King Street was owned by the Blanchminster of Charity, rent c2 old shillings a week. Our house was built of cob and slate, and had a top-of garden lavatory, outhouse boiler, outside tap and yard with a tin bath hanging from its nail. No electricity, just two gas lamps whose lights flickered through the muslin gauze, candles for upstairs, coal grate for the front room, range for the kitchen, which also had a pantry and coal cupboard. Delabole slate flags on the floor. There were compensations; from the front bedroom window you could see past Tintagel to Trevose on a clear day. Not much different than many streets in the thirties and forties except, perhaps, the view and the unique characters that lived there. The street supplied the harbour with hobble men, lifeboatmen, wharf hands and Captains of ocean-going sailing ketches and schooners. Every night, the Atlantic rollers drummed us off to sleep and woke us in the morning. Down the passageway men would wash and shave under the taps, braces dangling, their deep voices humming.
The street had two local celebrities; one lived at the top of the road (No. 34)on the opposite side to our house, his name was Archie Jewell. Archie was a seaman, a paid lookout, and was a survivor of The Titanic. His watch had been 8.00-10.00 pm, the one before the fateful watch that saw the iceberg too late. Archie was commended at the later Inquiry, for his steadfastness and nerve when he took over a lifeboat. He went back to sea, survived a further sinking when the Britannic went down, but died aged 28 on a ship in the Channel, sunk by German torpedoes in 1917. I remember his two brothers, Jan, who lived three doors below us, and Orlando (Land'O as we called him) who lived further down the street. Both were also tied to the sea, seaman and wharf hand, living in the shadow of their famous brother. Archie is commemorated on a Memorial to Merchant Seamen with no known grave, at Tower Hill, London, and on a War Memorial in his home town.
“The Blanchminster Trust” Beswetherick, 1991. Publ. The Blanchminster Trust, Lansdown Road, Bude, Cornwall.
(This article is part of a blog written for my Open University Blog Page; 2008)