The Travelling Folk
The Travelling Folk (TTF) is a travelling folk club for West Kent and East Sussex. We don't meet regularly in one venue but gather in pre-selected pubs around the area on the first and third Thursdays of each month to enjoy ourselves and to bring folk music to those who may not have had the opportunity of experiencing a live folk session before.
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TTF Organiser Terry King contributed an article to the Eden Valley Museum magazine about the history of the characterful Queen’s Arms at Cowden Pound where he hosts the second Tuesday of the month singing and music evening, and which has been a centre of folk activity for many years. Click here for PDF copy.
A short account of the walk from Upper Dicker...
Ten of us walked under a cloudy but promising sky, along the Wealdway towards Arlington. The view of the Weald north of the golf course was much admired but soon eclipsed by the even more stunning spectacle of the rolling Downs to the south.
We were able to drink up this view as we followed the Wealdway through fields and past a small fish-pond by the road we crossed. Then we wiggled along a stretch of the Cuckmere River which afforded us a chuckling weir and a cheery splash of kingcup or marsh marigold (yellow waterlilies).
Elizabeth - 5 July 2014
The following is an address made by Terry King at Graham's funeral on 29 May 2014.
Janet has asked me to talk about Graham's involvement with TTF and in particular our trips to Beverley in the East Ridings which he arranged.
Graham was introduced to TTF by his nephew Brian, a follow musician, about 30 years ago, in the days when we held weekly sessions plus lots of extra events under the leadership of the late John Smedley. He quickly became a regular and popular contributor with his extraordinary mouth organ playing. Often it sounded like he was playing two, not one!
Between you and me he had a brief affair…with a piano accordion but got into trouble with Janet, and Ted's late wife, Kath, for continually playing the same tune! He then turned to the melodeon to much better effect and played both instruments since, occasionally threatening to sing!
Graham and Janet hosted many folk parties first at the Three Chimneys, not far from here, and then at Six Mile House where we were all made very welcome. I sometimes stayed the night and next morning Graham and I would practice our instruments outside with the hens pecking away at our feet. Ted was a huge influence on Graham and hence he has been asked to play here today.
In the 80s some of us would take our instruments and voices up to Beverley where Janet still had family, and based ourselves at the historic Friary Youth Hostel. I still recall the snoring in the communal bedroom but Janet assures me that Graham was not guilty! I can't remember whether Stuart, Graham's son, who used to come with us, was one of the snorers. We had a smashing time performing in pubs and care homes and even busking in Beverley town centre, when we made enough money to subsidise the evening's drinking. Afternoon tea at Aunty Glad's was a standard feature and in later years we timed our visits to coincide with the Beverley Folk Festival.
After the move to Stone Street we naturally saw less of Graham at TTF sessions but he and Fred came when the distance and their health permitted. I know that he was a regular supporter of various other local sessions and many of his friends from the East Kent folk scene are here today.
We will miss Graham greatly.
Terry King - 29 May 2014
Bill was born in Woldingham in 1931 where his father worked as head gardener to a Mr and Mrs Ward. The 4.5 acres of gardens and surrounding woods and fields were his playground for the first 16 years of his life, which he shared with his older siblings Betty and John.
At the age of 8 he recalled the family sitting around an old 2 valve radio to hear Neville Chamberlain announce that we were at war with Germany; but being a young lad he was soon outside playing with John on a cart that they had constructed from old bits and pieces.
He seemed to have generally enjoyed his school days and I can recall him several times in recent years reeling off the names of his classmates with some affection.
Bill’s first job was for a heating element manufacturer in East Croydon – he used to catch the 7.29am train which cost him 9 old pence a day for a workman’s ticket.
It was about this time that his love affair with motor bikes started; initially helping Brother John to maintain his bikes and then he acquired his 1st bike – a 300cc side valve Raleigh which he bought for £6 and was modified by John (I expect that means souped up!)
It wasn’t long before Bill was called up for national service and he joined the RAF (they paid him 30 shillings a fortnight) and he qualified as a Ground Wireless Mechanic after much training and squad bashing. As light relief he enjoyed many games of bridge with the lads and the odd drink or 2 at the local, where 3 pints of cider only cost him a half crown.
1951 – Bill was selected for an overseas posting and a Hastings 4 engine transport plane whisked him off to Changi in Singapore, with stops at Tripoli, Habbania in Irak, Manipur in India and Nagombi in Ceylon. He thoroughly enjoyed himself there and the next posting Car Nicobar, an island in the Indian Ocean was even more to his liking.
Bill was demobbed in 1952 and on returning to mundane Woldingham he soon went down with malaria – obviously Woldingham was a dangerous place in those days!
About 1954 Bill met Val at the village club and after a not too straightforward courtship – Val was quite a catch and had other irons in the fire - she agreed to marry him whist they were tearing through the countryside on Bill’s latest bike an Ariel 350. It is easy to picture Val bellowing “Yes” in Bill’s ear.
They first lived in Copthorne and eventually moved to the present home 105 Home Park when it was newly built. It was there that Sons Stephen and Michael came on the scene and they eventually made their own way in life and hence the grandchildren Emily and Gemma. Mike and Val were remembering the other day how the house used to reek of fermenting home brewed beer – an aroma that only Bill appreciated.
Very sadly Brother John died at only 62 but Sister Betty is still going strong in far off Nova Scotia at the age of 90. They made a few trips to visit her and the family over the years and experience the Canadian way of life.
Most of Bill’s working life was spent at International Rectifiers in Holland (that’s about a quarter of a mile away, not over the Channel) where Bill was the manager of the Electrical Laboratory. It was there that Bill met Den Giddens and their legendary friendship began. Bill and Den got up to all sorts of pranks at IR and they delighted in recounting them in their retirement, perhaps over a game of Crib. Of course we lost Den last year and Bill missed him sorely.
Folk had been a large part of Bill’s life for about 40 years. He was a fine singer, though he underrated himself, and often in the company of Den he would sing and play his mouthorgan in pubs around the area. In latter days they were chauffeured by either Chris and Lorri or Steff and me, bound for either Elsie’s or Travelling Folk and the conversation coming from the back seat was often bewildering, given their hearing problems!
Folk was no doubt a big release for Bill from the increasing blindness which had set in strongly in his 50s, leading to his retiring early at 61 and sadly to a restriction of their activities in retirement. Support has been obtained through SAVI – the local blind club and also there has been involvement with “Talking News”, which Val still helps on the editing side.
“Elsies” or the Queen’s Arms, Cowden Pound was definitely Bill’s favourite pub – he could find his way around easily, the acoustics are great and there’s no problem in choosing which beer to drink as they only have one!
On one trip to Elsie’s, perhaps 30 years ago, Den was driving his car and Bill persisted in playing his mouthorgan. Den was determined to stop him and deliberately swerved the car from one side of the country lane to the other. Bill kept on playing and the car ended up on its roof in a ditch! Den gave up driving!
Sometimes Bill and Den would venture down there on the tandem that Bill acquired thro’ the Charlie Chester radio show. Den always on the front, with Bill, the powerhouse, behind. Many of you will have heard of the time when they both fell off the tandem in Edenbridge and the local policeman, after being told that Den was deaf and Bill blind, scratched his head and said "Please get off my patch".
Bill was a kind, generous, talented, loyal man who will be greatly missed by us all. By a remarkable coincidence of fate today would have been Bill and Val’s 57th wedding anniversary.
Terry King - 7 August 2013
Ian and Mary Barr, who have been stalwarts on the TTF scene for many years, are shortly to realise their ambition to emigrate to New Zealand.
I & M have been busy, though frustrated, jumping thro’ the various administrative hoops for 3 or 4 years, but having sold their Seaford home they are all set to depart these shores on 26th March for a new exciting life down under.
They will join their two sons and gratefully take up residential grandparental duties on North Island somewhere nearish to Auckland.
I & M helped to set up the TTF Song & Ale weekends and have worked tirelessly since to help make them such a success.
They will be greatly missed.
Terry & Steff - 22 March 2013