A Killing at Smugglers Cove, the fourth Iris Woodmore Mystery, is set in Dawlish and Exeter in Devon. It’s my family’s links to this beautiful part of the world that provided the inspiration for A Killing at Smugglers Cove.
In 1923, the year the events of the novel take place, my great-grandfather Albert Salter worked as an engine driver based at Exmouth Junction in Exeter. For many years, he drove a steam train from Exeter to Exmouth, once stopping the train and hopping down from the footplate to go and pick mushrooms in a nearby field – much to the annoyance of his passengers!
The photograph above shows Albert and his wife Ellen on the beach at Exmouth.
My great grandfather at Exmouth Junction in Exeter
In 1923, Albert’s sons Lionel and Harold attended Ladysmith Infant School in Exeter with their friend Clifford Bastin. While Clifford went on to find fame as a footballer for England and Arsenal, Harold, my grandfather, left school to work at the local branch of Lloyd Maunder the butchers before joining his father at Southern Railway.
When Arsenal reached the Cup Final in 1936, Clifford sent his old school friends’ tickets for the match. Lionel and Harold travelled up to Wembley to watch Clifford play for a victorious Arsenal.
After the match, Lionel took Harold to meet his girlfriend, Louisa, who worked in admin at the famous Lyons Corner House on the Strand. Louisa introduced Harold to her sister, Hilda, a Nippy at the Corner House. (Lyons waitresses were nicknamed Nippys because they nipped between tables at speed.)
Two years later, Harold transferred from Exeter to London and, in 1938, married Hilda, my grandmother. They were married for over 50 years. Lionel married Louisa in 1939. Sadly, Lionel died in 1942.
My grandparents at Dawlish Warren
For many years, Harold and Hilda lived in Hither Green, opposite the Park Fever Hospital (I made Hither Green the home of Iris Woodmore’s maternal family, and Iris worked at the hospital in a Voluntary Aid Detachment during the First World War).
Salter family holidays were spent in Dawlish, and this continues to the present day.
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