Page updated 28th November 2014
Rifford Road in St Loyes is one of the roads developed for social housing by Exeter City Council, in the early 1930s. It was named in 1933 after Adam de Rifford, five times mayor of Exeter between 1246 and 1254. His name is in turn, derived from the agricultural crop, rye and the crossing over the (Wonford) stream. It is thought that he probably owned a substantial property in the area.
Leading Signaller A S Budd from Rifford Road was in the crew of HMS Exeter during her famous action against the Graf Spee on 13 December 1939, off the River Plate. Another resident of the road who was killed in the war in Italy during August 1944, was Private H M Purrington of 90 Rifford Road.
Two large land mines were dropped on parachutes to explode over St. Loyes, on 28 November 1940, causing extensive damage across a large area of residential property. Four were killed in Woodstock Road and Cranbrook Road and 26 injured. Damage was caused to property in 46 streets and roads from Sivell Place, Heavitree to Rifford Road, Heavitree Park to Wonford Road.
Many Exonians found themselves homeless after the city lost large swathes of tenement housing during the blitz. After the war sites were identified around the city for replacement housing, some of it temporary. The first batch of fifteen temporary houses in Rifford-road, Exeter, were visited by members of the council on the 24 August 1945, and would be ready for letting seven days later. German prisoners were employed to work on the roads, and sewers at Burnthouse Lane.
The Rifford Road residents organised a Victory Japan party at the Wonford Victory Hall on the 13 September 1945, where over 70 children were entertained in the afternoon, and the adults continued into the late evening.
On the 6 November 1946, the Mayor of Exeter (Alderman F. H. Tarr) opened the first four permanent houses of the post war era erected by the City Council at Rifford Road. It was part of a contract to erect 184 dwellings on the Wonford sites. The contractors said that 32 of the houses would be completed before the end of the year.
Sources: The Western Times and Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, Exeter Burning by Peter Thomas.
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