At the Council offices at the Castle in January I spent an interesting
hour or so looking through two large books detailing the arrivals and
sailings of ships in Bude between 1860 and 1927. The names of the ships,
their owners, how rigged, laden in and out, dates of arriving and leaving,
type of cargo are all listed.
Many familiar names appear: Wild Pigeon, Pres. Garfield, Sir T. Acland,
Stucley, Crystal Spring, Emma, Louise, Ada, Clara May, Sarah Jane, Agnes,
and, of course most frequently, Ceres owned by Mr. Petherick. In fact
in 19l6 a page and a half contain only Ceres.
Many small vessels stayed in port for fear of U boats. In the later book
from about 1901 to 1927 most of the cargoes in are coal and out nil or
ballast, depending on the whim of the current keeper of the list. The
last entries in the book for 1927 have Ceres listed six times between
Sept 2 and Oct 16 and she took out hay on five occasions and flour on
Another idiosyncrasy of the earlier writers is the type of rigging. Most
of the ships were, like Ceres, ketch-rigged with here and there a schooner
and one yacht, but in 1879 Sea Gull, the first boat at the page top, is
listed as "sloop" and all the rest, including Ceres, are dittoed.
On 2nd June she is labelled 'schooner' again with all the following dittoed
and in another they are all ketches!
Other cargoes which appear from time to time are: iron tubes, phosphates,
bricks, timber, guano, and 'culm' which I think is coal dust, particularly
anthracite. Between August 19th and September 7th 1913 Ceres, May Queen,
Clara May, and Stucley discharged their cargoes in the harbour. I wonder
whether the basin was full or the lock gates damaged. The ships stayed
for two or three days but in 1926 the yacht Kathleen stayed from 30th
June to 13th July and again from 15th to 18th of July (listed laden as
Further to the item in The Tub Boat No 26 concerning the confusion of
river names a member, John Brown, pointed out that the OS Landranger names
the river that runs through Stratton to Bude as the Neet and the tributary
at Helebridge as having no name. I have had an interesting period of research
into the origin and change of name of the river in Bude.
"A Popular Dictionary of Cornish Place-Names" (1988) suggests
that the name "Bude" may have derived from the stream which
appears as Bedewater in 1587.
An article about the dangers of the coast between Padstow and Hartland
and the few harbours therein written in 1819 refers to the river as River
Bude but the author was no local and was only considering the coast. A
map of 1838, possibly OS, showing only the coast and immediate hinterland,
also names the River Bude.
I have been referred to various books on Cornish place names by R F Chope,
O J Padel, and Henderson & Coates which suggest the Celtic (ie Cornish)
Straetneat, meaning either a town on a Roman road (cf Skeat below) or
the valley of the river Neet. This meaning and the name does not occur
after the 13th century. Professor Skeat suggests that the Celtic "Stroet-tun"
meant a town on a Roman road but I think it unlikely that there would
ever have been a Roman road in this area.
I learned later from Kenneth Saunders, a nephew of Mrs Jewell, that Roman
milestones have been found at Trethevy and in Tintagel church but this
is hardly evidence for a Roman road in Stratton.
Professor Skeat also says that Neet is the Celtic name of a water (river
or lake) so that locals may well have referred to any stream near their
village or enclosure by that name. Certainly a map of Bude of the 1860s
shows the river through Bude as"River Strat", as do the Ordnance
Survey map of 1883/84, (in which the tributary formed from two or more
streams from Week St. Mary and Wainhouse Corner joining the Strat at Helebridge
was called the Neet,) and a map of Bude of 1904 held in the museum, I
believe and, a photocopy of which I have, clearly labels the river in
Bude as the Strat. The "Official Guide to Bude" of 1946 has
a photo of the Strand with the caption "Bude, River Strat".
Mike Moore found the "Cornwall Rivers Project" website which
states that "the river Neet is a tributary of the river Strat which
reaches the sea at Bude".
An accompanying map showing only the rivers of North Cornwall has the
River Neet originating at Langford Mill between Week St. Mary and Whitstone
and gathering several other streams, two of which are named as Jacob Stream
(from around Jacobstow) and South Week Stream, before flowing into the
River Strat (coming from beyond Stratton) below Helebridge.
Stratton RDC told the OS in 1953 that the Strat flowed through Stratton
and was joined by the Neet at Helebridge.
The Ordnance Survey cartographer says that the name was changed in 1954
at the request of "several significant sources" including the
Bude UDC. The originator was a Mrs Ethel Jewell, a local historian, who
wrote to the Ordnance Survey in 1953 giving no evidence for her assertion
that the river should be the Neet and that "Strat" is a "vulgarism"!
E. C. Dredge, the Clerk to the Bude UDC, said that the council members
discussed this at a council meeting and were all agreed on the name Neet,
again without producing any evidence for the belief. A Councillor, Major
Chudleigh, and a solicitor, Mr Peter, also added their opinion. The OS
ignored the contrary opinion of the Stratton RDC. This is borne out by
Mike's evidence above.
I must say I am astonished that the OS should have changed the name of
a river on the say-so of these people, while ignoring the wishes of the
I was very puzzled as to why these local people should be so adamant in
the face of all the evidence that the river should be Neet and not Strat
to the extent of calling "Strat" a "vulgarism". Mr
Saunders guessed that "Stratton RDC members objected to the name
of their river being changed by a bunch of Budeites, I bet you, and voted
against. Some things don't change."
I was amused by this since I had previously wondered if the 'Budeites'
who wrote to the OS had been affronted by the river running through their
town having a name suggesting Stratton!
P.S. Latest on above:
LEAP Cornwall action plan July '98 p.30 also confirms that the river from
Helebridge to the sea is the Strat. The OS is clearly wrong to name the
river through Stratton as the Neet rather than the Strat. Ed.
Brinton Ferry & Moveable Footbridge
& Launch of the new lifeboat 1911
(Elizabeth Moore Garden?)
At high water the lifeboat was launched into the canal from its house
(still to be seen in the "Falcon" & "Brendon"
At low water it was taken out of the other end of the lifeboat house and
pulled by ten horses on its carriage for launching from Summerleaze beach
or Widemouth Bay according to where the emergency was situated.
During the 1914/18 war a lifeboat from the "Alcide" was washed
ashore. This became a ferry under the command of Capt. Bill Brinton which
would take passengers across the river for one old penny.
During the summer at low water a manual wind-up bridge enabled pedestrians
to remain dry and cross the river by Chapel Rock. During the winter the
bridge was wheeled away and parked in the Ocean Caves.
Bill Brinton was also skipper of the "Elizabeth" which ran aground
under Summerleaze Point in February 1912.
The Society paid a visit to this restoration project last September led
by Fred Copeland. He reported at the Annual General Meeting that the restoration
was going well and the engine's boiler had now been reunited with its
main frame at the workshop at Bodmin General Station. It is hoped that
the engine will
be completed by early 2005. For those interested there is now a web site:
The engine has two chains; a horizontal chain of 118 links and a vertical
chain of 73 links. Each link costs £20. Interested parties are invited
to sponsor a link, with a suitable certificate being given, by contacting
Peter Richards, Trenoweth, Marshgate, Camelford PL32 9GN.
Bryan Dudley Stamp
Saturday 26th June 2004
Coach trip to Plymouth and/or Boat Trip along the Tamar River with a short
stay at Calstock then return to Plymouth for shopping or sight seeing.
Coach leaves Plymouth at 6.00 p.m. for return to Bude.
Society will have a stall at the Bude Carnival (Saturday 21st August -
Castle Grounds) and at the RNLI Weekend 28th/29th August on the Barkhouse