Memories of the War Years, by Barbara Senik

When the war came evacuees were sent to the area and the school population increased. This meant overcrowded classrooms. For a while the largest classroom at Northam was divided into two by a curtain. This was not very satisfactory and the Methodist schoolroom was taken over to accommodate the overflow. Many of the evacuees and their teachers were transferred there. I think we felt rather overwhelmed by this sudden invasion of city children, many of whom had a strange accent (London!) and different modes of behaviour. Certainly some of the older children seemed quite alien to us.

My eyesight was much different in the 1940’s and some days ,when on the sea front, I was able to spot porpoises in the bay and I can clearly remember seeing a faint line of ships on the horizon – a wartime convoy on its way from the Atlantic to some port further north. Closer to shore and on the Burrows we were able see the coastal defences – large concrete pyramids at the foot of the slip and much barbed wire. The Burrows was mined and was forbidden territory. Pylons erected near the Pimpley Road gate were fenced off. I think they were some sort of early radar installation. There was a huge searchlight placed just off the footpath at the back of the park adjoining the bus terminus. I was never able to see it in use. At some time the Bailey Bridge was built over the Pebble Ridge, making it easier for wheeled or tracked vehicles to cross from the Burrows to the beach, or vice versa. It remained for some years after the war.

When walking the Bay View route towards Buckleigh there were some fondly remembered land marks. First, the house called Conybeare – during the war there was a sort of tower on what is now the flat roof of the house. The various Local Defence Volunteers (later the Home Guard) and ‘firewatchers’ would have to mount watch there every night to give warning of enemy attacks or fires. From there, during the nights of the Plymouth Blitz, those watchers were able to see the red skies reflected over the city although Plymouth was over 50 miles away.