I would like to say that we led the way in fashion in Cornwall - if that isn't an oxymoron - but it wouldn't be true. We were certainly different though, as Mike Applebee demonstrates somewhere around 1980.
A few of us at a party in Anthony's house in St.Agnes in 1979/80. This picture was taken in the kitchen. The whole house would probably be condemned nowadays. Left to right are Perry Watson, Marc Simmons (who moved to Australia soon after and has been there ever since), Jonathan Handley, Anthony Hewitt and the lovely Nikki Jones. As you can see she is very impressed by my "Drug Users Against Nazis" badge and my fine fashion sense. Chuffed as I patently am at having her head on my shoulder nothing did ever come of it, more's the pity.
Terrible quality but can you recognise this? My bedroom with it's resplendent orange wallpaper and tacky posters everywhere. That was my drawing board area...oh and my bass and guitar there in the corner by the tv. Was it really that dark and dingy...I think it probably was! The times we had there listening to music, philosophising into the night. Most weekends the floor was covered with sleeping bags...where did it all go wrong?
Smoking kind of arrived on the scene in the mid 70's and it wasn't too long before most of us were puffing away like troopers on our favourite bit of 'shag' in the form of roll-ups. Smoking 'loose' tobacco was relatively cheap, had built in ritualistic rolling communal kudos and was also useful when rolling 'other things'. Most of us started off on 'Old Holborn', a rich blend of moist licquorice threads soaked in old men's sweat and diced with tramp's shoelaces. It wasn't long before most of us realised that we weren't going to see the age of twenty let alone old age if we didn't pack this in pronto. Most made a bee-line for the much more sophisticated and milder Golden Virginia. Others plumped for Drum, Dumas or the disgusting 'straw that has been wee'd on' flavoured Three Caftles which they couldn't even spell right on the packet.
The cigarette paper also provided room for customisation, Rizla courteously supplied papers in various thicknesses, lengths and also the licquorish flavoured ones (not illustrated) favoured by Jon Smith for a quarter of a century. 'Wheatstraws' were the vegetarian version if I remember correctly. My papers of choice were the 'Job' or 'Jobe'...or was it just J.B with a big fat diamond in the middle looking at the packet again? Job's were the biz, silky smooth, classy and came in twin packs so you'd never run out...well, not as often anyway. I felt like a god when I smoked them.
We must have puffed our way through tons of the stuff over the years but fortunately it's a thing of the past. I'm glad it's gone. I don't miss pockets full of tobacco crumbs, running out of fag papers when the shops are shut, not being able to smoke in some people's houses and other places, having orange fingers and coughing like a bastard in the mornings. However if I catch the occasional whiff of a roll-up it transports me back in time, I quite like that. Never, ever offer me one though...too damn dangerous. Posted by Steve
Carn Brea was probably the epicentre of our escapades around Redruth and mid-Cornwall in the mid to late 70's. Almost a central island overlooking Redruth and Pool, with Camborne to the West, St. Agnes to the North and Lanner to the South. Often a rugged route home to Mike Applebee's in Tregajorran after a night out at the London Inn, Redruth to watch a band or just drink some beer.
One of the most atmospheric places you will find in the area day or night. The picture above is an image I created by drawing over a black & white un-fixed photo with waterproof ink and then washing the photo away. I did this during my foundation year at the art college in Pool which is right at the foot of Carn Brea.
The two photos below were taken by Phil G and show myself, Mike Applebee and Marc Simmons larking about on Midsummer's Eve 1980. The weather was cold and windy for a Summer's evening.
Photos by Phil Gilbert
I found this old pastel sketch in an old sketchbook dated November 15th 1978 which I think commemorates the fateful 'Gollum' night (see previous entry). We had just come back from The London Inn after watching the Braniac Five featuring Bert Biscoe. I think we took several hours getting home, taking a 'short' cut through the St. Euny churchyard, over Carn Brea and then down to Tregajorran. We were in our own world up on Carn Brea that night.
A very popular read amongst us in the mid seventies was you-know-what...yes, Lord of The Rings. Either Anthony or Mike introduced me to this and let's face it...for a short while it laid down a background fantasy contrasting with the dullness of living in the post industrial landscape of mid-Cornwall in the 1970's. In fact, although I'm no psychologist I think we pretty much superimposed part of Middle Earth over the area we used to roam in. Carn Brea became our Minas Tirith or Weathertop, Treslothan Woods was magically transformed into Lothlorien, The Brea Inn became the Prancing Pony at Bree. Redruth, Camborne and St.Agnes were obviously Mordor and after ascending Weathertop we used to survey it's demonic fires burning in the night below before descending in the dark back down the hill to Bag End (Tregajorran) and take refuge for the night, all the while keeping an ear out for Black Riders who might be lurking in the vicinity.
Overlooking Redruth and Camborne from Carn Brea in the 1970's. St.Agnes Beacon belches forth fire and smoke in the distance.
Some of us mysteriously began to take on Middle-Earthian personas. I was obviously Strider, only because I was the tallest and could lay claim to the title 'Longshanks'. Mike became a Hobbit and if you look carefully in some of the photos he is wearing a small leather boot...this had some significance but I can't remember what. Phil G became an Elven Prince and still likes to be called 'Prince Philbert' if you please. I'm not sure about the others but I remember one night when we scaled Weathertop...I mean Carn Brea, and one of our party, Simon Hart decided that he was in fact Gollum and disappeared into the gloom to periodically attack us as we made our way across the rocky summit towards Bag End, I mean Mike's place at Tregajorran.
Simon 'Gollum' Hart
Mike Applebee and myself were presented with a real chance to pass through a mystical portal (a window in a derelict mine building beneath Carn Brea) into Middle Earth once, from which we would not be able to return. Amazingly we chose to stay in Redruth and take the consequences. I'm still not sure if we made the right decision.
The Jimmy Cauty poster at the top of this post used to grace my bedroom wall for a couple of years. Amazing to think he drew that when only seventeen years of age apparently. It certainly inspired me in my future and current career as an illustrator. Posted by Steve
The casual observer will have noticed the dominance of army surplus clothing in many photos. Was this a fashion statement of choice or was it purely because we were pretty hard up and it was only Cornwall so who gave a toss what we looked like anyway? Or was it something completely different altogether, slightly sinister perhaps? We're not going to tell you because we can't remember. Combat jackets were brilliant for having zillions of pockets and secret compartments to stash your stuff and the RAF greatcoats were fantastically warm for stonking up CarnBrea in the middle of the night. All these garments were purchased from Pratt's of Hayle. I think there still might be a small army surplus store trading from the market there. Posted by Steve
A classic shot taken by Anthony capturing a moody moment in front of a caravan next to Mike's Mum's house in Tregajorran beneath CarnBrea. Combat jackets (apart from my Belstaff), roll-ups and a pose that suggests we should have been in a Clash-like punk band. I can't remember the occasion but Mike's place at Tregajorran was a regular on the circuit, particularly if we'd had a jaunt up to CarnBrea and back. Happy days. Posted by Steve
I shared a chalet with Mike Parker and his very lovely girlfriend Annie Harding, until they split up and it was just Annie and I. I didn't half fancy her, but nothing ever came of it, perhaps because of my appalling fashion sense.
Posted by Anthony
Myself and Mike Parker were there the previous year, sharing a chalet in 1978. We had a great time that summer but it was much more fun when loads more of us worked there. I found myself 'shacked up' with Kathryn Middleton for six weeks...almost like being a grown-up.
Fantastic summer and probably our last all together in the same place. Posted by Steve
Mike Applebee and Jon Smith on the roof of their chalet. For most of us the staff chalets at Perran Sands Holiday Camp were the first homes we could call our own. We had one hell of a lot of fun that year, summer 1979.
Jon Smith had us in stitches (again) the other night at a very enjoyable 'Cornish Boy's' get-to-gether 'round at Anthony's last week. He proudly claimed that he was the only one of us who could continue with his work 'without electricity'. One can only assume that his home also runs without this new-fangled technology and they are using telephones powered purely by vegetable oil. It's fairly unlikely that we will be seeing any postings from Jon personally for the time being as he won't share his email address with anyone in case somebody steals his identity. Would anybody actually want to steal it I'd like to know? Rumour has it that he is in possession of an elastic band-powered email address but at present it's top secret.
Back in the day Jon was a very talented performer and would entertain us for hours with incredible stories he'd made up or just sheer brilliant tomfoolery. Here we can see Jon entertaining with some false teeth purloined from his elder brother Brenton, who I believe was studying as a dental technician at the time.
To this day Jon maintains many fierce beliefs and wondrous philosophies that leave us reeling in his wake... Posted By Steve
What can I say? Probably for me, Bowie's finest album which has stayed with me through the years and even now I can go back to it and get a massive buzz from it. I was a late developer when it came to Bowie being only 10 or 11 when this came out. Something I never forgave Bowie for as I always felt two years behind. It was Andrew Sykes who pointed me in the right direction and lent me this album, allowing me to hear it for the first time. I distinctly remember waiting outside in the cold for the school to open it's doors one cold morning. I had a copy of Diamond Dogs under my arm and Andy asked what I thought of it and brought in Ziggy Stardust the next day. I don't think any of the parties we went to over the next few years would have been complete without sticking on 'Moonage Daydream' and 'freaking out' with our air guitars. This was the album that got me into playing guitar after hearing Mick Ronson's stunning guitar sound. I could rant on... Posted By Steve
And a few years later, back in the kitchen at Melrose House and we all look so young, good-looking and dynamic! Least I do anyway. Back row, left to right: Jonathan Handley, Phil Gilbert, Mike Applebee, Jonathan Cox, Steve Cox; middle row, left to right: Michelle Rudd (went out with Chris Parker and then Jon Smith, they had a daughter, Kizzy Rudd), Catherine Parker, Anthony Hewitt, Matthew Watson; seated, Perry Watson left, Chris Parker right. Posted by Anthony
In the kitchen at Melrose House in Lanner, the house of the Parker family. We seemed to end up in here a lot. Left to right: Mike Applebee, Mike Parker, Steve Cox, Catherine Parker behind and Jonathan Handley on the right. Catherine looks so young! I think this was before she was going out with Mike Applebee, and definitely before she married Steve Cox. That's the Cornish for you, why look further afield! Judging by the bleary eyes I think this was probably one of the numerous 'mornings after'. And that's why I can't remember much before I was 25. Posted by Anthony
Mid to late seventies essential listening for most. This album was carted around from house to house until we all had a copy. I think it was Mike who introduced me to the mighty King Crimson. Five seconds into 20thCentury Schizoid Man and I was hooked. Totally atmospheric album...as most of theirs' were. Stunning album cover as well. For me, Crimson was like a backing track to our jaunts up to the top of CarnBrea in the middle of the night and other adventures. A classic. Posted by Steve
And here's an early one of Mike (taken by Jon Smith?) sat on his recently restored Triumph Tiger Cub. I can just see him know, hurtling down country lanes with his RAF greatcoat flapping away, roll-up in mouth no doubt. Mike was the first of us to get a proper motorbike. It was an inspiration to me and I got myself a BSA C15 250cc a year or so later. Jon had a Ducati but I don't think it ever got on the main road. Phil had a Kawasaki I think. Phil and I are still riding bikes but we have yet to meet up and go for a blast...it will happen this year I hope. Posted by Steve
A classic photo, by Jon Smith I think. Left to right: Steve Cox, Mike Applebee, Mike Parker, Anthony Hewitt. We loved our greatcoats: portable larders, sleeping bags and babe magnets. We had all just been to Perran Sands Holiday Camp at Perranporth in Cornwall for interviews to get a job for Summer 1978, by the look of it after yet another weekend of roaming around the area looking for parties. Posted by Anthony
Matthew's 16th again (1977). Left to right: Steve Cox, Mike Applebee, Catherine Archer, Jon Smith. Cathy came as Mike's girlfriend and left as Jon's. She appears enthralled by his chat-up lines. Mike seems to be unconscious in all these pics! Posted by Anthony
I used to walk past here on the way to school every day. We always knew exactly what was showing at any given time. I illegally sneaked into my first AA film at the age of 12 here (Westworld, starring Yul Brynner as a psycho robot cowboy), probably my first X-rated film too, although that might have been 'Goodbye Emmanuelle'(1977) at Kings Cinema in Camborne thinking about it. We saw bands here too. My first ever gig was the Glitterband (sans Gary) in 1974, I was 12. It was awesome...and very sexy being surrounded by loads of screaming girls. I went with a mate David Knowles. This was before I got into grown-up rock music obviously. I did see them twice though...and Showaddywaddy. A year or so later it was stuff like Greenslade and Camel but I never went to those...too proggy for me. I was into Bowie by then anyway.
From films such as 'That'll Be The Day' to 'Star Wars', 'Alien', 'Apocalypse Now', 'Straw Dogs', 'Monty Python's Holy Grail', the list is endless...all of them were seen here at Redruth's finest Flea Pit. Occasionally we would go over to The Cameo in Tuckingmill which had a reputation as a bit of a sleazy cinema showing films like 'Confessions of a Window Cleaner' and other such smut. The only thing I remember seeing there was 'Pink Floyd: Live in Pompeii' on the insistence of Phil Gilbert. Was that a good film? I don't really remember much about it.
I do remember walking past The Regal in 1973 and seeing crowds queuing up to watch 'The Exorcist'. There were some (Christians) with placards trying to stop people going in to watch it. Apparently they were offering counselling afterwards for those who were freaked out by the film. Can't imagine that happening today...except in Redruth maybe.
Good old Regal...still going too. One of the few things in Redruth that is still functioning. Posted by Steve
Matthew Watson's 16th birthday (July 19th 1977). We all drunk everything we could possibly find in the house. At this particular point Jon Smith has a bottle of some fizzy wine and is trying to open it indoors after shaking it up lots, and we are all trying to stop him. Matthew Watson is trying to wrest the bottle off him, Steve Cox in the open shirt and Jon Handley crushed beneath Steve. Mike Applebee has passed out (in the stripes) underneath everyone else. What fun we had!
Posted by Anthony
I remember the bottle finally being opened outside on the gravel drive...wasn't there a photo? - Steve
Left to right: Anthony Hewitt, Mike Parker (hiding), Matthew Watson, Richard 'Wombie' Commons. A geography field trip and an excuse to shun school uniform and look stranger than normal. This pic was taken at the bottom end of the Tolgus playing fields. Posted by Anthony
I think I was at college by this point so I'm guessing 1978. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't psilocybian substances play a part in this photo!? - Steve
Amazing what you find on the internet when you hunt around. No prizes for guessing where these were taken. The school has been converted into a series of artist's workshops apparently. Tell us about it Phil, you went there recently didn't you? Is that really the same red lino thousands upon thousands of Redruth Grammar boys have trodden upon over the decades? The bigger photo shows the foyer or whatever it was called. Remember the vending machine that would have been there against the wall on the right? Two pence for a cup of hot chocolate in a buff-coloured plastic cup if I remember correctly. What was behind that blue door in the background? I remember a list of 'War Dead' high up on the wall. There was also a wooden carving of a woman carrying a baby or something there on the window ledge in the smaller photo on the left. Vague memories of an ape or something as well...or maybe that was just one of the masters? Must have trudged up and down these stairs hundreds of times over the years. Not sure what Mr Davey would make of the furniture..."Ssssh babes". Posted by Steve Photos were pilfered from here.
To see this larger you'll have to go here and click on 'all sizes' above the photo. Many thanks to The Hidaway for permission to use his excellent photo on this blog. There's another really good one here as well. Posted by Steve
Scoured the internet trying to find photos of the old place and found this. Before our time obviously. The small bushes at the front were trees when we were there. Note the absence of the buildings on the left and right. What was there on the right? Was it Woodwork and the Art room etc? I remember freezing our arses off sitting on those railings opposite the main entrance whilst waiting for 'them' to open the doors and let us in in the mornings. Posted by Steve
Here we go chaps. This was us back in May 1973. Don't we look innocent? This must be shortly before our 1st year camp. Does anybody remember the name of that boy who appears twice on the back row at each end? I remember hearing his footsteps cantering across the hardcourt as the camera slowly panned across us. What a genius!Posted by Steve
The collective Blog of ex-Redruth Grammar School boys 1972-1979. Come...slip on that old black blazer, knot that red & black striped tie, purchase a sticky bun from Buck's Tuck Shop, sit back and let your mind wander through the dewy mists of time to the glory that was Redruth in the 1970's.