The Mann family
6 year old Maurice John Mann lived at Chittleford, Widecombe, when he was admitted to the local school in 1908. The son of S J Mann, a farmer, he left to go to Ashburton, but returned to the school a few months afterwards. He finally left in December 1916.
National School Admission Registers and Log-books 1870-1914

Maurice married Hilda M Perkins in 1930, in the Newton Abbot registration district.
Born in Buckland-in-the-Moor, Hilda was the daughter of an estate foreman. After attending Ashburton Council School she passed an examination to gain a free place at the Grammar School, where she was taught by Mr Naylor.
1911 census RG14, piece no 12729
Western Times 19 June 1918 p3 col1 - Accessed 4-12-2016

Hilda's brother Henry Jeffery Perkins had been the only person from Buckland-in-the-moor to die in WW1.
Thanks to Alister Jamieson for the above information
See Roll of Honour WW1 M-S, under Ashburton in Peril, for more on Henry.

In 1939 Maurice Jn Mann, West St., Ashburton is listed under Wireless Engineers in Kelly's Directory.
Kelly's Directory for Devon, 1939, p1270

Newspapers in the 1940s frequently record that Mr M J Mann provided the music and microphone at local events. The Landscove fete in 1949 in aid of the Victory Hall Building fund was one of them.
Western Times 2 September 1949 p9 col4

From Alister Jamieson:
'Maurice Mann used to work for the Whitley family, and became fascinated playing with electricity. He taught himself to be an electrician.
He and his wife Hilda lived in Buckland-in-the-Moor. In 1938 they purchased a shop in Ashburton - No 3 West Street. They also moved into 27 West St., now (2016) the Old Coffee House. It is possible that No 3 was already an electrical shop.*
Above: Extreme left. M J Mann's shop at no 3 West St. Is it supported on pillars?
From my own collection
* L[ewis] Arscott, Radio Engineer, was at 40 East St sometime in the early 1930s. He did repairs, and supplied accumulators, much as Maurice Mann did at the end of the decade. Unless Lewis moved to West St it seems likely that Maurice took over the business, but not the premises.
See the item about Lewis Arscott under Occupations 1900s, under Banks and Businesses.

Cont. 'At 'Mann's' they sold a whole range of electrical items and also played an important role in keeping accumulators charged for the town and surrounding areas. Accumulators were basically another name for batteries, which used to run people's wireless radios. Customers would bring them in once a week and they would be exchanged for a fully charged accumulator. The accumulators would be charged in the sheds behind the Ambulance Hall, on the way to the recreation ground - they are still there today.
A week later they would be returned and the whole process repeated.
The fee for this service was 6d (two and a half pence in today's currency). Hilda was still delivering accumulators until the day before she gave birth to her daughter, Geraldine.
Maurice also purchased No 4 West Street, that at one time had been Eastman's the butchers, who moved to North Street. No 4 was opposite No 3, and became the workshop for repairing all items including wirelesses. televisions, hoovers etc. The river Ashburn runs under both shops and Geraldine remembers that No 4 flooded regularly. When heavy rain was forecast she had to rush to pick up any televisions and radios that were on the floor waiting for repair, and put them safely high up on tables. Until the flood prevention scheme the river would run right through the shop. 

The Manns also owned Eastern Garage, which they rented to Jim Pearce.

In 1953 the monks of Buckfast Abbey were given permission to watch the Queen's coronation. Father Ignatious allowed a television aerial to be erected on the top of the tower of the Abbey to receive a signal from the Welsh transmitting station Wenvoe so that the monks could watch the broadcast.
Maurice was also joined by his 14 year old son Maurice Mann Jnr at the Abbey to watch the coronation.'
Very many thanks to Alister and Geraldine Jamieson for the above item.

Bruce Coram remembers that Maurice also had a shop at Weech Corner/Chapel Street**, and that for the coronation he also provided aerials and several TV sets to the church of Holy Trinity. He says, 'The good burghers of Buckfastleigh all trooped up Church Hill to watch'.
Many thanks to Bruce
**Presumably now J Searle and Son. Their website (2022) says that they have been trading in Buckfastleigh for 50 years. - accessed 13-08-2022
David Courtier confirms that Maurice owned the shop and sold it to Jim Searle - he thinks it was in the late 1960s. 'The shop had its own customer base and Graham, the shop manager, used to collect TVs that needed repair from his customers and bring them to the workshop opposite the main Ashburton shop, where I worked. After the sale of the Buckfastleigh shop Jim Searle did his own repairs.'
Many thanks to David

David Courtier worked for M J Mann from 1961 until the firm sold, and then for the new owners until 1979. 'I started as a TV repair apprentice a couple of years before David Pengilley started as an electrical apprentice; Mike Drake and Graham Monnington were also electrical apprentices at that time. Electricity was coming to moorland properties, and that's why the apprentices were taken on.
Mrs Mann had a way of seeing whether new employees were honest. She would put an extra £5 in your pay packet and if you handed it back she trusted you. Thankfully I passed.
Among my first jobs joining the firm in 1961 was the dreaded accumulator charging, a horrible job where a tiny splash of acid meant you had holes in your clothes. As the youngest apprentice of course I got the job. There was a weekly round by van of going to customers and changing the spent accumulators for the recharged ones: I'm not absolutely sure but the charge may have been 6d. The accumulators were part of what was needed to power radios where there wasn't electricity, so the electrification of Widecombe in the Moor and surrounding areas thankfully put an end to the need for them.
Thinking about Dartmoor - very few people would now believe there were gates across the moorland roads. You can still see the old gate posts. A horrible job for the new apprentice was to get out and open the gates for the van driver to drive through. Of course the jolly jape was to drive forward just as I was going to open the passenger side door. God, how I loathed those gates!
The workshop was over the river - the floor has gaps and you could see the river below. Rats used to die under the floor and the smell was horrendous. The river used to flood regularly, and during one bad flood all of the customers' TVs that were on the floor got covered in mud. I stripped everything out of the cabinets and washed the mud off the electronics, before drying it all out in front of fan heaters. Incredibly they all worked, and the customers had no idea that their precious televisions had been flooded!
It was fascinating going from one house to another: I remember one customer whose ground floor was alive with ducks and hens coming in and out. The mess on the floor was terrible. Another used to walk around the town in her slippers, and had a Mynah bird that said, "Dirty boy Poo" in her voice; another higher class customer who lived in Stapledon Lane had a Mynah bird that said, in a beautiful cut glass accent, "I'm going to crash the car." I used to annoy this particular customer by calling Stapledon Lane Back Lane.
Mr Mann sold the Ashburton shop when he retired - the new owners were Mr and Mrs Freeborn. They were ex farmers and had no idea of customer service. They had incredible rows with customers over the most trivial of complaints, and over a very short time customers were leaving the firm in droves. At that time only John Hutcheson and myself were left as employees, and lots of customers stayed loyal to us. It was a very sad end to a great firm.
With many thanks to David Courtier