I was born to Patrick Harry and Phyllis Annie Glasson on the 24th of September 1951 at Coronation Cottages Leedstown, the home of my maternal Grandmother and christened Phillip Harry. At just a few days old I was taken home to Clowance wood, near Horsedowns. My surname, Glasson, means ‘grass plot’ in the Cornish language. It appears to come from the Cornish ‘glesyn’ and is prevalent in West Cornwall. My forebears, except for my paternal grandmother who was from Limerick in Ireland, were from this far western part of Cornwall. My grandfather was born at a place called Copper Bottoms, a mining area just outside the small village of Praze an Beeble. Grandfather, also called Harry, worked as a miner then as a stable lad before becoming a postman and making his deliveries on horseback. When he retired from the post office he worked as a groom again, this time for a Mr. Simms, who has a tin lode named after him in Geevor mine of which he was a principal shareholder. I remember as a boy going with grandfather to horse shows around the county where we had to sleep in a small partitioned space between the horses, on blankets laid on the straw.
George Reed, my maternal grandfather, was a Leedstown man, born at a place known as Lambo, a half a mile from the village. He started life as a miner, then became a munitions worker at the dynamite factory at Hayle and later worked for the electricity company as a line man until the 1930s when he was killed by a falling pole. My mother was only eight years old at the time. My grandmother, his wife, was Athena Rebecca Roscorla and her family were from the town of Hayle where her father worked as a boat builder in the boat yards of Harvey and Co who were also founders, engineers, timber and coal merchants. Along with their great rivals Messrs Sandys, Carne and Vivian (known as the Copperhouse Co.) they were the main employers in the town until the late 1920s.
At the time l was born my father was farming for the Gwennap family and we lived at Cows Cramp, a holding that was tied to the Barton Farm. Father was also a long distance lorry driver so I spent my formative years in his company in the cab of a lorry, on a tractor seat and in the cow sheds. In other words I grew up with itchy feet and smelling of cows and diesel.
My father died of pneumonia at the age of only thirty eight leaving my mother to bring up eight children of which I was the eldest at fourteen, the youngest being only three. I had always been fascinated by the ships that sailed up and down our coast and with the merchant navy paying good wages, especially on tankers, I decided to go to sea. So at the age of fifteen and a half I left home and went to see the world and what did I see? I saw the sea. I spent the first six months at Gravesend in Kent at Training College and two days after my sixteenth birthday I joined the SS British Ensign, a B.P tanker which was sailing out of Falmouth. In common with many sailors I saw very little of the countries I visited after the first bar or the first pretty girl. I spent most of my time on tankers with BP Shipping Co. and at that time we were on the Persian Gulf run around the Cape as the Suez Canal was still closed. I was lucky enough to visit Rio de Janeiro in South America and was amazed by its beauty and saddened by the gulf between rich and poor, on one street casinos, night clubs and restaurants and on the next there were entire families actually living right there on the street.
In between leaving the merchant navy and getting married my itchy feet took me on a hitch-hiking tour around Europe. A good friend, Jonathon Ryan, and myself started our journey in April 1974 by crossing to Brittany and making our way down the West coast then across to the South of France. We continued on to Monaco, up to Switzerland then through Germany and Holland arriving home about three months later. We met many wonderful people who we still remember with great affection.
On my return, I found employment at a local nursery which grew tomatoes, cucumbers and cut flowers. In July 1974 I met Ann Tredrea who was to become my wife. Our families had known each other for years as my mother and Ann’s father had attended school together at Leedstown. I went back to playing cricket again after not playing since my schooldays and thoroughly enjoyed it. Becoming quite a decent bowler for the Praze 2nd and then 1st teams.
Around this time Jonathon Ryan, my brother Trevor and myself started a band called Chacks and entertained most Friday or Saturday nights at the St Aubyn Arms playing mainly skiffle and folk.
By the early 80s I was self-employed in the building trade and mostly plastering but in 1990 l decided l needed a change of direction and the idea of showing people the Cornwall I love seemed like a great way to earn my living. I have always had a deep interest in local history, especially industrial archaeology, and with the tin trade reaching as far back as the Bronze Age there is so much to be interested in.
In July 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer of the vocal cords, which subsequently resulted in my vocal cords being removed on the 25th of September 2009. I am now retired and live at Goldsithney, about 5 miles from Penzance, in a granite cottage dating from the early 1600’s. I am content.
Throughout my life I have loved music, folk music in particular, songs that told stories and if based on truth, even better. I built an acoustic guitar in school, not very good but playable. I swapped it for a radio while at sea on my first trip and that could have been it for my music career! However I met Jonathon Ryan in 1969 and as he already played guitar and we found we loved the same type of music, a guitar was duly purchase. It was an Eko Ranger which was as heavy as a railway sleeper but good to play. Jonathon and I have played together on and off both publicly and privately for around fifty years. I have nearly always written poems, verses, songs but only from the late eighties on did I start to sing any of my own material in public. It started with humorous dialect verse and gradually lead to songs about my love for the history and culture of Cornwall. In 1997 the Cape Cornwall Singers were formed and I was singing one night in the Star Inn at St Just when the landlord asked me where I got “Song for Cornwall” from, I told him I had written it when Cornwall won the rugby against Yorkshire in 1991. He then told me about the newly formed Cape Singers and how they would love to sing it. It has been said that I inspired them to sing, their singing certainly inspired me to write. The Cape boys are still special to me. The song I wrote for them “Cornwall my Home” has certainly caught the imagination of people from far and wide and shows just how much Cornwall is revered far and wide.
I do hope you enjoy singing these songs.
Album “Another Place, Another Time”
Released in September 2001 14 Tracks
All work © copyright of P H Glasson
Except track 06 which is © of W J Ryan
01 Another Place, Another Time
02 The Moonlight It Is Silver
03 Home To Cadgwith
04 You Stole My Innocence Away
05 Beth Rowe
06 Walk With Me © W J Ryan
08 The Butterfly
10 Arthurs Return
11 Step By Weary Step
12 The Old Ways
13 The Ballad Of John Wesley
14 Don’t You Let Him Go
Album: “Because I was Born Here”
Released in May 1998, 15 tracks.
All work © copyright of P H Glasson
01 A Song For Cornwall
02 Beautiful Islands of Scilly
04 Factory Man
05 The Man From Galilee Legend
06 A Letter Home
08 Please Go
09 Home For Flora
10 Simple Pleasures
11 Cornwall My Home
12 Reality Apart
14 Bury Me When I Die
15 Good Bye To You