COVERACK’S VILLAGE HALL RECEIVES DONATION FROM AUSTRALIA TOWARDS FUNDRAISING APPEAL
A centenary and several thousand miles of ocean were bridged recently to bring together Mrs. Lynne Smith, the great granddaughter of the first Chairman of Lambeage Hall committee, Captain William Henry Gibson, and the present incumbent, Mr. Rod Pierce. The ‘back story’ of this serendipitous meeting came about by a quirk of fate, luck, social media… and coincides with the 100 years since the building of the hall and present fundraising appeal.
In January 1919, a public meeting was held in Coverack to decide on a way to pay tribute to the servicemen who had served their country in the conflict in a practical and fitting manner. The Coverack Branch of the Comrades of the Great War (a forerunner to the British Legion) was already in existence as several soldiers from the village had returned, maimed in mind, body and spirit. A committee was formed with the sole purpose to raise funds to buy a site for a building in which the Comrades could meet, with Capt. W.H. Gibson appointed permanent Chairman.
When £75 had been raised, it was proposed to buy a plot of land just beyond the cove. Known as the “Battery” or the “Lambeage”, it was for sale and owned by Mr. Ralph Ellis of Penzance. It was the natural place for villagers to meet as the Ellis family allowed common use of the seaward-facing, grassy slope; it’s where local women dried their washing, children played and the Wesleyan Chapel held its summer Tea Treats.
However, Capt. Gibson, a Master Mariner in the days of sailing ships, had returned to sea and was known to be trading in China and Japan. He was sent copies of the Minutes of the meetings and details of the proposed purchase that required his signature. Time went by, three years to be precise! Eventually, in August 1922, the Committee received sanction from Capt. Gibson that he agreed for the transfer of the money to buy the Battery and plans to build the hall could commence.
Now, fast- forward three generations to 2019. Capt. Gibson’s son, William Marlborough Gibson, had emigrated to Australia and Lynne Smith from Empire Bay, New South Wales, is his granddaughter. Like so many descendants of migrant families, Lynne embarked on a ‘once in a lifetime’ journey back to her Cornish roots with the destination being her ancestors’ family home in Coverack. Her grandfather had told romantic tales of his Cornish heritage and the lovely Edwardian house that his parents had built with its landscaped gardens, curving down to the beach.
Lynne’s re-wind into her past, was in her words, “a sensory overload”. She walked in her ancestors’ footsteps, discovering the lichen-covered head stone in the graveyard of her gg grandfather, John Gibson, who had been Coverack’s Chief Officer of the Coast Guard in 1880′s, and explored the lane of cottages and the Watch House where he had lived and worked. Lynne’s bonus was chatting to a local woman, who as a small child, knew Capt. W. H. Gibson and his tales of sailing ships in storms round Cape Horn.
The final connection between the past and the present for Lynne was reading a documented chronicle of Coverack and coming across Capt. Gibson’s role as the Chairman for Lambeage Committee in 1919 and Googling the community websites, where she read about the current appeal for funds and consequently, contacted Rod Pierce to make a donation.
Since the old wooden hall was built, it has been a vibrant hub for local clubs, parties, meetings and entertainment and is as vital today as it was all those years ago, but time and the constant hammering from storms and gales means it’s showing its age and there is a risk that the building will become unsafe.
Here we are in 2019, a century to date since the first fundraising, with another committee raising money to secure Lambeage’s future. £26,000 was the quote for securing the foundations, with currently a shortfall of £7,000. Why not join Lynne from Australia and make a donation via www.lambeagehall.org.uk and follow the link to the MyDonate page?
With thanks to Gloria Knight