Salcombe History Society

Discover the history of the Devonshire town of Salcombe …

Newsletter – Issue 26 – September 2023

“Up Against It”. Reflections of Salcombe boatbuilder Mike Atfield
Tuesday 26 September 2023, 7.00pm for 7.30pm start
Everyone Welcome

Up against It

Mike and Jean Atfield

In 2017 Mike Atfield, a traditional wooden boatbuilder based in Island Street, finally decided to hang up his tools and retire after more than 55 years of creating beautifully designed and crafted wooden boats.

Mike, a Yorkshireman by birth, started his career in 1962 as an apprentice to Edward Cove. In 1974 he opened a boatyard on Island Street and started building yawls as well as small launches and dinghies. Eventually he built around thirty very fast yawls and a total of 120 boats.

In this intimate film, we can see Mike building his last boat alongside his wife, Jean, before he retires. Together they reflect on their life in a coastal community, where traditional skills are up against the challenges that are met when trying to pass them on to the next generation.

Salcombe RFC, Twomeads, Camperdown Road, TQ8 8AX. Refreshments available. Members free, non members £4.00.

by Alan Weymouth

Late autumn was typically the time to start harvesting cider apples. I was born in 1933 and have memories of involvement in this task since even before I was a teenager. My Father (Fred Weymouth) would have me picking them up from under the trees around orchards here at Motherhill and in another orchard at Shute Farm in Higher Batson, it was such a mundane old job usually on cold wet days, picking up apples that were often little more than the size of big marbles and we didn’t have to be too fussy about the quality, as long as they resembled an apple they would go in the sacks.

Then we would “set sail” for Horsecombe Farm with horse and cart loads of these apples to see farmer Tim Holcroft who had then recently bought a new cider press made by Beares of Newton Abbot, driven by a Lister engine with a series of pulleys and belts driving various mills and the pulper as well as a hydraulic system to operate the press. For the mid-1940’s this was state of the art at the time compared to the older method with a stone trough and wheel driven by a horse that went round and round that used to be found at Batson Hall Farm and over at Torr Hill Farm.

I would have to stay there and help Albert Parsons (Tim’s right-hand man) put them through the belt-driven pulper, then scoop them up and put them into the square “cheeses”, or layers, under the press, each one of the six square cheeses were wrapped in hessian sacking forming a kind of sieve then the press lowered extracting the juice. Afterwards the pulp was fed to the cattle.

Usually there were about five barrelfuls (around 100 gallons) of cider to come back to Motherhill to be stored in the cellar, the surplus would go down to Burner’s Pub.

U.S. Navy sailors sampling local cider during World War II

Father Fred would only ever drink a small amount, but I (Alan) didn’t touch the stuff as it didn’t agree with me, for others who worked on the farm it was always there on tap, usually first thing in the morning the bottles would get filled up and quite often at various times during the day depending on the job in hand. But to be quite honest working with people who were “half-cut” wasn’t always fun.

I recall a tale from the Lugger Brothers who were farming Lincombe at the time, Les Crispin and Fred Hatch had been picking up cider apples and made a nice big heap of them in the orchard, ready for their final journey to the press at Horsecombe. Well, unfortunately some of the pigs found their way in there and made a beeline straight for the pile chomping away at the apples, lying in amongst them and leaving behind some of their natural fertilizer. Undeterred by this all the apples were scooped up regardless of any bite-marks or any other additional “flavourings” they all went for cider. Charlie Crocker (working at Lincombe) noted later that it still tasted pretty good.

Women’s Land Army
Tuesday 28 November 2023, 7.00pm for 7.30pm start
Everyone Welcome

An illustrated talk about the Women’s Land Army (WLA) in Salcombe and beyond during WW2.

The WLA increased Britain’s food production in WW2. More food and cultivated land were needed to feed the country. With men away at war, women were first asked to volunteer and from December 1941 could be conscripted into the WLA. By 1944 over 80,000 women had joined up. Women from towns and cities as well as the countryside, housed on farms and in hostels, they wore a uniform, a quarter were employed on dairy farms. And they were paid less than men for the same work.

Salcombe RFC, Twomeads, Camperdown Road, TQ8 8AX. Refreshments available. Members free, non members £4.00.

Statue to commemorate the Women's Land Army and Timber Corps at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas.

Statue to commemorate the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas.

South Hams Vintage Rally

There was a lot of interest at our stand at South Hams Vintage Rally on 12 and 13 September. A chance to catch up with many friends.

Ken Prowse, History Society Chair, at the Vintage Rally

2024 Calendar on sale now

Our 2024 Calendar is on sale now for £9.99. Printed on high quality glossy paper, every month features beautiful large images of Salcombe through the ages. This is a must-have for anyone who loves Salcombe and an ideal present. For sale at Ashby’s of Salcombe, Bonningtons Salcombe, Salcombe Information Centre and Salcombe Maritime Museum. Also available to buy online.

With special thanks to our sponsors: RNLI Salcombe & Kingsbridge Fundraising Crew, Devon History Society, Salcombe Maritime Museum, The Kings Arms Salcombe, Bowers Wines & Spirits Salcombe, Ashby’s of Salcombe, Salcombe Information Centre, Salcombe Rugby Club, Bonningtons of Salcombe and Cliff House Trust.

The Archive

Please share any images, documents or oral history connected with Salcombe’s past by donating to our archive.

Join the Committee

If you are interested in joining the Committee, please contact us:

Photographs of the Vintage Rally courtesy of Geoff Foale.
Photographs of Mike Atfield in his workshop and U.S.Navy sailors courtesy of Salcombe Maritime Museum,
Photograph of statue to commemorate the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps by Egghead06 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,