The Enid Blyton Society
Five Go Down to the Sea
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Book Details...

First edition: 1953
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Famous Five
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


Dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Covers by Eileen A. Soper taken from the proofs of the first and second drafts of Enid Blyton's Magazine, dated November 5th 1952. Neither cover was used when the Magazine was launched on March 18th 1953.

1st American edition published by Reilly & Lee in 1961
illustrated by Frank Aloise

1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Stuttgart in 1961,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump with the title Five Friends Pursue the Strand Robbers

1st Spanish edition published by Editorial Juventud in 1967,
illustrated by José Correas
Foreign Titles
German: Fünf Freunde verfolgen die Strandräuber
French: Le Club des Cinq au Bord de la Mer
Dutch: De Vijf en het geheim van de oude toren
Spanish: Los Cinco junto al mar
Portuguese: Os Cinco na Torre do Farol
Italian: Il Castello Sulla Scogliera
Swedish: Fem reser till havet
Danish: De fem ved havet
Finnish: Viisikko Lähtee Merelle
Russian: Taina pribresccnich skal
Icelandic: Fimm í strandþjófaleit
Basque: Bostak Itsasertzean
Catalan: Els Cinc Prop Del Mar
Indonesian: Lima Sekawan Dalam Lorong Pencoleng

Brief Summary by Poppy Hutchinson: When the Five go to spend their holidays at Tremannon Farm on the Cornish Coast, they learn about the location's incredible past concerning some evil examples of smuggling. The peacefulness and tranquillity of the area now suggests that these days are well and truly gone, but then one stormy night, the lights appear again, and Tremannon's dreadful past comes flooding back.

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
Spiel: Summer at Tremannon Farm, the mystery of the deserted tower by the sea, the forgotten secret of the Wrecker's Way.
Through a contact of Quentin's, George's mother hears about one of the quietest places in the kingdom — Tremannon Farm on the Cornish coast, and it's to this location the Famous Five travel on a gloriously sunny day.

They establish themselves in a beautiful area — miles of countryside set with corn fields, pasture land, tall hedges and winding lanes. There's purple heather on the hills and gleaming in the distance is the dark blue brilliance of the Cornish sea. A Mrs. Penruthlan and her husband run the farm and there are four dogs for Timmy's companionship. One of the attributes of this place is the good food they serve and if you are ever searching for the word "Lashings" then it is here where they have Lashings of boiled eggs! Strangely, there are quotation marks for "lashings" of peas and new potatoes further on — almost as if the printers or publishers realized that it could be an iconic word in Enid Blyton's repertoire. Thinking it might have been just the copy which I used for referral, I checked two others (1953 & 1969) and the quotations were there as well. Big Deal!

During their first evening at the farm house they meet a queer little boy — barefooted, shock-headed and very dirty. He's the sort of ragamuffin that often enters Enid Blyton books as a side-kick. The hanger-on is an essential ingredient — the friend who is a little way short of the Inner Circle but whose presence adds to the story content. There's the faithful Jo, and there's Tinker — in a later book ; Ern, who palled up with the Find-Outers, Oola who graced The River of Adventure and I suppose even Susie of "Secret Seven" fame could be included although she'd present as a far more sophisticated individual when compared with the aforementioned.

The boy in question calls himself Yan and he lives with his Great-Grandad in a hut on the other side of the hill. He takes to following the Famous Five on their ramblings and he turns up when they explore the cliffs and the coves and search out caves near the shore. At one stage Yan seems trapped by the incoming tide but later the kids meet up with him again and he lets on that he reached safety via the Wrecker's Way!

They visit Yan's granddad and learn from him about the Wreckers who decades ago shone a light from a tower on the coast to lure ships to the rocks where they were ripped apart and then plundered. The old man points out the tower set between two hills and in a hushed voice tells them that the beacon still shines on stormy nights! The elderly codger who tells a tale is a feature of several Blyton books and is quite welcome because needed information can be gained from people who have been living in the area for many years. There was the old shepherd in the Kirrin's camping days and the antique shop proprietor in the Finniston environment not to mention the ancient Jeremiah Boogle with the sad story he told to the children when they visited Demon's Rocks, and I'm sure that many will remember Mr. Grimble who related yet another unhappy tale — this time to the Find-Outers when they were out solving the Mystery of the very curious Messages.

The Barnies arrive on the scene. These are roving players who travel to outlying farms and entertain the locals. They will sing, they will dance, they will fiddle and they will perform plays of all kinds as is their tradition. The children see them arrive in wagons and look forward to their appearance at Tremannon Farm. Julian and Dick have a night outing to see if they can spot the flashing light mentioned by Yan's Grand-dad but they are pounced on by some ruffian in the bushes. They get away but are very suspicious because they reckon it was Mrs Penruthlan's husband. He is a giant of a man and not very communicative and they caught him telling an untruth which is enough evidence for any of the Famous Five to become wary. Apparently the light in the tower was flashing that night because next day Yan tells them so.

The Barnies are to play at Tremannon Farm the next night and they descend en-masse. The Famous Five are introduced to Clopper the horse who is in reality Mr Binks (front legs) and Sid (back legs) and the children are treated to a little private performance which reduces them to helpless laughter. That night the two boys sneak out again and after being joined unexpectedly by Yan they see the strange beacon in the tower for themselves ... flash — flash — flash — flash! Very weird and sobering when the boys think of what it could herald. There is more suspicious activity from Mr Penruthlan as well which is observed by Julian and Dick on their way back to the farm house.

The next day an excellent show is put on by the Barnies. It's enjoyed by everyone and the boys have a yearning to try on the horse-suit some time ... and it could well happen. The following morning the Famous Five do what the Famous Five have to do — they visit the tower where the strange light shines out on blustery nights and they find enough clues there to make them all very suspicious. There could be some dirty Doings taking place round these parts and if it's not the wrecking of ships then it could be something almost as sinister and the Wrecker's Way seems connected with it. A passage and a cave are found and the Five become inadvertently trapped but then Yan their faithful friend appears and is really helpful even though, like Ern Goon, he is frit! Frit? Yes, Frit! You can figure out what that means.

The plot builds up to the usual exciting climax and it is connected quite intimately with the Wreckers Way, the Barnies, and even Clopper. The Kirrins also take a wrong course in their investigations but that's happened before in one or two other tales. The pictures are very satisfactory as usual and there's a nice depiction on the cover which could even suggest what's happening on the wild Cornish coast if one is of a detecting nature. The endpaper illustration is quite dramatic with lightning flashing over the sea. Although I found some blue and some red single-toned pictures in a couple of earlier copies, it's possible that very modern versions of the books have professionally coloured Soper pics which could be classed as a bonus because colour add a lot to the presentation. This book is the twelfth in the series. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.