Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Interview with the two oldest men in St Mawes

Interview with John Andrews and Douglas Sawle 9/01/11

These two old friends often enjoy reminiscing, and comparing their memories so it was a privilege for me to share their company. They compete with each other for the position of; Oldest resident, in the small costal village of St Mawes, Cornwall, with Douglas Sawle coming in for the cup at 91yrs young. Winning the race is something Douglas is used to, from his sailing days in the St Mawes ‘One-Design’ class.

Not much remains of the 1930s Cornwall, which existed when the Rosemarie was built, but both John and Douglas can remember the Henderson family living at Greystones, Tredenham Road, St Mawes. For me this second-hand account is a true treasure, for it is as near as I can possibly get to the man who first perceived and then facilitated the building of Rosemarie at R.S Burts & Sons, Little Falmouth; Mr Arthur Henry Henderson. I heard for the first time; a description of the boat in her original condition, apparently she was ‘Spotless’ in a Black finish with white trim. She was described as a luxury passenger boat, designed for private picnics and costal excursions, visiting the Helford and pleasure cruising up the coast as far as Looe and Fowey. She also had her own permanently employed deck-hand, who would have been dressed in the strict attire of that time, sporting a white-topped flat cap during the summer months and a black cap for the winter. During the winter months the Rosemarie was laid up on Polvarth beach where she would have been scrubbed annually and re-painted ready for the next season.

I happen to have a very fortunate photograph of Tredenham Road, from my Great Auntie Dees collection; I estimate it was taken in the late 1930s. The house in the centre of the picture with the flag-pole in the garden is ‘Greystones’ (the house where Henderson lived) and I guess my great-grandmothers house would have been one of the neighbouring buildings, as I know they also lived in Tredenham Road at this time, and why else would Dee have kept this post-card? Perhaps they knew one another; it’s quite a thought, and certainly a happy co-incidence.

I also learned some more about the Rosemaries wartime history from John and Douglas as they recall the Rosemarie at the return from Dunkirk, and the troops coming ashore in their masses. It seems she worked as an inspection ship, in Falmouth harbour before going down to Penzance for the duration, which was all news to me.

Rosemaries official registry was closed in 1948, and her last registered owner was Francis Bertram Sawle, first cousin to Douglas Sawle and married to a Clode. This makes further sense of the ferryboat or ‘Passenger’ boat history (as I stand corrected by the lads) which I already possess. It seems that Francis B. Sawle and Tommy Clode were in a business partnership, and ran ferries and then hire boats up to the late 1970s. The Rosemarie ran from St Mawes to the Prince of Wales Pier and was hired out for excursions until the mid 50s.

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