Category Archives: W.I.

Coming Home – Devoran 1919



Life and News in Devoran as the troops began slowly to come home after WW1, taken from the local newspapers in 1919.

Sadly one of the first mentions of Devoran in Western Morning News (18 January 1919) is of the early death of young Gladys Catherine (“Jimmy”) Edwards, daughter of local doctor Dr. Philip Hugh Edwards. This is the Edwards family after whom Edwards House on Devoran Lane and Edwards Road are named.


Western Morning News Saturday 18 January 1919

Very dearly loved – Monday 20th January 1919 must have been a sad day for many in the Village after the loss of so many young men.

Corporal R.J.  “Jack” Bilkey  died aged 26 of wounds or illness in Egypt on 31st January 1919, followed by 49 year old  2nd Lieutenant Richard Stevens  at Haslar Naval Hospital later on 7th February 1919. Richard Stevens is buried in Feock churchyard.

These two men were the last of the Devoran WW1 Casualties on the War Memorial

Gladys (or Jimmy) and the other three Edwards sisters had done much for fundraising and local public or patriotic events with their musical contributions. Her Red Cross ambulance driving  sister Gwendoline would complete writing the Devoran Roll of Honour, probably in 1919 – look for her initials GLB (for Gwendoline Layton Blunt, her married name) in the bottom right corner.

What else was happening in Devoran throughout 1919 as the men came home?

An early life in Australia was the subject of an fundraising talk or lecture in March 1919 at Devoran Council School (the old school, now a private house). Young 21 year old Lieutenant C. Michael Rogers of the Devon Yeomanry was the son of the new tenant at Tregye, where the Boscawen family had been resident before the war.


Western Morning News 18 March 1919

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Sculptor and builder H.J. Martin’s name plate at the base of the Devoran War Memorial.

Everyday life of chapel  continued, minus some of its younger men. One of the chapel elders mentioned is Herbert  J Martin  of Belmont Terrace, the mason or sculptor who carved the Devoran War Memorial and also a Mr Richards.


The Cornishman, 31st  December 1919

On September 12th 1919, the War Memorial Recreation Ground was given to the Village by Viscount Clifden

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Dedication stone of the Devoran War memorial ground

Devoran Recreation Ground 

This land was given to Feock Parish Council by Viscount Clifton as a war memorial to the men of Devoran to be used for recreation and enjoyment of the people of Devoran for all times, 12 September 1919


Dedicating the War Memorial Recreation Ground 12 September 1919. Headmaster Mr W.R. Cock speaking, surrounded by older men of the parish. Photo from the Restronguet Creek Society website.

Devoran (Penpol and Point) Regatta and Sports took place again in May 1919, the first after the war. All part of getting back to normal or how things were before the war.


Western Morning News, 22 May 1919.  Sadly the Illustrated Western Weekly News is not available online at the moment to view Devoran Regatta 1919. Note the call for teachers – is this replacing wartime losses?


Visick’s Yard was no longer busy on war work and munitions but back on light industrial and motor engineering jobs, Western Morning News, 9 June 1919

Always interesting to read what is going on at the time around the world in 1919 from farming schemes for ex-servicemen  to proposed equal pay for equal work for women. Some women gained the vote in 1918, all by 1928.  I wonder what they would make of this equal pay still not having fully happened 100 years later?


Western Morning News May 10, 1919.

Devoran receives a mention in the article on the early Women’s Institutes in this Western Morning News May 10, 1919 –  “A powerful instrument for making the world better and happier”.


The W.I. “Centres of Education, light and life” except in Probus, Western Morning News, May 10 1919

I wonder what was going on in Probus, that the fledgling Women’s Institute failed or fell “out of line” with others “because the feudal system still existed there”!

Devoran W.I. turned 21 in 1940, according to later WI reports in WW2

With the war over, many of the Ladies and local women returned from wartime fundraising and nursing related war work to running peacetime groups such as the W.I. Scouts. Miss Tyacke who lived in Devoran (at Devoran House?) was County Staff Captain of the relatively young Scouts movement in Cornwall.

Devoran Scouts and Guides still flourish today, 100 years on and turned out in strength with their standard bearers for the Armistice 100 service.


St Agnes Scout Rally, reported  29 December  1919 Western Morning News

The tragic loss of 31 lives in the Levant Mining Disaster in West Cornwall in 20 October 1919 brought a strong charitable response through the Western Morning News including a collection by the landlord Mr Blackwell and customers at the Commercial Hotel, Devoran (now the Quay Inn?)


Devoran amongst the subscribers to the Western Morning News Levant Mine Disaster Fund

Feock parishioners also held a Village house to house collection


Help from the village of Feock, Western Morning News, 6 November 1919

Devoran Council School staff and students also made a collection of £4 and 4 shillings towards the Levant Mine Disaster Fund.


Devoran School Headmaster for many years Mr W.R. Cock, mentioned in the Western Morning News November 12, 1919

We are not yet sure when the Devoran War Memorial was erected. Possibly it was erected in time  for the first Armistice or Remebrance Sunday in November 1919?



Happier news – the gentry of the surrounding area were now mentioned in the County Society columns for births, rather than deaths in battle. Mrs Neville Hood at Coosevean gave birth to a daughter.


It’s another girl! Society pages, The Globe newspaper , Tuesday, October 7, 1919


A distinguished title for a father, mentioned in Wednesday Oct 8th 1919 The Cornishman


New baby in the house, more hired help needed at Coozevean, (small house, countryfor the Hood family. Western Morning News, November 17th, 1919


Chapel life in Devoran, The Cornishman, Wednesday December 10th 1919.  Note the mention of the Levant Mine Disaster and the RNAS Royal Naval Air Station on Tresco, Scilly.


Blog posted by Mark Norris on 16 January 2019


Happy Centenary to the Women’s Institute 16 September 1915

W.I. Badge from the Author's collection

W.I. Badge from the Author’s collection

Today 16 September 2015 is the cheerful centenary WW1 anniversary of the first W.I. Meeting in Britain on Anglesey.

You can read more about the wartime activities of the now vanished Devoran W.I. in our previous post:     Interesting W.I. Timeline

Devoran W.I. in wartime as reported in Cornish newspapers

W.I. Badge from the Author's collection

W.I. Badge from the Author’s collection

Devoran Village Hall and Devoran W.I.
2015 is the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Institute (new slogan: Inspiring Women),  founded in the UK during the First World War in 1915. 

Devoran Women’s Institute is sadly no more, though the WI survives at nearby Point and Penpol and a Devoran Ladies Club still meets at the Parish Centre.

Viv Acton and Derek Carter’s book Operation Cornwall 1940-1944 (Landfall, 1994, out of print) and its successor on 1945 and beyond, Cornish War and Peace (Landfall, 1995, also out of print) are well worth tracking down for the wealth of information on Cornwall in wartime.

There are a few delightful vignettes of life in Devoran Village Hall, many based on the memories of Devoran resident the late Betty Phillips. 

The W.I. had an important national role of fruit preservation in the days of food rationing, as Betty Phillips of Devoran remembers (p.87):

“picking pram loads of blackberries and collecting and cleaning jars for the W.I’s Preservation Centre set up in the Village Hall to make jam from the surplus fruit.”

The Falmouth WI branch recorded 630 lbs jam collected and made in 1941, 675 lbs in 1942. There are still plentiful blackberries for the picking and still much foraging for sloes, apples and blackberries along the Quay and paths near the War Memorial recreation ground!

The Devoran Village Hall was created in the 1920s from the original Redruth and Chasewater Railway workshops and was apparently informally segregated into a men and women’s end in its early days. Acton and Carter record on p.99 the memory (probably Christmas 1942 or 1943) of how:

“one young girl who attended the Christmas social of the Devoran Women’s Institute being held in the Village Hall was watching the members sedately dancing, when the doorway was suddenly filled with smiling figures attracted by the sound of the small band. Within seconds, the ladies found themselves being whirled around the floor by their American partners in a most exciting way. Soon the visitors were teaching the local girls the extrovert skills of jitterbugging, much to their delight.”

The American GI’s had obviously arrived locally!

Looking through Cornish newspapers through Find My Past’s British Newspaper Arcive, there is a wealth of interesting snippets of wartime life of how the women of Devoran passed leisure time and supported the war effort through social events, fundraising and adult education. It also reveals a few recurring names of busy women!

The earliest record I can find of WI activity is in October 1920 (West Briton, 14 October 1920) witch an established pattern of talks, music and social elements:

Mr W.T. Lawrence KC gave an interesting lecture “Margaret Godolphin and Foott”. Miss Alice Williams presided over a crowded audience and a solo was rendered by Mrs. Parkin.

Another 1920 meeting had a talk by Mrs Russ Parker on  “Child Welfare”.  This pattern continued throughout the 1920s and 1930s into the Outbreak of war.

W.I. News Devoran, Western Morning News Friday October 4th 1940

The house to house collection in aid of ‘Cornish Blind’ resulted  in – Devoran Village (Misses F.M. Bennett and L. Miller, £2, 8 shillings, Devoran Lane and Street (Mesdames A. Annear and A.M.Pascoe, £3, 6 shillings), Point (Mesdames E. Watts and T. Lavin, £1, 16 shillings), Carnon Downs and District (Misses P. Passmore and B. King, £1, 4 shillings) and Carnon Gate (Miss A. A. Webber, 7 shillings)

Devoran W.I.
Western Morning News 17 April 1940
Miss M.P. Tyacke presided, had a lecture on family wartime menus by Miss Lloyd Davies.

W.I. Plays
Western Morning News 22 April 1940
(also in The Cornishman 25 April 1940)
W.I. Dramatic Society “Mirror to Elizabeth” by Devoran W.I. Spring Council [meeting] Cornwall Federation W.I. on Saturday

Devoran W.I. is 21
Western Morning News 13 May 1940
“The Village Hall was decorated with movement’s colours of red, yellow and green … [cake] cut by Miss Alice Williams, one of the Institute’s First Members …”

So Devoran W.I. must have been formed around May 1919?

Devoran W.I.
Western Morning News 23 July 1940
Out of Door Meeting was held at Devoran House by permission of Revd. and Mrs A.S. Rashleigh. Miss M.P. Tyacke presided. Games, folk dancing and community singing arranged.

Devoran W.I. Dramatic Society with Feock Amateur [Dramatic] Society enjoyed a talk by Miss M. Kelly, British Drama League on “How to Make Your Own Plays”
Western Morning News 26 September 1940

Devoran W.I.
Western Morning News 14 October 1940
Lecture on Perran Foundry given by Mr Tregoning Hopper

W.I. News
Western Morning News 20 January 1941
Talk on Trinidad was given by Mrs. ffrench-Constant. Competition arranged by Miss. J, Sweet was won by Miss L. Nicholls.

W.I. News
Western Morning News, 23 May 1914
The Secretary Mrs E.T. Dillon on behalf of members presented Mrs John Dingle with a teaset on occasion of her recent marriage.

Misses M. Smith and Fry (Truro) spoke on the work done by the R.C.I. Linen League. Miss Smith opened the members’ Linen LeagueBox which contained £9 / 2 shillings / 6 d and the proceeds of the gift stall realised £2 / 2 shillings making a total of £11 / 4 shillings / 6 d.

W.I. News
Western Morning News June 1941
Falmouth Group met at Devoran. Members came form Mabe, Mylor, Falmouth Penryn and Ponsanooth.
Mrs.G.T.Langdon (Devoran) presided … a Talk on Indian Women and children was given by Mrs. Carey Morgan. Penryn W.I. would entertain the next group [meeting] in September.

Research note: Mrs G.T. Langdon was also involved as Group Secretary of the Devoran National Savings Group and the Cornishman (20 May 1940) records the birth of a daughter to “Mary, wife of G.T. Langdon”.

Devoran W.I. frequently did well as winners in the Cornwall Music Festival, regaining the Shilson Shield, as reported in the Western Morning News on 4th July 1942.

Devoran W.I. News
Western Morning News 10 September 1941
The Secretary Mrs E.T. Dillon reported that 60 lbs of blackberry and apple jam had been made at the centre. A talk on Cornish Wild Flowers was given by Miss W. Beckett (Assistant Librarian at Falmouth)

Devoran W.I. News
“On the Home Front” page, Western Morning News 27 October 1941
Mrs.G.T. Langdon reported that 424 lbs of jam had been made. Miss G.A Lewis was appointed knotting wool representative. Mr Bridger (Feock) gave a talk on smuggling in Cornwall.
A sketch “Very Catching” was given by Mrs. E. Daniell and Miss G.A. Lewis with items by the band (Miss E. Dixon, Master L. Dixon, Miss L. Miller, Miss W.M. Bennett, Miss G.A. Lewis, and Miss J. Trenhaile).

On the same page the important news: Custard Powder Control
Custard and blancmange powders, cornflour and similar products containing starch are to be controlled soon under a Food Ministry Order. “On the Home Front” page, Western Morning News 27 October 1941.

Devoran W.I. News
Western Morning News, 25 November 1941
Mrs G.T. Langdon presided at the November meeting and talk on Music Down the Ages was given by Mr. G. Raper of Leeds University, assisted by Mr Arnold Tinney who sang various compositions to illustrate the lecturer’s remarks.

Devoran W.I. News
Western Morning News, 30 December 1941
Mrs G.T. Langdon presided at the Annual Meeting when the Hon. Sec. Mrs E.T. Dillon reported that the contributions to outside objects included the RCI [Royal Cornwall Infirmary] Linen League Fund £11 / 4 shillings and the National Institute for the Blind £15 / 5 shillings. Miss L.G. Opie (acting treasurer) announced a very successful financial year …

Miss K. Spear showed specimens of economy knitting and sewing. Officers elected President Mrs G.T. Langdon, Secretary Mrs E.T. Dillon , treasurer Miss M. Palmer. Miss M. Foreman and Mrs C.M. Shepherd were added to the Council.

Devoran W.I. News
“Western Morning News 19 March 1942
Mrs. G.T. Langdon was in the chair at the March meeting when Mrs. Alfred Martin gave a talk on “Production”. Recitations were afterwards given by Miss Miller and Miss G.A. Lewis at the piano.

Meanwhile on the same page of other West Country W.I. news … “in Buckland Monachorum … Mrs Beer demonstrated the making of camouflage nets.”

Devoran W.I. Annual Collection
Western Morning News 19 March 1942
Devoran W.I. annual collection and whist drive in aid of the British Empire Cancer Campaign Fund, £18 / 5 shillings.

Devoran W.I.
Western Morning News, 22 September 1942.
At the September meeting a talk was given on “wartime cooking” by Miss Bullocke, who was thanked by Mrs. Dunn and Miss Pellow. The social half-hour included tea and an intelligence test arranged by Mrs. Head and Miss Pellow.

Research note: This Mrs. Head may well be Marion Maud Head (later Rowe), the widow of Chief Stoker William Alfred Head, D/K52949 Royal Navy, who died aged 41 on 17 January 1942 when his ship HMS Matabele was torpedoed. See

Devoran W.I.
Western Morning News, 20 October 1942.
At the October 1942 meeting, Mrs. G.T. Langdon presiding, Corporal D. Russell spoke on “Conditions in the ATS” and Miss V. Ross-Crawford on “Ceylon”.
During the social half-hour there was an entertainment of solos by Mrs. E.D. Buckingham; recitation Mrs Richards, and pianoforte duet, Mrs. Dunn and Miss Allen.

Devoran W.I.
Western Morning News, 23 January 1943.
Miss M.P. Tyacke presided at the January 1943 meeting, when Mrs. E.T. Dillon (Hon. Sec.) reported that the proceeds from the recent gift stall in aid of the Prisoner of War fund realised £1 6 shillings and 6d.
An M.O.I [Ministry of Information] film dealing with “incendiary bombs” followed. The attendance included members of the WVS, Red Cross detachments, Home Guard and ARP personnel.

Research note: Various MOI films dealt with this subject including short comic MOI 1942 film by Will Hay, Go To Blazes and a Pathe Newsreel equivalent from 1940:

Devoran Also further supported Prisoners of War  through a penny a week fund, totalled £5, 17 shillings and 8d for April 1943, as reported in the Western Morning News on 11 May 1943.

Research note: Interesting mention of Devoran Home Guard. A few weeks later, the Western Morning News of 10 February 1943 reported that:
“Members of the Home Guard held a Whist Drive in the Devoran Village Hall in aid of Home Guard funds, proceeds £3, 4 shillings.”

Devoran W.I.
Western Morning News, 23 February 1943.
Miss M.P. Tyacke presided [at the February 1943 meeting], Miss Collier was appointed delegate to attend the Spring Council meeting.
A talk on “English Humour and why do we laugh” by Mr. T.S. Atlee, Perranwell. Miss Joyce Irenhaile accompanied during the social half hour.

Research note: T.S. Atlee of Perranwell may well be Thomas Attlee, brother of the labour leader Clement Attlee who became Prime Minister in the 1945 Labour landslide election. Tom S. Attlee lived at Tullimaar on the Truro-Falmouth roads, one of its many notable inhabitants. As the BBC reported on 15 May 2014, Tom Attlee was a Conscientious Objector in WW1

Devoran W.I.
At the March 1943 meeting Miss Truscott (Falmouth) gave a talk on “Child Welfare” and Mrs. J. Connor spoke on “Vegetarian Dishes”. A competition “Make Do and Mend” judged by Mesdames Collyer and Harvie, was won by Mrs R.T. Dingle and the Misses J. Dingle and Allen. Western Morning News, 25 March 1943.

Devoran W.I. News
The Annual effort for the British Empire Cancer Campaign resulted in House to House collection £11, 13 shillings and 10d. Donation from Devoran Dance Committee £5. Cake competition (Mrs E.T. Dillon) £2, 8 shillings. Sales of cakes 13 shillings, 6d. Whist Drive £3, 1 shillings and 9d. Donations 9 shillings, 11d. Refreshments £1, 2 shillings. Lightning Drive, 8 shillings. As a result £24 will be forwarded to the Fund. Mrs. E.T. Dillon made the arrangements. Taken from the Western Morning News, 8 May 1943.

Devoran W.I. News
Miss Tyacke (president) took the chair at the October 1943 meeting. An illustrated talk on “Posture and Gait” was given by Mr. Stuart Brown of Falmouth.
A physical training demonstration was provided by seven little girls. A photograph companion 1. Mrs. T. Latin. 2. Miss L.G. Opie and Mrs E.T. Dillon (tied). Taken from Western Morning News, 26 October 1943

Devoran W.I. News  in 1944  and 1945  becomes more scarce (possibly as wartime newspapers reduced in size?)  No doubt they continued to meet as actively and fundraiser throughout the rest of the war and on through postwar austerity.

Occasional glimpses of late wartime activities occur. Devoran W.I. Dramatic Society presented in heats for a national drama competition the short play  “White Queen, Red Queen” by playwright T.B. Morris. The  cast was V. Pellow, M. Head (whose Royal Navy husband had been lost in 1939) , M. Kernick, V. Hitchens, J. Jennings, M. Langdon, G. Lewis, L. Miller, C. Pellow. Producer: Miss M.P. Tyacke.