Tramps camp by riverside throughout arctic weather

A thin wisp of smoke curled upwards

through the trees near the bank of the river Torridge between Bideford and Landcross as a lone figure began building up the small fire which has been his only source of immediate warmth since a week before Christmas. Stocking up the fire was a tramp who says he has been ‘in the business’ since 1930. He is 58-year-old Peter Evans who is on his 12th visit to Bideford. Three weeks ago, ‘Fiddler’ (70 years old) another tramp well-known for his musical abilities, joined Mr Evans, this being their first meeting for two years. They last meet at Seaton at Christmas 1960.

Tramps camp by riverside

Peter, a Londoner by birth but who had spent most of his younger days near Ipswich had built a cabin composed of tarpaulin, corrugated paper, pieces of wood and newspaper, all kept intact by string and wire. One of his major sources of income is selling scrap metal to a dealer.

On most days he walks into Bideford perhaps to buy food from the money he receives from passers-by. Water he obtains from a tiny spring a few yards away from his cabin.

As the older tramp sipped at a tin of black tea, he said ‘I have never been ill; I’m healthy and I enjoy myself. Today 50 per cent of the world’s population die of over-eating, 30 per cent of starvation and the rest of worry.’ He left with his one pram to continue his wandering earlier this week. Peter had not yet made up his mind. ‘Certainly with all the fine weather it’s the time for a move’’ he declared as he took a large bite of dry bread.

Gazette article 8 March 1963


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