March 2020

It was ‘ship ahoy’ at Crantock Village Hall on March 2nd as the Memory Cafe opened up for a maritime-themed afternoon. As it was almost St Piran’s day, there was a Cornish emphasis to our theme, and we were delighted to welcome back Jane and Gill, daughters of the late George Northey who was instrumental in establishing the popular sport of gig racing in Newquay and on the Isles of Scilly.
Jane and Gill had many memories to share of growing up on the Gannel Estuary and of the early days of bringing gigs from St Mary’s on Scilly. Having been gig rowers themselves they spoke with knowledge and experience about the skills involved in the sport. They also recalled the initial opposition to female gig rowers which was finally overcome in the mid 1970s!  With the aid of Jane’s husband Gil providing technical support they gave us a most interesting and entertaining talk and demonstration.
There were some fascinating slides of gigs in Newquay and on the Isles of Scilly and of three generations of the Northey ‘clan’ rowing and winning trophies, as well as a nostalgic film made in the 1980s in which the late George Northey talked about the days when gigs were bought from the Isles of Scilly for the princely sum of a few pounds and a bottle of whisky!
We were all amazed to see the size of the gig oar which Jane and Gill had brought along, and even more surprised by the length of a gig which was measured out on the hall floor.

During our break for tea there was a chance to chat and have a close look at our display which included books, photographs, newspaper articles and numerous programmes from the World Pilot Gig Championship hosted by the Isles of Scilly.  In between the cakes and cups of tea there was time to tackle a ‘gig racing’ word-search and an alphabet grid puzzle, or to talk to Jane and Gill about their rowing experiences and the history of the pilot gigs.
 For the remainder of the afternoon we stayed afloat with a welcome return visit from our local shanty group ‘Fiddle me Timbers’ who entertained everyone with a selection of songs with a suitably nautical flavour accompanied by guitar and two violins.  There were plenty of chances for us all to sing along and we were delighted that Jane, Gill and Gil joined in as well!
One of our volunteers brought along a small model of the St Agnes gig ‘Shah’ which had been made and purchased on the Isles of Scilly several years ago.  It was added to our display and Jane and Gill were thrilled when at the end of the afternoon it was given to them to add to their collection of memorabilia.
Thanks were given to all of our visitors for a thoroughly entertaining afternoon before we all sailed off home once more. We look forward to meeting up again on Monday 16th March. New guests are always welcome and should you need more information ring David on 01637 830617, Di on 01637 830544 or visit our website: