Wednesday, 10 August 2011


The name Morrison Bell is remembered here if only because of the 'Morrison Bell Cup' which is competed for by the Devon and Exeter Football League. In 1910 Major Morrison Bell was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Honiton. He was a character straight out of John Buchan, the younger son of a Northumbrian baronet, educated at Eton and Sandhurst, then commissioned into the Scots Guards, resigning his commission to become a Member of Parliament but returning to the Army at the age of 44 to fight in the First War. He was buried in rubble by a shell that killed three of his fellow officers but was dug out by the Germans and taken prisoner. After the war he returned to be the Member for Honiton until 1931 and, in 1923,was created the first and only Baronet, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir (Arthur) Clive Morrison Bell, of Harpford.

Anyway, "the Major" loved the Estuary and in June 1910, only a few months after he entered Parliament, he had a seventeen foot Canadian canoe delivered to Exmouth. He kept it in Mr W. T. Holman's boathouse at the Dock. The Exmouth Journal for June 25th 1910 has the following:

"Our popular representative, Major A. C. Morrison Bell is an expert canoeist, and recently purchased a Canadian canoe, which he has had brought to Exmouth, and in which he has made several excursions on the Exe. During one of his trips it came on to blow, the voyageur being compelled to retreat. A unique experience, illustrative of the general popularity and esteem in which the Major is held, befell him as he was commencing one of these trips.

"At the back of the houses at the Point, a number of children were paddling, and had their attention arrested by the queer-looking boat, and the strange manner of its propulsion. Suddenly one of them recognised the occupant and called for 'Three cheers for Major Morrison Bell.' which were heartily accorded, the Major waving back a smiling acknowledgment....

"Major Morrison Bell intends making another trip up the river in a week or so and will, if possible, do the double journey to Exeter and back in one day."

They don't make Members of Parliament like that any more!

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