Regattas past and present
Devoran Regatta in Victorian times
The port of Devoran was built from scratch in the early 1800s by the agents of the Hon Agar Robartes of Lanhydrock whose family had acquired the area of Devoran Cock in 1577. Regattas were started in the 1850s but there was a hiatus during the period 1860 to 1874. The local shipbuilding families were instrumental in this revival with Mr John Hitchens as chairman and Mr Stephens secretary, the local landowners Col. Tremayne of Carclew, Lord Agar Robartes of Lanhydrock, Lord Famouth of Tregothnan, Mr C D Gilbert of Trelissick, Mr C D Taylor mine owner at Point and Mr A P Vivian MP were patrons.
Of the regatta in 1874 it was reported that “ The prizes were paid in the evening in the engine room at Devoran which the committee considered a far more preferable place than the public house and when all the prizes had been paid and expenses allowed for it was found that a balance of £3 remained and it was unanimously resolved should form the nucleus of a fund for carrying out another regatta next year the expression of hope that the sport would be annual being received with enthusiasm.”
By the 1870s the port of Devoran was already feeling the loss of trade due to the ongoing closures of the Gwennap mines which had, at one time, been the richest in the world. By 1870 there were often no vessels at all in port when previously there could be up to thirty tied up or waiting to berth. Nevertheless in 1875 the Royal Cornwall Gazette reported; “ The beautiful little port never looked so gay or had so many visitors by railway, steamers and carriages at one time before, as were present on this occasion to witness what has generally acknowledged to be one of the best and most successful regattas of the season.”
The tidal nature of the venue meant it mostly attracted the smaller sailing craft and the ubiquitous rowing matches, the prize money attracting crews from across the Fal.
In 1881 the competition was representative of the best crews of the period and the winning crews that year were:
“Rowing boats, two oars and two paddles under 14'
1st Saucy Emma – William Allen - Malpas
2nd Bessie – C Ferris - Pill
3rd Pieman – J Ellis - Pill
Rowing boats not exceeding 17' two oars and two paddles:
1st Catch me if you can – F Gunn - Coombe
2nd Unexpected – S Brabyn - Point
Working punts one man each:
1st Ten Brothers – R Hitchens - Feock
2nd Saucy Lass – William Allen - Malpas
3rd Louisa – John Allen - Malpas
Fear Not, one of the Devoran gigs.
By 1883 the regatta was very firmly established and the Gazette reported; “ It cannot be expected that the annual regatta at Devoran will compare in many particulars with the regattas held at large ports but it may be truthfully stated that no regatta in the county is so largely looked forward to by the people in the neighbourhood as is Devoran Regatta. Thousands of persons lined the quays and banks of the river on either side and there were hundreds of spectators in steamers, boats and craft of every kind from Truro, Falmouth, St Mawes and other places. “
The Devoran regatta is generally run in August and continues to thrive as a premier event of the village year.
Written by Phil Allen