The Mysterious Sea Captain

In life we come across stories that intrigue us, stories that stay in our minds – and for me it was the a story that started as “The Sea Captain” about 20 years ago. The story is about a house that remained empty and deterioriating at 74 Crantock Street, Newquay for many years. As it was told to me, the lady who owned the house was in a care home, she had enough money for her care home fees to be paid and so the house had not been sold. Indeed, she still believed the house was like a palace and she’d be returning home soon/one day.

74 Crantock Street, Newquay, TR7 1JW

In fact the house had deteriorated badly. Several squatters had got in, thieves had entered and stolen any silverware/valuables. The neighbours would keep an eye out and call the police when they heard/saw something, but you can’t stand on guard 24/7.

The paint was peeling, the roof slates slipped, the sashes dropped open by a few inches and the net curtains deteriorating. The house was in its original condition, the original front door, still with the original kitchen range installed.

I was told that the lady who owned it had lived there all her life. Her father was a sea captain and so she’d been brought up by her aunt, the house had been purchased from new. They were a wealthy family and when her aunt had died she’d continued to live in the house, until she was taken into care sometime during the 1990s.

It was sad to see the house looking the way it did – and thinking that the owner still believed she’d be coming home one day and it still looked like a palace. I was told that her will said to leave any assets to a cats home.

Then, one day in about 2005 I was walking down the street and noticed a house clearance firm outside, a father and son outfit from just outside Wadebridge. I knew the son, so stopped to say I was surprised to see any activity at the house and asked if I could look around. They were taking an inventory to sell the goods at auction; my request was declined.

After that the house was advertised, for about £200k, then sold. Planning permission was applied for and the house updated and extended to the rear. While life has to go on, it’s a shame this house couldn’t have been kept and secured as it was the day this lady went into care – everything original and a lifetime of family memories and mementoes. A time capsule of life in Newquay from 1900-1990.

So, did the story stack up about the sea captain? So far, it has.

Under the Naturalization Act, 1870, on 23 May 1914, there was an entry for Martin Sandberg, country of Russia, with an occupation of able-bodied seaman, listed his residence as: Hampton Place, 74 Crantock Street, New Quay, Cornwall.  The record noted that he was “Serving in a British ship” at that time.

Then, an auction lot was sold in October 2012, for £10, consisting of:

A small collection of financial items from between 1910 and 1930, relating to a family from Newquay, Cornwall, as follows:
1. Pass book for a deposit account held by Mrs Jane Pollard at The Capital and Counties Bank Limited, Newquay, with entries made between 1910 and 1925.
2. Demand note from the Newquay and District Water Company to Mrs Pollard, with attached receipt, 1920-1.
3. Receipt from the Newquay (Cornwall) Gas Co., Ltd, 1917.
4. School fees bill, Summer Term 1928, re Roma Sandberg, to Mrs Pollard, from Miss J. T. Watson, Hirundo, Newquay.
5. Seaman’s Allotment Note, Jul. 1921, from Martin Sandberg, 2nd Mate(?) of the vessel “Reading”, Cardiff, in favour of his daughter Roma, and signed by the latter three times to the reverse.
6. Memorandum to Miss Roma Sandberg, Newquay, from Haldin & Co., Ltd., London, enclosing Money Order in pursuant of allotment note on account of M. Sandberg, serving on S.S. “Arlington Court”, 1930.
7. Pocket notebook, containing eight pages of financial notes / accounts written in pencil, besides many blank pages; cover made from scrap card including part of a calendar of 1905.

The above items have varying amounts of wear, creasing, discoloration etc. (We also have a group of five portrait photographs, an unused 1936 seaman’s diary and a New Year greetings card, which came from the same source as these items) .

Mrs Pollard must have been the “aunt”, looking after the daughter of the “sea captain”.

Digging around a little further, I found a death notice Published in the Western Morning News on 7th December 2007, giving a date of death of 29 November 2007:

SANDBERG Peacefully at Clovelly House on Thursday 29th November 2007. Roma aged 94 years of Newquay. Much loved and sadly missed. Funeral service at St Michaels Church, Newquay on Monday 10th December at 2:00pm followed by interment at Crantock Street Cemetery. All enquiries C/O The Funeral Director Andrew Henwood. Tel 01637 851199.”

There were also a couple of Roma Sandberg watercolours for sale at auctions in the last few years; I wonder if she painted them as this is an unusual name and isn’t listed an an “official/named artist”.  Maybe that was part of the house clearance.

The site that sold the original batch of ephemera were also selling a card addressed to “Miss P Daniels”, from Martin Sandberg – I suspect Violet was using her middle name of Pearl to her friends.

Items are for sale at:

Some Random Dates

  • Violet Pearl Daniels was born on 25 February 1891 and baptised on 11 November 1892 in St Agnes.  Her father was Frank Daniels and mother Annie Daniels.  Frank Daniels was a miner at the time.
  • Violet had a brother, Frank Martin Cory Daniels, born 16 July 1892 and baptised on 11 November 1892.
  • Martin Sandberg married Violet Pearl Daniels on 30 October 1911 in St Columb, Cornwall. He was aged 28 and lived at the Sailors Arms, Newquay. His occupation was quartermaster. The groom’s father’s name was Andrew, a farmer.
  • Violet Pearl Daniels was aged 20 and also listed as living at the Sailors Arms, Newquay. She had no profession listed. Her father’s name was Francis and he was deceased.
  • At the turn of the century,  the licensee of the Sailor’s Arms in Fore Street, Newquay had been a Mr F Daniel – so the Sailor’s Arms was possibly Violet’s home address.
  • Martin Sandberg and Violet Daniels were married under License, this would have been because Violet was under 21 probably.
  • Witnesses at the wedding were: Arthur Claude Darley and Marion Ethel Grace Daniels.
  • The marriage was at St. Michael’s Church, Newquay, but recorded as being in the Parish of St. Columb Minor.
  • Roma MI Sandberg was born in 1913 in St Columb, Cornwall.
  • Violet Pearl Sandberg died on 11 November 1913, aged 22, at 74 Crantock Street, Newquay.
  • Violet Pearl Sandberg was buried on 15 November 1913 at Newquay Cemetary, notes say “Funeral service only. No graveyard at St Michael’s Church”
  • Somebody by the name of Martin Sandberg died in the 4th quarter of 1967 in St Austell, with a birth year of 1883.
  • An Arthur Claude Darley was born in 2nd quarter of 1891 in St Austell; probably the witness at the wedding.  He might be have married a Rumnalls in St Austell in 1923 and he might have died in Plymouth in 1923 (aged 32).

And there the trail goes cold. This is a story it’d be possible to get to the bottom of, if you love a mystery …. but I’ve not the time or resources to pursue it.

I wrote this short piece as it might help somebody else who has another piece of the jigsaw; help them to pieces together a small part of the story.

What happened to Roma’s mother, did she die in childbirth? Was Mrs Pollard her aunt? Was the house Roma’s parents’ house, or the aunt’s? And what happened to her father? Where and how did he die?  The effects of  “an unused 1936 seaman’s diary” indicates maybe he died in 1935/36 and she was sent his belongings…?

RIP Roma.

Image © Googlestreetview 2009

This entry was posted in Newquay History. Bookmark the permalink.