Sunday, 26 April 2015

More about Major George Carpenter MC

George Carpenter in uniform during the 1914-18 War 

‘Rainy Day’ is a much admired painting of Budleigh Salterton High Street in Fairlynch Museum’s art collection. In a previous post I revealed something of the background of the artist, George Carpenter, and his distinguished service during the Great War.


You can read about the painting here

His son now completes the picture with this biography of his father. 

Tony Carpenter writes:

George Carpenter came from a family background of Gas Engineers, his father being the Manager of Yarmouth Gas Works. He himself was initially schooled in various gas contractors’ offices before joining up in the 1914-1918 war where he later distinguished himself in the Signals
Division of the Royal Engineers at Ypres, where he was awarded the Military Cross and promoted to Major.


George Carpenter wearing the ribbon of the Military Cross. In addition to the MC he was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal

After the armistice  he married Violet and then took up a position in Monte-Video Gas Works but returned to the UK three years later, taking a temporary appointment as Manager at Budleigh Salterton Gas Works. Here he was greatly attracted to all the amenities that the area had to offer, and deciding to stay, raised a family of three children, Jo, Tony and Clare.

Residing in the manager’s house, actually on the gas works site, he quickly became  embroiled  in the task of making it a most efficient and profitable gas undertaking,  doing both the secretarial and engineering work himself It was a bitter pill to swallow when under Nationalisation of the Gas lndustry (1949) he had to witness and accept that the result of a lifetime’s work was to be shortly wrested from him.

Fortunately through the years he had found the time to indulge in many interests, being a man of many parts. Keen on scouting, as assistant scoutmaster he was able to use the Gas Works land for camping and cooking exercises with lads from the local troop. His interest in sport saw him in the local football team as well as playing tennis, badminton and golf up into his late sixties.

The stage also held his interest and in the late twenties he organised a Minstrel troupe, which successfully toured the neighbouring village halls. At Xmas time the local pantomime was used to raise funds for the Cottage Hospital and he was able to assist with stage props, scenery and piano accompaniment in its orchestra.


This scene of ‘The Judgment of Paris’ won the ‘Best in Procession’ award in the  Budleigh Carnival in August, 1956. Left to right are: Harold Hitt, Tony Carpenter, George Carpenter, Clare (Carpenter) Court, Mary Yeats, Belle Carpenter

Wintertime saw him organizing many Carnival Floats: on one occasion three separate floats were prepared in the Gas Works yard. In the days of silent films he played the piano behind a screen in the Public Hall as well as the Church organ for Sunday school.

The nearby beach was an excuse to go boating for swimming and fishing and later racing with a 12-foot dinghy in the Exe Sailing Club. During the 1939-1945 war he was Superintendent of the St John's Ambulance Brigade and was active in organising War Savings Campaigns for the War effort.

After the war he helped to form and run the local Drama Club and was responsible for producing and acting in many successful plays. Nearing his retiring years he cultivated an interest devoted to artistic painting, officiating as Secretary for the Exmouth Art Group.

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum! Reviews included: “Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!! 

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