16/09/2021

SALTASH

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SALTASH – August 1969 – 43 Hobbs Crescent, Saltash, Cornwall PL4 9HY

We bought our first house in Saltash Cornwall, just across the Tamar Bridge from Plymouth. This semi-detached starter home was built on a market garden, though the good soil had been carted away and sold off elsewhere.

Google Earth currently has that dark-coloured van parked on the sloped drive in front of a garage it couldn’t use. The driveway was unmanageable on frosty mornings, but we loved our first home!

When the Ark Royal and Bulwark were at sea I was one of very few adult males in the street. We had stretched ourselves ridiculously to take out a 95% mortgage on this £3,700 property. At the time, when earning only £750 pa plus commission, it seemed we’d taken on a mountainous debt, and so it proved when Sweda failed to deliver my orders.

For perhaps four to six months my monthly income just about brought my bank account back to a zero balance. Each month I was summoned to meet the bank manager and showed him my order book and the Sweda POW sheet showing how well I was doing, but that did not change the fact that I did not get paid until delivery was effected. I would live into the next month by going into the red and what I could deliver cleared this, but it did not get me into the black. The reason the bank manager believed me was of course the impending ‘Decimalisation’ – every retailer had to adjust or replace their cash register before 15 February 1971 (more below).

Eventually Sweda got on top of production and then I earned over £6,000 pa which one inflation calculator suggests in 2018 would be the equivalent of over £90,000.

This was the time of the Maud Report changing county and local authority borders. My car displayed a ‘Hands Off Saltash’ sticker as the town was proposed to be handed from Cornwall to Devon, to become a Plymouth suburb. Some Cornish guys suggested that the Tamar was its border with Devon all the way to the south coast from its source just 3.7 miles from the county’s north coast, so it made Cornwall essentially an island.

Cornwall sticker

They further embellished this by saying that, when WWII broke out, they held a meeting to decide which side Cornwall should join. Good judges that they were, they picked England, the ultimate winner.

Bizarrely the Redcliffe-Maud Report led to unforeseen circumstances. In switching areas between Devon and Cornwall, both the leader of the Devon County Council and the leader of the Cornwall County Council found themselves no longer living in ‘their’ counties.

I joined Saltash Round Table and Jane its Ladies Circle and we made some good friends while enjoying a raft of different events.

Poster promoting
Blaster Bates as a speaker

We invited after-dinner speakers such Blaster Bates, who talked of his explosive exploits, and the female Durex Sales Manager who packed in the double-entendres… There was a series of members’ occupational presentations, notably a vet who explained how he tied rams to a five-bar gate to castrate them from the far side – wince!

He also related his official attendance as Vet to the Exeter races when a horse fell. As he ran to it, a policeman put out his fist to stop the crowd and managed to punch him on the nose. Still dazed, he had to decide if the horse had stud potential and should be saved at all costs, or if it should be humanely despatched.

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