Granfer Henry reads the news; Every Day Lives in Weymouth; September 1884.

What I find fascinating about mooching through the old newspapers is not only the sensational crimes and usual misdemeanors that fill the columns of the local papers, but also those mundane snippets that give us every day glimpses of our Victorian ancestors lives.

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In some sense, they really weren’t that much different from us.

Take The Dorset County Chronicle of 11th September 1884.

Just like we do today (well, those of us that still browse the physical pages of print rather than online) your GGG Grandfather Henry might well be sat in his plush, red velvet armchair that late summer’s afternoon, his pince-nez slid down to the tip of his nose as he perused the trials and tribulations of his fellow townsmen.

Would he have nodded in satisfaction when  he read that Reuben Newberry of Upwey  had a great year when it comes to growing his Dahlias.

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Well, of course, he knew old man Reuben was a perfectionist when it came to the floral side of things, after all, he did run Upwey Nurseries alongside his wife Miriam. They often exhibited in the local flower shows and came away with many of the prizes.

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He was also rather good when it came to cultivating families it seems, managing to germinate ten offspring.

Reuben had been showing some remarkably fine specimens of these flowers lately. Those that he had put on display being very much admired.

(Only a couple of years later and 73-year-old Reuben hung up his hose and laid down his dibber, an advert appeared advertising his very desirable and compact nursery and market garden. )

Maybe Granfer Henry’s eyes would catch sight of a name he knew well…that caused him to sigh heavily…’What’s Wheeler been up to now’ he’d muse to himself. ‘Always trying to get himself noticed, that fellow.’

FINE ARTS the headline proclaimed. Specimens of photographic portraits &c. in every style of the art, take by Mr Wheeler of the Vandyke Studio, are now being shown by him.

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The studio was run by Harry Wheeler, a man with fingers in many profitable pies! One of them being photography.

Harry also ran a fine art studio, library and printing press, something that had got him into a spot of bother with the law in 1878. Apparently his press had been churning out defamatory leaflets concerning a certain borough magistrate, Joseph Drew that had hit the streets of Weymouth just before  the municipal elections.

That September day though, the attending reporter waxed lyrical of Harry’s talents. He may well be proud of the work he has turned out, for we doubt whether it is possible for any photographer, either in London or the provinces to show a better collection.

Harry and Mary Marie Wheeler and their veritable brood (must be something the Weymouth waters!) lived along Frederick Place.

When Harry passed to the dark room in the heavens (1895) his fingers in pies scheme had obviously worked their magic because he bequeathed to his wife and son, Frank Augustus Wheeler, dealer in fine arts, the princely sum of £4494 13s 11d.

Granfer would certainly have approved of the more sedate culture to be found in Weymouth’s theatres.

Mr Doryly Carte’s Opera Company were taking to the stage,  performing the fairy opera Iolanthe in the theatre (though it doesn’t actually say which one, for Weymouth had quite a few in those days.) The article claims that It will have splendid scene, effects and be most gorgeously dressed.

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Maybe some of the entertainment on offer wasn’t quite to his taste.

There was even a lengthy report on a Swimming Exhibition by Dr Jennings.

It was supposed to have taken place on the Wednesday, but as per usual fickle mother Nature soon put paid to those plans.

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But brave Dr Jennings, not one to be deterred, set out again on the Thursday, unwilling to disappoint his audience. Although the weather overhead was fine, the air was exceedingly cold, a “north-easter” blowing and the sea was very “loppy”.

About 300 folk had forked out their hard earned sixpenny pier toll to watch this intrepid swimmer take his leave of Weymouth’s pier. Of course, as human nature dictates, there were always those few, about 100 more were in boats and therefore viewed this exhibition for nothing.

Ever the showman, Dr Jennings (who is a well developed man) made his appearance  dressed in an old suit. He then stepped up onto the specially prepared stage and made a great performance of putting on a pair of sturdy boots and lacing them up tightly, then donned a heavy overcoat, taking care to button it up right to his chin..

Jennings clambered down into a waiting boat and to the gasp of his audience, promptly tipped over the side and disappeared under the waves.

Of course, this was all part of his display…for he soon bobbed up to the surface like a fisherman’s cork.

Whilst fighting the tide and the swell, Jennings then proceeded to unbutton and remove his heavily sodden overcoat, followed by a jacket and then his waist coat. As each layer was discarded a great roar went up from the expectant crowd. His underwater striptease show continued with the untying and removal and his boot whilst being tossed around on the choppy surface, then off came his trousers and his shirt until at last he was down to his proper swimming attire.

He then proceeded to give a demonstration of how easy it was for man to float on seawater, reclining in a variety of postures on the troubled waves.

Not content with that, a chair was thrown to him, upon which he sat as if it was in deed on ‘terra firma‘.

All in all a jolly spiffing display.

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Not that Granfer Henry would have been overly impressed with Jennings japes, what he enjoyed most of all was perusing the columns of the naughtier Weymouth residents misdeeds.

Henry he could tut and humph with the best them.

Not much tittle tattle in todays paper he thought.

Only Granfer’s best friend, old John Vincent, who had been hoodwinked by a pretty maid entering his shop. She asked to look at diamond rings then sent John off to retrieve some from the window…and promptly took her leave of the premises, leaving John one sparkler short.

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The pretty maid then popped up in the watchmaker and jewellery shop of Henry Talzner in St Thomas Street. But he was immune to her fresh complexion and fluttering lashes and informed the police she had tried to sell a dodgy ring to him.

Weymouth’s PC Hansford knew his criminals though, he went along to stake out her mothers house in Trinity Road, where he collared her later that night as she returned home.

When questioned about the ring he noticed she was trying to remove something from her finger…something rather large and sparkly.

17-year-old Elizabeth White was convicted of theft and sent to prison for 4 months hard labour.

Maybe reading todays news had been all too much for Granfer Henry!

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Interested in Weymouth military and naval history? Why not pop on over to my other blog Nothe fort and Beyond…

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https://nothefortandbeyond.wordpress.com/blog/

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Men of the sea; 1869

Not surprisingly, local folk have always looked to the sea for their favour and fortunes.

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However, old Father Neptune is a fickle master, sometimes he gives us untold riches…but he also has the ability to take those we love.

Such was the sad case in September of 1869.

You and I might think of Greenhill as a place where we dabble our toes when the weather is warm, or somewhere we sit in the pleasant sunshine to enjoy stunning views with a cup of tea or an ice cream. The long shingle beach littered with the last of the sun worshipers and the hardy bathers.

To our ancestors though, Greenhill was very much a workplace.

One September Sunday became a memorable day in Weymouth’s history.

It was when rich pickings entered the bay, a vast shoal of pilchards had been spotted heading for the beach. Of course, despite atrocious conditions, local fishermen did what had to be done, chase the liquid money. ‘During the whole of the day parties of fishermen had been engaged on the beach near Greenhill, in the pilchard fishery.’

But it also harboured tragedy for the fishermen of the town.

The blustery weather certainly wasn’t in their favour that day, ‘the wind which was blowing in very strong gusts from the north-west’ had made for a ‘very sloppy sea.’

Our Victorian ancestors  were out in force that Sunday, partaking in the day of the Lord, dressed warmly to keep out the Autumn chill, little knowing that as they strolled ‘in the presence of hundreds of promenaders, bent on pleasure,’ they were witnesses who  would be  ‘entirely unprepared for the terrible sensation that awaited them.’

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Folks stood along Greenhill common , watching as men dragged their wooden boats and heavy rope nets down the beach and into the water. Time after time they rowed out into the wind swept bay, laying their nets behind them. Having circled round, then began the hard work.  Men heaved and hauled in their cumbersome nets, moving ever closer to shore. The sea literally boiled with thousands of erupting fish, screaming gulls circled above, diving again and again to greedily snatch their fill.

A productive days fishing was on the cards, many a celebration would be enjoyed that night at inns and taverns around town.

About four o’clock that afternoon,‘opposite the house of Mr Trenchard,’ four men clambered into their vessel, ‘a trough, a little flat-bottomed craft.’ They too were going to grab their share of nature’s riches.

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First to climb in was fifty-seven year old William Watch. Despite his good age, William was a strong man and a powerful swimmer. He sometimes worked as a porter, but fishing was in his blood, it  didn’t always pay the bills though.

William lived on Chapelhay Stairs along with his wife Elizabeth and their growing brood.

Fellow fisherman, Samuel Chick, climbed in next, he was a mere youngster at 27. Samuel Charles was the illegitimate son of Eliza Chick. Mother and son lived in Conygar Lane.

Also in the boat was William Chick of West Quay (or John, depending on which newspaper you read!)

The forth man to board that fated vessel was George Watts, a Blandford carpenter, but one who had moved recently to Wyke Regis. During the inquest he was referred to as ‘George ‘Smuggler’ Watts,’  maybe he was a man with a checkered past?

Rowing hard against the winds, the four headed for the tell-tell signs of the rich vein of pilchards, their vessel sat low in the water at the back, weighed down by nets and rope.

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Once they reached their destination, the fishermen hurriedly began to lay their nets. Only problem was, added weight at the rear of the boat made her sink her even lower.

Fate waited patiently in the wings.

With that, a sudden swell swamped their low-lying boat, overturning her and catapulting all four men in choppy seas.

William Watch, Samuel Chick and George Watts tried desperately to right her again.‘Hampered as it is supposed they were, with the ropes or net, they could not manage it properly,  and turned her over three or four times.’  But it was not to be, ‘ at last, exhausted, they sank.’

Back on land, the unfolding tragedy was watched by horrified crowds.

Boats set out from the shore, rowing furiously against the waves in a desperate attempt to reach the floundering men.

One of those boats heading for the upturned vessel contained Sergeant Brine, P.C. Hansford and William Burt.

Old William kept his eyes firmly on the spot where he had witnessed ‘ Watch rising and sinking,’ but once they reached the spot, he was not to be seen, only a  man’s cap being tossed around on the swell. William reached in as far as he safely could and managed to grab hold of someone’s hair. Hauling in the fully clothed, sodden body was difficult, but the men managed and lay it out in the bottom of their boat.

He was still alive, but only just.

This was William Watch.

William Chick, (or  was it John?) had launched himself clear of the tangled nets and rope as their boat overturned, he was found exhausted, frozen, but still clinging onto an oar some way away from the boat. William was hauled ashore by one of the many men who had taken to the waters in a desperate bid to save the drowning fishermen.

By now the upturned fishing boat had righted itself again, but no sign of any of its other crew members. Fears were that they had been trapped by their own heavy nets and ropes which were now dragging the seabed.

Sergeant Brine and P.C. Hansford clambered into the empty vessel. They frantically tried to free the dragging nets,‘but the party found they had but one knife between them.’ It was a slow and arduous task as they cut one rope after another. Far too late to save anyone that was still entangled in the waters below.

William Burt, of a goodly age, but one that hadn’t robbed him of his strength, rowed a semi-conscious William Watch towards the beach. At one stage, Watch rallied slightly and muttered “Oh, Burt,” and he moved his hands and feet,’ but soon after fell silent.

It took old William nearly fifteen minutes to finally reach the shore, where crowds had gathered.

Once on land, Watch’s now motionless body was laid out on the shingle, he was soon stripped of his sodden clothing. Desperate to help, residents of Brunswick Terrace had been busy, they ‘pulled the blankets from their own beds, and hurried down to the beach.’ 

Even Mayor Devenish arrived on scene to take charge, bringing with him stone water bottles and a supply of suitable stimulants.  He ordered that troops be sent to keep the rapidly gathering crowds back from the scene of the tragedy.

Two surgeons from the 51st Regiment arrived, they attempted to help local doctors in their frantic attempts to revive a seemingly lifeless Watch.

For the next two hours, Dr Tizard, Dr Griffin and Dr Rhodes tried all within their means to resuscitate William Watch’s stone cold body, but to no avail.

Back out in the bay, men were still searching for the missing bodies of George Watts and Samuel Chick.

There was not a sign of them.

The inquest on the death of William Watch was held in the Burdon Hotel Tap, where his corpse was laid out for jurors to peruse.

When Superintendent Vickery was questioned by the coroner about William Watch, he rather oddly replied that ‘he believed Watch had left eight or nine children; but Burt made a mystery about that.’

The body of 57-year-old William Watch, (father of an undisclosed number of offspring,)  was laid to rest in Wyke Regis churchyard on the 24th September 1869.

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Three days later, 27-year-old Samuel Chick followed in his friends footsteps, his body having been washed ashore.

He was also buried at Wyke Regis.

There is no further mention of George ‘Smuggler’ Watts. Presumably old Neptune wound his cold tentacles around him and there he stayed.

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Why not check out my ‘Tales from around the Victorian World.’ 

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for all sorts of Victorian snippets.

https://victoriantalesfromaroundtheworld.wordpress.com/2017/01/

 

or if Weymouth’s military history is your cup of tea try Nothe Fort and Beyond…

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Victorian St Nicholas Street: Weymouth

Numerous narrow streets  tuck themselves away in and around Weymouth town.

Ones that we often don’t pay much attention to. Maybe sometimes  travelling their length merely to  avoid any excess holiday traffic or a proliferation of poodling pedestrians.

They are merely a  means of getting from A to B as quickly as possible, never a place to stop and admire  the few remains of their once historic and elaborate architecture.

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St Nicholas  (the patron saint of sailors) Street, one such through-fare, wends it way from the historic quayside Sailors Return down towards the White Hart at the far end.

It is a  street with a very long history, believed to be a part of the original Medieval town layout ‘Medieval Melcombe was laid out in the form of a grid around four principle north-south streets, St Nicholas, St Thomas, St Mary and Maiden streets. ‘ (Weymouth Historic Character Report)

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      (MAP 1901)

Sadly though, nowadays it is a mere shadow of it’s former self. Very little remains of any original buildings, much of this area having been cleared of it’s intimate closes, terraced houses and even a  compact burial ground.

This area has been continually razed and redeveloped over the years, not least by the Germans in a devastating air raid in April 1942.

However, I have many memories of wandering down here as a child on my way to my Saturday date with my hairy four legged friends.

First I would pass  great steel rolling doors from whence strange sounds would echo. (Sorry…pun intended!) These concealed the back of the chamber like Echo printing room. When they were rolled open you could stand and watch as the massive rolls of paper tumbled, rumbled and rattled their way through the press, the aroma of hot ink and paper wafting through the air.

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Further down towards the harbour stood the remains of an old archway, once a grand entrance to Weymouth’s New Concert Hall and theatre.

There it stood, a few eroded bricks and carved stones.

Towards its end, it was forlornly propped up with two timbers, stood at the edge of what is now the bowling car park. It’s crumbling ruins merely hinting at it’s former glitzy life.

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Sadly, even that last theatrical portal was demolished, and now those passing it’s long since buried foundations have no inkling that great gaiety and comedic capers once took place within it’s stone walls. Fine dandies and gaily dressed ladies alighted their carriages to cross its threshold, arriving in excitement to watch the latest productions, or as one of Weymouth’s older resident’s once described it as ‘ many of the performances given were of the blood and thunder type…’

A few paces more and on the right hand side we arrived at a large set of heavy wooden doors, only that sweet aroma of dung that pervaded the delicate nostrils gave a clue as to what delicious delights lay inside…stables, run by Joyce Pitman.

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From here we would emerge with our mounts, clatter and chatter our way through the busy streets towards the beach where horse and rider could enjoy a canter along the firm sands as the tide went out.

In all probability these stables were left  over from the Victorian era, maybe the Crown Hotel opposite, or one of the other hostelries that dotted this street, complete with resident ostlers to look after horse and carriage.

But now step even further, back in time, to the 19th century and you’ll find that old St Nicholas Street was once a hive of activity…positively buzzing with  punters and patrons, saucy sailors and sexy sinners.

This narrow, twisty street certainly witnessed life in all its glory.

To add a bit of confusion to the matter there were actually two St Nicholas Streets, one in old Weymouth leading up to St Nicholas church atop the hill and this one on Melcombe Regis side. This often flummoxed those who visited  our Victorian ancestors. Weymouth’s St Nicholas Street was renamed Chapelhay Street in 1872. (The Bumper Book Of Weymouth; Maureen Attwooll.)

Now lets take a little peek at St Nicholas Street of old Melcombe Regis starting around the 1860’s,  lets see who’s about this busy thoroughfare.

(The Victorian house numbers no longer relate to todays.)

During the second half of the 19th century you can find mention of five public houses  at this end of the street, their closeness to the bustling quayside made it ideal for thirsty workers and sailors to pop in for light, (or maybe not so light) liquid refreshments.

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Literally at the harbour edge (no 56) stood the Sailor’s Return, (as it still stands, maybe not now quite so close to the edge.)

Mine hosts in 1861 were James and Sarah Ferry with their assorted offspring and a couple of lodgers.

The Ferry household had lived in St Nicholas Street for most of their married lives. James started out work as a wheelwright, but by 1842 the couple were running the Sailor’s Return.  (Pigot’s Directory 1842) which was a mere beer house at the time, meaning they weren’t licensed to sell spirits of any sorts.

In later years, 1872, James and his fellow publicans made an application to the Licensing Board to be able to remain open until 12 midnight. They claimed that because of the late arrival of the boat trains and the ‘inconvenience to which members of the friendly societies who held their meetings at the Inns were subjected to in being obliged to quit the houses before they had transacted all their business.’ they were in unfair competitions with those club-houses who didn’t come under such strict licensing laws.

Their plea fell on deaf ears…the Bench were going to stick firmly to the letter of the Law, though I suspect that the after hours drinking still went on, just behind locked doors..

By 1875 James had left the pub and lived further down the street with his son, by now  a widow.

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Move on up to no 42, here you’d find the Welcome Home, which in 1859 was under the ownership of James Flower a brewer and beer seller. A man who ultimately became one of fairly considerable wealth.(1859 Post Office Directory.)

During the Victorian era the Government tried to curb the problem of excess drinking of spirits and in their infinite wisdom deemed it would solve matters if Joe Bloggs could pay a small license fee, enabling him to brew beer and sell it literally from his own front room. Surely, these oh so wise leaders of ours thought, it would encourage the poor working class folk to only drink the weaker beer and leave the spirits alone.

(Think that was another grand scheme that didn’t quite pan out…a bit like today’s 24 hour licensing!)

Wily old James Flower’s brewing operation went from strength to strength, ultimately he became known as a brewer and  gave up running the small time operation from his home.

By 1861, taking over the Welcome Home beer house, was  John Gillingham along with his wife Eliza and their daughter, 18 year old Sarah.

Only a few years earlier, 1856, the Gillingham family had suffered a terrible tragedy.

John, a whitesmith by trade, had been enjoying some free time with Eliza and 12-year-old Sarah. they were bobbing about in a boat on the Backwater.

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John, also taking this opportunity to partake in a spot of sport,  carried with him his loaded fowling piece. He had just pulled into the side of the lake to allow Eliza and Sarah to clamber out of the boat.

That’s when disaster struck.

Somehow, the loaded gun resting in the bottom suddenly discharged its contents. Unfortunately young Sarah stood next to the boat received its full blast at close range.

The local papers, relishing such gruesome details, declared that her life was in imminent danger, describing how her  flesh lay tattered and the bones in her arm totally shattered. 

Sarah survived, but unfortunately her arm did not. In the end it had to be amputated.

Interestingly, the 1861 census shows 18-year-old Sarah living at the Welcome Home along with her parents, where she is listed as being a student. A student of what I wonder?

Toddle along to no 46, here stood the Fox Inn run by Henry and Mary Hayman and their veritable brood.

Also living on the premises were a couple of servants, Alfred Whittle, an ostler, and a few boarders,  including a couple of licensed hawkers, (travelling salesmen as we knew them in my day.)

Good old Henry was seemingly a ‘veteran sportsman’ as reported in the Frome Times of May 1861, he supplied the pigeons for a ‘pigeon match’ (what ever that was, one suspects it wasn’t much of a sporting event for the poor pigeons) which took place in the Small Field near the Gas House.

The Haymen family were also to play a role in a tragic accident in 1866.

A certain well to do Mr Scattergood had recently brought a new thoroughbred horse from Mr Hurdle, but that horse came with a serious warning.

‘It was a kicker.’

He was told in no uncertain terms to ‘Never use the horse without a breeching strap and kicking harness’.

After pondering a while and concerned that maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to sell on this somewhat feisty horse, Hurdle even suggested he took it back again.

Scattergood was having none of it. It was a fine looking beast, a spirited nag and he wanted it.

A couple of days later Scattergood made his way along St Nicholas Street, heading for the Fox Inn. Over a few drinks at the bar, an agreement was made with  landlord Henry Hayman, he would borrow Henry’s dog cart.

When Scattergood set out next day in horse and cart, sat along side him was Henry’s son, ten-year-old Charles

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Unfortunately Scattergood had completely ignoring Hurdle’s warning words about harnessing his frisky equine fellow.

Big mistake!

Stopping at the Ferry Bridge Inn for a few bevvies, the rather proud owner of his fine new filly, bumped into local baker, Thomas Hann, the two men returned inside to continue their drinking.

Young Charles was left stood outside in charge of the horse and cart.

Later, the two men exited the drinking hole, they agreed to ‘travel’ on to Portland together.

Once man, horse and cart had pulled out onto Chesil Beach road, Scattergood turned round and hollered to the following baker. According to his passenger, little Charles, he  shouted ‘Come on I’ll show you the way to gallop.’ With that he whipped his horse which took off down the road as if the very devil was after it.

With ears laid back and the bit literally between its teeth, there was no stopping it.

Scattergood tried desperately  pulling on the reins, but to little avail. Hooves thundered, wooden wheels spun, grit and pebbles flew.  A terrified Charles was hanging on to the carts sides for grim death.

Galloping unchecked into Victoria Square, disaster was only seconds away.

Then the inevitable happened, horse, cart and passengers teetered to one side. On feeling the pressure of the cart’s shaft against her flank, the already panicked horse reared in fright, toppling over one and all.

A mass of shattered wood, stripped skin and broken limbs scattered the square.

Scattergood had paid a high price for his filly in fine fettle. His own death.

Thankfully, though thoroughly battered and bruised, young Charles survived to tell his tale.

Also appearing before the inquest court was baker Hann. He insisted that no wager had been at the pub that day over their beers, that they honestly hadn’t been pitting horse against horse by racing along Chesil Beach Road.

Hhmmm….

Now, The Fox Inn must have been a sizeable premise because at the end of 1861, a bankruptcy sale took place in the Fox Inn Yard. It was large enough to contain 30 odd cart horses, a few  more nags,an assortment of carts and carriages, a couple of cows, and lots of odds and sods…

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…all the worldly effects of one Henry Lowman Dennis, a local carrier who has seized the opportunity of contracting for the Government breakwater works in hopes that it would make their fortune.

It didn’t !

Henry’s son, Joseph, makes a plea in the courts that the cows seized as his father’s chattels and which were up for sale, were in fact his, he had paid for them, not his father.

Maybe he won his claim, because by 1863 it was reported in the Dorset County Chronicle that a Richard Dench had been apprehended on the town bridge with a bag slung over his shoulder. In it it were a number of items that were later found to be missing from the stores of butcher,  Lowman of St Nicholas Street.

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Arriving at no 51, here stood the Crown Tap, a small bar room tucked away around the back of the grand Crown Hotel premises. This was run by 51-year-old John Jeanes and his wife Harriet.

By 1867 John and Harriet had become mine hosts of the Bird-in-Hand, which was in fact the newly refurbished Crown Tap.

A couple of years earlier, in 1865, they had applied for and were granted a spirits license. The happy couple had been rubbing their hands with glee, they had realised they were sitting on a positive gold mine.

Their hostelry was situated very near the Methodist Congregational Chapel (in between no’s 61 and 62) opposite. Lucky for them, come 1865 and no longer did the pious and holy  (and in all probability tee-total) enter these portals, instead it was more the merry and those looking for a spot of fun and lively entertainment.

It had became the Theatre Royal or sometimes referred to as the New Music Hall.

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(Weymouth Library have a fantastic collection of genuine advertising bills for the old theatres, going right back to George III’s time.)

The Theatre Royal of Monday October 7th 1867 proudly boasts of a ‘Laughable Farce’ revealing a tragic love story concerning ‘Weymouth Sands.’

It pronounces Mr Rosiere as playing the character of jolly old Adolphus Pilkington.

Beautiful but somewhat dippy Carnation Curlycrop was of course played by non other than a male actor.  Mr Harrowby would don his voluminous fashionable gowns, slap on his gaudy stage make up, pull on his luxurious curly wig, and enter stage left to a rapturous applause from the expectant audience.

The theatre played host to national and international actors and singers, musicians and comedians, it provided entertainment for everyone and seats at prices to suit all.

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The theatre also kindly informs its patrons that ‘their carriages may be ordered at 10.30.’

Oh to be able to witness those grand carriages arriving in line, the sound of their horse’s impatient hooves echoing  between the buildings, that chomping of the bit as they stand and wait, the creak of the carriage springs as their posh portly patrons  clamber aboard.

The theatre continued up until 1888, when it finally shut it’s doors and was taken over by Cosens & Co.

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The goldmine of the grape, the Bird-in Hand, seemingly flourished until March of 1876 when frequent adverts began appearing  in the papers for potential tenants for the ‘newly erected beerhouse known as The Bird-In-Hand’ which  was only up for rent because of ‘illness of the tenant.’

A little later in time and the local papers and census of 1871 also refer to a Greyhound Inn of St Nicholas Street, run by George Cox Forse and his wife Mary Ann.

(Though Maureen Attwooll in her book refers to it as in St Thomas Street.)

Maybe like the Crown further down the road, the building went through from one street to the other, had two separate entrances and two separate bars? Perhaps the toffs entered via St Thomas Street and the working man slunk in through the back door.

Gregarious landlord George certainly seemed a character and was no stranger to appearing before the bench.

Before taking over the Greyhound Inn the couple ran the Royal Engineers Beershop in Prospect Place. Many a time George appeared before the magistrate for various licensing charges, normally due to selling beer ‘during prohibited hours’

At the start of 1868, George was once again hauled before the court, this time fined for selling spirits without a license.

On Christmas Day in 1868, it was wife Mary Ann who found herself in trouble. For once she was on the right side of the law, that afternoon she was faced with a more than somewhat inebriated customer, Joseph Bressedd, a pioneer of the 51st regiment who’d staggered down from the Red Barracks.

Fearing trouble was on the cards, Mary Ann refused to serve him drink.

Not surprisingly, that didn’t go down too well with  a well oiled Joseph. First he lashed out at Mary Ann, then still not content, the pickled pioneer began picking up patron’s drinks, necking back their contents and  smashing the glasses on the floor.

Things got no better at the Greyhound!

Another somewhat seemingly nefarious character took over the running of the Greyhound Inn. 

Sure did sound a lively spot.

But am I doing the poor fellow a disservice?

On January 3rd 1876 this report appeared in the Police Gazette.

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I have yet to find proof of a William Baggs as landlord of the Greyhound Inn at any time, despite looking through Ancestry records, Historical Directories and the British Newspapers online, nor any mention of a court case that matches exactly these details.

I cannot even work out which William Baggs this would have been, there are a few tenuous links, but no proof…so there I’ll have to leave it, not wanting to cast aspersions on some innocent fellow.

Maybe one of my followers who enjoys a right old mystery would like to get their teeth into this one.

Fill your boots!

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(Found this quaint old relic on one of the back walls…can’t you just picture a Victorian coachman hopping down off his carriage to ring for M’Lady.)

 

 

A Sorry Tale of Love and Betrayal; 1880.

During my  perusals of various sites and old local newspapers I often come across some intriguing stories.

Such was the case a few weeks ago when I was mooching through the old Police Gazettes, a periodical which gives a fascinating and highly detailed insight into our Victorian ancestors lives and their mishaps or misdemeanors.

Should such a publication be issued nowadays, goodness only knows how many tomes it would run to and just imagine the poor old paper boy trying to shove that through your letter box!

In the said gazette of April 23rd 1880 a sad but unfortunately not rare case was reported.

“A child was left on the door-step of a house in Belgrave-Terrace, Radipole, Weymouth between 9 and 10 pm, on the 19th inst. £2 reward will be paid by Mr Superintendent Vickery to any person who will give such information as will lead to the discovery of the person who placed the child where found;”

The  house receiving the little live bundle was no 3 Belgrave Terrace, the home of 70-year-old Glaswegian lady.

What on earth could an elderly Scottish lady have in connection with a seemingly unwanted child?

(Belgrave Terrace no longer exists, but it was off Dorchester road, somewhere in the Lodmoor Hill area)

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The article goes on to reveal yet more details- “a Male Child five weeks old, fresh complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, large mouth and nose; dressed in two head flannels, a white shirt, three under ditto, a white night dress, a black wool shawl, a white wool jacket, a white wool hood, a white fall, a piece of white gutta percha between a white cloth; these articles are all new. ” 

Obviously the baby had been warmly dressed for its night time doorstep delivery therefore presumably up until then had been well loved and provided for.

“The Child had a ticket placed on its breast, addressed to ‘P. Peck Esquire.’ Also on a piece of paper written -‘Take care of me, I have no mother.-Baby.’ In a bundle, tied up in a black and white Indian silk handkerchief, 3/4 yards square, were five napkins, two shirts trimmed with lace around the sleeves, a nightdress trimmed with lace around the neck and sleeves, a child’s flannel (old), a new mouth piece for child’s bottle, two brushed for cleaning the same, and some new wadding.”

Yet more evidence that someone had obviously adored and cared for this tiny scrap of humanity, so why would they give him up now?

A fairly vivid description of the person deemed guilty of the baby’s abandonment followed in the piece

“Supposed by a young woman, dark complexion, medium height, rather slightly built, speaking with a French or Italian accent; dressed in black dress, black jacket trimmed with black fur, black hat with heavy black fall, carrying a small bag or waterproof done up with straps. she had the appearance of a governess,”

family train station

The police, ( and no doubt those in charge of the parish finances) were eager to apprehend this ‘terrible’ being. They knew she had left via the railway station…but to where?

“£2 reward will be paid to any person who will give such information as will lead to the discovery of the person who placed the Child where found, by Mr Superintendent Vickery, Police Office, Weymouth.-Bow Street, April 23rd.”

But like most sensational stories of the day, there lies a lot more behind the melodramatic newspaper headlines.

Come the 30th April 1880 and the  Western Gazette declares that the good old police had got their man, (or woman as in this case.)

Superintendent Vickery had “Traced her to Waterloo Station, London and then left the Criminal Investigation Department to Apprehend her. this was done a day or two ago, and on Tuesday the woman (who is a German governess named Rasch) was brought to Weymouth. She admits her guilt”

At the start of May, the case was brought before the courts held in Weymouth’s GuildHall.

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Of course, human nature being what it is and has always been, locals jostled for space in the already packed out the courtroom, eager to absorbed every sordid detail of the terrible affair.

The numerous attending reporters jotted down all the juicy bits, well aware that such highly emotive tales sells their papers far better than boring old Council matters and the usual drunks and debtors that normally filled their columns..

One of many reporters following the case, the Bridport News declared that it was a story of “ALLEGED SEDUCTION AND HEARTLESS CONDUCT.”

Before the panel of local judges stood a sorry looking lass, German born Emma Rasch.

With Weymouth solicitor Mr Howard defending her, Emma’s sad story that was revealed before one and all was one that must have occurred numerous times over the centuries.

She had been employed by a gentleman and his wife as a governess at their home, Templecombe House, Templecombe, Somerset. (Oddly enough, I lived there for a short while and used to visit the doctor’s family who lived and had a surgery in that very same house!) Not surprisingly, this family were wealthy land owners.

Originally from Hanover in Germany, Emma was a well educated, well brought up young woman, who was staying with a friend of the family in Templecombe at the time of her employment.

Of course, their two tales of the tragic events differed widely.

Emma claimed that Peter was the father of her child, and that come the November of the previous year, when things were beginning to become too obvious, he paid her off with £50.00 in gold coins. She was told to take herself off to London and find herself some rooms there to have the baby. Off she obediently toddled and duly found a place to live, only problem was, that £50.00 wasn’t going to go very far at London prices, and babies don’t come cheap. Undaunted, Emma had written to Peter asking for support, surely he wouldn’t fail her and their child?

Poor gullible Emma, she wrote not once, not twice, but a whole series of letter to the errant father, by now she was destitute and had absolutely nowhere to turn to.

Finally, in desperation,  she wrote a final letter informing Peter that if she didn’t hear from him then she would take the child to his mother’s as she could no longer care for it.

His mother was the Scottish lady of no 3 Belgrave Terrace, Weymouth, the recipient of the baby bundle that April’s night.

The dye was cast, Emma boarded the waiting train, her journey from London to Weymouth was all too quickly over, a last few precious moments with her child.

train

In court, a tearful Emma vehemently declared that she hadn’t simply abandoned her child, “I did not desert it, as I rang the bell and waited and waited about until the door was opened.”

Having seen her child being safely taken inside and the door closed, a heart broken Emma turned and walked away, her only consolation being that she knew it would be much better off with family who could afford to care for it and love it.

Therein lay the crux of the problem.

For what ever reason, the family didn’t accept any responsibility for the poor child.

A young local girl, Annie Ames, was left to care for the abandoned baby that night and during the next day and a terrible chore befell her later that evening. Annie was made to take the hapless tiny bundle along to the Union Workhouse and handed it over to John Lee, the Weymouth Receiving Officer who took delivery of it.

Baby Rasch was now “chargeable to Weymouth Union,”

Weymouth Workhouse

A terrible crime in the eyes of the law and an offence definitely not taken lightly by those who held close to the town’s purse strings.

There was a certain amount of sympathy for Emma, after all she did what many young gullible girls had done before her, fallen under the spell of her employers false promises.

While she was in Weymouth standing trial she was “being allowed to remain at the house of a policeman under the care of his wife.”

The supposed ‘gentleman’ concerned, not surprisingly denied any knowledge of such events, claiming he didn’t know about the baby until it was placed at his mother’s home, he had never received any of her letters. As far as he knew Emma had simply left to return to Germany to take care of her sick mother.

All that was left to do was for the men of the town who sat in judgement to make their decision.

Who would they believe?

How harsh would their punishment be?

“Emma Rasch, we have come to the conclusion, and it is the only conclusion we can come to, that you have brought yourself within the limits of the law, insomuch that you have deserted your child, so as to leave it chargeable to the Union. The punishment we shall inflict will be of the very slightest description. Upon the consideration that first of all what you did we believe you did for the best of your child under the circumstances, and in consideration that you are a foreigner, the sentence we shall pass on you will be one day’s imprisonment, dating from this morning. you will therefore be discharged at the close of this court.”

With that closing statement the courtroom erupted, loud cheers and clapping echoed around the walls.

Though the spectators were ecstatic with the lenient verdict, Emma walked slowly from the courtroom, her head hung low. She was taken up to Dorchester Gaol and put into a cell where for 24 hours she sat and undoubtedly had time to deeply reflect.

Here she was, an unmarried mother, her child now in the Workhouse, her respectable family back home who possibly didn’t know anything about her ‘crimes’ or even worse, didn’t want to know. For not long after her release Emma packed her trunk and sailed back to Germany

woman over box

…without her son.

The man of the tragic case didn’t get off lightly either, “As Mr Peck left the Guildhall he was hooted by a large crowd and he took refuge in the Golden Lion.”

Good old Weymouth folk, never slow in coming forwards with their views on such matters!

A little footnote to this sorry tale sees the abandoned young child christened at the Holy Trinity church on the 9th May…

Holy Trinity.

…his given name was Victor.

A note hastily scribbled in the side column says it all, “Left at the Union-mother returned to Germany.”

Tragically, little Victor wasn’t destined to make old bones.

He died on October 23rd aged just 8 months and his tiny body was buried in a paupers grave along with others from the union Workhouse, their bones lay congenially in adjoining graves at the Wyke Regis churchyard.

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R.I.P. little man.

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Interested in more old views of Weymouth and Portland, check out my numerous local Pinterest Boards to see how our town once looked when your ancestors strolled its streets, browsed the shops and relaxed.

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Lennox Street; 1915

Taken from the Weymouth website that covers the Park district.

Who’s a naughty boy then? Victorian prisoners, were they really all bad?.

 

The Prison Registers contain many intriguing stories within their yellowed  pages, and the faded elegant script tells us of our ancestors past lives.

They are just a tiny snapshot of their life’s story, but can reveal a great deal about the person or the family.

On the very last day of the year 1872, James Benfield, aged 20, was admitted to Dorchester prison.

The Prisoners admissions book gives us a few inklings of what he looked like, but tells us nothing about the man himself. For that you have to dig a little deeper.

James was a seaman, following in the age old family tradition. his Parents William and Mary Ann lived in Lower Lane at Chiswell, Portland which once lay behind the great Chesil Bank, the constant sounds of waves on pebbles his lullaby at night and wake up call in the mornings.

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He was only a young lad, but one who had worked hard throughout his early life.

He first signed up to go to sea at the tender age of 13. On the 28th April 1866 James joined his father and brother on his first ever paid voyage as a ships boy on the vessel Myrtle,

it was owned by Weymouth businessman Henry Attwooll, the ship plied its trade between British ports, Portland, London, Hartlepool, Chatham….it was a good grounding for the young lad to learn the skills necessary to help keep him alive in what could be a dangerous job.

Over the years James worked his way up through the crew, and on many different boats that sailed from Weymouth or Portland. It was a life he knew well and lone he loved. Most of his friends and family in the Chiswell community were sea going folks or earnt their living from the sea. They spent time together on the sea, and most of it when back on dry land.

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It was during one of those spells on ‘dry’ land that James and his young pals got themselves into a spot of bother. Their time on land wasn’t quite so ‘dry!’

One Thursday in 1872, James and three of his seagoing friends, John Anthony, Henry Peters and Benjamin Pearce had made their way to the Kings Arms Inn on Portland, they fancied wetting their whistles somewhat…only they didn’t just wet them, they almost drowned them! The four lads were more than slightly inebriated, they were rip roaring drunk, and obnoxious drunks at that.

They were physically picking up and shaking all the tables so that the glasses all fell off and smashed on the floor, they were making so much noise and commotion that the other customers in the pub were leaving in disgust. The landlord wasn’t at all happy, he demonstrated with the lads, and told them in no uncertain terms to leave…but they weren’t having any of it. They were enjoying themselves, no one was going to make them leave.

Then along comes Constable Loader, it was his turn to confront the young Victorian version of todays lager louts, he ordered them away to their homes or he would arrest them. Did they heed his warning, did they as heck! John anthony turned round and swung an almighty blow to the coppers face. Then all four lads literally bundled the poor fellow out of the pub and onto the ground outside, watched by a crowd of astonished and frightened women and children the lads proceeded to viciously assaulted the man, they hit him, kicked him as he lay prone on the ground. When more reinforcements  arrived, the lads took flight, they knew they were outnumbered.

But of course, Portland being such a tight knit community as it was, it didn’t take the police long to find the names of the four   miscreants, and they were fairly swiftly rounded up and removed to the local police station where they were locked up until it was time for them to appear before the magistrate.

boy jail

Hence, the 31st December1872 , James found himself, along with his fellow cell mates incarcerated in Dorchester prison for the vicious assault on the police officer, P.C. Loader, which had left him off work for a long time, he had suffered broken ribs and severe bruising all over his body.

John Anthony had got 4 months hard labour as he was considered the ring leader and the one who had struck the first blow, James and the other two lads fared slightly better, they only received three months hard labour.

As 20-year-old James was officially entered into the Prison Records book, his physical description is recorded for all eternity to witness in the far left hand column of the page.

He was described as 5ft 8 1/2 ins tall, had brown hair, dark grey eyes and a the sea going mans usual ruddy complexion. Distinguishing marks were a cut on the centre of his forehead and mole on the left side of his face near his right ear. It appears that his nose was fairly distinctive too…the tip turned up.

Was this the start of a life of crime for James, would this be the beginning of numerous trips in and out of courts and jail?

Not a bit of it.

He did appear in court again in 1880, but that was to summons another sea going Captain named  Smith of the Kingdon of Sweden barque for monies owed him as a pilot working in the local area.

James went on to become a well respected pilot,  in 1890 he was the Master on the Fox, working along side his brother John. The records show a list of the various vessels he skippered over the following years, eventually going on  to work at a steady job for Trinity House as a pilot.

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By 1891 James is living in Queens Row over on Portland with his second wife Elizabeth and a stepdaughter, still doing the job he loved, working out at sea for Trinity house.

Sadly things had changed for James by the 1911 census, by then, aged 59, he has lost his wife and home and is living in the the Union Workhouse on Wyke Road, Weymouth. Far away from the sounds and constant views of his beloved sea that he had adored during his lifetime on Portland, though he is still listed as a pilot and seaman, so maybe he was still  able to work on the waters.

Here he died  on the  11th February 1935 at the ripe old age of 82.

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History of Chiswell. http://www.chiswellcommunity.org/ccommunity/page.aspx

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Some people though took slightly longer to learn the lesson that crime and bad behaviour doesn’t pay.

Such was the case of William John Bilke.

He was the son of William and Mary, a family that lived and worked in Wyke, Dad William was a a boot and shoe mender in the village.

William jnr had opted for a life working on the sea, he was one of the many Wyke  fisherman that plied their trade from the beach.

scattered seed fishermen 2

By the 1871 census William is still living at home with his Mum and sister Mary, his Dad had died and Mum was trying her best to keep the family going by running a carrier business.

But by next year, the  31st Dec 1872, 26-year-old William John Bilke found himself before the courts.

A family row had erupted at home in their little cottage in Wyke, and all over half a crown!

William and his mother had been arguing over the said sum of money, when suddenly William lashed out, hitting his mother. Hearing the awful commotion going on downstairs, his sister Mary raced down to see what was happening and witnessed the blow. Remonstrating with William for such an ungentlemanly act, she suddenly found herself on the receiving end of his wrath when he attacked her, hitting her about the head  with closed fists.

He was taken before the court, but because his family had dropped the charges against him, and it was his first appearance in court, the magistrate only gave him a short sentence, 14 days.

A couple of years later, 1875,  and William was back before the court again, this time for the theft of some bones!

According to the Prisoners Description book, William was a tall lad for the day, 5ft 10 3/4 ins, he had a mop of light brown hair, with dark grey eyes and a fair complexion. On the left side of his lips was an old  scar that looked like a dent, his left hand bore a scar that stretched right across the back of his fingers.

After that he seemed to have managed to keep out of trouble, well, at least from the police and the courts.

In 1881 William finally took the plunge, on the 28th April married  Eliza Hallett, a Somerset lass. But their wedded bliss wasn’t to last long.

wedding q 1877

On the 10th September 1883, aged just 38, Eliza passed away in the Union workhouse, we can only guess why when we look down through the burials for that time. On the opposite page to Eliza is another  death on the 2nd August, Elizabeth Bilke, this was a 4 day old girl, whose sad demise also took place in the Union workhouse.

William tries matrimony again later in 1889, on the  28th April William as a widower aged 46, tied the knot with Mary Frampton, who was also on her second marriage, she was aged 50, and another local born woman of Wyke Regis.

 

Aged just 50, on the 28th april 1893, death struck once more…William.

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Age, or lack of,  was no barrier to being thrown into prison in the Victorian era…if you were found guilty, that was that.

raggedy boy

In 1873 a small lad stood in the dock, he could barely peer over the box, he was aged 10, but appeared to be much younger because of his diminutive stature. Maybe poverty had a role to play in that. He was only 3ft 6 ins tall, he had a fair complexion, sandy coloured hair and sad grey eyes that mirrored his wretched life. His body was too young and fresh to have accumulated those scars and markings that many of the older and more worldly wise men wore with such pride, but he was fairly distinctive because he lacked any hair whatsoever on the sides of his head.

Thomas Bartlett was stood before the judge for stealing a pair of boots in Weymouth.

For his sins he was committed to 1 months hard labour to be followed with 5 years in a reformatory school. Ironic as it may be, he more than likely would have had a better start to his life here.

In the Victorian era, Reformatory schools were fairly progressive in their thinking, the lads were taught self sufficiency, a variety of trades, they were educated, many going on the  a  life in the army or military.

boys at exercise

Maybe it just gave Thomas a chance in life……..

 

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Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/VictorianGraphics?ref=l2-shopheader-name

 

 

 

Old Weymouth High Street; life in the 1850’s.

I just love rummaging through ancient newspapers, dusty old books and random records, catching snapshots of the lives of those who lived in our area.

One district of Weymouth that is undergoing major redevelopment at the moment is along the quayside of the inner harbour.

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In the past, this North Quay and back harbour  was the place where the everyday working boats moored up, with their wooden hulls, elegant tall masts, yards of rope rigging  and heavy canvas sails the order of the day.

But times have changed and it is now a place of pleasure and relaxation, a popular marina, where some of the Weymouth working boats, and of course those fancy sleek cruisers and modern day yachts moor to the extensive web of pontoons that criss cross the waters.

Thankfully, many of those ugly, modernist municipal buildings that indolently sprawl along its waterfront are at last being done away with, the beating heart of Weymouth is slowly transforming yet again.

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Whereas before the fire station and  the soulless, grey concrete council offices held these prime sites, plans are afoot to reintroduce more sympathetic housing to front the water. Something that will hopefully nestle in more comfortably with the historic, eclectic jumble  of cottages and buildings further down the road. (As of the writing the first section of the rebuild is still well and truly under wraps…so time will tell!)

This part of the old original Weymouth could boast many ancient and interesting buildings, from grand Tudor houses to Georgian villas, such treasures that were simply swept away in the name of progress, despite ferocious opposition and campaigning by many.

This is also where the old High Street stood, a remnant from way, way back in time when Weymouth and Melcombe Regis were once two bitterly opposing and separate towns across the harbour, and fierce, sometimes deadly, conflict was very much the order of the day.

This narrow street had witnessed so much history, from the sounds of fierce conflict, deadly musket fire, fleeing soldiers and the site of much bloodshed and death, when Weymouth became heavily embroiled in the Civil War.

Later it took a heavy pounding during WWII as German bombers did their best to blow Weymouth harbour to smithereens.

High Street Weymouth.

Large sections of the old High street were severely damaged during  these frequent air raids.

Who knows what other long forgotten history is lurking deep in the ground beneath this modern day tarmac and concrete.

I can recall as a child wandering through the remnants of these bombed out buildings, mesmerised by the remaining walls, some with wallpaper hanging off, once cosy and intimate bedroom fire places open to the world, the ubiquitous Budlleja sprouting, softening the harsh lines of destruction. Many locals of a certain age will tell tales of these tumble down ruins as their childhood adventure playground.

Later this whole section of the old High Street and waterfront buildings were swept away as part of the slum clearances, first turned into a temporary carpark and taken over by the council for their new offices.

Demolition of old Weymouth.

Thankfully, a few concerned locals took the time to grab photos and copious notes of these buildings before they were demolished, not least famous Weymouth historian Eric Ricketts, much of which he talks about in his book ‘The Buildings of Old Weymouth; Part One.’ It’s a set of books that I can’t recommend highly enough for those interested in Weymouth’s checkered history.

As time passes and those folks with their memories of the old town, it’s characters, traditions and history take their place at the Pearly Gates, so many small, personal details  of old Weymouth gets lost forever.

Luckily  we can still catch little glimpses of the families who once lived here from the old census records, Post Office directories and poll books, some of those native families still live in the area, some moved on as fortunes dictate.

Eric R map

(Eric Rickett’s map of the area from “The Buildings of Old Weymouth; Part One.’)

What follows is a snap shot of some of those people who were born, lived, loved and worked in the old High Street of the 1850’s.

I have added numbers to those that were listed, but between 1850 and 1860 these were changed…unless everyone in the street suddenly upped sticks and moved house in the street, a bit like musical properties.

Let’s gird our loins and go for a nostalgic stroll through time and the street of old Weymouth town.

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Holy Trinity.

We stop first at no 10 High Street, here lives 45-year-old Charles Buck, he is a coal merchant.

Love and matrimony came late to Charles, at the ripe old age of 40 he finds himself waiting nervously at the alter of Holy Trinity church for his bride to be. On Christmas day of 1851, Rebecca Tompkins makes her way down the aisle towards her beloved, man and wife were set for a long and happy future in a place they both loved. Sadly though, their marriage didn’t last for long, on the 11th November 1857, the hard working coal man, Charles, passed away, leaving a bereft Rebecca to carry on alone.

Carry on she certainly did, still residing in the High Street, one can only assume that the coal business had been fairly healthy and she had been left reasonably well off as she was listed as a home owner and of independent means.

Rebecca died in 1891 at the age of 69.

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Moving on to the house of no 13, here we find a newly married couple, Charles Hibbs and his wife Susan (nee Bond). Charles is earning his living as a plumber and glazier. Having worked hard and built up a thriving business, the couple up sticks and move across the water by the 1861 census to larger premises in St Thomas Street.

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No 15 is known as Longhill, the home of wealthy widow, Mrs Phillis Horsford, a grand dame who has reached the ripe old age of 72. She was married to Joseph Horsford Esquire for many years, an extremely  affluent and influential business man and councillor in and around town. Joseph died in 1850 leaving his wife more than comfortably off.

Phillis now lives in her opulent home alone, barring her servants, a sure sign that she was certainly no pauper, and perhaps demonstrates that parts of the old High Street undoubtedly had some very desirable residences indeed.

A little while later, at the start of 1856, and Phillis breathes her last. In her will, besides many other items of value, she leaves to her only grandson her ‘silver salver and six silver forks.’

The rest of her estate is put up for auction, no doubt many of her curious neighbours and acquaintances took this opportunity to have a wander through her house and poke through what was once her precious belongings.

An advert placed in the local paper gives a tantalising peep into her world of accumulated wealth.

Paintings adorn her walls, many by acclaimed artists such as Thorne, Collier  and even Gainsborough.

The grand rooms are filled with sumptuous furniture, precious items such as an ornately carved sofa, richly gilded and covered in striking silk satin, an item that once belonged to no less than George III himself when he resided in Gloucester Lodge, the contents of which were auctioned off in 1853.

Josephs extensive library is being sold off too, including ‘a large number of works suitable for an attorney’s library,’ something which gives us a clue into the Master Horsford’s working and social world and the source of his wealth.

But death favours no one, rich or poor, at the end of the day, no matter how wealthy they may have been, how high they flew in society’s social circles…they all end up in a 6 foot hole in the ground.

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A little further down the road and we arrive at  the home of Joseph Balson and his wife Sarah who live at no 18. Sarah was a bit of a cougar!…She was 44, nine years older than her husband.

The pair run their own grocery business, one of the many bustling little shops that serve this area.

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Next door, at no 19, lives Edward Bartlett, an ex-employee of the HM Coastguard Service, a life spent pursuing smugglers and pirates on the seas around our coastline, he’s a retired Captain of a revenue cutter. Edward married Grace White Stanford on the 27th August 1850, this was love second time around for both of them.

Not surprisingly, the couple have chosen to set up home near to the waters edge, a mariner never likes to venture very far from those sights, sounds and scents that remind him of a life on the sea.

Edward dies in 1856 at the age of 75, but during his lifetime he has obviously acquired a very good standard of living, including, it seems, a healthy stock of liquer.

In his Last Will and Testament he leaves the majority of it to his wife and her daughter Susannah. besides a considerable amount of money he goes on to declare that “I give and bequeath to  my wife the said Grace White Bartlett absolutely all the household goods and furniture pictures, prints, books, plate silver,….. glass, wines, liqueurs and provisions, watches, chains,….and effects which shall at my death be in and about the dwelling house or the outbuildings  and premises  wherefore I now reside being no 19 High Street Weymouth…”He also leaves Grace  his “premises situate in Wellington Place, Weymouth.”

By the time of the next census, 1861, Grace, still resident in the High Street, living with her is her unmarried daughter Susannah, who earns her own living as a “teacher of music and dance.”

Grace is rather grandly referred to as a “landed proprietress.”

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At no 20 lives Mrs Charlotte Bussell, wife of John, a local seaman who’s more often than not away from home.

That’s not a problem for Charlotte, she is an independent woman who earns her own living as a straw hat maker. Her beautiful bonnets and colourful chapeaux adorn the heads of many a fashionable lady walking the streets of Weymouth, but Charlotte is only too aware that she needs to keep up with the latest fashions. With the invention of mass produced hat pins women were moving away from the all-encompassing fabric bonnets and taking up wearing jaunty little straw hats perched at an angle to show off and flatter their features.

Come the summer months and Charlotte’s nimble fingers are kept occupied, what with the arrival of the Dorset Yeomen, the yachting regattas, horse racing at Lodmoor, Weymouth’s social season means every lady needs to look her best.

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Even in 1871, at the ripe old age of 73, Charlotte is still busy plying her trade as a hat maker to the women of the town.

It’s not until 1876 that Charlotte hangs up her ribbons and bows, drapes her final bit of lace, and lays down her feathers, her final hat finished.

She was buried in Wyke Regis churchyard at the age of 81.

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Next door to Charlotte’s shop, (at no 21) resides Mrs Mary  H Comben, whats more fascinating, a Comben that has escaped from the isle of Portland?(You have to be local to get that one!)

Mary is another widow having reached the ripe old age of 76. She too is wealthy enough to be living off her own means and is lucky enough to have a retinue of  servants in the house. (There must surely be something in this sea bathing malarky and fresh air theory, for Weymouth can certainly boast many persons of a good age.)

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A retired Master mariner lives in the next dwelling along, at no 22. This is 86-year-old  William Langrish, with him is his wife of 54 years, Grace Fowler, (nee Flew,) the couple were married at Wyke church way back in 1797.

Sadly, they are not destined to live out their lives in their home of many years. William and Grace, no longer in the first flush of youth reluctantly move away from Weymouth and all her comforting beauty to live with one of their sons in dusty old London, and here they both die, far away from the soothing sounds and smells of the sea.

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Again, we jump a few numbers to reach no 38. This is the home of George Notley and his wife Agnes along with their rather extensive brood. George was an incomer (as were many of the other residents much to my surprise, Victorians moved around as much as todays population.)

George started out life in Haydon, but moved his business to Weymouth. A wise man goes where there’s money to be made, and with the coming of the railways, Weymouth was thriving as a popular seaside resort. George was kept busy as the local baker and corn dealer.

The couple trade successfully in High Street until George’s death in 1877, but stoic Agnes carries on with the family business, working as a baker alongside other members of her family.

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Another incomer to the area is 54-year-old Samuel Penny (a Sherbourne lad) who is installed at the address of no 42 High Street. Samuel is another shop keeper, but this time, he’s not just an ordinary  grocer, he deals in speciality wines and spirits keeping the cut glass decanters of the men of the town well topped up. Oh, and besides that he stocks a few rather odd items too…as we can see from his advert of 1847.

Lump salt probably isn’t that strange an item to find in a grocers…but 20 tons of manure, I wonder where he stored and displayed that?

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Living and working along side him in their bustling store is his wife Kezia and their children, everyone had a role to play right down to the youngest.

The Penny’s have been successfully trading here for a long time, they have lived and traded in this street for at least 15 years,  another family that mingle with those of the more wealthy Weymouth residents in the street.

Samuel died in 1870 and his widow Kezia followed soon after in 1872.

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Next door to them (43) lives a family I know a little bit about because one of their sons crops up in a piece of my previous research.

They are the Tomkins family, Robert and Eliza and their children. Dad Robert trades as a shoe maker, but his son, Joseph Russel Tomkins, was destined for higher things. He started out life as a lowly carpenter, but went on to become a builder with his own business through hard work and diligence.  Joseph  became an eminent Weymouth fellow and reached the great heights in his career as a Judge, then he moved his family to London. But Joseph never lost his love for his place of birth, he became a member of the Society of Dorset Men and wrote many an articles for them. (this is an actual likeness of Joseph in his twilight years.)

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We find another bakery shop  at no 48, this time run by Robert and Catherine Cox, they are both of a good age, 67 and 63 respectively. By the time of the 1861 census they have moved their business over onto Portland where they are now running their bakery in Easton.

Robert by now is 75!

In the 1800’s there is no safety net of state help or a pension to look forwards to, if you didn’t have a pot of money put by for your old age, you relied on family to look after you, that or you literally worked until you dropped. For the less fortunate, some found themselves ensconced in the last place the’d ever want to be, the dreaded workhouse, separated from loved ones, with the only way out being feet first in a wooden box!

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No 36 is a house of multiple occupancy…and a mystery.

One of its tenants is twenty-six year-old William Henry Latty who elegantly coiffs the hair of  the Weymouth elite.

By 1851, despite his tender age, William it seems has 2 children under the age of 2, two-year-old Jane Susannah and her baby brother, 6-month-old William… and not a single sign of a wife.

Living with him, but listed  as his housekeeper, is Amelia Escott along with her 4-year-old son George.

Both are on the census as unmarried.

In fact Jane Susannah (who is in fact an Escott not a Latty) was christened in 1848 over in Melcombe Regis, she is actually the daughter of Amelia Escott…‘a single woman.’

Later, in 1850, little William is also christened over in Melcombe Regis, far away from prying eyes and gossip maybe? his parents of course are William and Amelia.

William and Amelia  finally decide to make their relationship legal, maybe there are good reasons why they couldn’t do so before. The couple are married in 1856, but their certificate also reveals some facts. William claims to be a bachelor, and Amelia a spinster.

Come the next census and the family are all living together along with quite a few additional siblings. The couple are still running the hairdressers in the High Street, but now son George is training at his fathers side.

By 1901 the couple have moved and set up shop near Birmingham, a far cry from the softly spoken folk of Weymouth town, but they  are soon lured back to their native home, and safely ensconced in Melbourne House in Lennox Street.

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John Sergeant, 53, a married school master lives in the house adjoining, at no 49.

John is a pillar of the community, he not only runs a school in the nearby Town Hall, but he has also been an assistant overseer for the parish for many years and recently  appointed as collector of the poor rates.

Despite all the outward appearance of respectability, in May of 1855 the High Street is agog with horror and scandal concerning poor old John.

An unsuspecting lodger in his house awoke one morning, and on coming downstairs discovers the front door wide open and the doorstep covered in blood. Upon entering the closet he finds yet more blood splattered around the walls and floors, lying in amongst the congealing blood there is a tarnished knife. Fearing the worst he calls out for his wife and then dashes off to get help. Having gathered a large search party, they then proceeds to look for the injured victim.

A trail of bloody footsteps lead them first down through the garden, but this soon peters out…where should they look next?

By now everyone in the area is searching for John…or his body.

Suddenly someone espies dark tell tale hand prints smeared across and down the harbour wall, so the desperate hunt moves down to the harbour. As the waters slowly lower with the outgoing tide, it doesn’t take long to spot the still blood soaked footprints in the exposed mud, they are heading straight for the deep water channel, about 30 yards from the wall.

Men spend the next few hours dragging the waters for a body, but to no avail. Nothing or nobody is found. It’s not until later that afternoon that the corpse of John Sergeant is discovered laying in the mud, washed on the incoming tide a mile further upstream from where he first entered the water.

His body is removed to the Albert Hotel, where it is held for his inquest.

As per usual, the eager Victorian reporter describes the gruesome scene in all its full glory, “the Jury proceeded to view the body, which was placed in the bowling-alley, and presented a most ghastly spectacle, the front of the dress being saturated with blood, which had flowed from a deep wound in the throat of about three inches in length, the edges being jagged and mangled in a manner that showed the desperate earnestness with which the unfortunate man had set about his self-destruction.” 

What ever reasons lay behind John’s impulsive decision to end his life, we will never know. His somewhat erratic actions over the two week period before his untimely death had led to a close friend recommending to his wife that he should see a doctor, but he didn’t.

Consequently, John took his dark secrets with him, to his unhallowed grave.

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At no 59 live William and Catherine Dennis along with their family.

William is employed to keep an eye on those pesky traders around town, forever trying to diddle their customers, to line their own pockets, he is an Inspector of Weights and Measures.

You might well imagine that people aren’t too bothered about such things in the Victorian times, but there have been standards, statutes  and laws for Weights and Measures for well over a 1000 years.

In the markets of the 1850’s a 4 1/2 lb loaf is now selling for on average 6 1/2d to 7d, but the wily bakers often try every means in the book to squeeze more profit out of their wares. A tad underweight on each loaf maybe? Perhaps, but they can do far worse…and frequently did, sometimes going as far as to cut the flour with other less salubrious and  often downright dangerous ingredients.

family girl sickbed quiver 1865

In the bakers flour you could find many suspect ingredients, plaster of paris, bean flour, chalk, or even worse, alum, which was frequently used to whiten the bread, but it was also a substance which could have lethal effects on the digestive system, particularly dangerous and sometimes even deadly for young children and the elderly.

I hope that bakers Robert and Catherine Cox just down the road were on their guard…and not trying to diddle, (or poison,) their customers.

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Next port of call is the Boot, one of Weymouth’s oldest pubs, and a part of the old original High Street that still remains.

Not surprisingly it has a long and fascinating history, with many tales to tell of smugglers and preventative men, sailors and merchants, spectres of long ago walk these rooms, beguiling modern day ghost hunters

The Boot

In 1855 it is being run by 51-year-old George Gulliver and his wife, Ann. The couple have been hosts for a many years, they were  there in the 1851 census and are still there in the 1861 census.

One of the few remaining buildings from Weymouth old High Street, this atmospheric pub is still as popular as ever today, it even holds the dubious title of the most haunted pub in the area with many ghostly goings on,  many a ghoul gliding through its historic rooms.

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Their neighbours are Charles and Elizabeth Denning, at no 64. The couple run the greengrocers and beerhouse and have done so in this street for the past 15 odd years.

Like most people who run a successful business, there is always someone who tries to take advantage. Such was the case in 1850, when one of Charles’ employees helped himself to 24 shillings. Having been caught in the act and stood before the magistrate, William Hawkins suddenly found himself bound for pastures anew…his sentence? transportation.

A few years on and Charles falls foul of the wily Hawkins family again. In 1863, pipe maker and persistent petty pilferer, Daniel Hawkins, comes before the courts up on a charge of obtaining goods by false pretences, that being a loaf of bread, a piece of pork, some cheese, and six eggs. Despite this being his umpteenth appearance before the magistrates, his fate is certainly less harsh than that of his predecessor, he received 3 months hard labour.

Charles lost his wife of 20 years, Elizabeth, in 1863, but with the help of his family he maintained the shop until his death in 1875.

The year after his death, his once thriving business goes into liquidation.

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Moving along to the premises of no 92 High Street, here we find a recently married young couple, 26-year-old Edward Samways and his wife Martha . Edward started out life in nearby New Town Place, that is until his marriage, then the couple set up home together in the High Street where Edward plies his trade as a cordwainer or shoemaker.

He also works as a letter carrier, I guess his established profession alone wasn’t enough to keep the wolves from the family door.

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A later edition to the street, but one that might be remembered by old Weymouthians is the Fishermans Arms. It once stood   at the east end of the street towards Trinity church. In all probability this quaint building started out life in the 18th c as a pretty Georgian town house, a home to one of Weymouth’s merchants or wealthier residents.

Fishermans Arms

Thankfully there is another remnant of the  High Street still standing and that is the old Town Hall which all credit due to an enthusiastic band of volunteers has undergone a complete revival over the past few years.

Hopefully Weymouth will continue to give rise to folks interested in her long history and love for her old buildings, people who will fight to preserve what’s left and teach others to appreciate it, because as we have so often learnt from the past mistakes, once it’s gone…it’s gone!

Old Town Hall Weymouth

That’s the end of our little virtual stroll, who knows, maybe you spotted one of your ancestor’s there?

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For more old views of Weymouth check out my Pinterest page.

https;//www.pinterest.com/susanhogben/old-views-of-weymouth-dorset

History of the area of old Weymouth. http://www.weymouth-dorset.co.uk/oldweymouth.html

Potted history of the Boot Inn. http://news.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-lancashire/plain/A25323527

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Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/VictorianGraphics?ref=l2-shopheader-name

1857; Victorian Day-trippers excitement… journey to Weymouth

Today, we all seem to take many things, including technology, for granted, as ever more sophisticated gadgets and inventions are unrolled into our society.

We seem to have lost the beautiful wonder and awe of the Victorian era, when every new invention or places of travel created great excitement amongst the people, such sights were gazed at in amazement, people flocked to view a new piece of mechanical machinery working or marvelled at pictures of foreign lands.

Such was one event in 1857.

The train line down to Weymouth was finally opened in January of 1857, and it was to become popular with day-trippers and tourists alike. These are the days when most travel was still by foot, horse or stagecoach……

As a child, I can remember the excitement of purchasing a ‘platform ticket’ from the machine in the station, to wave off a friend on her journey…or the excitement or going on one myself, nose pressed firmly against the window as the ever changing scenery whizzed by.

The following excerpt from the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette on 1857 explores the new wonders of steam travel and arriving at a sea side destination that many had never even heard of, let alone visited before, most travelling that day had probably had never even ventured far from their place of birth, but here they were being given the chance to go forth…

AN EXCURSION TO WEYMOUTH

Friday was a day that will long dwell, associated with pleasing recollections, in the minds of the inhabitants of Devizes. At an early hour the streets were enlivened by a stream of people-men, women, and children-in holiday costumes, and with happy faces, moving in the direction of the railway station.

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There a lengthy train was speedily filled by upwards of a thousand excurtionists. It was composed of 23 carriages-its centre occupied the station, and its extended extremities stretched far up and down the line on both sides of the building. All was excitement. Novelty-that great ingredient in the cup of pleasure-held out many attractions. To most of the party, the line itself was new; an excursion train was new; Weymouth, the place of their destination, was almost unknown.-Many had never yet travelled on a railway, and a vast number had never set eyes upon the seas which surround their island. Crowds assembled to witness the departure of their fellow-townsmen. The platform of the station, the yards adjoining it, the heights above, and even the hedges for a mile down the line, were swarmed by people, like clustering bees. At a quarter to eight, after a whistle, a tug, and a strain of the engine, the monster train was with difficulty got into motion,and, admist the cheers of the travellers and the counter-cheers of the spectators, rolled heavily from the station, but soon was merrily gliding down the declivity of the inclined plane beyond.

A more lovely, bright, and sunny day could not possibly have been selected; it was not, moreover, too hot. Rain had fallen during the night-the air was consequently cooled-the dust laid-and the verdure refreshed. The spirits of the party were, if possible, still further elevated by the beautiful prospects along the railroad. A slight veil of clouds hung suspended in the distance between the beholders and the hills towards Bratton, and, whilst it scarcely diminished the beautiful features of the scenery, increased the interest, by leaving a few shades of the picture to be filled up by the imagination, as the eye revelled over the hills in the background, enlivened by the appearance here and there of human dwellings. Every shade of green gave a variety to the fields which bordered the line of railway. The mowers paused in their work as the gigantic trail of carriages approached. Two standing with their manly forms erect, with their brawny outstretched arms resting on their scythes, whose butts touched the ground, and whose blades were turned at right angles away from the holders, formed a copy for a sculptor who wanted a model for the personification of Time.

The labourers in the hayfields or on the stacks suspended awhile their avocations.

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The shepherd paused with the stake in hand which he was about to fasten in the earth to secure his hurdled fold. The peasant riding afield on the leader of a string of horses, checked his steeds to gaze upon the strange apparition.

So, advancing, and, Falstaff-like, being the cause of admiration in others, the excursionists proceeded on their route. Melksham is quickly left behind.Its smooth, unruffled stream shone bright as glass, with its broad lily leaves expanded in places over its surface, and with its dark willows fringing its banks. A pause takes place at Trowbridge, where smoky chimneys with their long shafts, and the manufacturing aspect of the town, formed a contrast with the rural scenes just passed. Its cloths of various colours were exposed to the sun on the banks near the station, purposely, it was facetiously suggested, in charity to remind travellers by the railway, and by excursion trains in particular, of death and dying; and thence, to further the interests of the company, by silently admonishing them of the expediency of insuring their lives for the remainder of the journey.

Onward sped the train; towns were passed in rapid succession-Frome, Yeovil, Dorchester. Villages and scattered hamlets with their slate walls, and thatched roofs, their comfortable farm-houses, their fruitful orchards, their herds of red cattle, and luxuriant crops, and their downs covered with sheep, were presented to the eye in quick review.

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At length the excursionists were safely landed at Weymouth, and descended from their carriages, while the accompanying band of the Wilts Militia played on the platform of the station.

It would have required the eyes of Argus to have enables any one person to describe the various movements of the happy party during the day. After awhile it was scarcely possible to look up at a window without encountering a friendly smile, a nod of recognition, from some familiar Wiltshire faces.

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It seemed as if the Market-place of Devizes were converted into the esplanade, while Long-street and the Brittox had changed places with the streets of St Thomas and St Mary, and St Edmund.

The chief point of attraction, however, appeared to be a visit to Portland by the steamers which were passing to and fro all day long. The steep sides of the northern eminance-on which the Government are erecting a fort to protect the proposed new naval station, and which is to rival Gibraltar in strength, and is to be inaccessable-were covered with persons gazing on the blue bay on either side on the island, the town and harbour of Weymouth, the stupendous breakwater, and the hills beyond, on which George III and his steed figured on the chalky down formed a prominent object.

The Breakwater itself was crowded with wonder-stricken visitors. So many passed over it, backwards and forwards, on that day, that it is scarcely necessary to describe it.

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To a stranger it was a novel sight in the application of railways, to see three lines of rails abreast, running, for the conveyance of material, directly out into the sea for a mile and 70 yards, on 915 piles, each one hundred feet long, 30 feet apart each way, and standing 60 feet below the water, and forming, five abreast a width of 120 feet. When it is considered that this width and depth, with the addition of another intended mile in length, has been or is to be entirely filled up by masses of stone, centred by a wall of solid masonry, rising up far above the level of the water, the mind is lost in astonishment at the greatness of the undertaking. Nine years have already been consumed in its construction. When completed, guns are to be mounted along it, and a fort at the extremity and another on the opposite eastern shore, will be able to command with their cannons the remaining two miles designed to be left open as the entrance to the harbour. The largest ships of war will be able to take in coal close to the Breakwater without the intervention of boats. When the harbour inside is completed by the protection from the sea, and from the attacks of enemies, it will be the largest, the best, and the most secure in the British dominions.

Visitors to the sea for the first time on Friday last had no opportunity of seeing “the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep, when the stormy wind ariseth, and lifteth up the waves thereof, so that they are carried up to the heaven and down again to the deep.” But such as have heard that mighty sea sea roaring, and seen the overwhelming dash of its billows, may be apt to feel a pride to almost deify man, when they behold science stretching as it were a chain over the ocean, running her engines over its surface, sending her workmen in diving dresses below its waters to rivet its fetters,

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and saying“hitherto shalt thou come, but no further, and here shalt they proud waves be stayed.” But an antidote is at hand for such pride. The visitor has only to return homeward over the Chesil Bank,

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and see a barrier formed-not by the direct omnipitent power of God, but by th eordinary opertaions of nature-out of the smallest pebbles rolled together, and presenting an obstacle to the sea tenfold more durable than the neighbouring work of man.

Let him, moreover, on reaching his home, read an acoount of the stupendous operations of his fellow-worm the minute coral insect. Of how this little creature raises land out of the level of the sea;forms islands;stretches reefs a hundred feet deep and for thousands of miles in length; and cements such harbours as man would shrink from undertaking the execution of.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the pleasures of the day, the excursionists assembled in the station at a quarter past seven, the time appointed for their return to Devizes. As they marched along the esplanade at this hour, scarcely out of Italy could be witnessed more lovely blue waters, or shores bathed in a richer golden hues of the evening sun. The novelty of the day was now well neigh over, and the travellers were almost too fatigued to notice the few changes in the  scenery since the morning, as the evening shades deepened as they journeyed homewards;

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how the cattle were no longer indolently grouped together, but were feeding, scattered over the pastures; how the fields were deserted by the husbandmen; and how the villages were now filled with their wearied occupants, who cheered the passing train; or how “all the village train from labour free” sent forth groups to lounge in the adjoining fields and lanes , or to bathe in the neighbouring brook,-Drawn by three engines, at length the excursion train arrived safely at the Devizes station, where it was received by vociferous cheers of welcome from friends who assembled in crowds to witness the return of the ravellers.

Thus ended a day of great enjoyment to the inhabitants of this borough; and much cause is there for gratitude to the Giver of all Good, that the whole party retuned in health and safety;-not the slightest accident having occurred to throw a damp over the pleasure of the excursion, in the participation of which pleasure all classes of society in the town had sympathised one with another in brotherly union and universal good will.

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Check out what the 20th century visitors came to see in summertime Weymouth. https://cannasue.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/weymouth-carnival-1980/

Weymouth’s harbour area; Brewers Quay

If there’s one area that I love to mooch around  in Weymouth, it is the area around a spot named Brewer’s Quay for rather obvious reasons, if properly named, it’s Hope Square.

This area has a lot of history, not least that it was where the breweries in the past chucked out that distinctive cooked hops aroma from their tall chimneys..It is said that brewing had taken place in this area in one form or another ever since 1252.

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The large Devenish Brewery buildings  once housed the workers who saw to the fermentation process, many living in the small houses and cottages that surround the area.

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Once its life as a brewery was finished in 1985, it became an indoor shopping area, and the Time-walk, one of Weymouth’s top attractions for tourists, and the local museum. you could even have a tour of the old brewing areas, see an old steam engine working, gaze at the gleaming vats that once held the liquid gold.

Then some bright spark decided that it was ripe for development in time for the 2012 Sailing Olympics…all the businesses were turfed out, Time Walk and Museum shut…and that was that!

During the Olympics, when visitors flocked to this area on their way up to the Nothe, this big edifice stood empty and very much deserted!

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But the pubs and restaurants around the square filled the area with tables and chairs, music and song, dancing and jiving, the area came alive again…

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The old brewery has been opened again now, filled with antique shops, bric a brac centres and crafts, it’s lovely for a mooch on a cold Sunday’s afternoon, and a spot of lunch in one of the numerous surrounding eateries.

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We’re still waiting for the museum to be relocated back there…how on earth can a town like Weymouth, with so much history be without a museum? It’s complete madness!

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Across the way was the Groves Brewery, this too no longer serves its original purpose, now it houses people in their luxury apartments.

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Take a meander to the other side of the square, just behind the Devenish buildings is the old stable blocks where the great dray horses were kept. They would plod along the streets, carts packed with the giant wooden kegs that were ready to be dropped down the hatches that opened up in the ground to the cellars below the pubs. Always a fearsome sight to a small child, the heat and strange smells that rose from these black holes in the pavements always whispered of evil spirits and dark places where children could be locked away…

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Now instead of hooves on cobbles and  sweet smelling straw in mangers,  they contain holiday lets and sweet dreams of lazy sunny days to be enjoyed.

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How I long to raise my face skyward and smell that strange but sweet and sickly smell again…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewers_Quay

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Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/VictorianGraphics?ref=l2-shopheader-name

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Related articles

July 1862; Brutal murder in Sutton Poyntz, Weymouth.

Tonight being All Hallows Eve, and with the goblins, witches and ghouls flitting the streets, terrorising one and all in the dark night air, I thought tonight might be one for a brutal murder story.

It all came about on a summers day in July of 1862.

Down in the village of Sutton (Sutton Poyntz) lived a what had once been normal working family in one of the old row of cottages.

Head of the family was  Richard Cox, a man in his late 60’s, who was old before his time, crippled and no longer able to work regularly, frequently having to rely on the parish for relief…a pauper. Living with him in the house was his wife Mary, and 3 of his sons, John , Isaac and Jacob.

Isaac and Jacob had moved out of the village, they had travelled further afield in an attempt to find employment, but also things weren’t quite right in the household. Left at home  with his elderly parents was 38-year-old John.

Three weeks prior to this horrific incident John had started to suffer from some sort of mental illness, ‘brain fever’ as the doctors referred to it, he was being looked after by Mr Adam Stapleton Puckett, a local medical officer. John was confined to his room, where he would pace round and round endlessly, ranting and raving.

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Things had got so dire in the house, and John’s behaviour was becoming more and more erratic, that a decision was made by the doctor that it would be better if John was removed to the Union. He had attacked his brothers, nearly killing one of them in the process. His parents out of fear for their own safety had removed anything from their home that could be used as a weapon by their rapidly unravelling son, guns, knives, saws.Image

His poor distraught mother was beside herself, she didn’t know where to turn, what to do next, who to ask for help.

Word had got around that John was now becoming a great danger to those around him, and that his family were in fear of their very lives, they needed help.

Mr Puckett was on his way to the family’s house, accompanied by Mr Zachariah White, the relieving officer, when they met John’s father, Richard. “Be you going in to take him away now?” he asked. Mr Puckett confirmed that this was the plan, that it was best for one and all. Concerned because of his son’s set of mind at that time he said “You had better not go in there or there will  be mischief,” replied Richard. Mr Puckett though tried to reassure the old man that he could handle John, he would calm him down and make him see sense. Richard though kept warning the doctor that John was in no mood to face confrontation.

Not heeding the old mans warning, Dr Puckett entered the cottage alone. Mr White had asked Richard to go and ask for the use of a horse and cart to transport John to the Union house, but seeing as the old man had a job to shuffle along a few feet let alone go down the road, he decided that it would be quicker of he went himself, and off he set towards the Ship Inn.

Richard went and sat on the doorstep of his house. Inside, peering anxiously through the bedroom doorway, he could see his son arguing with the good doctor. He was not just arguing, he looked positively possessed, like a wild man, greatly agitated, shouting, on his writhing body he wore no more than a shirt . By now Richard was anxious that things were not going well, he slowly raised his creaking body from the step and stumbled off down the road to find help, but there was no one around to help bar a group of frightened women who were huddled together torn between  human curiosity to gawp and fear of violence.

In that time things had deteriorated badly…John had ripped the bedhead from its position, and lunged towards the doctor, who realising that he was in imminent danger raced for the door as fast as he could. Once outside Dr Puckett held fast to the door handle as the enraged John shook it, beat it, and tried to make his escape, he wanted blood. John then turned his anger towards the window, smashing the glass, but couldn’t get out that way, it had bars in front of it.

Seeing his chance, Dr Puckett let go of the handle, turned, and fled down the path, but John was quick!..he was out of the door in a flash, right behind the fleeing doctor. Raising his hand above his head, he smashed the large piece of wooden frame down on his victims skull, knocking him straight  to the ground.

When Richard returned back to the house a few minutes later, he looked over the fence and saw the prone body of Dr Puckett laid on the grass in front of the house, but he was still breathing thank goodness.

John  was stood, extremely agitated, breathing swiftly, sweat poring down his angry, contorted face, he was just a few yards away from the victim, when his father asked him what he had done, he yelled at him to go away “if I did not go, he would serve me the same..'” with that, he picked a large stone up and threw it at his father.

John rushed into the nearby fuel house, desperately searching for something…but he couldn’t find it, what he did find though, would serve his purpose just as well.

Coming back out into the daylight, the light reflected of the sharp teeth of the lethal wood saw that John now held aloft in his hands.

Swiftly crossing over to the unconscious body of the fallen doctor laying on the grass, to his fathers horror, he made three quick deep slashes with the deadly saw, and the doctors head silently rolled away from his body…with that John picked the bloodied skull up in his red stained hands   and threw it out into the road. In his subsequent statement John claimed that when he had cut the doctors head off “the old bastard gurgled,” and when he had tossed it into the road “his old head sounded liked a damned old pumpkin.“. Not content with that he then proceeded to dismember the mans corpse, throwing each grisly piece out into the road.

Witnessing this ugly and brutal attack were some of the village women. Jane Galpin, who lived two doors up, had been passing by when she witnessed the doctors frantic struggle to hold the door shut and could hear the hysterical ravings of John behind the door. When the window smashed, and John had raced out of the open door after the doctor, Jane fled for the safety of a neighbours house, where the women locked the door behind them, screaming for help, trembling with fear…who was this mad man going to murder next? Peering out of the window, unable to look away,  the women witnessed his horrific dismembering of the body.

Another witness to the bloody aftermath was John Ford, who worked as an engine man in the Weymouth waterworks at the bottom of Sutton Poyntz. Zachariah White had run to get a body of men to help restrain the raving fellow, and had headed for the works where he knew there would be men working. John Ford accompanied the group back up through the village to the scene of blood and dismembered body parts. Here they gathered in the severed limbs, putting them together inside the garden fence. Their next job was to find John.

He had vanished!

John had made his way, blood soaked and half naked, towards Osmington. On his journey through the country lanes he came across and startled Joseph Dowden who was out working in his garden. John told him quite calmly what he had done, asking Joseph for his help, and protection from anyone who might try to harm him. Thinking on his feet, Joseph took the by now, much calmer John into the stables of the Plough Inn at Osmington, owned by Mr Notley, where he managed to hold him until help came in the form of the local police.

The inquest on the dreadful death of Dr Puckett was held at  the Ship Inn, Preston.

John Cox was convicted of “Wilful murder,” mindful of the fragility of his tortured mind he ended up in the recently opened Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.

Image

http://www.berkshirerecordoffice.org.uk/albums/broadmoor/images-of-broadmoor/?offset=2&img=97

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1088801/Broadmoor-hospital-finally-gives-secrets.html

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