered at the top of the hill then marched behind Hayle Town Band carrying our mugs down the hill and around the sacred Penmare. Mr Berry the head gardener daring us to step on those beautifully kept lawns. Down to Foundry Square and back to Mr Ingrim’s field, on the left-hand side at the entrance to Ventonleague Hill. A fire burnt in a corner of the field heating water in a black urn, we held out our mugs, which were filled with sweet tea, and we were given our tea-treat buns. Halfpenny and penny cornets and tuppeny wafers were bought from ‘Johnny ice cream’ who came from Camborne. There was lemonade and I recall sweets being thrown for us to scrabble for. Most of us wore white plimsolls, thrupence a pair. A penny block of whitening lasted all the summer. Games, races and tug-of-war were played by all ages while the band played until the light grew dim.
There were three big events in the nineteen thirties. In 1935 was the silver jubilee of King George the fifth and Queen Mary. Houses were decorated with flags and buntings, school children assembled at the war memorial Mr Pearce, our headmaster lined us up to march behind the band to the Towans. In front of Mr Taylor’s tea-rooms games and races were held. I won a celluloid camera in the egg and spoon race, which I did not deserve, my brother told to me to hold the egg with my thumb. In the evening was tug-of-war and other games and dancing until the sun set over St Ives. The second event was the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. On both these occasions we were presented with commemorative mugs. The third event was when the outbreak of war was declared on 3rd September 1939 which changed everything. Seven from our little village were killed. Many of the villagers have passed on since then. I know there are some now who share my memories.

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