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 that proliferation of poodling summertimepedestrians.

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.


One of those is St Nicholas Street which runs from the Sailor’s Return on the harbourside down to where the White Hart still stands.

Weymouth, or Melcome Regis to be precise was built on a Medieval grid, which still exists to the present day..


      (MAP 1901)

Sadly though, nowadays St Nicholas Street 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 a 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 doors 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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…


…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.


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.


(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.


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.


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 sauntered in 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.


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!


(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.)


If you’ve enjoyed a spot of good old Victorian Weymouth tittle tattle why not grab a copy of my book Nothe Fort and Beyond. It’s full of gossip about the military men and their doings in the town.

There’s lots of local families mentioned and loads of their misdeeds and misfortunes.

It is now available from the Nothe Fort Museum and the Weymouth Museum

Nothe fort and Beyond 261 KB

Also available on Amazon at £9.99.


Shopping in St Mary Street at the turn of the century:Part 1.

Over the next few posts on here I’m going to take you  for a stroll down through old Weymouth town, starting off in St Mary Street.

Our visit will take place at the turn of the century; Queen Victoria’s long reign is about to come to an end with her sad demise and her son Edward takes over the reins, heralding the start of the Edwardian era.

These shops and businesses are the ones that my grandparents would have known well, Grandma Darch would have shopped for her clothes, hats and knee length frilly bloomers in the grand department stores of the day.

The places that Granddad Darch  visited would have been far more of a male domain; the tobacconists where he brought his cigars from, (there was certainly no lack of choice in the Victorian street,) or the pubs that he would have frequented, having a good old chinwag with his fellow businessmen, a flirt with the pretty buxom serving wench.

Some of the names of the longer-standing businesses are even ones that I grew up with as a child in the town.

Fascinated as I am with family history I would so love a time machine. Oh to be able to travel back and see what they saw, smelt what they did as they entered these stores, no sterile layers of packing in those days!

Aromatic teas and coffees, their delicious aromas percolating out in the street, hinting of what great delights lie inside the doorway (something that supermarkets do artificially these days…,) goods sold loose, no matter how large or small an amount, all catered for and carefully wrapped for their customers in newspaper or brown paper bags.

Ripening meat and fowl  inside butchers shops, thick sawdust strewn across the floor,  more well-hung carcasses draped outside covered in fur or feather, flies feasting greedily on their blank, staring eyes.

A shop bell hung above the door, tinkling its greeting as the customer enters, summonsing eager staff from the room behind, quick to pamper to your every wish.

But unfortunately, a Tardis not being readily available to me…I have to go for the next best thing.

A visual reconstruction of those intriguing department stores and quaint small shops that lined the busy streets of Weymouth town. These were the days when individual shop owners ruled the business world, no out of town super stores to entice customers away from the thriving town centre.

By using illustrations from my own collection and some kindly lent to me by fellow Weymouth history buffs I hope to give you a small glimpse of what living in Weymouth would have been like at the turn of the century, who was about, who your grandparents or great grandparents might have shopped with or businesses they might have worked in.

Weymouth library also holds so many fascinating pictures of the town from this era in their Local Studies Centre, some of which I shall be using in future blogs about the streets of Weymouth town.

I  start by standing near the Kings Statue and looking towards the two ends of the main shopping streets, St Mary’s and St Thomas.

According to the on-line document ‘Weymouth Town Centre Conservation Area Character Appraisal’ Weymouth town has a long and extensive history, albeit on a smaller scale  than now,  ‘It is fairly certain that the grid-pattern layout of Melcombe originates from the early-to-mid medieval period, possibly related to the Edwardian charter.’

We’ll walk down St Mary’s first, the house numbers (should ) run consecutively down one side and up the other, but as time passed, some buildings were demolished, a few numbers changed here and there, but where I can I will try to align them with todays premises.

So…make sure your fashionable hat is pinned on tight, your pretty white lace collar sits neatly above your fitted jacket…but please do mind your skirt hems in the dust…they don’t water down these roads as frequently as they should, sand and grit just ruins the hemlines of your garments if you aren’t careful.


Many of these buildings you see before are two or three stories high,  some of these rooms above the businesses are occupied by lodgers or staff from the shops below., but sometimes  the shop owners themselves live on the premises, the working days are often long and husband and wives, even the children help out when they can.

Scan06The rounded building on the end of St Mary Street to the left of the Kings Statue is known as Statue house.

In the 1901 census 59-year-old Elizabeth Young is in residence here, poor lady, she’s a widow and to keep a roof over her head her occupation is now that of a lodging house keeper. Considering the size of the property she doesn’t have too many lodgers.

A solitary soldier  in residence…34-year-old Fred Cox.

Beneath the somewhat empty rooms of Elizabeths’ is the business of Clarke & Partner, see how their name is emblazoned around the end of the building for all to see, this is the billboard of the Victorian era.

P1030866The business is a partnership between two rather well heeled gentlemen, John George Parker and Albert Augustus Clarke.

John George Parker, who is  53, was from Manchester it is said, and he is an insurance agent amongst many other things.

He lives in a rather nice house called Shamrocks which is out at Upway, along  with his wife, 29-year-old Annie, (we won’t dwell upon  the age gap ladies…suffice to say they seem happy enough.)  They have a young family, Dorothy, Annie and William, all of whom  were born in Weymouth.

Albert Augustus is an auctioneer, his house is that rather nice place,  Lynwood, on Westerhall Road, you must know where I mean ladies. Florence is his wife, she’s also a fair deal younger than him, and they have three lovely children, Mary, Dorothy and Helen.

Albert wasn’t born in Weymouth but Somerset, that’s like so many people in Weymouth now…we are becoming really quite cosmopolitan!

I blame it on the railways myself.

Apparently, so the gossip goes, Albert  had moved to this area as a single man in the 1880’s. Even by then he was already a successful business man, a master builder with a sizeable workforce, he had been a good catch for any female even if I do say so myself.

In 1889 Albert was working  as an auctioneer, but he had the reputation of many finger in many proverbial pies.

It must have been fairly soon after that that the two men amalgamated their businesses and set up shop at Statue House that you see today.

By the way ladies…did you see whose house is up for sale….I had heard some frightful rumours…such a shame


Here we come across our first conundrum!

The census enumerator lists the residents in order that he follows down the street going from door to door.

1901 starts with Statue house, followed by no’s 1, 2 and then the black Dog at no 3. nowadays these buildings that sit between the Statue House and the small building numbered 1a are rather strangely numbered in the hundreds?

Were buildings demolished here at some stage?

I shall stick to the enumerators route as he was proverbially ‘on the ground’ at the time and entered what was there at on the day.


Here we are, this is No 1 St Mary Street,  the business premises of Robert Bullen Brown.

In Kelly’s Directory he’s listed as the seller of waterproof goods…but don’t be deceived, he’s so much more than that!

I’ve looked him up on The Jury Lists and it states that he’s a tent and tarpauline manufacturer, and as you can see from the advert below he runs a pretty large company, he owns shops in Dorchester as well as Weymouth.

Snip20140926_3Mr Brown doesn’t live above his premises…not surprising really,  I don’t personally know the gentleman myself, but I have heard through the grapevine that well-off Robert and his wife Mary Ann  live at Glebe House in Dorchester.

I’m not sure if he  travels back and forth to work over the Ridgeway every day, but then again he in all probability doesn’t need to.

I think he may have have an assistant who lives locally and opens up shop for him.

Never having the need for tents or tarpaulins myself I’ve not entered his premises yet…but perhaps I could find use for a short piece of rope…


Ah, now here’s a family I know well, they’re locals don’t you know…you must have at least heard of the Guppy’s surely?

This is No 2a, if you look at the sign in their window it says Messrs J Guppy & co.

This is  where  Thomas John and his wife, Sarah Ann, (they are both in their forties by now,) work, and they live in the rooms above.  They have two adorable children , Thomas William who is 13 and Hilda Marion, she’s only seven, such a sweetie pie.

They are one of my favourite  jewellery shops, I do so love to browse their little trinkets and knick-knacks, Thomas is very  helpful, he always manages to find something special for me to spend my allowance on…

woman girl clock q 1892Alice Maud Roper lives in with the family too, a very hard worker so Sarah Ann tells me, she likes to help out in the shop sometimes. I’m sure she’ll be with them for a long time to come..not that you can ever tell really! Servants can sometimes be so flighty. (Alice was still living at and working in the shop premises in 1911.)

Thomas used to have a shop in Bond Street but decided it might be busier here in St Mary St, so in 1892 the family moved.

Not that it has been all good here in their new shop.

In the April of 1897 their shop made the headlines of the local papers…it was scandalous really…it was the scene of a rather daring burglary and was the cause of much gossip around town as you can only imagine.

One Friday night, as midnight approached, two men had been lurking suspiciously in the street…up to no good of course!

So the story goes, one of the men smashed a large hole in the window with a rock, or some say his boot, and they both began grabbing handfuls of jewellery and silver goods. The night of the robbery was an extremely windy one, the noise of the breaking glass deadened somewhat.

Unluckily for the thieves there just happened to be two men who were near the Statue, and  did hear something. Though why anyone should be out and about at that time of the night goodness only knows! Anyhow, I digress somewhat, the two men walked towards St Mary Street to investigate where they thought the noise had come from.

The thieves spotted  the approaching men, they were still trying to stuff their ill gotten gains into their pockets, then they turned and fled down the street away from the men.

Luckily someone else  had also heard the noise, two of the patrolling policemen, PC Sweet and PC Burt, both good men, regular church goers, they were walking the beat from St Edmund Street end.

Trapped between the police and the approaching men the wily thieves turned up Bond Street, making haste towards the seafront, but thankfully they were not quick enough, the long arm of the law soon had them collared.

Once the policemen had them under arrest they followed a trail of rings, ink wells and knick knacks  back to Guppys shop front where they found the smashed window.

It turns out that the two men were soldiers of the resident Northumberland Fusiliers, John Sweet and  Michael Tonar. Those soldiers from the Red Barracks always seem to be getting into trouble with the law. The army really should do something about their excessive drinking!

Well, it transpired that both men had planned the burglary not bothering if they got caught, it had been a desperate ruse to get thrown out of the army. I’m sure the army was quick enough to oblige!

(By 1913 Thomas Guppy is  calling himself a dealer in fancy goods.

1915 sees his son Thomas William take over the shop in St Mary Street, Thomas senior by then has new premises in St Edmund Street and is back to dealing in watch repairs and jewellery.

In a 1927 Kelly’s Directory, Thomas junior is listed as a fancy goods dealer, owning both shops still, St Mary Street and St Edmund Street, but the family (as Junior still lived at home with Mum and Dad!) were living in Abbotsbury Road by then.

Thomas John Guppy died on the 3rd May 1936, a fairly wealthy man,  leaving his businesses to his son Thomas and daughter Hilda Marion Lack.)


Hurry along ladies…it looks like it’s going to rain soon… and I don’t have my umbrella with me

This building is 2b St Mary St and as you can quite clearly see from the shop windows  it is a photography business, a very successful one too,  and has been for some years.

It’s now run by local gentleman Walter Galpin  Cox,  Emily, his wife helps out in the shop. They have a rather large family, but at the moment only Bernice, Emily, Edgar and Daisy are at home with them,  the family of course live above these premises.

Walter was born in Weymouth, but you know children, they like to strike off on their own sometimes, as of course they should. Well,  Walter had moved out of the family home to Bristol of all places!… but there he managed to earn a successful living, thats where he met his wife Emily, and their  children were born.

Around the 1890’s Walter returned home again, his father was ailing by that time, so he took over the running of the family business.

Walters father, Edgar,  had  been one who had invested in the new art of  photography, (many people told him it wouldn’t catch on…but he knew better,) he called his business in St Mary Street  Rembrandt Studio. A man of many talents, Edgar also ran the Weymouth School of Art and Photography.

We have had our portrait taken here a few times now…they take such care over their work, and I have a soft spot for Walter, he’s a  kind fellow…lovely manners.

Trelawney hotel. 1I have recently seen some  prints of Edgar’s that he took  back to 1860’s. He was very partial to photographing the ships out in the bay.

This is the one he took of me in my mourning weeds, I wanted something to remember the loss of my dear husband by…

Snip20140926_7I can remember Edgar as a young man, before photography had become his main business he had worked as  a carver and gilder.

Now, like me, he is becoming frail and his health is declining…the woes of growing older…

(Edgar died not long after, in 1904.)

Walter  like most young men of today has come up with all manner of new fangled ideas for the business.

He’s even changed the shops name to The Studio Royal! A bit pretentious I think…but then what do I know of such matters as a mere female.

He’s even started to introduce a series of Weymouth postcards known as the ‘Celebrated Series.’

They seem to be very popualr with those dreadful tourists!

Oh how I hark back to the good old days when the visitors here were respectable gentle folk…nowadays it seems to be all noisy children running in and out of the water with their buckets and spades…even the parents have taken to rolling up their trouser legs or skirts and paddling…no decorum whatsoever!…


Now I know ladies that this isn’t the place that you will know much about…apart from a couple of you whose husbands like to take the occasional tipple…

This is No 3 St Mary, as disreputable as the place is, it  is still a building and business of long standing, and one  with a fascinating history that includes many foul deeds,  murders and tales of smuggling.

This Saxon framed building and its trade dates right back to the 1500’’s a public house known as  The Black Dog.

P1490483At one time in its long, long history it was known as The Dove, allegedly getting its latter name from the fact that when Weymouth started trading with Newfoundland the then landlord gained  posession of the first ever ‘Newfoundland Labrador, ‘ which became a talking point and attracted hundreds of visitors to admire this massive hound.

So I believe, 44- year-old London born Henry William Townsend is mine host at the moment, along with his wife Julia. They have living on the premises with them  3 barmaids, serving wenches…a draw for the customers, or so I’m told.

I, of course, can’t tell you much more about the dreadful place or its inhabitants, so we’ll move swiftly along the street.

(I Wonder if my Grandad ever drank in there and leant on the bar to give the buxom barmaid a sneaky smile?

Check out their website for a potted history.


Keep up ladies…keep up…Millicent! what on earth are you tittering at?

Here we are, outside the shop of  John Jeanes, a  very striking gentleman indeed, he has just the most wonderful eyes, though one suspects that maybe he is putting on some weight by the way his jacket seems to be gaping open over his middle region!

Snip20140926_8Now John is a local man, born in 1841, but he’s not always been a fishmonger, though he is very popular with his female customers.

John was previously a boarding house keeper, he owned one of the rather nice  properties  along Brunswick Terrace, but around 1885 he moved to these premises at no 4 St Mary Street.

Sadly he lost his first wife, but is now married to  Sarah Ann, they have a rather large brood of 9 children;

Their Son Sidney James, who’s aged about 18  I do believe is a budding a photographer, I think that perhaps he works with the Cox family in their studios just a couple of doors down the road, perhaps he even took this stunning portrait of his father.

Leonard Lovell,a bit younger, possible 16, works further up the street, he’s a drapers assistant and then there’s 14-year-old Alfred Baker, he’s a good boy, the apple of his Daddy’s eye,  he works alongside his father in the fish shop.

There are three more grown up children, goodness knows what they do with themselves all day long…Edward Strong, Margaret Ann and Percival Charles, presumably they are still being educated?

(John had retired by the time of the 1911 census, by then he was 70, he and his wife had moved to 17, Trinity Road, along with three of their children who were still living at home with them, the very same Edward, Margaret and Percival who in the 1901 census did not seem to have any occupation!)


(By 1905 the business at no 4. had changed hands.)

P1030695(It was now the home and workplace of London born Edward Hitch, his wife Mary Ann and their family, Edward’s seen here posing in the doorway of his shop around 1905, he seems to be looking down the street, maybe he’s keeping an eye open for who’s going into his competitors shop.

Edward had set up in direct competition with long-established tobacconist, Walter Travers 3 doors down the road.)


This is a shop that I believe most of you ladies will have frequented in the past…the Greengrocery business of James Curtis, this shop is  occupying the building of no 5 St Mary Street.

James lives here with his wife Eleanor.

Sad to say the couple don’t have any children of their own…such a shame. But they have kindly taken in their nephew and niece to their home, such a Christian to do.

(James didn’t go on to have  a family of his own until his second marriage in 1908 to Meloina, who was a fair bit younger than him, by the 1911 census the family had grown with the birth of 2 children.

1911 shows James was still living and working as a greengrocer at his shop in St. Mary Street. his nephew, 18-year-old Ernest still by his side.)


Oh dear…was that a few drop of rain I felt then…I hope it doesn’t start to rain hard, my maid took ages to clean my skirts last time they got muddy from the streets.

This is the shop of a gentleman with a rather magnificent name… Freeman Horniblow. He runs his business under the grand title of The Colonial Meat Company, it occupies no 6 St Mary Street.

two women shop q 1892Freeman is away from home at the moment, his wife Eliza is all very hush hush about why, she surely knows that I wouldn’t gossip about her if she told me.

I fear all is not well maybe in the  marital home.

Her  daughter Ethel is there to keep her company though,  she’s now aged 28 and no sign of a beau..maybe that’s for the best. Ethel is well-educated, she  now works from home as a school mistress. She used to  work as a photographers assistant, not really the sort of profession for a young female…I don’t know, women these days, seem to want it all, careers, money, husbands…(maybe Ethel had been another one that was employed by the Cox photographic studio?)

Her younger sister Eva Ella also lives at home, she’s 24 and  another who works as a school mistress.

Their 19-year-old son Leonard has chose to go down the engineering route, he’s employed as as a fitter at the engineers. Obviously working in a butchers shop is not the life for him, but at least he’s working, which is more than be said for some of these youngsters nowadays!


We’re nearly there ladies…just a couple more premises and then we can pop into the tea shop and partake in  some light refreshments…I hear they do a lovely range of fancies these days…I do so love my cup of tea served in a proper bone china cup and saucer.

Now, the rich aromas alone would give away what these premises are at no 7…

Here lives Walter William Travers, he’s not local but Kent born, not that we should hold that against the poor fellow.

Walter is a single gentlemen and is a long-established tobacconist by trade.

P1030698I don’t know this family at all, and I’m not a one for gossip, but his household does contain a bit of  a mystery.

Living with him is local lady Susannah Samways, she’s a widow aged 72,  and is calling herself a cousin. Also living there is another ‘cousin’ 35-year-old Louisa Samways, she is in fact Susannahs daughter.

Here comes the mystery, the last member of the household is little Eric Cecil Samways, a babe of 3 months, who is also mysteriously listed as a ‘cousin’.

(The Mystery was ultimately solved…It looks as if   Eric was the child of Louisas brother, Charles John Samways.)

and there was me thinking poor Louisa had a love child!

(His wife, Amy Olivant, had  died on the 22nd January 1901, one can only assume that she had been a sad statistic, one of the poor women who didn’t survive giving birth.

By the time of the 1911 census the family are just that, ‘cousin’ Louisa  had married shop owner Walter in about 1908, according to the records they had no children.

Where was little Eric by now? Happily he was living back with Dad and his new wife.

Mum Susannah was still living and working with the married couple in the tobacconists.

Walter William died on the 13th november 1929 in Weymouth & District hospital, leaving all his worldly goods to his wife Louisa.)


This, ladies, is the house of good friends of mine…unfortunately they said they were indisposed today or they would have invited us in for afternoon tea…such a shame.

As you’ll notice no 8 doesn’t appear to have a shop attached to it.

This is the home of the  Arden Misses that being  Georgina and her sister Caroline Rose.

They are both spinsters of a certain age, and are both  living off their own means, not being too indiscreet about it,  they had enough to survive on without having to work for their living.

There used to be a third sister, Mary W,  she was also single, and also wealthy enough to be able to survive on her money alone.

These ladies are certainly wealthy enough to appear on the Electoral Registers, though they are only entitled to vote locally, (no woman was allowed to vote for parliamentary elections until 1918.)

In fact these three dear, well-off acquaintances of mine were the off-spring of wealthy, but sadly now deceased parents, George and Marianne.

Daddy had been a successful attorney, and no 8 St Mary Street had been their family home,  George Arden used to run his solicitors office from here

letter Civic Society. 1_2(When 81-year-old Georgina died on the 28th October 1928, she left £8,968 15s 7d to her only surviving sister, Caroline Rose who was still resident at no 8.)


Last one my dearest friends…I can hear those delicious cakes calling for us…

The Arden sisters certainly wouldn’t have needed to services of this shop next door to them.

The sign that hangs outside of here, no 9,  is such that virtually announces to one and all ‘ ye who enter here are in dire need.’

It is of course the dreaded pawnbrokers!

Snip20140926_12This is the business of a London chappie, 57-year-old Alfred Sergeant.

He no longer lives above this shop , having done very nicely for himself and his family, they have moved into  a nice home, Ingleside, over in  Rodwell.

His wife  is what one could only politely refer to as a true Liverpudlian, her name is Emma. along with their three rather boisterous children Kate, Herbert and Ethel.

I do believe they have a couple of live-in servants,  someone told me their cook was called  Emma Aston  and their young housemaid Ellen Bumstead. I have no social contact with the family..I’m sure they really wouldn’t be my sort.

There are people living in these premises above the business at no 9, but these rooms are now the abode of  his shop staff.

Head of the busy household is Annie Rose, she is a 47-year-old widow, her thankless task as housekeeper is to keep the single lads watered, fed and under control.

The eldest ‘lad’ is in fact 43, Samuel Burridge who is a  pawnbrokers assistant, as indeed are  the other household residents, Kent born Edgar Weller and Cornish lad   Frederick Philpot.

(Sergeants shop was still on these same premisses in the early 1960’s, Woolworth’s which used to stand the other side of the passageway had purchased the building, hoping to be able to expand their store  losing the lane altogether, but they were denied planning permission.

This building is still a place where money exchanges hands, it is now  the Nationwide Building Society.)


At last ladies, we have reached the end of this first block of houses and shop premises…time for tea me thinks.

If you look up this  narrow passageway that leads from St Mary Street it will take you to  New Street.

It goes by the name of Blockhouse Lane dating back to the 16th century when it led to the blockhouse fort that originally sat on the sea shore.

At one time during the early 18th c the name had been  changed to Pope’s Passage but reverted to its original name in the 1880’s.

Millicent…Millicent…where are you going?…Wait for me…


Hope you’ve enjoyed our little stroll.

Part two will continue our amble down the Victorian St Mary Street.


These photos below show what remains in this small section of the  town of some of the older buildings.

You might not notice anything special walking past the modern day shop fronts, but if you stop and look up, you will see a variety of building styles that bear remnants of grander times.

In this first section it is not always easy to connect the new with the old. Numbers have changed somewhat.

Gladstones the jewellers is now listed as 1a St Mary St.

P1490476Next door, Antonios Cafe is 2a…seems fairly logical, at first!

P1490477One then would assume that Mejusa the next one in line down the street would be …well, it’s not…it’s no.1 of course!

P1490479and Barclays Bank is no.2…

The Black Dog thankfully was no.3…and still is no.3.

The next block of Victorian shop premises were demolished and replaced with the modern, rather soulless looking building of M&S.These are no’s 4-8.

Sports Direct is listed as 8a and 8b. I rather think this was the grand town house of the wealthy Arden family, can’t you just picture the aged spinsters sat at one of the decorative bay windows  literally watching life passing by.


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.