Thursday, 15 October 2009

Chapter Three: Arrival at Plymouth 1847

Plymouth had expanded enormously since Tudor times.
Naval power, docks and Foulston
Throughout the 17th century Plymouth had gradually lost its pre-eminence as a trading port. By the mid-1600s commodities manufactured elsewhere in England cost too much to transport to Plymouth and the city had no means of processing sugar or tobacco imports, although it played a relatively small part in the Atlantic slave trade during the early 1700s. In 1690 the first dockyard, Devonport, opened on the banks of the Tamar and further docks were built in 1727, 1762 and 1793. In the 18th century new houses were built near the dock, called Plymouth Dock at the time, and a new town grew up. In 1712 there were 318 men employed and by 1733 it had grown to a population of 3,000 people.
Prior to the latter half of the 18th century grain, timber and then coal were the greatest imports. During this time the real source of wealth and the major employer in the region became the dockyard. The Three Towns of Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport enjoyed some prosperity during the late 18th and early 19th century and were enriched by a series of neo-classical urban developments designed by London architect John Foulston. Foulston was responsible for several grand public buildings, many now destroyed, including the Athenaeum, the Theatre Royal and Royal Hotel, and much of Union Street.

During the eighteenth century the wall that had protected Plymouth during the siege fell into disuse. Indeed, it was hampering the expansion of the Town. It was presumably looted steadily by the inhabitants for their own building projects (It may be no coincidence that the first brick-built house with sash windows was built at Breton Side in 1707) until by the middle of the century the gates within the wall were becoming rather pointless. Their narrowness, from the days of pure horse travel, were causing inconvenience to the new wagons that were appearing. A Board of Commissioners was set up to pave, light and watch the Town and amongst the improvements they instituted was the demolition of some of the redundant Town gates. Friary Gate went in 1763, Gascoigne (North) Gate in 1768, and Frankfort (West) Gate in 1783. Martyn's Gate remained within the Town wall but was not removed until 1789.
This encouraged the wealthy merchants to start moving out of Town. In 1776 George Street had been laid out beyond the West Gate as a series of suburban residences. Even when the Theatre Royal was erected at the western end of the Street, people claimed it was foolish as it was outside the Town. But how quickly the houses of the well-to-do crept towards it. With the demolition of the West Gate, Frankfort Street soon followed.

With the removal of the Old Town and Coxside Gates in 1809, the scene was set for growth. R N Worth lists the new streets built between 1793 and 1812 as Tavistock Street (1803), Portland Place, Orchard Place, Park Street (1809), Duke Street, Cornwall Street (1810), York Street (otherwise known as New Town), Richmond Street (1811), Barrack Street (later called Russell Street), Willow Street, Arch Street, Market Alley, Hampton Buildings, Exeter Street, Jubilee Street, Brunswick Terrace (1811), Ladywell Buildings and Lambhay Street.
Also built in this period were Gascoigne Terrace and Portland Square (both in 1811), Cobourg Street, James Street, Union Road (1816), Union Terrace, Queen Street, King Street, Princess Street, the Crescent, St Andrew Terrace, Charles Place, Fareham Place and Woodside. All of these were outside the old Town wall.

Even in those days there were attempts to build what we would today call 'affordable housing' for the poor but the projects all fell by the wayside.
By the early decades of the 19th century, Plymouth Dock was bigger than Plymouth itself and yearned for a separate identity. This it achieved and on January 1st 1824 the Town got its own identity as Devonport. A column was erected in commemoration.
A third town had been growing between Plymouth and the Dock. Called East Stonehouse, it was here that several military establishments were situated and the commercial docks at Millbay were developed.

Presumably it was to share in this prosperity that led James, a stonemason like his dad, to leave home before the age of 20 and secure work in Stonehouse. At 20 he married Mary Ann Sampson from Bickington in 1847. The wedding was in East Stonehouse.
The kids came – Mary Jane in 1848 – the family lived in Stonehouse – an address appeared on some record or other – 1 Queen Anns Place.
1860 map of Stonehouse

But maybe the town was all too much, or the offer of work too good to turn down, as James’ family soon moved to a new development at a fishing village called Oreston – now totally engulfed by the City of Plymouth, then very much on the outskirts of the city & the far side of the Plym estuary.

The only access to Plymouth would have been via a toll bridge built 1824 – 1825 to cross the Laira Estuary.
Railways arrived - South Devon railway opened its line as far as Laira in 1848.
Note - The new breakwater

There were a lot of quarries in the area, so work would not have been a problem for a stone mason. And a huge demand for stone too.

workers at the Oreston Quarries

By 1871 the census records that James was living in Bedford Cottages, Oreston. The kids William Henry on 4th July 1852, Margaret Ann in 1856, Ellen in 1858, John James in 1864, James Sampson in 1861, Emily Elizabeth 1862, and Emma Elizabeth 1869.
In 1871 the family comprised of William (18), a labourer, Margaret (15), a servant, Ellen (13), John James (10), James (7), Bessie (5), Emma L. (2) – all the kids described as “scholars”.

A move to Turnchapel came next. James was now a labourer, and then a Gardener in his 40s. The kids began to leave home. Mary Jane married George Brown in 1875, remained in the area and produced three little Browns – the first of many Grandchildren for James. However, George died in 1880. The cause may be determined by examining the death certificate.

Plymstock Cemetry

In fact James and Mary were to have a phenomenal number of grandchildren: Over 30 in total between 1878 and 1907.

1878 – George A. brown born
1879 – William John Brown (but he died)

William Henry married Mary Ann Edwards in c.1880 She was from a large Oreston family, older than William, and as the census reveals, literally the girl next door. Her father was a seaman, originally from Looe In Cornwall.
William was working as a labourer (and stonemason) and Mary as a servant.

First Boer War
The First Boer War (1880–1881), also known as the "Transvaal War," was a relatively brief conflict in which Boer settlers successfully resisted a British attempt to annex the Transvaal, and re-established an independent republic.`

William H and Mary A had their first kid in 1881: a girl, called Edith Louisa. Margaret Mary followed in 1882, William James in 1884, but died a baby, Florence in 1886 and Frederick in 1888.

1881 – Emma J. and Edith born

In the James Gardiner household – In 1881 only Emma (11) and Bessie (14) were recorded as living at home.
The 1881 census also reveals that James Gardiner’s mother, Mary Gardener, aged 93, still alive in Newton Ferrers. She was a widow by now, having been the mother of Philip Lyndon’s son’s wife, she now lived in the Lyndon household.

1883 – Louisa Margaret
1884 – William James (who died)

Ellen married in 1884 to Elias Williams, but appears to not have had any children.

1885 – Florence

John James, labourer and gas stoker, aged 22, married Ellen Elizabeth Rogers on November 7th 1886, and had 10 kids from 1888 to 1898.
Ellen Elizabeth’s dad was a Quarryman – William Harvey Rogers (also described as labourer and navvy), and Elizabeth, her mother. They came from Brixton in Devon, but had moved to Cattedown at some point, in 1901 recorded as living in “cottage at cattedown”. EE’s siblings included Ernest who was a gas fitter, and Susan, a dressmaker.
The wedding was in Cattedown. Bessie served as a witness to the marriage .
Their children Frederick William, 1889, died aged 4; William James (Great Grandfather of the author), 1890; John, 1892; Irene Gertrude, 1905, who died a baby; Ed – unknown details. There were other as RS Gardiner (son of William James, and grandfather of the author remembers at least four brothers and tweo sisters).

1886 – Elizabeth E.
1888 – Frederick and Florence
1888 - Lizzie
1889 – Ernest & Frederick William

Emma Elizabeth married son of a mariner, John Edwards in 1890.

1890 – John William & Great Grandfather William James
1891 – Elias
1892 – John M.
1894 – Annie & Fred
1896 – Elsie H, Nellie & Ed.
1898 another Nellie & Earnest
1899 – Jessie W.
1900 – Olive Bessie

Emily Elizabeth, affectionately known as “Bessie” married John Wyatt,. A horsedriver, in 1900.

Plymstock Church

The end of the 19th century saw the official expansion of both Plymouth and Devonport with the extension of their boundaries. In 1896 Plymouth absorbed parts of the Compton and Weston Peverel areas.
Then in 1898 Devonport expanded to take in the St Budeaux side of Weston Mill Creek and eventually. Saltash Passage, which until now had been in Cornwall, was transferred into Plymouth and thereby into Devon. Eventually, the Pennycross area of Weston Peverell was also added and Corporation Road near Burleigh traffic lights refers to Devonport Corporation not to Plymouth.
Probably the key to Plymouth's expansion was transport. In 1877 a new station at North Road was opened. Tramways and horse buses linked the Three Towns and also ran northwards via Compton as far as Roborough village. The Embankment, built in 1815, had levelled the road into Plymouth and made travel easier.
In the 1870s and especially the following decade, building went ahead with great pace, much of it, so Worth claims, speculative. The area at Eldad was completed, houses lined new streets at North Road, North Hill and Houndiscombe, the fields around Greenbank and within the Beaumont estate were covered with fine dwellings stretching from Freedom Fields down to Cattedown on the Exeter road.
Over in Devonport, villas had already appeared at Ford, a product of speculation as early as the 1850s. Stoke and the north facing slope of the St Levan valley filled as quickly as any part of neighbouring Plymouth. By the end of the century, Keyham Lake would be filled and houses erected on the opposite hillside around Keyham Barton. This area was already served by the railway, the new Plymouth, Devonport and South Western Junction line from St Budeaux to Devonport.
Plymouth's first street tramway was opened by the Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company Ltd in 1872. Their line ran from Derry's Clock in Plymouth, through Union Street and as far as Cumberland Gardens, Devonport. In 1874 this was extended at the Devonport end to run up to Fore Street.

“Some of the greatest imports to Plymouth from the Americas and Europe during the latter half of the 19th century included maize, wheat, barley, sugar cane, guano, sodium nitrate and phosphate. Aside from the dockyard, other industries such as the gas-works, the railways and tramways and a number of small chemical works had begun to develop in the 19th century continuing into the 20th century.” Wikipedia

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