The Ship Inn can be seen to the left of the photograph; just beyond the wall.
My great-great-grandparents, John and Mary Real (born in Axmouth in 1821 and 1824 respectively) were licensees of The Ship Inn, Axmouth, at the time the 1851 census was taken. They had five children, with my great-grandfather, William George Real being their youngest. John Real was a shoemaker, like his father and grandfather before him, so it is no surprise that two of his sons, John (born 1843) and William George (born 1851) later followed in the family tradition. Mary Real (born 1824) was a lacemaker, as later, were John's and William George's wives, Fanny (born 1843) and Sarah (born 1852). John Real (born 1843) was also the Postmaster at the Post Office in Chapel Street, Axmouth, whilst his brother William George Real (born 1851) lived and worked as a shoemaker at 22, Chapel Street, the property next door. There were many shoemakers and lacemakers in succeeding generations of the Real family.
In the autumn of 1960 Axmouth suffered severe flooding, causing the drinking water, which was supplied to the homes from a spring higher up the village, to become polluted.
Having worked for many hours removing earth that had washed down our steep garden and had settled to a depth of two feet against the back door, my friends, who were helping me and I had worked up a desperate thirst.
When the flood had subsided enough for us to paddle, in our wellies, down to The Ship, I remember drinking a pint of cider shandy in one gulp, followed by another to sip slowly. There were many villagers gathered at the pub that day and there was a strong feeling of camaraderie among the local community. The Landlord, Eric Childs, and his wife Freda welcomed everyone warmly as they gathered to relate their sometimes very sad stories of loss and damage to their homes and belongings. Whilst devastating, the flood had brought out the best in people of the village. It was a time when people were willing to help others who were less fortunate than themselves and for me it was a heart-warming and humbling experience, which I feel privileged to have been part of.
A memory shared byon Feb 2nd, 2010.
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