Stanley Tout is a ‘Lanson boy’ born in 1933. He witnessed and experienced many things during those early years, from being in St. Johns Ambulance Brigade to joining the Railways on leaving school. Here are some of his reminisces from the by-gone time during the second world war and just after.
‘Just past Hurdon Farm of Mr and Mrs Smith Sen’ with Sons Ted, Dozer [nickname] and a Sister in the 1940’s was a collection of caves full of ammo awaiting D Day. Our gang Me, my Brother Colin, Peter and Bob Wicks with others stumbled up-on them one day. We were pounced up-on by friendly G I’s guards who gave us some fun by firing their rifles at targets we placed in the field opposite’.
‘Unearthed some 1948/9 negatives taken with a 1928 box Browne with a portrait only view finder only. The views are from our house 29 Trelawney Cottages. The portrait view clearly shows Tavistock Road. Down in the valley the black railway bridge that allowed the SR to pass over the GWR. The bean poles belong to a Mr Phillips a postman at the time who rented the ground below our garden,the site is now occupied by flats constructed by the town council 1960 time. The landscape picture was obtained by holding the camera against the house wall. This is a good view of the Kensey Valley once again the railway bridge, the trees you see are in the field the far side of Tavistock Road,this field drops steeply down to Kensey. Ridgegrove can be seen. Clearly seen is the valley the SR travels by turning left at Polson . By looking left I could see Dartmoor and Brentor Church. Yet again one could on clear days trains traveling on the Tavistock to Okehampton line. There are also items to discern in the valley.’
‘Blindhole. Who can recall Tom Mortimer who held a Sunday paper franchise. Along with his wife he lived in the first house at the entrance to Blindhole .The house appeared to me to have been built in-to the Southgate Arch. For many years along with my Brothers I assisted Dad every Sunday, rain wind and snow. Upon the setting up of the army camps many miles were trudged out to Hurdon and Pennygilliam. I recall some one from the Newport area there every Sunday taking quite a lot of papers down to Newport to sell. Tom along with his Wife were also agents for Lyon’s cakes that was always a treat to look forward to. The house to me appeared to be full of nooks and crannies,at the rear one window over looked Angel Hill .Tom is one of Lanson’s lost characters.’
‘V.E Day. Anyone on this site that can recall the date 1939/41 time. My Mother along with my Brothers and myself took us along to the old Sheep Market ,to see the children as she put it. What I saw amazed me for there were row upon row of children ages from four to fourteen. Myself being six or seven at the time where did they all come from I asked?,they are from London Mother replied. The evacuees had arrived. I recall the local busybodies wives etc of our local dignitaries were rushing around with names of recipients for the children. Well where did they all go some ended up in very caring homes others were seen to be a source of cheap labour. The farming community took advantage of this I learned after a while from accounts of evacuees we met at school. What stays in my memory is seeing family’s being parted Brother and Sister being dragged apart screaming and crying, had to be done at the time I suppose. One or two names I can recall, Stanley Furber, Arthur Puttman from Battersea, a lad named Howlett and also a Brother & Sister who were blond twins staying with a Mrs Wright ?’
‘Here is a photo of the likely lads against the veranda of the old Coronation Park Swimming Pool in the back ground. I recall at one time a Mr Bradford and his Wife selling crisps and sweets etc in-side. Mr Bradford was also the groundsman and caretaker of the park. The Lads right to left on shoulders Herbe’ Bridgeman, Colin my Brother. Ground level Unknown, David Frost, Tony Pearse and Ken Sandercock.’
‘My life on the railway’s nearly came to an abrupt end when I foolishly attempted to board a moving train to take me to Otterham Station.’
Back row L to R Cyril Arthur, Gerald Smith, Dave Tout , Jim Northy , John Risley. Middle Me with the beer, Dick Cross, Archie Goodman, unknown, unknown, Les Werdon, unknown, Brian Castle. Seated Geo’ Brown, unknown, Ron Barriball, Elwin Brock, unknown. Date 1993 sixty years after Lanson Station closed.
Below ‘May I show this photo of my proud Mum & Dad with me age nine months 1934. The claim I am able to make the photo taken at Jerome’s Plymouth, that I traveled on a train 81 years ago hence the love of all things railways and 50 years a railwayman.’
Above right ‘My-self brother Colin and David have been seen a few times. This is a young Michael Tout along with the late Brian Penno of Lewannick,on the White Horse monument in Westbury. Brother Michael is on the left Brian leaning on the pram. I am hoping someone may remember Brian. This was taken a few years ago.’
‘At the time of photo 45/48 years ago I had moved to Westbury from Lanson in a very short time you can lose the ear to detect a Cornish dialect.’
‘Here is a photo taken at Otterham 1948 using a portrate box browney. Engine name Wadebridge 1945 1965. Never converted still running on the Watercress Line. As I said in earlier posting two loco’s of similar design were built. The Merchant Navy class and Westcountry – Battle of Britain. The Merchant Navy’s were quite a bit heavier,so banned in-to Cornwall. Ian pointed out that with the air-smooth casing off, new valve gear fitted no rebuilt loco’s came our way.’
‘Here is a sad tale that I will always remember. Angel Hill 1938. I witnessed the eviction of a family from their home.The home was part of a cramped group of two down and two up hovels that were on the left hand side as you look up the hill. This was next down from where the Electric Co’ built a small relay room in years to come. There was a passage that ran down from Exeter St between the Lanson Arms pub and Spry’s garage that ran in-to Angel Hill. Talk was abound as the dreaded day came.I saw as a young five and a half year old lad a family shaking with fear and all in tears. The landlord of the day was a prominent Lanson Man who was Mayor at the time. In came the bailiffs who piled the few pieces of sticks and furniture in -to the street. I well remember my Mother offering tea and little to eat. Others railed around to help some one put them up for a couple days.A very kind Man a Mr Cory who had a carpenters shop on Dockace Rd just to the left at bottom of the hill offered to store their bits and pieces. Believe you me, you do not get a better lesson in life than that. I noted some months ago in a another posting a Mr Davey became the owner of the carpenters shop.’
‘I must tell you about a five pound note. Late 1943 the gang and myself found a white five pound note in Bouncalls Lane, lets take it to the police said one. Spend it I said. Right in late 1943 sweets of a sort were appearing in the shops. The nearest was Sillifant’s corner shop opposite the Westgate Inn. What do you boys want said Mr Sillifant have you any money,yes I replied waving the fiver like a flag he reached out and almost snatched it away. Come back he shouted for now we were heading out. Next stop Cotteralls fish & chip shop in Tower St, same thing this time Mervin Cotteralls almost had it. After a couple more go’s headed for the Police Station and handed it in. It was claimed stated the station Sgt. I did notice someone with the name Sillifant appeared in a posting here a week or so back any relation to the Sillifant’s who kept the shop going through out the war.’
‘This is for the older Lanson Folk who may remember.First the RAF twin engined aircraft Wellington? that came down Lawhitton side of Stourscome Lane, made a large crater. Second the bombs that fell just up from Dutson,heard them just after the Air Raid warning sounded I would have been eight years old. Put the windup me. Thirdly what about the anti invasion barricades on Tavistock Road a couple hundred yards past the workhouse. I well remember playing on them days on end at school holidays.’
‘Re-posting Square picture (funny line there someware) , for traffic buff’s.As well as three Royal Blue coaches, note the red and green Shell-Mex lorry. Driven by Garfield Gerry I will wager. Garfield came on the railway around time of photo. He was a signalman at Ashwater he be- came a good friend of mine. When on a visit to Lanson the Wife and myself along with our children went and visited Garfield and his Wife at their home at Tower Hill. Garfield was always known to my children as the model roundabout man. Dinky’ Gerry shunter/guard at Lanson was his Brother.’
‘Local tearaways. Any one still around who can remember the Race Hill Gang. I was one of the leaders. We held sway all over the town 1940-50. While visiting my Brother the late Colin (Red) Tout some years ago I was enjoying a pint in the Liberal Club, when a resident of Newport informed me that when he was a lad,along with himself and others they were afraid to come up to the town on an errand for their Mothers in case they ran in-to members of the dreaded Race Gang. My age now a shade under 82.’
‘The Race Hill Gang held sway all over the town, made up like others in and about, from school boys 8 to 15 or so. We used to get in-to conflict with Newport’s River rats, Priory and others.’
‘Talking about the ‘Old Sheep Market car park reminds me of some of the tricks we lads of Lanson used to get up to. I remember the gents toilets that were behind the bus stop. You went in then you would be facing the street. Now then here comes the fun, if you could get enough pressure up you could hit the open vents up would go the cry o, dear it is starting to rain?’
This is a posting of a Lanson Christmas Story. How many who were living in Lanson Christmas Day 1953 can recall the tragedy that befell hundreds of Christmas dinners. Gas power was the order of the day for most ovens . In order to get the gas to reach your ovens you need a massive pump. The two employees of Lanson Gas Co’ on duty that day had taken the Christmas spirit to heart. Upon investigation by gas officials the two gentlemen were found to well under the spirit by a least a couple of bottles. The pump had fallen silent so had the two workers. My wife and I were married six days earlier on the 19th . At home with my Mother and Brothers we were expecting our first married Christmas dinner.