News Chronicles

24th May 2020

24th May 2020

While on my way back to my house after a short walk one evening a few days ago I bumped into Nick Pascoe and we had a long chat. He lives just around the corner from me and his older brother Chris was in the same year as me at Torquay Boys Grammar School. Nick was also at the same school. This reminded me of an old photo when Nick and myself took part in a WH Smith sponsored walk along the Newton Road in Torquay. We walked from Torquay to Newton Abbot and then back along the same route to Torquay. This was probably sometime in 1979. We talked about several things including supporting Torquay United and I mentioned my songs about our local football team. Nick said that he was at Plainmoor with his brother to see the game against Cambridge when Pat Kruse scored the record breaking own goal. Nick said that they didn't see the first goal at the game because it happened so quickly but he does remember the second own goal. He'd forgotten that Torquay scored all four goals in the 2-2 draw that day.

Ian Sponsored walk WH Smiths late 1970s

Since talking to Nick I have remembered one funny event at a grammar school assembly when the school governors attended. One boy called Morris, had cellotaped down all of the keys of the piano so that when Mr Hopkins' hands descended onto the instrument it resulted in a most horrible cacophony ringing out. There was a huge roar of laughter from all of the school children whereas the teachers, especially the headmaster did not look amused at all!

I had another idea for a tune last week which turned into another song. I was plucking two strings in unison on my guitar but not using the fingers of my left hand on the fretboard. It provied me with an interesting melody in E minor. It sounded a bit medieval and I'd been waiting for something like this to come along to me so that I could write a song about Torre Abbey. 

An abbot from Welbeck Abbey

Arrived on the shores of Torbay

William Briwere had gifted some land

Thanks for the safe return of his son

For the monks Torre Abbey was made

And throughout the day they prayed

Many gifts and bequests were received

And their faith in God they truly believed

On the west side a cruciform church

The buildings around a courtyard

Built on a Benedictine plan

Beer limestone used for the arcades

For the monks Torre Abbey was made

And throughout the day they prayed

Many gifts and bequests were received

And their faith in God they truly believed

The monks made sure that the poor were fed

Looked after the folk in Torbay

A genuine holy cast of mind

Destroyed by a tyrant King

Because of King Henry the abbeys dissolved

To take all their wealth he was resolved

King Henry the Eighth the great evil King

Great misery he would surely bring

17th May 2020

17th May 2020

When I went to Denver in the USA a few years ago I visited the Buffalo Bill museum at Lookout mountain and I was very surprised to discover that William Cody had visited Torquay with his Wild West show. When I started writing my songs about Torbay earlier this year I had forgotten about Buffalo Bill's visit until I saw some information about it at Torre Abbey. For a few weeks since then I have wanted to write about his show visiting Torquay so here are the lyrics for my latest song.

Buffalo Bill in Torquay

His wild west show we will see

William Cody his real name

A living legend of great acclaim

In the year 1904

He's not been here before

To the Newton Road we must go

For great excitement at his show

Buffalo Bill in Torquay

His wild west show we will see

Entertainment on a grand scale

To excite you he will not fail

Riders from many a nation

Bringing great acclamation

Colonel Custer's last stand

With Buffalo Bill in command

A thrilling and daring bicycle feat

Wild west stars that you can meet

Sideshows and staged races

At this pageant excited faces

Buffalo Bill in Torquay

His wild west show we will see

William Cody his real name

A living legend of great acclaim

In the year 1904

He's not been here before

Of great excitement I have been told

Tickets for his show to be sold

Buffalo Bill informed the press

His liking of Torquay he would express

He loved the view from Daddyhole Plain

His delight for it he could not contain

10th May 2020

10th May 2020

David Scott's very excellent book about Torquay in the Second World War has now given me the inspiration for three songs. The latest one came to me after reading the end of chapter nine describing a mock invasion of Torquay in which the Home Guard of the town were the defenders and the regular English army the invaders. This took place in 1942 and honestly it sounds like it was an episode very similar to those portrayed in the brilliant Dad's Army TV comedies.

David Scott and his book

Colin Ross was a school boy at St Olaves School which was closed in London during the Second World War and evacuated to Torquay. Sixty Five years later he wrote an account of his time in Torquay for the St Olaves school magazine. With several other pupils of St Olaves he watched the fake invasion taking place and apparently the civilian population of Torquay largely went about it's normal business while the battle was going on. This probably infuriated the army much more than the antics of the Home Guard. Colin and his school mates took the side of the Home Guard and kept them posted on the movements of the regular army. Colin felt that the regular army cheated quite a bit and needless to say won the battle. There was one ambush in which a platoon of the Home Guard were very successful but the referee disallowed it for some reason. Colin remembers that a biology teacher who was part of this platoon was very unhappy about it.

If you would like to purchase a copy of David Scott's book then please contact him via his email address <

There are a few other Torquay wartime memories of school children of St Olave's which can be found on the internet and here is a link to an interesting one

Some of the national newspapers very unfairly portrayed Torquay as a bit of a funk hole during WW2.

The Funk Hole Myth

There was a pretend battle in nineteen forty two

The Torquay home guard knew what they had to do

To defend their town from a mock invasion

For the regular army it was a strange occasion

A weekend long defence of the town of Torquay

Colin Ross remembers the event quite clearly

The residents of Torquay carried on regardless

The antics of the army were considered harmless

The funk hole myth you had better not believe

The national newspapers were out to deceive

The pupils of St Olaves sided with the home guard

For the regular army they had very little regard

Being quite annoying as they mingled with the troops

The schoolmates spying on the men in many groups

Amongst all the tragedy there was farce

Like a scene from Dad's Army common sense was rather sparse

Colin thought the army cheated quite a bit

He remembers how one teacher complained about it

A referee disallowed a home guard victory

A successful ambush in the town of Torquay

The funk hole myth you had better not believe

The national newspapers were out to deceive

3rd May 2020

3rd May 2020

When the prime minister recently announced that we were only allowed out once a day for exercise, to buy essential shopping or if we were key workers, I had a sense of what it must have felt like to have heard Neville Chamberlain announce the outbreak of war via the radio in September 1939. The current crisis caused by the Covid 19 Corona virus is surely the greatest threat that our country has faced since the Second World War. Now that I am only permitted to go out for exercise once a day I am enjoying my walks much more than I would have done before the current Corona virus epidemic when I could go out whenever I felt like it. I think that better weather helps now that we are in Spring and after the long periods of heavy rain virtually every day during the winter.

When I went for a recent walk with my wife we were looking at all the lovely wild flowers near Meadfoot beach. This reminded me of the school project that everyone in my class was given by the biology teacher at the end of my first year at Torquay Boys Grammar school. That summer whenever I went for a walk with my parents I would pick a selection of wild flowers, press them, paste the them into a folder and then with an ink fountain pen write the name of each flower by each pressed specimen. I was given a book written by Keeble Martin of wild flowers as a present. I was quite good at collecting wild flowers, and I am quite good at collecting lots of things. As well as collecting stamps here is a list of other things I have collected:-

1970s Devon Genral Bus Tickets


1970 Football World Cup Cards

Brooke Bond Tea Trade Cards

Vinyl Records

Torquay United Football Programmes

Quicksilver Messenger Service Bootleg Recordings

Scanned Photos and Posters of Quicksilver Messenger Service

Science Fiction Magazines

26th April 2020

26th April 2020 

My cousin Julie Levy recently sent me some old family photos and one of these was of my Grandad Gordon in his First World War army uniform. I can always remember my Dad telling me about the brother of my Grandad Gordon who was killed at the battle of Jutland on a battle cruiser that was hit by a shell from a German warship. I think the shell hit one of the main gun turrets and exploded the magazine and blew the ship in half. I believe he was a stoker on the ship. His name is on the war memorials in Plymouth and Newton Abbot. When I was a child we frequently visited my Grandmother Claria Causley and Grandad Gordon Churchward who both lived in Exeter. We would have driven passed the Newton Abbot war memorial and I had a spell in my teens of visiting the orthodontist which was directly opposite the memorial. When I used to visit Grandad Gordon I always enjoyed looking at his War medals which must have been from WWI. He must have served in somewhere like Palestine because of the style of his uniform.

My Grandmother Claria Causley lived in Abbots Road in Exeter and Grandad Gordon lived with my Uncle Eric in a flat which is very close to my office in Southernhay in Exeter. I drive passed it when I go to work in Exeter in the morning and again when I drive home from my office back to Torquay.

I have just started reading a new book by David Scott about Torquay in WW2 called the Funk Hole Myth. This has given me the inspiration for a song about Torquay WW1 which mentions Arnold Ridley ( Godfrey in Dad's Army ). He had been wounded three times in 1916 and was then discharged from the army. In 1917 he was a teacher at Torquay Boys Grammar School and a suffragette gave him a white feather. Men that were not eligible for service were given silver war badges so that they could avoid being vilified but Arnold Ridley kept his badge in his pocket rather than wearing it. A Torquay musical director had the surname Hindenburg and had to change his name to Basil Cameron to avoid coming under suspicion because anti German sentiment was rife and lots of English people were paranoid about German spies.

If anyone wants to buy David's book then they should send him an email

19th April 2020

19th April 2020

I've just found the website for the gentlemen who gave the brilliant lecture about the Torquay pageant of 1924 that I attended at Torquay museum earlier this year.

So far has given me the inspiration to research the history of Torbay and write lots more songs about some of it. Hopefully there will be more songs to come. I can honestly say that this is the happiest musical period of my life and I seem to be able to compose a new song as often as I like which on average seems to be about once a week..

On Thursday I had an especially very good day when I drove my car for the first time in a couple of weeks, to go to my office in Exeter to collect a new computer monitor and my office work chair. The weather was wonderful and the roads traffic free. I decided to go via Shaldon bridge which I always enjoy and I was listening to some of my favourite music in the car. I think it was the most enjoyable journey to and from Exeter that I have ever experienced.

I worry about my sister who works at Torbay hospital. I desperately miss being able to see my best friends Jerry Brimicombe, Debby and Phil Helmore I can't visit my Mum who is in a care home and I miss Lord Zarquon coming over to help me with the problems (Editor: And telling him off haha..yeah right Ian) I have understanding the music software with which I use to record. 

I miss being able to go to see Torquay Utd at Plainmoor but at least I don't have to worry about them losing at the moment! I miss being with my work colleagues at my office in Exeter but I can see them via skype and I have got used to working from home. I was terribly ill for most of February and March with a very bad cough and then I had a cold as well. I worry that if I catch the corona virus it will kill me but I have to say that I do feel happy. For the first time I realise that working for a bank I am providing a vital service. I am very lucky to be in a job and not to be unemployed during these very difficult times. I am also very very lucky to work with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life.

12th April 2020

12th April 2020

I've just put new strings on one of my fender electric guitars. I think it's been at least a couple of years since it had new strings on it and the old ones were very rusty! It's got a Bigsby tremolo arm on it and because of that it's a little bit awkward to restring, which is probably why I've  not done it for sometime. I must admit I am a bit lazy when it comes to restringing my guitars. In fact I discovered today that some of my spare guitar strings are so old that they've gone rusty as well and I had to throw a few in the bin. 

I've written another new song. Actually it was written before the one about the Brixham Mayflower which was mentioned in my previous blog. It's about the author Agatha Christie, who was born in Torquay, and is during the time just after her first husband left her and she went to the middle east and met her second husband via archaeology there. I have only just found out that I used to walk passed where she was born virtually every week when I was at Torquay Boys Grammar school in the 1970's. The site of her house is next door to where my school was located. My Dad worked at the technical college which was also located by my school. Both the college and the school buildings have been replaced by modern flats, apart from my old sixth form building which is now a residential house on the other side of the road. This is near the top end of Torre and there is a blue plaque near the site of Agatha Christie's birthplace which was called Ashfield.

5th April 2020

5th April 2020

The Churchward household is now well and truly in lock down mode at the present time due to the horrible virus that is causing massive worldwide problems. This presents a good opportunity for me to write lots more songs which will hopefully keep Lord Zarquon busy. I've just finished writing another song which is about Isaac Merritt Singer who owned Oldway Mansions when it was built in the 1870s. It's not certain but quite likely that his last wife was the model for the Statue of Liberty. It was designed by the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and I think his mother was the model for the initial sketch with the last wife and widow of Isaac Singer being the model for the final design. Isaac made a fortune from his patent of a sewing machine and I've called the song Patent 8294.

I have also written another song after reading a book about the history of Torbay. Found out that there was a shipyard in Brixham that built a replica of the Mayflower which then successfully sailed across the Atlantic in the 1950's. So here are the lyrics for another song of mine

The Brixham Mayflower

In Plymouth Massachusetts a special ship arrived

And a warm welcome would not be denied

Lining the dockside was a cheering crowd

And I heard that their cheers were very loud

Such a triumph for Upham's shipyard

The ship sailing on when a storm hit her hard

With English oak and canvas sail

Mr Charlton's vision would prevail

In Plymouth Massachusetts a special ship arrived

And a warm welcome would not be denied

Lining the dockside was a cheering crowd

And I heard that their cheers were very loud

She'd been launched in the pouring rain

Beautifully crafted with axe and plane

Christened with a gold loving cup

In the harbour to bring her good luck

Another interesting thing is that one of the owners of the shipyard built and owned a ship which kept on winning a Regatta each year. His vessel won it so many times that in the end he was asked not to enter her for the race anymore. This was before the First World War. The vessel was called the Ibex and was sunk near Berry Head in 1915 by a German submarine which also sank 30 other trawlers.

Here are two links to my song about the 1620 Mayflower on USA based websites:-

29th March 2020

29th March 2020 

At the moment I am trying not to worry about the corona virus and trying to stay focused on music. With this in mind I have enjoyed watching Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets on youtube. I had listened to several recordings of some of the recent gigs over the last few weeks and it wasn't until yesterday that I suddenly realised that Gary Kemp was part of the band. I must admit I never thought that an ex member of Spandau Ballet would be performing some of Syd Barrett's songs in a band with Nick Mason.

This has reminded me of when I purchased the album Relics in the record department of what must have been John Menzies back in about 1980. I can't remember how I first heard about Syd Barrett, it may have been from a book, but I was intrigued by his story and I decided to listen to some of his recordings with Pink Floyd. I can still remember bumping into Stuart Gordon who I knew from school and when he saw what I had in my hand he called me a toad. I guess Pink Floyd wasn't considered to be very cool in the era of punk rock and new wave. I can clearly remember playing the record in my bedroom when I got home and the first song was Arnold Layne which I immediately loved. There were loads of great tracks, especially See Emily Play, Interstellar Overdrive and Bike. Then I purchased Piper at the Gates of Dawn and I thought that album was even better. Syd Barrett had a very short and tremendously creative period and then almost straight away seemed to disappear into thin air. It's a shame that it didn't last longer and it makes those albums seem especially wonderful and precious.

And having mentioned Stuart Gordon here is a link to his punk band Das Schnitz who played gigs in Torbay in 1978 and 1979

22nd March 2020

22nd March 2020 

I have just finished reading a book called the Billy Ruffian by David Cordingly about the Bellerophon that held Napoleon as a prisoner in Torbay just after the battle of Waterloo. Most of the sailors on the Bellerophon couldn't pronounce the name of their ship so they called her the Billy Ruffian.

Aboard the Billy Ruffian

From France to Torbay

With the prisoner Napoleon

Such fame had come their way

Aboard the Billy Ruffian

From France to Torbay

Her hull was made of English oak

More than three thousand felled

Named the Bellerophon

And her keel was made of of elm

Aboard the Billy Ruffian

Arriving in Torbay

With Napoleon Bonaparte

And in England he hoped to stay

Aboard the Billy Ruffian

Arriving in Torbay

Of battles she had many

The bravest of the brave

Part of the Royal Navy

And England they would save

Sightseers came from Exeter

To gather in the bay

To see Napoleon

Get a glimpse of him that day

Aboard the Northumberland

Departing from Torbay

With the prisoner Napoleon

To exile he was on his way

Aboard the Northumberland

Departing from Torbay

Goodbye to the Bellerophon

And her claim to fame

The crew stripped her of everything

And a prison she became

Goodbye to the Bellerophon

And her claim to fame

© Rainbow Starshine Productions 2020 - Version 7.0.7 May 2020