Molly Coombe was born on 18th October 1929 to parents Grace Coombe neé Loud and Philip Coombe. She may have been born at a local hospital but the family lived, and Molly grew up, in a house called ‘Locarno’ on Berry Hill, Bishopsteignton. As a girl, Molly’s favourite toy seems to have been a small teddy-bear which, amazingly, she kept for the rest of her life. The bear is now preserved in the Bishopsteignton archive collection!
Molly Coombe at just a few months old in 1930.
One of Molly’s happiest occupations was caring for her pets. Molly loved cats and we suspect this was a trait inherited from her mother! Molly combined this love with a keen interest in winning competitions, she even had a copy of the book ‘How to win contest prizes’ by Lee Keith! She must have studied hard because in the early 1960s, she entered a competition by sending off a photograph of her cats and won! Molly won a cruise and enjoyed a trip on the Q.S.S. Arkadia.
Molly Coombe (centre) at dinner with a group including her cousin, Robert Seear, at her left.
Philip Coombe died in 1970, leaving Molly and Grace living together until Grace’s death in 1983. After her parents died, Molly inherited the custodianship of a variety of properties around Bishopsteignton. Molly was the landlady of homes on Clanage Street and of the Newsagent shop on Radway hill as well as owning a small parcel of land, on Forder Lane known as The Nuttery. Some villagers remember Molly making her round of the village as an elderly lady, collecting rent assisted by her cousin, Robert.
Molly never married and had no children and so took the decision to leave her legacy for the establishment of a permanent Bishopsteignton Museum. When she died in 2007, she secured the future of thousands of records of life in Bishopsteignton. The Coombe family archive alone tells a story spanning some 300 years but Molly’s legacy has been invested and secured for many years to come. You can read all about how Molly’s legacy has been used in What we do.
Philip and Grace Coombe around 1970 at their home in Bishopsteignton.