Against all the odds of Lockdown, BH managed to organise and stimulate a very memorable VE Day in Bishopsteignton. The original idea of involving as many as possible of the village activity groups to create their own projects for the celebrations was carried through online instead of physically. Many of our researchers and the leaders of the groups had gone into a degree of slumber due to the Lockdown, but we managed to rouse them to produce a whole raft of material including a knitted Spitfire, produced by the knitting group, which has been on display on the high pavement in Fore St., and made it onto the BBC Spotlight programme.
We also involved the WI, the Lunch Club, Singing for Fun, Digging for Victory, articles about nursing in WWII and the Battle of Britain.
We decided to produce a series of Countdown articles on the website to lead up to VE Day itself, highlighting the fun and party aspects of the occasion as well as the more serious stories. They included Music, Food, Dancing, Dressing Up, Heroes, Evacuees and Women at War. This last category proved extremely enlightening when one of our researchers sent us a photograph of her 98-year-old mother, who lives in the village, in WAAF uniform in WWII, along with the story of her work during wartime. The Heritage Lottery Fund office had sent out an email enquiring what various organisations were intending to do, if anything, on VE Day, and I replied with our plans. They then looked at the Women at War article and asked if they could use it for their national publicity, which they duly did. So our very own Mary Overill became their poster girl for VE Day as well as ours. This also stimulated various members of the community to come forward with photographs and stories of friends and family connected to the village, who were also part of the war effort, which is exactly what we are trying to achieve.
As well as the articles we encouraged the village to dress up and party in their gardens. To provide a soundtrack to the afternoon and so that the speeches could be heard around the village, Jason McMurray organised a total of 24 PA systems to be set up in the gardens of their owners with coverage for pretty much the entire village. The soundtrack consisted of 2 hours of music of the period, official speeches from the day and the Toast to the Nation’s Heroes, as well as other specific speeches designated by the Veterans’ Charities. All finished with a soundtrack of ‘We’ll meet Again’ and ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ for people to sing along to. The effect was phenomenal and everyone came out to promenade and enjoy the day. A gallery of photographs and videos is now displayed on the website.
VE Day Celebrations 2020
So, how is the Lock Down affecting you? We at BH have unfortunately had to postpone our VE Day programme for the time being, but hopefully, later in the summer, we can resurrect some of the events and party like it’s 1945!
Meanwhile we have started a new page on the site , a COVID 19 page designed to document the day to day movements of people in this wonderful village. Any ideas you have to help people pass the time, and any comments you have on how things are progressing, please check in each day to see the latest official news, and to leave comments yourself. This is our way of chronicling history as it happens in Bishopsteignton.
We are also ramping up the articles going online, so keep your eyes peeled for lots of interesting historical stories to keep you entertained. We are still producing our series of WWII related stories in line with our programme for this year. Don’t forget, if you have an idea for an article or any information you would like to impart, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We may not be able to meet with you face to face, but we still have access to the archive, and we can communicate electronically and help you tell your story.
Stay safe and keep in touch!
Unfortunately, due to the current crisis we have been forced to cancel the Jam and Jerusalem talk by the W.I. on Wed 25th March. We hope to bring you this and lots of other events later in the year, when this crisis has passed. We were due to have our programme of events for the VE Day celebrations delivered to every household this week, but now everything has had to go into abeyance. We are hoping we can postpone these events until the Autumn, as soon as we get the ‘All Clear!” Meanwhile keep watching the website for fun things to do and interesting articles on aspects of WWII. Keep Calm and Carry On!
Following a second programme meeting with various representatives of village interest groups, lots of events and projects have been agreed on and the printed programme content is almost completed. Events start in March and continue through to December, although some are not finalised we will keep everyone posted throughout the year. We have sorted out what we hope to be helping to organise during the pivotal week in May 4th – 10th, in conjunction with the various groups and venues in the village. The programme is very exciting and includes a street party, a village fete and a period dance, all in the spirit of the 1940s. A printed copy of the programme should be landing on everyone’s doormat, courtesy of the Bishopsteignton Scout Group, very soon.
Meanwhile we are holding an open meeting at the Ring of Bells on March 16th at 7pm, to encourage volunteers to sign up for the many and varied tasks involved in the organisation of the Village Street Party on May 10th, and the various other events. There are a great bunch of volunteers in this village who are always happy to help so we hope to see as many of you as possible on that evening. If you would like to help but cant make it please get in touch with us.
The first event on our year’s programme is on March 14th with the Inaugural Community Allotment Open Day ‘DIG FOR VICTORY’ project, from 11am-12.30. The project will involve setting up part of the Community Allotment as a working DIG FOR VICTORY plot where the gardeners and volunteers will use it as it would have been at the time and use the 1940s Government’s month by month propaganda leaflets to grow all that veg that fed Britain during the war years. Anyone in the village who would like to help will be welcome to go along and get digging!
So look out for you VE Day programme and come along and join in the fun!
Great news here at BH! We have had a successful result in our Heritage Lottery Fund bid for our VE Day programme. We can now plough ahead with our proposed year of events, talks, displays, workshops etc. Hopefully we can produce a programme by the end of February to publicise what we are hoping to achieve in the village this coming year.
Many volunteers have come forward with amazing suggestions for research and events like meals, music, films, gardening, dance, dressmaking, knitting and much more, all on a wartime theme. We are still looking for ideas and projects and, to that end, are holding another meeting on Friday Feb 7th, from 10 until 2pm at the HUB, for anyone who would like to join in. Come along and meet other people with great ideas. If you can’t make it please contact us and come and meet us on another day. This is going to be a very busy and exciting year for us, and for the Village of Bishopsteignton. So its full steam ahead for VE 2020!
HOORAH! We have reached our 100th published post, after just a year of being live. Thank you so much to all our researchers and authors and all the input you have had.
Our latest publications include one on Edith Quantick, in her own words.
Another of the relatives of the Quantick family
Also two new servicemen from our village war memorial
Raymond Sidney Evans https://www.bishopsteigntonheritage.co.uk/…/raymond-sidney…/
and John William Beer https://www.bishopsteigntonheritage.co.uk/…/john-william-b…/
Plus one on the fascinating history of Delamore House
So that should give you lots to keep you interested over the Xmas holiday. Merry Xmas and see you on the other side!
Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers and researchers who came to our Xmas social yesterday, and thank you to Michael J Smith and the team at the Old Commercial Inn for making us so welcome. It was great to catch up with you all and to introduce new people to our trustees and to each other. It certainly got the Heritage chatter going full speed.
We are in the process of publishing the start of our WWII Commemoration year. There are lots of really interesting articles about our Bishopsteignton servicemen on the website, to give you something to get you thinking over the Festive season. Here’s a taste;
We have also published Maggie Sullivan’s film of the Millennium Celebrations and the book that accompanied it here;
The Millennium Celebrations
We are available at the HUB until Fri 20th Dec, and then again from Tues Jan 7th, so please come in and see us. Happy Xmas!
It is with great regret that we mourn the passing of Maggie Sullivan, who died peacefully on Nov 30th. Maggie was a well-loved personality in the village and was very involved with the Bishopsteignton Museum in earlier years. She was responsible for building the model of Bishopsteignton that was on display at the Village Festival this year, she and her husband John were involved in the original twinning of the village and in the years leading up to the Millennium celebrations she filmed, directed and edited a wonderful film on the 2000 year history of the village, featuring many village characters.
Maggie very kindly gave permission for BH to publish this film on the website, and we shall be doing so in the very near future. We also have an audio memory of John Sullivan on the website, which Maggie was unaware of before we published it, and was very moved to hear. We hope this will represent a fitting memorial to Maggie, a creative and inspiring woman who will be much remembered and sorely missed.
On October 9th we hosted the Molly Coombe Memorial Lecture at St. Johns. It was well attended and there was an enthusiastic response from the audience. We had a few sound problems, which we shall have to address before the next talk, but on the whole it was well received. Most of the month has been taken up with preparations for our Open Day on 26th October. We have been gathering information from the Archive and putting together a programme of proposed events for 2020. Our great team of volunteers and trustees did a fantastic job with the displays and the teas! The response was fantastic considering the awful weather, and some great suggestions for next year came out of it. Also some new volunteers came forward and are now joining our team. We would love to encourage more people to get involved in our proposed events and displays for next year. There will be things happening, WWII related, throughout the year with a focus on the May V E Day celebration week, so do please let us know if you would like to get involved, or if your group has any plans of its own than can link into our programme.
We have been busy refurnishing the Wilson Room with shelving and desks so we now have lots more workstations and tables to make searching for archive material easier for anyone who wants to get involved with our research. Come visit us on a Tuesday or Friday, 10am til 2pm. Bring your laptop or tablet and see how you too can be involved.
During the month James, Imogen and Yvonne attended the Archives and Records Association South West Meeting at Kresen Kernow, which is the new Cornwall Record Office at Redruth. The new facility is housed in the re-furbished Redruth Brewery Building. It is a huge site and very impressively designed and equipped. We had a tour of the site and picked up some interesting ideas and a wish list!
The Conference hosted some interesting presentations on the subject of partnerships and, while most of the other institutions represented are undergoing funding problems, their focus seemed to be very much on digitisation. That said, it did seem to us all, I think, that we are quite significantly abreast of the sector in many ways, mostly in our approach and our commitment to developing our own systems and working methods. James and Imogen also attended a Seminar at the Devon Records Office entitled ‘Digitising Your Archives’, giving us more ideas and information about our own digitising task.
So from January our focus will be on WWII and armed with the 1939 census we shall be trying to map the village during wartime, who lived where, how the village changed and many other aspects of village life during that war. If you or any of your family have memories, photographs or letters, especially relating to evacuees who were here, please do get in touch and get involved.
Attendance at our Molly Coombe Memorial Lecture on October 9th was very good, thanks to all who came and we hope you were entertained and enlightened.
We are now gearing up for our Open Day here at BH, on October 26th at the Community Centre, from 2pm until 4pm. We would like as many people as possible to get involved in our VE Day 75 programme of events next year.
If you are a member of a group that have plans for an event or a piece of celebratory work, please come along and tell us about it. If you have any WWII memorabilia or photographs, or would like to research more about the occupants of your house during the war, please join us. We are concentrating on evacuees to the village and where they were billeted, so if you have any knowledge of that please do come along. Or if you would just like to look at some artefacts, listen to some music and have a cuppa and some cake, we would love to see you. It’s going to be a terrific celebration in May 2020, involving lots of different participant groups in the village, so come along and be part of the plans. All ideas very welcome. See you there!