Sunset drive, ending at Porlock Weir. A few trees, various flora and a pony or two, and boats… it was a beautiful evening!Julia Harper, 13 June 2021
Porlock. An eco-themed pop-up on Saturday 5 June 2021 is the first in a series of monthly events, animating and celebrating Porlock High Street, to aid recovery from Covid-19 lockdowns.
Funded by Somerset West & Taunton Council and organised by Porlock High Street Support Group, this event aims to draw the local community, as well as visitors, to the High Street in support of local traders.
Duncan McCanlis, Chair of the Porlock High Street Support Group, explained: “We are grateful to Somerset West & Taunton Council for providing the finance. This allows us to not only organise these community events, but we are also able to provide traders with a new online platform, put out more flower planters and benches around the High Street, all in support of Porlock’s amazing range of High Street shops.”
The first event will see a number of pop-up stalls along Porlock High Street where people will be able to buy and swap plants, find information about community projects, such as Plastic Free Porlock Vale, bring and take items at a freecycle table – and more.
Local children will be raising money towards the repair of the church clock by selling home-cut wild flowers outside St Dubricius Church.
“The series of six events will take place every first Saturday of the month, always with a focus on the High Street,” says Sarah Shorten, who heads the Events Team. “Each event will have a different theme, such as music or wellbeing, encouraging locals and visitors to rediscover a High Street and traders that are vibrant and authentic.”
The event this Saturday 5 June 2021 will run from 10 am to 2 pm.
More details about the event and Porlock traders can be found via the Porlock High Street Support Group’s Facebook Group
I first went to Exmoor as a teenager with my parents staying at Porlock Caravan Park: I remember hearing the sheep in the field next to the caravans. 25+ years later I was back camping with my husband and dogs at the same site. We holidayed in and around Porlock most years since and will be spending Christmas there this year. We love the scenery, the peacefulness and the wildlife – it’s a perfect place to unwind, enjoy the fresh air and appreciate how beautiful the area is. Favourite walks include Dunkery, Watersmeet, Valley of Rocks, Tarr Steps, Horner Water, Porlock Weir to Culbone, up and around Hawkcombe, and last year we found Bats Castle. This was a stunning walk up and over the grounds of the castle until you reach the old settlement. Up here you can see for miles. We came across Red Deer and Exmoor ponies. It was quite a steep descent in parts especially with an eager terrier and two Lurchers who all have keen noses! The dogs enjoyed being able to cool off in the river at Gallox bridge before we got back to the car. The area is perfect for dogs, it doesn’t bother us or our dogs that they need to be on lead in certain areas, they get plenty of exercise and stimulation from the new places and smells, we are all ready to relax after a day out exploring Exmoor.
Rays of light over Yarner Farm, Porlock, earlier this August.
Photo by Shaun Davey.
The heritage team at Lynmouth Pavilion Project have been exploring the ‘History of Tourism’ in their third and final year. Moved by the impact of the Victorians in creating links, opening roads, inventing steam locomotion for easy travel, and ‘taking the waters’ in their bathing machines, Louise and Abbie have come to the conclusion that the Victorians practically invented Exmoor’s tourism.
In recognition of this, and the changes they brought, the team has been planning a Victorian Festival with events taking place from Monday 20th to Friday 24th June across Lynton and Lynmouth, Dunster, Porlock and Allerford.
Abbie Thorne said “we thought we’d take advantage of the Ilfracombe Victorian Festival happening the week before – there’ll be lots of Victorians in the area looking for other entertainments. We’re hoping they’ll stay on for a few more days and see more of Exmoor, in costume!” she added “we’ve tried to arrange a few interesting activities for the Victorians – watch out for them as you’re out and about.”
Louise Reynolds added “it’s a full line-up – heritage walks through Victorian Lynton as well as Porlock, illustrated talks, slideshows, films, special tours of Dunster Castle and more. There are even traditional Victorian craft activities. We’ve invited local businesses to be involved and know that some will be dressing up, like the Coach House in Lynton where traditional Victorian cream teas will be on the menu!”
Abbie explained that “the Festival will move from village to village during the week, starting in Lynton and Lynmouth on the Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will see activities move to Dunster, with Porlock on the Thursday and Allerford on Friday.”
The Victorians were responsible for the steam era and so there will be Victorians at Woody Bay Station as well as a talk from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. The Cliff Railway in Lynton and Lynmouth owes its construction to the Victorians and so the programme involves them too.
During the Festival the Project team will be sharing some Victorian postcards and images, and scanning your old photos too. A member of the project team will be at Dunster National Park Centre on the 22nd June from 2-4pm and at Porlock Visitor Centre on the 23rd from 2:30-4:30pm ready to scan your pictures.
“There is a fairly packed programme” says Abbie “so check the line-up and we hope to see you at some of the events”. The programme is available on the Project Facebook Page and Twitter, or in the National Park Centres.
A PLANE CRASHES.
A SOLE SURVIVOR.
In collaboration with The Crown Estate, National Trust Holnicote Estate and Porlock Manor Estate, Stacked Wonky Dance has created five site specific dance encounters for five different sites in and around Porlock Vale. The seed idea links to the crash of a Liberator, an American bomber, on Porlock Marsh in 1942 when 11 people lost their lives and one person, a staff sergeant, survived.
Performances will take place in a variety of spaces – glade, field, barn, hilltop and marsh – and will be seen at different times of day. You can watch just one or all five as they unfold over the summer, culminating in a finale on Porlock Marsh on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 September.
As part of a small group, you’ll go on a walking journey, perhaps in daylight, perhaps at night, as the action plays out around you. You’ll encounter a tilted, sometimes extraordinary world in which the unexpected often happens as movement, sound, shadow, weather and audience combine. Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to do anything, certainly not dance (!), just follow the performance as it plays out.
Two years ago, Sarah Shorten, Artistic Director of Stacked Wonky Dance moved to Bossington with her husband and young family. During this time, Sarah inevitably turned her attention to the world just outside her back garden. She was drawn to Porlock Marsh, which is how the idea for Liberator was born. After talking to local historians and residents, she gradually realised the crash’s recurring themes of loss, sacrifice, survival and childhood excitement about the war might be captured in a series of performances that return all fragments of the story to the Marsh.
Sarah has joined forces with Duncan Hume, an ex-Royal Ballet professional dancer living in Luxborough, and four children aged 5 to 8 from Timberscombe School. All will perform in Liberator. The project also involves a wide and eclectic team of local collaborators – including designers, costume makers, photographers, sound artists, National Trust rangers, foresters, tenants and technicians – without whom Liberator would not be possible.
Through Liberator, Sarah wants to show audiences what’s possible when dance heads away from the stage. In addition, she is keen to continue to engage with those in local community for whom the Liberator crash and its legacy remain strong.
“A long-range bomber, transport and reconnaissance aircraft, a Consolidated B-24 D Liberator with four 1,200 hp radial engines, a wingspan of 110 feet, a length of 67 feet 2 inches, a maximum speed of 300 mph at 30,000 feet and a range of 2,100 miles crashed on the marsh on 29th October 1942. It carried a crew of twelve and had ten .50 machine guns.
This particular plane, which was helping RAF Coastal Command, took off from Holmsley, South Hampshire at 7.20 am on 29th October to fly on anti-submarine patrol in the Bay of Biscay. When it was returning at about 3.30 pm it was seen by two boys, Alan Perkins and Brian Richards, to hit a point near the top of Bossington Hill and swing round. Pieces fell off: a wheel and part of the undercarriage landed at the bottom of Sparkhayes Lane, and the rest of the plane crashed on to the marsh. The weather was dreadful: it was a very wet day with low cloud all around.
Only one man, S/Sgt H.B. Thorpe, was still alive. Very little of the plane was seen by local people as its remains were salvaged within a few days.
A simple monument on Porlock Marsh was erected by members of the Porlock Branch of the British Legion, made from materials available at the time.”
Liberator has also received support from A Vision for Porlock Marsh, a project led by Porlock Parish Council, working with the local community, landowners and agencies, to help raise of awareness of Porlock Marsh and enhance its role as an asset for the local community, businesses and visitors, including encouraging events and activities inspired by the Marsh.
“A dynamic, constantly changing landscape of salt marsh, brackish water, grassy paths, crumbling stone walls and muddy ditches, tucked behind a massive sweeping shingle ridge.
Dead, stark trees, redundant fences, buried signs, freshly deposited shingle are clues to the rapidly changing state of Porlock Marsh, and for some enforce the sense of danger. For many local people the Marsh evokes happy memories – the Marsh before the breach; a time of picnics, play and haymaking. A landscape loved by generations.”
Stacked Wonky is a contemporary dance company which has, for the last ten years, built its reputation on a desire to make work in unusual places for an audience unfamiliar with dance.
“Anarchic and exuberant, the movement she creates is beautiful” say Time Out
The company specialises in creating site-specific dance performances, many of which are performed in unique outdoor spaces and landscapes.
Sarah Shorten, Artistic Director, has created work for a diverse set of spaces including Trafalgar Square, The Museum of Childhood in collaboration with the V&A Museum, and Tinside Lido in Plymouth. Her work has been supported by various organisations such as Arts Council England, Greenwich & Docklands International Festival and Dance South West.
Episode 2: FIELD
Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 August @ 2 pm
West Luccombe Farm, West Luccombe
Episode 3: BARN
Thursday 20, Friday 21 and Saturday 22 August
@ 8.30 pm / 9 pm / 9.30 pm
SECRET LOCATION on the Holnicote Estate