Recording the Past

PUBLISHED: 13:51 07 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:57 20 February 2013

The History Group

Photo: Andrew Lloyd

The History Group Photo: Andrew Lloyd

David Stranack brings farming heritage to life with the Blackawton and Strete History Group. Photography Andrew Lloyd

David Stranack brings farming heritage to life with the Blackawton and Strete History Group. Photography Andrew Lloyd

How did the club begin and what are its aims?
It all began in Blackawton 11 years ago when the village was encouraged by the Community Council of Devon to form a history group. The Group got off to a flying start and produced its first booklet on local history in 2002. By then the neighbouring village of Strete had been drawn into the fold, and the Blackawton and Strete History Group or BASH as it is known locally was firmly established.

BASHs raison detre is to provide a forum through which our members can learn about local history, and become actively involved in researching and recording the heritage of our two villages. We have written and published a number of books and articles. Our most recent production is a book titled Our Farming Heritage. This records the histories of ten local farms, some going back to the 13th century, and nearly 20 members of BASH were actively involved in researching and writing it.

To publicise our activities and recruit new members we have in recent years organised two major presentations and exhibitions at the Flavel Centre in Dartmouth. We encourage everybody to contribute old pictures of the villages as they were in the past, and also of local farms and the surrounding area. We have now collected an archive of over 1,000 images, some going back nearly 100 years.

Who runs the club?
We have a committee of eight people who are re-elected each year, which includes the Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary. We try and ensure the committee is balanced with representatives from both villages.

Where do you meet?
BASH holds a series of monthly meetings and events throughout the year, and we frequently invite speakers to talk on a wide range of subjects of historic interest. Most of the meetings are held in our two village halls at Blackawton and Strete, but we also organise visits to places of historic interest such as Exeter Cathedral and the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

Do you have any personal favourites?
I have a special interest in the events that occurred in our area during the years of the Second World War, and in particular the evacuation of our two villages, along with six others. In 1943 all villagers were instructed to leave their homes at very short notice to provide a military training ground for the American forces who were about to invade Normandy.

How many members do you have?
Membership is fairly constant at about 50, and annual subscription costs 10.

What do you have planned for 2011?
We will soon be starting a project to research and record the histories of our two village churches. Both are dedicated to St Michael, but they have very different pasts. And in December we will be holding the BASH Bash, our popular Christmas party for all members.

Want to join?
Contact David Stranack: 01803 770748,

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