FEDERATION OF OLD CORNWALL SOCIETIES
WINTER FESTIVAL AT WADEBRIDGE TOWN HALL
SATURDAY 13TH NOVEMBER 2010
Around 200 members of Old Cornwall
Societies throughout Cornwall gathered at Wadebridge
Town Hall on Saturday 13th November for their annual
Winter Festival, to be welcomed by the strains of
accordion music provided by Mark Hawken of the local
Old Cornwall Society.
At 2:00pm the banners of attending societies led by
the Federation's banner-bearer, Charles Skinner of
Redruth, were piped into the hall by its Music and
Folk Song Recorder, Merv Davey of Withiel. The
splendidly colourful parade attracted loud clapping
from those present.
The President, Terry Knight of St
Agnes, then read the roll call, with members of each
Society standing in turn to signal their presence to
their companion Societies' members. Mr Knight
welcomed members to the Festival and promised an
afternoon of celebration of the music, dance and
dialect so keenly collected and recorded by Old
Cornwall Societies in past decades, and being
Proper Job, a group of singers from
the Camborne to St Agnes area led by David Oates of
Camborne Old Cornwall Society, began proceedings
with an excellent selection of popular Cornish
songs, including some from the Barber family of St
Ives. Mr Oates also read a highly amusing dialect
tale from the many written by the renowned Camborne
writer, the late Herbert Lean. Both music and
dialect were received with resounding applause.
Immense hilarity was prompted by a
number of humorous and typically-Cornish yarns told
by John Bennallack of St Wenn, a member of St Columb
Old Cornwall Society. Mr Bennallack has a CD
available of a selection of his tales, and has
raised over £10,000 so far for charitable
Alison Davey of Withiel then
introduced Tan ha Dowr (Fire and Water), a youth
dance group she trains, remarking that the
performances to be seen had all been based upon Old
Cornwall-recorded dances. The girls, dressed in
striking black dresses decorated with colourful
motifs, introduced each dance, and gave stirring and
energetic life to the proceedings with their
beautifully executed performances. Members were
clearly impressed, giving them a very enthusiastic
After a break for tea and a saffron
bun, catered by Wadebridge Old Cornwall Society, and
the customary raffle, Proper Job took the stage
again and led members in singing some Cornish
Christmas carols, and Mr Oates read another Herbert
Robert Evans, President of
Pentewan Old Cornwall Society and Deputy President
of the Federation, gave a vote of thanks, remarking
on how good it was to be able to enjoy the real
sounds, sights and words of Cornwall's culture.
Everyone sang Trelawny and a thoroughly enjoyable
afternoon drew to a close.
Click to hear music
Almost 200 members of Old Cornwall Societies from as far afield as Penzance in the
west, Mullion in the south, and Torpoint in the east, braved stormy weather to meet at Wadebridge
in the north for their Federation's Winter Festival at the Town Hall.
The afternoon's events got off to a lively start with a parade of the Societies' colourful
banners led around the hall by the Gorsedh's piper, Merv Davey of Withiel, and Charles Skinner of
Redruth bearing the Federation's banner. This was followed by the traditional roll call of the
Societies in attendance.
Helen Richards, President of the Wadebridge Old Cornwall Society extended a welcome
to their town.
The Federation's newly-installed President, Terry Knight of St Agnes spoke of the
forthcoming 90th anniversary of their movement in 2010. It will be celebrated at St Ives next year
with the Gorsedh taking place there. Par Old Cornwall Society will be celebrating its 60th
anniversary by hosting the Federation's Summer Festival in July. Several other Societies will be
celebrating landmark 'birthdays' too, illustrating the movement's great success.
A fascinating talk, on the theme of witchcraft, conjurors, cunning folk, charmers and
ghosts in Cornish folklore, was given by Jason Semmens, originally of Camborne, and now a
Museum Curator in Horsham, Sussex, who had travelled to Cornwall for the occasion. He drew
on the extensive resources compiled by the late Mr William (Bill) Paynter of Callington, and
emphasized the value of the records created by Old Cornwall members over decades. It prompted
enthusiastic questions from those present. The Federation published his book about Paynter and
his work as “The Cornish Witch-finder” in 2008, and it is finding a ready audience.
After tea and saffron buns, members were greatly entertained by Withiel couple, Merv
Davey - on banjo - and his wife Alison - in full period costume - with a rousing selection of Cornish
dances in imitation of Harry and Carrie, a duo who lived at St Blazey in the early 20th century. Mr
Davey is the Folk Song & Music Recorder of the Federation and well-known in Cornish musical
Click for music
then on photo
A vote of thanks was offered by the Federation's Deputy President, Andrew Langdon of
Truro, and the Festival closed with the singing of “Trelawny”.
thanks to Pauline Hope for the photographs and recordings of musical
Federation Summer Festival
at Redruth 2009
Report by Pauline Hope,
Photo's Pauline, Keith Shaw, Bill
Lugg & George Pritchard
After the torrential rain at last
year’s Festival in Callington, it was with great relief that we watched
the black clouds rolling away to leave Redruth in the sunshine for this
Click on all photos for a larger view
The Hall looked inviting, with
stalls of books on Cornish themes and Mrs Knight’s craftwork, etc
looking very tempting. A beautiful display on Gwennap pit drew much
admiration and the raffle stall was particularly well laid out with
prizes from various socieities. The latest newsletter was available
and the air was full of chatter and laughter.
The banners were paraded into the
Church where Ron Opie, the President of both the FOCS and Redruth OCS,
greeted One and All before carrying out the Roll Call. These were the
St Denys & District
Penryn & Falmouth
St Gerrans & Portscatho
St Just & Pendeen
Torpoint & District
The Mayor of Redruth gave the
assembly a very warm welcome to the town.
The Grand Bard, Vanessa Beeman,
remarked that her term of office was coming to an end as was that of the
Federation President. She recalled that the FOCS had been motivated to
organise the first Cornish Gorsedd and continues its work for the
preservation of Cornish heritage.
Ron Opie had received apologies but
the list was not to hand. He sent wishes for a speedy recovery to
Ros Prigg of Penzance.
He was pleased to announce that the
2010 Summer Festival would take place at Par with volunteers lined
up for hosting the following three years. He suggested that it was
good for the Festival to take place in different parts of the Duchy.
In answer to the question of the
decline in membership, Ron recommended the new leaflet compiled by
David Stark, ‘Do you love Cornwall?’ to introduce new people,
including ‘in-comers’ to the movement.
Ron emphasised that, although each
society had a Recorder, everybody should be recording material,
especially as we do not always have an influence on planning matters
or the loss of valuable buildings. He recommended a free dvd to
promote Redruth which is available around the town.
In summing up, Ron thanked the
Redruth Society for taking on the organisation of the Festival at
such short notice and only four years since its last one; in
particular he thanked Mike Johns, David Bennett, Beryl on the
raffle, the stall holders, all those who had contributed and of
course, Mrs Opie.
Andrew Langdon, Federation Recorder,
asked everybody to follow the tradition and ‘Gather up the fragments
that are left that nothing be lost.’ He hoped everyone would get
enthusiastic about the current project for photographing post boxes
in Cornwall and he distributed the sheets for recording details.
Keith Shaw had made a dvd of
Callington in the sunshine and the 2008 Festival in the rain which
is available from him for £5 including postage.
Members made their way back to the
hall for a tasty Berriman’s pasty lunch speedily served by the host
society. Tickets for the afternoon’s activities, as had been
described by Ron Opie, were collected. These included:
A tour of the mining areas of Redruth with Eric
A tour of Illogan with Joe Thomas
A tour of Portreath with Michael Tangye
A visit to the Treasure Park, Tolgus Tin-streaming
works and town museum with Ron Opie
A town walk including the Cornwall Centre and Murdoch
House with Terry Knight
A slide show in the hall.
On return from these excellent
outings, members enjoyed a cup of tea and a delicious saffron buns
The raffle with its many prizes was
drawn and Ron said a few words before the Festival broke up with the
traditional rendition of Trelawney.
I am sure everyone would like to
thank Redruth OCS for its warm welcome, its efficient organisation
and the wonderfully happy day it provided.
Don't miss the Winter Festival at Wadebridge Town
Hall 14th November 2.00pm.