‘Fascinating People and their Association with Fowey’ by Lynn Goold Saturday 2.30pm 30 January 2021Members on almost sixty devices tuned in to Lynn’s informative and well-illustrated Zoom talk on three well-known former residents of Fowey.
Lynn’s talk began with Roden Noel, probably the least known of the trio. Born in 1834, he was the son of the first Earl of Gainsborough and became a prominent poet. Whilst living in Fowey he wrote ‘The Merry-go-round at Fowey’. After his death in 1894, one of his poems ‘Sea Slumber Song’ inspired Sir Edward Elgar, who set it to music as the first song in his song-cycle ‘Sea Pictures’ in 1899. His ‘Collected Poems’ were published in 1902.
Born in 1892, Leo Walmsley was a Yorkshireman, but lived in many different parts of the British Isles, including several years in the 1930s by a shore in Pont Pill in a humble army hut. Here, as a struggling author, he wrote some of his most famous works, novels that were mainly autobiographical, and all with a deep love of the area in which they were set. ‘Love in the Sun’ is a beautiful account of his time in Pont Pill, and when published in 1939 was destined to be a best seller until war dashed this hope. After returning to Yorkshire to live off the land, Leo Walmsley finally came back to Cornwall and settled in Passage Street, Fowey, where he died in 1966.
Fred Yates was a personal friend of Lynn’s mother, and they corresponded for many years. Born in Lancashire in 1922, he had been inspired by the artist Lowry to paint the lives of ordinary people, usually in a style that was naïve, colourful, and with a thick textured surface. He was nomadic and lived in various places, including in France and Cornwall - not just in Fowey, but in Lostwithiel, St Just and Marazion - always looking for artistic inspiration. He died in 2008.
Lynn ended with Fred Yates’ colourful painting of the merry-go-round on Fowey Town Quay, echoing Roden Noel’s poem at the beginning of her talk.