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As part of our “Born and Raised in Bishopsteignton” series of articles Colin Back relates his memories from growing up in Bishopsteignton in the mid-20th century. With details of family history, poignant moments and unique memories from a true Bishopsteigntonian, this is the final part of a valuable record of our special Devon village.

Cropped Photograph of 1st Bishopsteignton Scouts 1958 St George's Day Parade

1st Bishopsteignton Scouts 1958 St George’s Day Parade

The village had a very active scout troop and cub pack, 1st Bishopsteignton. Scouty (Fred Pawlett) was a dedicated scout leader and gave all his spare time to ensure the scouting movement succeeded in the village. It had a good following from both the scouts and the parents. He was imaginative and the camping experiences were brilliant. Over the years he built up quite a stock of camping equipment. At different times, my brothers and I were all scouts. John and I had also been in the cubs. My mother was awarded a Silver Scout Badge pin for all her hard work and support over many years with 1st Bishopsteignton.

When Sheila talked about starting the cub pack, my mother, made each of the cubs a neckerchief to match the scouts blue and white. Sheila was a wonderful Akela a first-class teacher and leader. It was through my mum and Sheila, that enough money was raised to be able to purchase the ‘running wolf’ that sat on the top of the stave, for the cub colours.

When Sheila was starting her own family, Marian Howe and I took over the running of the cub pack for a short while. We attended a residential Cub Instructors course at Paignton. Marian’s dad was also a scout leader linked to Newton Abbot. During our time, the cubs had chance to experience a rare weekend camping at the County Camp site on Haldon. There were several other packs present.  



Photograph of 1st Bishopsteignton Scouts on Mothering Sunday

Photograph of 1st Bishopsteignton Scouts on Mothering Sunday


Photograph of the 1st Bishopsteignton Scouts on Camp in Torquay

1st Bishopsteignton Scouts on Camp in Torquay

A busy time for all the cubs and scouts was

‘Bob a Job week’.

It was amazing what tasks some expect for the price of a shilling. Some tasks were easy such as a little weeding, cleaning windows etc. but some wanted the whole garden turning, weeding and planting. One wanted her five-piece wooden garden furniture, rubbed down, cleaned and painted! ! All the mums were at hand if there was a problem. Some customers were very kind and gave us lemonade, cake or biscuits.

The cubs and scouts met in one part of the Methodist Church hall, which was divided into two sections. It was pretty basic, no toilets or kitchen and cold in the winter as there was no heating. The Girl Guides, led by Dolly Long met in the village hall.

When King George the sixth died the cubs and scouts wore black armbands with their uniforms for two weeks. It took a little while to get use to the change in the National Anthem from King to Queen and from he to she.

The Queen’s Coronation was a wonderful time, not only on the day but also on the days of excitement as people made their preparations. The railings outside all the houses in Fore Street were woven with red, white and blue crepe paper strips. There had been a shower during the night so quite a lot had to be replaced. Everyone got stuck in and it was soon sorted. We were given Coronation mugs and there was sports for the children at Murley Grange. The whole village seemed to be in party mood.




Photograph of the 1st Bishopsteignton Scouts at the Methodist Hall

1st Bishopsteignton Scouts at the Methodist Hall 1957

Printed Material Bishopsteignton's Coronation Celebrations 1953 front pg

Printed Material Bishopsteignton’s Coronation Celebrations 1953

Printed Material Bishopsteignton's Coronation Celebrations 1953 pg 2


Printed Material Bishopsteignton's Coronation Celebrations 1953 pg 3


Printed Material Bishopsteignton's Coronation Celebrations 1953 end page

Printed Material Bishopsteignton’s Coronation Celebrations 1953 end page

Scouty lived and worked in the village. He worked for Teignmouth Council and Mr Apps from West Town Meadow worked for Newton Abbot Council. Between them the kept the village immaculate, road and pavement cleaning, hedge cutting, weeding, clearing drains, their work list was endless. This all done with hand tools, spades, hoes, brushes and a wheelbarrow. They covered the whole of the village between them.


Photograph of the Cockhaven Manor staff

Cockhaven Manor staff

Sepia photograph of Murley Grange Bishopsteignton no.2

Murley Grange Bishopsteignton

Postcard of Huntly, Bishopsteignton, inscribed in ink on reverse

South face and part of the gardens at Huntly, Bishopsteignton.

Some of the big houses employed gardeners, handymen and domestic workers. Many of the workers stayed with the same jobs for many years, some up to retirement. Those living in the big houses cared for the staff; loyalty was respected from both sides.

Postcard of Lindridge House, Bishopsteignton front

Lindridge House and the gardens

Tapley House, Bishopsteignton

My mum, like many other mum’s, as well as raising families had jobs in and around the village. Mum cleaned for Mr and Mrs Barber, who lived in the top flat on high pavement, Fore St. She continued to care for Mr Barber after his wife died. She also ‘did’ for retired Sea Captain and Mrs Marsden who lived on the main road. The Captain was now a distributor of Dutch bulbs. Mum also worked as a waitress, as needed, at the Den Pavilion, Teignmouth. Sometimes, if mum was working at the Den on a Saturday, John and I would be treated to the children’s Saturday morning pictures at the Riviera cinema just across the road. Afterwards it was back to mum for a sandwich and an ice cream while we sat and watched the bowlers until mum finished work.

During the seasons some of the mums dressed in old trousers, shirt, boots and a scarf made their way to the fields opposite (Red House) on the V junction to Colway Cross one way and Haldon the other. Depending on the season, they were on their way for pea picking, carrot pulling, cauliflower cutting and swede and potato collecting. Some of us children had to also go and help by carrying the crops to the weighing or counting table so mum did not have to stop work.

The worst crop especially in hot weather was picking wallflowers. The scent was really overpowering. The flowers were bunched as they were picked and when ready, they were rushed to Newton Abbot Railway station for the night train to London for the crop to be in Covent Garden market by the early hours. This was hard backbreaking, work.

Not everything in the village was perfect; there were also some very sad times. Not just losing elderly family but the sad loss of two young lives.
Thomas Sealey in 1956 at just 13, a friendly outgoing young man who lived with his parents at the old forge, Fore Street.

Carolyn Donnelly, in 1960, also at just 13, such a lovely girl, leaving her mum, dad and sister, Janet. They lived on Berry Hill. It was a respectful tradition, to close the curtains to rooms overlooking the funeral route until the cortege had passed.

Percy Back 1907 -1967 Outside number 1 Cockhaven Close

It was an odd period, when new council houses were built at Cockhaven Close. Mrs Bailey, Mrs Spear and their families who had lived in Clanage Street for years, moved to a new house as did Nurse Robins and (uncle) Johnny. Around the same time Mr and Mrs Apps, Gerald and Tony moved to Teignmouth, as did Mr & Mrs Thompson and Terry. It felt like the people who had been such a big part of the heart of the village, and with whom we had been growing up with, were all disappearing. It was time for change.

It would not be long before I would also be leaving home and moving from the village.

At 18yrs, I started my nurse training in Plymouth. I visited home and the village as often as I could. After mum died my visits became less often. I explored the world but I never lost my love of Bishopsteignton. So many memories, so many people. Although not realised until much older, every memory and every person during my childhood in Bishopsteignton, has had an influence on life at some stage.

Bishopsteignton Cricket Club Team 1960s

Bishopsteignton Cricket Club Team 1960s

Photograph of the Back Brothers

John, Colin and David Back

Photograph of Bishopsteignton Pantomime 'Mother Goose' 1962

Bishopsteignton Pantomime Mother Goose 1962.

Photograph of Bishopsteignton School Class Photo 1958

School Class Photo 1958

Colin’s reminiscences are continued in 7 more parts, visit Born and Raised in Bishopsteignton to read more.

See also Part 1 of Dave Robbins turn at the series here

Thank you to Colin Back for his stories and to him and Lynette Renton for the images.