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Disappearing Exeter

Images from an unknown photographer

Page updated 20th April 2010

Photographs of a disappearing city

The first twenty four of the following photographs were taken in August and September 1961 by an anonymous photographer. They are probably from a 24 shot, 120 roll film. They were found, carefully captioned, in an album that originally turned up at a postcard fair in Bristol. This is the first time they have been published with their original captions, along with additional notes beneath the image if required. The album had the following written in the front:

Sep 1962
Bits of the 'Older Exeter'. Some of the photographs show 'derelict houses' waiting to be demolished. Other photographs are of slum property still occupied.

I have also added some additional photographs from circa 1965, of other buildings in the Exe Island and Shilhay area, taken by Alan H Mazonowicz. Together they show the housing of many Exonians from Victorian times until the slum clearances and rebuilding of the 1960's.

Please note that all these photographs are © 2007 Exeter Memories.


Rackclose PlaceRackclose Place
Derelict, Sep 1962
Beedles Terrace on the right.
See Rack Street & Rack Close Lane

Rackclose PlaceRackclose Place
Derelict, Sep 1962
Beedles Terrace on the left.
"I ... stayed with my auntie and uncle at their house in Beedles Terrace every weekend during the late 50's and early 60's.  I remember the gas street lights being lit at night. The houses on the left ..." Memories of Graham Sclater.

Beedles TerraceBeedles Terrace
(rear of Rackclose Place)

Derelict, Sep 1962
"... had small gardens with a path that was used by other people, the toilets were at the bottom of the garden and a communal wash house down the steps next to it. They overlooked what used to be the slaughterhouse. The garden had a wonderful view out across the city. They had no hot water, just one cold water tap under the stairs and I remember my uncle shaving and then pouring the water over the coal stored under the stairs." Memories of Graham Sclater.

Beedles TerraceBeedles Terrace
(rear of Rackclose Place)

Derelict, Sep 1962
"I had a pot under the bed. We had no heating only two coal fires on the ground floor. I remember walking to the end of the terrace and up into Bartholomew Street where my other aunties had a flower shop." Memories of Graham Sclater.

Commercial Road housesOld Houses Commercial Road
Sep 1962
These houses were the first houses on the left as you entered Commercial Road from its junction with Edmund Street. See Commercial Road

Commercial Road rear of housesRear of above houses/the leat
Sep 1962
Refers to the photograph on the left. The photograph was taken from Horsepool Bridge, almost opposite St Edmunds Church.

Old property Commercial RoadOld property Commercial Road
Showing Victoria Cottages (1869) and old shop
Derelict Sep 1962
These properties were on the same side of the road and close to the warehouse clubs in Commercial Road. The opening by the wall in the distance is shown in the next photo, and the building in sunlight is Bodley Bros. & Co Ltd, brass and iron founders.

Old property Commercial RoadOld property Commercial Road
Derelict Sep 1962


This is the side entrance to the old ironworks of Bodley Brothers - Victoria Cottages are to the left.

Tabernacle PlaceTabernacle Place (from inside)
Sep 1962
Tabernacle Place was a courtyard at the bottom of Coombe Street, close to its junction with West Street. Chris Byles informs me that there was a small chapel in the place, which will account for its name.

Tabernacle PlaceTabernacle Place/from Coombe Street
Sep 1962


Corner Coombe StreetOld property/corner Coombe Street
Sep 1962
Coombe Street is on the left and Quay Hill on the right. Tabernacle Court was about 30 yards up Coombe Street, on the right. I have been informed that the corner building was a second hand business up until 1953, when the Council moved the family because the building had become unsafe. It was also infested with rats from the leat and tannery below. The house was lit with oil and gas lights as it had no electricity, it only had cold running water and an outside toilet. The building remained empty and wasn't demolished until after 1962. Information courtesy of Chris Byles.

Mermaid YardLooking into Mermaid Yard
Sep 1962


Cotton Building is the block on the right. Cotton building had wash houses for the residents and toilets situated at each end of the balconies. Both Cotton and Folletts Building had 4 floors, 3 of which had balconies and a flat roof which where used for washing lines. Follett's had interior plumbing and toilets for the flats and two rubbish chutes in each passage way; workmen had to shovel them out regularly. Follett's Building overlooked Coombe Street out of the photo, on the left. Information courtesy of Robert Stewart.

Bottom of Paris StreetOld property (bottom of Paris Street)
Aug 1962
See Paris Street

Bottom of Paris StreetDerelict house/bottom of Paris Street
Aug 1962



Russell St, NewtownHouses in Russell Street, Newtown
Aug 1962


Belgrave RoadOld shops Belgrave Road
Aug 1962



Parr Street, NewtownParr Street, Newtown
Aug 1962
See Newtown

Russell StreetOld property Russell Street
Aug 1962



Tudor StreetVery old property Tudor Street
Aug 1962

Some of the only buildings photographed that still exist - the centre building is the well known Tudor House and Eagle House, part of the Eagle Foundry the near building.

Frog StreetFrog Street/site of Tudor House
Aug 1962


Taken from Edmund Street, looking towards Exe Island. The caption is wrong - the small, empty space on the left was the site of the Merchants House, moved in 1961, and now known as The House that Moved. See Frog Street

Kerrians PlaceKerrians Place, North Street
Aug 1962

See North Street

Chapel CourtChapel Court/rear entrance into North Street
Aug 1962



off Magdalen StreetNo caption
Aug 1962
It is assumed that this is off Magdalen Street as it was paired with the photo on the right.

Faulkners PlaceInside Faulkner's Place, Magdalen Street
Aug 1962


43 and 44 Alphington Street43 and 44 Alphington Street
1965


Browns CourtBrowns Court, off Cowick Street
1965


These dwellings were behind Boots the Chemist on Cowick Street, in an area now occupied by Boots and Next.

Tudor StreetTudor Street and the Tudor House
1965


Leat TerraceLeat Terrace, Cricklepit
1965


A story once circulated in Commercial Road, that told of a builder who, during World War Two, was engaged to construct new toilets at the back of Leat Terrace. Holes were cut without any shoring - when they returned after lunch, the whole building was leaning dangerously. The original toilets emptied straight into the leat.

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