When my grandmother became too old and confused to live on her own she announced that she was going to move to the Methodist home in Falmouth. We tried to persuade her to come and live at the farm with us but she was, as she had always been, determined.
Falmouth was the town where she had spent most of her childhood and married life and so I always felt that, even when she had lost all sense of whether I was her sister, mother, daughter or granddaughter, she still knew that she was somewhere where the air and the light was familiar.
Her bedroom window looked out on to Arwenak Avenue and when she first moved to the home she would walk up and down this shady, flat path and sit on a bench watching people bustle passed. She told me then that the old people of Falmouth had a different name for this road. They called it the Rope Walk.
The picture on the right was taken by Francis Firth in the 19th century, the one of the left was taken by me last week.
I believe the first record of the ground being used for rope making was in 1737 when Mr Thomas Deeble was leasing the ground from Arwenak Manor for that purpose at a cost of £5 per year. The famous Packet ships ensured a constant supply of traffic coming to the then busy harbour. Numerous tradesmen provided for the needs of the crew and the ships themselves. There were sail-makers and fresh water suppliers, carpenters and coopers. Rope making however required a long straight piece of land so that the separate stands could be twisted together, first by hand and then later by machine. The avenue was ideal for the purpose.
When my grandmother finally passed away in her 90s we were of course incredibly sad to lose her but in many ways as her dementia had advanced she had felt lost to us for a long time before she actually passed away. But the one thing that remained with her almost to the end were her memories of the old people and places of Falmouth. As the years have gone by I have gradually missed her more and more, for her advice and wisdom that I didn’t realise I valued so much at the time and for the immediate connection that she provided with those moments and people from the past.
As silly as it may sound Carry On films, fish-fingers and the Rope Walk in Falmouth will always remind me of her.
For another post about family and the importance of home try: Hireth