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Monday, 24 May 2010

Shiver me Timbers

Well the bank holiday is almost upon us and it will also be half term around the country. I expect Looe to be very busy and if the weather is anything like the last few days then there will probably be standing room only on the beach. I had a look to see what events are happening in and around Looe and notice that there is a Pirate and Buccaneer Event on May 29th, 30th and 31st at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, which is only about 20 minutes away by car from Looe. It promises to be a weekend of swashbuckling adventure.

Now Looe and Polperro have a long history of pirates and smuggling throughout the ages. When I was growing up here I remember hearing the stories of how smugglers had dug tunnels by hand beneath the bay from the seafront out to Looe Island. There they would land their bounty probably at night, and then would carry it ashore through the tunnels to evade capture by the Revenue men who would be waiting on the shore. As children, my friends and I would be play pirates and go to second beach on the seafront and use the cave there as our hideout and wait for passing ships for us to plunder. Although I must admit the cave was a bit scary when you are aged only maybe seven or eight.

It takes little imagination to believe that the quiet rocky coves along the coast of Port Nadler and Talland Bay would of been a safe haven for smugglers to beach their boats under cover of darkness, unload whisky and other contraband to hide until they returned at a safer time to collect it, and there are many of these little coves around the coast of Cornwall. This was a way for the fishermen to supplement their meagre income due to the high taxes imposed by the Government at the time, and although the penalties for being caught were high, it was a risk they were prepared to take for the rewards it brought.

I seem to remember several years ago a local restaurant which was being refurbished unearthed the entrance to what could possibly of been part of a tunnel or cave although maybe to do with health and safety concerns, I believe it was left alone although I cant remember the outcome of it. As for smugglers, Joan Black was one of the most fearsome at the time, who along with her brother was said to of used Looe Island as a base, and a man who who was murdered by her is now said to haunt Looe Island.

In Looe on Tuesdays through the summer months, we still have a few people who dress up as Pirates and Wenches and really look convincing. They walk around the streets greeting children and adults and probably tell tales of the most popular of Looe's pirates, Robert Colliver, who became the most bloodthirsty of captains to sail the Indian Ocean. If you have a budding pirate or would be smuggler in the family then we have a range of pirate items so follow this link but mind ye landlubbers aren't made to walk the plank.

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