Camelford in the 1860s had not grown appreciably since the town was founded in the thirteenth century. Despite having two Members of Parliament before 1832, in the main its houses still fronted one long street and its population numbered hundreds rather than thousands. Nonetheless, Camelford resembled a town rather than a village in the variety of trades that could be found there.
As well as the usual shoemakers, blacksmiths and tailors there was a watch and clockmaker, a trade normally confined to higher status settlements. John Ede was a watchmaker in Market Street in 1850 when his son Walter was born. Walter learnt the skill from his father and in 1871 was boarding at Stratton while working as a watchmaker there.
In 1878 his father died. Soon after, or maybe before, Walter returned to help his mother Julia, who carried on running the family business. When Julia died, John, still unmarried, relied first on his sister to look after the house and then a niece, while he concentrated on turning out and selling the watches. His niece had been born in South Australia, where two of his brothers had emigrated in the early 1880s.
Just outside the town at Valley Truckle Richard Slee had the even less common job of turnpike gatekeeper, collecting the tolls on the road now grandly named the ‘Atlantic Highway’. In 1858 Richard died at the young age of 36. His widow Jane took over collecting the tolls while looking after her three children still at home, the eldest being Selena. Jane re-married but Selena stayed with her and her second husband Francis. The family lived in Fore Street, Camelford in 1881, Francis being described as a grocer and toll lessee.
In 1881 Selena had been a sewing machinist but by 1891 Francis had taken on a pub at Pengelly in St Teath. Selena, now 40, helped out as assistant barmaid. Both her mother and stepfather died in the 1890s, leaving Selena on her own and living back in Camelford in 1901. She lived on until 1936 leaving the somewhat sad sum of £1 to her younger sister.