Autumn 2014: Rambles in St Austell

Autumn 2014: Rambles in St Austell

During November chief Rambler Anna Maria Murphy headed out again to the ‘roads less travelled’, this time walking around St Austell and Charlestown.

She shared stories at Wheal Martyn, collected tales in Charlestown, broom danced at the roadside, and met councillors, locals and radio ladies along the way. Anna also ran a workshop with young people from the brilliant House Project in St Austell.

You can read one of the stories she collected (and perhaps exaggerated!) below:

Two Lampshades.

The Thin End Café . St.Austell had never known anything like it. Cakes with French names resting on delicate doilies. Light pastries floating on swirling cream seas. Unholy alliances of Devils food  and angel cakes. Chocolate puffs and jammy fidgy-fadgers. Quiche Lorraine with courgettes.

Courgettes. You couldn’t get a courgette this side of the Tamar in those days.

Everyone went to The Thin End at least once, and some as regularly as clockwork. Customers often were known by what they ordered.Two Lampshades came in once a week, on a Saturday. He was known as Two Lampshades, because he had two lampshades.

On his head.

The top lampshade was plain, but the bottom one, nearest his thoughts, was  fringed and of a pale salmon  colour. The fringes swung as Two Lampshades walked.His real name was not known, so we shall call him Mr.Harvey, Mr. Bill Harvey. Bill couldn’t remember when he started wearing them, as things were slipping away from him. Things like how Silvia, his wife’s hair had smelt?  And, what were  the tools for in his shed?

He did remember the Doctor visiting once. A rude young man, who said to the nurse, “I don’t think Mr. Harveys’ lights are on .” He tapped his head at the same time.

Oh yes they are, thought Mr. Harvey. I remember my wedding day, and the greenhouses and alleys before they put in that new square. What’s it name now? Elmer? Eileen?

So, to prove his lights were still on, he wore two lampshades. One wasn’t enough. Sometimes the sights and sounds of the town were far too bright for him. A hat didn’t quite do it. Not enough protection. He needed to remember , and the shades kept his thoughts in.

They were very kind in the The something End. There was always flowers on the tables, and today they were red.

“Roses for you Mr.Harvey”, said one of the girls.              

The smell of them wafted up.

“Roses”, he thought. “That’s what Silvia’s hair smell of.”

That day he took  the two lampshades off.  To drink his tea and let the light in.

Inspired by Andy and Sue Ward and Stories of The Thin End Café, St.Austell.


The Rambles Programme is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, West Cornwall Youth Trust, FEAST, Hines Associates, and the Llawnroc Hotel, alongside donations made by members of the Kneehigh Family.

You can make a donation to support the work of the Kneehigh Rambles here


The Kneehigh Rambles

The Kneehigh Rambles

Part of the Rambles Programme, Kneehigh Rambles encompasses village hall shows, pop-up shows on harbours and in town centres, and general exploits of the Kneehigh Rambling Association...

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