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What was life like growing up on Lundy Island?

PUBLISHED: 11:49 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:49 26 June 2018

Lundy still holds a romance for the visitor

Lundy still holds a romance for the visitor


Rugged cliffs, pounding seas, an abundance of wildlife – the romance of Lundy is inescapable. But what would it be like to live there? Jane Anning (née Squire), third-generation islander, tells Anne Brunner-Ellis about her childhood

“My grandfather Felix Gade moved to Lundy in 1926 and was in charge of the day-to-day running of the island until 1971 when he retired at the age of 80 (apart from 1945-49 when he and my Grandmother ran the Hartland Quay Hotel).

“My parents met when Dad moved from North Devon to work on the boats,” she says. “We lived in Stoneycroft, near the old lighthouse. I loved the expanse of sea and cliffs up there.

Jane in the garden of StoneycroftJane in the garden of Stoneycroft

“We kept goats, chickens and grew vegetables. Mum helped out in the shop. Dad could turn his hand to anything. If anything broke I always knew he would fix it.”

“Visitors were essential to the economy. The hotel with the pub and shop were the social hub for islanders and visitors alike. During the summer paddle steamers brought day trippers over.

Jane, a painter and decorator, now divides her time between the coast of Southern Ireland and South Devon � the sea continues to have a strong drawJane, a painter and decorator, now divides her time between the coast of Southern Ireland and South Devon � the sea continues to have a strong draw

“My grandfather helped behind the bar and my grandmother assisted with cooking – island living meant mucking in and helping one another.”

With only 16 residents it was a small community. “I loved haymaking which involved us all – especially the teas!” she comments. “I also loved going to the Radio Room with Grandpa.

Three generations of Lundy islanders in the shop tea gardenThree generations of Lundy islanders in the shop tea garden

“Twice a day he would phone Hartland saying ‘Lundy calling’. I enjoyed listening to him making the calls.”

Life could be hard and you had to be resourceful. It was very much a ‘make do and mend’ existence. “We had an island generator.

Jane and Peter in Lighthouse fieldJane and Peter in Lighthouse field

“Water was pumped and most houses had outside toilets. I hated using them at night in case I saw rats!” she says.

“Apart from ground rules – not going to the beach or the cliffs on our own – it was a carefree existence. I loved picking (and eating) peas, riding the Lundy ponies, fishing and of course going down to the beach.

Jane and Peter in the garden of StoneycroftJane and Peter in the garden of Stoneycroft

“Many families returned each year to stay in the hotel or in one of the few houses for rent and we became good friends with a number of them,” she recalls.

“I remember visits from the Harman ladies being very glamorous affairs; lovely ladies in beautiful dresses and gorgeous perfume. They used to get us to practise our swimming strokes lying face down on a chair - great fun when you are a small child.

The 1963 snow hit Lundy like the rest of the country. Jane and Peter below the Old LighthouseThe 1963 snow hit Lundy like the rest of the country. Jane and Peter below the Old Lighthouse

“I always felt safe and secure on Lundy, coupled with the knowledge that nothing would change. But it did.

“With no school, my mother was sent to boarding school on the mainland and hated it. She vowed she would not do that to her children.

Jane on Landing Beach with her grandmother, known as �Cheerful�, with brother Peter and fellow islander, Chris DavyJane on Landing Beach with her grandmother, known as �Cheerful�, with brother Peter and fellow islander, Chris Davy

“So, before we got to school age, we left and moved to the Scilly Isles. But we returned each summer to stay with my grandparents and for that I am grateful.”


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