Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bude Chelsea fans and the location of the Cornish border

An interesting Telegraph article by John Inverdale was passed around the Bude area last weekend. It is about Bude Chelsea fans. Although I don't live there any more, I am a (loose) Chelsea fan from Bude. I started 'supporting' them in 1968 while at Bude Primary school. I collected a sweet cigarette card which featured Chelsea's Alan Birchenall heading the ball in a very dramatic way. The photo on the left is of the actual card in question, I believe. Because of the strange contortions of the man, I was hooked and have been a mild Chelsea fan ever since.

John Inverdale's article talks about the hardiness of Bude Chelsea fans and how most highly paid players are oblivious to such loyalty.

While I am very grateful to Mr Inverdale for writing about one of the lesser known beauty spots of the UK, I do take issue with his geography:

Bude is a small town on the north Cornwall coast. Or is it Devon? I'm never too sure. The idiosyncratic county border down there probably owes more to smugglers' rights of passage than it does to logical local authority planning (if those four words aren't mutually exclusive).

In fact, the county border between Devon and Cornwall is based on the very unidiosyncratic feature of the River Tamar, which has been there for millions of years, and therefore pre-dates both smugglers and local authorities.

For the benefit of Mr Inverdale, everything (apart from a couple of tiny scions) south and west of the Tamar, is in Cornwall. Bude is south-west of the Tamar, and therefore is in Cornwall. In the late 1960s, some smart alec suggested it would be a good idea if Bude moved into Devon. A subsequent referendum resulted in about 20 people voting to move into Devon and several hundred voting for it to remain in Cornwall. There was a public meeting in the town's Headland Pavilion before the vote. The seminal moment of this meeting was when my cousin, former County Councillor Tom Pickard pulled himself up to his full height and declared in a stentorian voice to the (pro-Devon) Chairman:

"You don't understand. We're Cornish and we want to stay Cornish!"

The subsequent cheer raised the roof.

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