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Do You Know of the Whereabouts of this Lectern - 6 February 2010

Exeter Memories on Intute - 1 November 2009

A website run by a consortium of Universities has added Exeter Memories to its list of resources for education and research, selected and evaluated by a network of subject specialists. The entry is at Intute entry. Exeter Memories is described : "This website presents a truly excellent array of resources on the local history of Exeter and is run by a committed amateur enthusiast. The simple-to-use navigation system is split into several categories. The 'Memories' section provides access to a number of personal accounts of the experience of a number of events (from the Blitz to a first ride in a motorcar and student memories from the 1990s). The 'Bygone' section provides a number of pictures - arranged by decade - showing and describing the history of Exeter. There are also sections on topics (e.g. buildings, sports, streets, parks); articles (discussion of some major events); people (some descriptions of prominent and important people in the history of Exeter); events; photos; a site map; and a time-line of events. This website is highly user friendly and will prove to be a fantastic resource for those interested in Exeter's history."

The Universities in the consortium are:
University of Birmingham
University of Bristol
Heriot-Watt University
The University of Manchester
Manchester Metropolitan University
University of Nottingham
University of Oxford

It is nice to know that my efforts to record people's memories and historical places and events of the city have been noticed – it is a recognition that could only be achieved with the input and help of all those people who have contributed memories, snippets of information and thousands of photographs for use on the site. Thank you to you all.

The missing lecternLast seen at St Petrock’s Church, High Street, Exeter in 1993

Garton & King have a long association with St Petrock’s in Exeter. The premises of 190 High Street were opposite from the Church in High Street (where McDonalds now are and where the High Street Woolworths used to be before then.)

John Atken, who started the ironmongery that became Garton & King in 1661, became a Churchwarden of St Petrock in 1698. Lewis Portbury, also a one time owner of the business in 1724, became a St Petrock’s Churchwarden in 1721, in addition to being a Bailiff for the City. In fact the Church records trace the progression of ownership over the centuries. Sam Kingdon senior was a churchwarden and his son William was appointed Parochial Commissioner sometime prior to 1826 and Sheriff in 1842. Iron Sam (William’s brother) became Mayor in 1836. In the era of Garton & Jarvis, John Garton in 1865 was also a Churchwarden. Moving on to the era of Garton and his new partner King and the subsequent death of John Garton in 1867 we enter the latter part of the 19th Century. Mr John Gould-King was not only a Churchwarden but a Feoffee (trustee) of St Petrocks.

Parish records and drawings show that St Petrock’s was extended towards the Cathedral Yard in 1881 with the addition of a new Vestry and Chancel.

In Trewmans Flying Post in November 1881 it is reported that - "A handsome Brass Lectern, designed and manufactured by Garton & King was presented to the Church of St Petrocks to mark this extension."

The last known sighting of the Lectern is believed to be 1993. The Church, around that time, was divided, as it is at present, and only the older portion, on the High Street, is accessible to the general public. All attempts to trace the Lectern through the Dioscesan Registry (Michelmores, solicitors) and even the present Churchwardens and also through two well known Architectural Salvage Businesses have failed.

Enquiries with the Exeter based St Petrocks Charity for homeless people who now occupy the part of the Church where the Lectern was fixed (as in the Photo) have also been unable to help. Contact me here - E-Mail

Two Hundred Forum Members - 14 September 2009

The Exeter Memories Forum has just had its 200th member join, and is proving to be a place where the history of the city, and people's memories can lead to some interesting discussions. It has taken 17 months to reach 200 members, and on the way, such varied topics as Walton's at Christmas, the origin of Floyer Hayes, mineral water manufacturers of St Thomas and Exeter Pop Groups and Bands have been covered. Some forum members have embarked on further research, prompted by the forum. If you are a member and have not looked at the forum lately, why not log on and contribute your question or answer. If you are not a member, you are invited to join and see if we can make 500 members by 2011.

The Old Exwick Trail - 29 July 2009

The Exwick Local History Group, in conjunction with RAMM launched its Old Exwick Trail at the Thatched House on 29 July. The leaflet, a companion to the St Thomas Trail covers a distance of about 2 miles and takes an hour to complete. The Trail takes the participant past many of the historic features of the village, covering the history of Station Road and the toll house, as well as the three mills for which Exwick can be justly proud. The Trail is available at the Thatched House, Village Inn, doctors surgeries and St Thomas Library.

Exeter Bands and Gigs of the Sixties - 3 February 2009

I didn't grow up in Exeter during the sixties, although I am of that age. A regular contributor to Exeter Memories, Mike Ewings emailed me asking whether I was going to add anything about the sixties music scene to the site, which I would if I had the material. Mike has posted a request on the forum Exeter Pop Groups/Bands of the Sixties for memories and anecdotes that he will compile into an article for Exeter Memories. If you played in a band, were an enthusiastic groupie or just remember the gigs email Mike with your contribution via the forum or contact me through Exeter Memories email and I will pass on the message. I have had several memories of the Beatles, and Stones, so if you have a story to tell about visiting bands and acts, as well as local bands, let me know or contact Mike.

The British Library

Exeter Memories has been selected by the British Library for their digital archive. They will copy the whole site, every six months, to their archive and ensure it, along with other sites, can still be accessed by future technology. Hopefully, far into the distant future, historians and others will be able to consult the site as a resource for new generations.

Tarmac the GuildhallWant to buy a load of cheap tarmac? 15 December 2008

Right in front of one of the most historic buildings in the city, tarmac has been used to fill the holes left in the pavement and even spread over the kerb stones. Did a dodgy man, with a pick-up, knock on the door of the Civic Centre with a load of cheap tarmac, leftover from the M5, offering to cover the pavement for a hundred quid? What is going on and why is the new council regime allowing such a mess, and when are they going to do something about it? It seems to me that the leader of the council Adrian (I'll say what you want to hear) Fullam, and his ilk, have no pride in our city.

It is only two years since the High Street was refurbished by the City Council, when Indian granite slabs were laid at a cost, if my memory serves me correctly, of £1.5 million. For perhaps 18 months, we had to pick our way past workmen laying the slabs, while we held hands over ears to blank out the noise of stone cutters and we held our breath to keep out the dust. The result of this expensive refurbishment was mostly pleasing, although the road surface of the High Street never seemed to match the quality of the pavement. Obviously some necessary digging has taken place by the Guildhall, but the quality of the repair using black tarmac has ruined the costly refurbishment. It is likely that the work was done by some other agency, but I wonder why the Council have allowed such an ugly reinstatement to be made.

Power to the City

If you have read the page on this site about the Power Station at Haven Banks, you may be interested in a recently published book Power to the City, about the Exeter Electric Light & Power Station, by Dick Passmore. This well researched history covers the first introduction of electricity to the city, through the new power station at Haven Banks, built for the new tram system, and the growth of the use of electricity, that is as much a social, as a technological history. Initially, the City Council was luke warm to the idea, and rejected the first proposals for electricity generation, but the persistence of George Henry Massingham, a boot and shoe manufacturer, persuaded the Council to give it a go. Attempts at producing electricity from the River Exe are also discussed in this accessible and well illustrated book.

Blitz Film - 1 October 2008

The South West Film and Television Archive, along with the Dartington Hall Trust and the Westcountry Studies Library have very kindly allowed the use of two pieces of historic film in Exeter Memories.

The most important film is the footage that the Dartington Film Unit shot in the days after the blitz in May 1942. Some of this film has been seen on television, some just recently on Spotlight. However, the footage contains much material that I have never seen before, and I am sure it will be new to many visitors to the site. One of the short extracts on the site shows the material damage to the city, with a devastated Sidwell Street, Southernhay West and clearing up the mess in the High Street. Another clip I have added shows a static water tank and firefighters in Southernhay, workers saving furniture from damaged houses and information sheets being handed out to a recovering population. This material will be of interest to many schools who study the blitz as part of their history courses, and also give others a chance to see Exeter during one of its darkest hours. I shall be adding one more short extract from the blitz film during the next week.

The second film is a bit late, as it is of the Olympic Torch being carried through Exeter High Street in 1948. The torch was on the way to Torquay for the yachting events. I hope this new material will give all those who have an interest in this great city, a chance to discover what life was like in a very difficult decade, for our grand-parents generation.

The British Library

Exeter Memories has been selected by the British Library for their digital archive. They will copy the whole site, every six months, to their archive and ensure it, along with other sites, can still be accessed by future technology. Hopefully, far into the distant future, historians and others will be able to consult the site as a resource for new generations.

Brian GreensladeKeep Exeter Free - 6th August 2008

Devon County Council are wasting precious council taxes on producing a propaganda sheet designed to soften up the citizens of Exeter for a takeover. The full colour waste of money pushes their own agenda, rather than giving an impartial view of the two proposals by the Boundary Commission - shame on them. The megalomaniac man from Barnstaple is running a political campaign to take over the City, aided and abetted by the Lib Dem City Councillors who were remarkably quiet about their ultimate aim at the last local election - the new Councillors were disingenuous to say the least in their canvassing, never mentioning their real objective.

Exeter has grown enormously over the last 25 years, with more jobs, development and a swathe of new schools. The City has always been independent, and the alternative proposal of a greater Exeter authority which is not favoured by Greenslade, would see his empire diminished. Devon County Council have not got a good record in the city judging by the number of potholes and repairs needed to the roads and facilities for the elderly which heavily rely on private, unaccountable companies whose only concern is whether their bill is paid on time. And the latest proposal to sell off the County homes for the elderly will see increased costs and shoddy care for many.

Let Devon run what they are good at - a rural area, with a large road system and the social problems that the country side has to deal with. Let Exeter run what it is good at - an urban area with its own, quite different, social problems, and a prosperous economy planned by the City. Is it really sensible to ask one authority to run two quite different areas, and expect County Hall to cope with both rural and urban problems which require quite different solutions.

And to my regular visitors who maybe upset by my comments I say - Exeter deserves better than Brian Greenslade increasing his control while a proud City loses its independence after 2000 years.

Exeter City win at Wembley

On Sunday 18 May Exeter City, beat Cambridge United at Wembley and go back into the Football League after 5 years in the Conference. Rob Edwards scored the winning goal after 22 minutes, a goal that was only his second of the season. The second half was a nerve racking time as Cambridge United pressed forward to get an equaliser, while Exeter squandered a couple of great chances to increase their lead.Twenty five thousand rapturous fans celebrated the win by waving scarves and flags to create sea of red at their end of the stadium, as the team lifted the play-off cup, before making their way back to Devon on a fleet of fifty coaches.

The Grecians are back.... be afraid.... very afraid.

Added 25 May 2008 - Exeter City meet the Lord Mayor

Divers find HMS Exeter - 7th May 2008

The York Class Cruiser, proudly named HMS Exeter, that was instrumental in the destruction of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee, was sunk in the Battle of the Java Sea on the 1st March 1942.

On the 21st February 2007 the wreck of the famous ship was found in 60 metres of water in the Java Sea. In April 2008, a diving expedition explored the wreck in more detail and flew the White Ensign over her, in a tribute to her crew who perished with her, or were held captive in Japanese prisoner of war camps. After a search that covered five years she was found 60 miles from her estimated sinking position, just outside a search box of 90 square miles that the group had covered in late 2006. Later, on the very same day of her discovery, the expedition found the wreck of one of her two escorts, HMS Encounter. The expedition was led by Vidar Skoglie and his wife Alice, Phil Yeutter US Navy retired and Kevin Denlay an Australian explorer and photojournalist.

For the full story of HMS Exeter and her links with the city, see HMS Exeter.

Parish Council Exeter - no way! 25th April 2008

Devon County Council, under the leader, Cllr Brian Greenslade seem intent upon absorbing the proud City of Exeter into Devon County. Their plans will virtually mean that Cllr Greenslade and his cronies will appoint a quango to decide on how and when services will be applied to the city. We would have the same representation as Woodland, Braunton and Bideford, while Torbay and Plymouth would continue to run their own affairs.

Exeter was the County and City of Exeter from 1537 to 1972, and since, has had a City Council - we are a boom city, and still the Jewel in the West. If Greenslade had his way we would be the Fool in his Jest. And don't think this would make no difference to your life in the city - our roads are repaired by County Hall, and judging by the number of potholes, we could expect a much rockier ride than the bumpy ride they provide at the moment. When I am out and about in the city, I often find things to grouse about, but if Greenslade get his way you can bet they would increase ten fold. The bulk of our Council Taxes are paid to Devon County Council - don't let them get it all to waste on pie in the sky schemes or subsidise other parts of Devon.

Keep Exeter Independent.

CartoonOdd planning

The Express and Echo have a story today that councillors of this city are minded to approve the demolition of some twelve Art Deco almshouses to be rebuilt as twenty-four flats in St James. This is despite the fact that planning officers have recommended they be retained as having significant architectural merit. We should remember the famous cartoon published in the 1950s by the Express and Echo, that highlighted the policies of another philistine generation. They are little better than the town clerk C J Newman who wanted dynamite to blow up the last of Exeter's historic buildings after the blitz. Don't these councillors know anything of the history of this city - why do they have to destroy everything. The Kastner Garage in Magdalen Road is an example of what can be done with a little will and imagination and the councillors should rethink their plans.

New Forum on the site - 31st March 2008

I have added a forum to Exeter Memories - anyone with an interest in Exeter's past, or who has a query that they can't find an answer too, about the history of the city can register and post on the forum. Maybe you have a memory of an event, or a place but are unsure of the details - post the memory and see if someone else can jog it for you! If you are in the process of researching your family history and want to find out more about the street where they lived, or if anyone remembers them, there is a section on the forum for you to post your questions. Those who are researching a book or an article can also post their interest, requesting information or contacts.

Take a look - even if you have no questions, you may be able to answer someone else's query - go to Exeter Memories' Forum

People lists

I have also been hard at work compiling more lists of people from Exeter - the latest are a full list of blitz victims, sorted into raids and streets. It is quite poignant to see how many died in some streets, often from one family. The other interesting list is of those executed in Exeter - through the ages, many unnamed were executed, but there are records of several hundred who have offended society enough to pay with their lives. I hope both lists are found to be interesting and I will be adding more as I compile the data.

More photos and more stories - 27th February 2008

The Christmas and New Year were a quiet time for Exeter Memories, but I have now recovered from the festivities and added two pages on the history of Exeter Airport and a photo essay of the Airport, with several photographs taken by Alan H Mazonowicz, a regular contributor to the site. When researching, I was particularly struck by the presence of the the USAAF 440th Troop Carrier Group and 101st Airborne Division, Screaming Eagles, at Exeter before D-day - 45 C47s carrying 743 men, flew from Exeter to Normandy in the early hours of 6th June 1944, some to die before their parachutes hit the ground. We owe a lot to these brave, and no doubt, terrified men, and to those from Exeter who also served at this time.

A new, and welcome contributor to Exeter Memories is Tony Lethbridge, an enthusiast in all things 'Exeter' especially the Falcons. Tony's photographs now illustrate the story of Exeter Speedway and more will be included in some upcoming articles. A biography of Whitney Straight by Tony has also been added - Straight had a full and exciting life, and was instrumental in developing aviation in Exeter. He also served in 601 Squadron at Exeter, during the latter days of the Battle of Britain.

I attended the RAMM West of the Exe road show at St Thomas in February and met some Exonians with stories to tell, or photographs to contribute. Thanks to John Garnsworthy for the photos of the 1963 winter and 1937 Coronation, and John Moore for his memories of the West of England Eye Infirmary, and the story of the dramatic dunking of a delivery van in the Exe in 1923. Dick Passmore has also allowed the use of more of his photographic archive, some of which is already on the site.

STOP PRESS - see letter from HMS Exeter POW for a letter home, from Manila, of a member the ship's crew after he was released from a Japanese POW camp.

The diversity of memory, and richness of images would not be possible without contributions from many around Exeter and further afield, so if you have something hidden away, why not share it and drop me an email.

Seven Storey Hotel

The City Council seem to have forgotten the report a few years back, from a major British University, that concluded that Exeter was the best place to live in the country for its size. One of the factors was the welcome lack of buildings over five storeys, and I believe the Council was quoted at the time as not being in favour of tall buildings. Wind our selves forward to a planning meeting last week, when the Council voted to allow a new seven storey hotel to be built on Western Way, opposite the Vue Cinema. So much for sensible and sensitive planning!

Diana the Princess of Wales' visit in 1986 - 30th January 2008

Two new videos have been added to the site today chronicling the day that Diana, the Princess of Wales visited the city. The first video shows her on a walkabout in the High Street, chatting and shaking hands with an enthusiastic crowd. A lot has happened in the 22 years since her visit, not the least, her tragic death in 1997, and of course, the interminable picking over of the event at her inquest. It is nice to see her in happier times, and to be reminded of how popular she was.

The second video shows the 150 Years of Service parade by the police, fire and ambulance services that Diana viewed from the Guildhall steps. There is the chance to see some footage of the police band which has since been disbanded along with lots of historic fire engines, police cars and other rescue vehicles.

Both videos were kindly made available by Peter Hinc

dhcliffe, who I believe was involved in organising the parade. Go to historic film to see the videos.

Photo ban reversed - 29th January 2008

Scam Securities and the Princesshay management have been forced by adverse reaction from the public and councillors to reverse their decision to ban photography in Princesshay and Bampfylde Lane. Sally Henley the spokes-woman for Princesshay Management said "Exeter City Council has brought to my attention the walkways agreement governing the areas of non-public highway, Princesshay and Bampfylde Lane. This agreement does not prohibit photography and I confirm that those wishing to take photographs of any outside areas of Princesshay may do so without seeking prior permission." She went on to say that the ban on photographers should not have been imposed. So that's alright then. In fact I was in Princesshay today taking photos for this site and was observed by a security man. A good outcome for commonsense; I will continue to check from time to time that Scam Securities does not renege on their own rules.

Update 1st February 2007 - The Guildhall Centre management has decided to join in by preventing two Express and Echo photographers taking photos in the centre. They state that you need to obtain permission to take photos which can be obtained from their office. First, how are visitors supposed to know they need permission when there are no signs indicating that permission is necessary - are our many visitors to the city from overseas going to scuttle off to the management office for permission to take a snap. Secondly, there are buildings of historic significance in the centre and several pieces of art which were not placed there by the Guildhall owners; are they to prevent photographers taking photos of these features. I have taken many photos of the Guildhall Centre for this website without anyone raising an eyebrow and I shall continue to do so.

Scam Securities don't like photos - 24th January 2008

The Express and Echo published an article on 24th January 2007 about an amateur photographer named David Mitchell who was taking photographs in Princesshay. A security man approached him and told him to stop, as photography is not allowed in their streetscape. Why has it taken until now for them to object - four years ago I was warning others that the first thing this officious company would do, would be to lay down the law in their precious shopping mall. David Mitchell walked away from the first security man when "... we were approached by three of the Princesshay security staff who came up and were right in my face."

Of course Sally Henley, the Princesshay manager justified this stupid rule by stating "there are a number of quite serious security implications." Well, you can take photos in Bedford Street and Princesshay Square and Paris Street so what about their security. So what are you allowed to do in Princesshay - I'll tell - dip your hand in your wallet as often as you can until it's empty then go away, because that's all they are interested in - rent and our cash.

Northcott protestThe Northcott - 12th January 2008

The campaign to Save the Northcott took a vocal turn today, and I had to turn up to support it, and to take some photos. A large crowd of shoppers surrounded the many Save the Northcott protesters, as they entertained the throng with songs from the shows.

Exeter has had a theatre since at least since 1721, when the Seven Stars Inn just over the bridge, in Okehampton Street, opened a room for performance. Mr Capaldi, this city put on John Gay's Beggar's Opera just six months after its first showing in London - is that experimental enough for you. The first purpose built theatre opened in Waterbeer Street in 1735, 273 years ago, and apart from small gaps, caused mostly by fire, this city has had professional theatre ever since - until it would seem, the Arts Council decided that Exeter and a good part of Devon no longer had need for ANY theatre, never mind innovative theatre.

Update 1st February 2007 - the Arts Council South West voted to retain the funding for the Northcott - its seems public opinion can concentrate minds.

Northcott Theatre Funding - 13th December 2007

The Northcott Theatre reopened on 12th December after almost a year spent closed, for refurbishment. The first production is Cinderella, which is rather appropriate, as the Northcott is going to become Cinderella and not have a chance to go to the ball, after the Arts Council announced that is was considering withdrawing funding from the theatre from 2009, forcing the Northcott to close. This is a bit rich from the Arts Council, considering that it gave £100,000 to the theatre towards the refurbishment; if any public institution can waste £100,000, plus the contribution from Devon County Council and Exeter City Council, it's the Arts Council. That's our money, from our taxes that the Arts Council thinks it can waste. This is a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. If they wanted to withdraw funding, surely they should have done so before they gave the theatre £100,000 for the refurbishment.

More Film - 12th November

I have had a couple of interesting contributions for the site, which I am in the process of adding. The first is some film from between 1967 and 1970 of the building of the twin Exe crossings and the demolition of Cowick and Alphington Street. The cleared area that is now the St Thomas Shopping Centre is shown and the continuing demolition of Pikes Garage in Alphington Street. The film, in colour, was taken by Peter Werran, who at the time was a police officer with the Exeter City Police Force, and who worked as a police photographer.  Peter's experience with a camera shows, with some quality sequences. See the Demolishing St Thomas link on the Video Page. More film showing the building of the North Exe Crossing and its opening by the Mayor will appear on the site in the next couple of weeks.

Sadly, since I wrote the above, I have been informed that Peter Werran died in November - I offer Peter's family my sympathy at this difficult time, as Exeter loses a faithful servant to the community.

Added 9th December - Exeter Air Day 1970 filmed by Peter Werran.

If you have some photos or 8/16mm film of Exeter, why not contact me with details. I will have the film transferred to DVD for free in exchange for its use on the site.

3rd September 2007

I have uploaded the last two photographs of the Princesshay redevelopment, before it opens on the 20th September. Debenhams at Eastgate closes on the 17th September, and re-opens at 10am on the 20th in their new store. I will, hopefully, be there with my camera, and I will of course upload what I see, soon after. It should be the first chance to take some photos of the mysterious interior of Land Securities Titanic, I mean, shopping centre. Good thing it's in September when there will be no marauding icebergs about.

Since my last comment, I have uploaded some more stories - three where extracted from the unpublished memoirs of Henry Holladay, who passed away in May of this year. He was the managing director of Garton and King, and was well placed to remember the area around the Guildhall Centre, as it is now known, 70 or more years ago. There are also some memories of a police officer from the 1960s - anyone who attended a Beatles or Rolling Stones show at the ABC and managed to get an autograph, should not read it.

< p class="margin50"> I have also updated some of the other pages on the site with new information and photos, so if there are pages you have not seen for some time, take another look, there may be more to see.

23rd March 2007

I have introduced of a new section to Exeter Memories in the last few weeks, with the menu option for Photos. This section lists all the photo essays that are currently available in the site.

New photo essays include one of photographs by Maurice Swansborough taken in 1933 and the early 1950's. As a teenager, in the 30's, Swansborough visited his grandfather in Hamlyn Lane. He was a keen photographer and photographed the centre of the city. His later photos show Exeter just as it was in recovery from the war, with some fascinating photos of a burnt out St Lukes College without a roof, and urban streets around the Pinhoe Road that were not often photographed.

A second important photo essay is from a collection of images taken in 1962, by an anonymous photographer, of the terraces and courts around the West Quarter, Commercial Road and Newtown that were demolished soon after. The famous toilets that overhung the leats are shown in one photo, while the space left by the House that Moved in Frog Street is shown in another. See Disappearing Exeter.

Also take a look at a new photo essay of the House that Moved - the photographs from a collection belonging to Lita Saunders are a comprehensive coverage of the whole move, and along with the BBC film of the event, probably represent the most comprehensive coverage of the event that can be found anywhere.

Other new pages added in the last few weeks include Exeter's Mayors and the Civil War & Siege of Exeter

Ugliest Building

Ugly Ville
The Pustule-on-the-Exe

The Express & Echo have been running a series of articles, inviting comments from prominent people on the ugliest buildings in Exeter. The Lord Mayor, Cllr Norman Shiels and Todd Gray have both expressed their opinions. Curiously, Cllr Shiels mentioned the Civic Centre, without a mention of Debenhams and Renslade House. Todd Gray mentioned the 24 hour store on the corner of York Road and Sidwell Street, an interesting choice I thought. No one has mentioned the hideous flats that are springing up all over Exeter with painted blue tops. The Flowerpot estate built about 20 years ago was a really well designed and sympathetic development - and what do the planners of our fair city allow to be plonked next to them, right on the river bank. Blue topped carbuncles that ought to have their tops ripped off and rebuilt in a form that complements, NOT detracts from what is already there. And as for these so called architects - how would they like these pustules in their back yards.

Oh - and the City Council, and Land Securities have done the dirty, and gone back on their statement of a couple of years ago that Debenhams was to be demolished. Judging by the E&E's articles, that is not a popular move. Roy Slack, leader of the council has been quoted to be in favour of refurbishment and not redevelopment - even my neighbours cat has a finer sense of aesthetics than some on our council.

7th February 2007

I have been given the rights to use some photos and posters from the 1960's of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Cliff Richard at the ABC. There is to be a Beatles and Pop Memorabilia Valuation Day on Sunday the 18th February at the Thistle Hotel, Queen Street, 10am to 4pm, entrance free. If you have any pop memorabilia, take it along for a free valuation. The event is being staged by Tracks, the countries largest specialist in Beatles memorabilia.

30th January 2007

Since Christmas, I have been busy adding many photographs from Alan H Mazonovicz's collection. Such a resource has enabled me to produce articles on the filming of the Onedin Line, Exeter's buses and trams and Exe Island. Alan's photographs have richly enhanced the histories, and will allow more articles to appear in the future.

January is traditionally a quiet time of year, but one event of importance has taken place - the last parade of the Devon and Dorsets through the streets of Exeter on the 27th January. The Duke of Kent took the salute, before the regimental colours were laid up in the Regimental Chapel in the Cathedral, for the last time. I managed to take a series of photographs of this historic event, which can be found in the Last Parade.

Exeter Local History Society

The Exeter Local History Society was formed five years ago at the suggestion of Dennis Perrin, for local people to get together and share their interest in the history of Exeter. It is a friendly group of people who meet every two months in the Central Library to chat with like minded members, and listen to a talk on an aspect of history. Such topics as the cholera in the southwest, Exeter's mills, the history of the Devon and Cornwall Police and I K Brunel have all been topics for recent talks. In addition, through the summer, outside guided tours are held, around various parts of the city or interesting buildings and places. If you would like to come along to the next meeting to hear the talk and meet other members, take a look at the Society's website for more details.

Other things to note in the city this month is the opening of the Vue Cinema at Summerland Gate, and the demolition of the old auto centre in New North Road that was the site of the tram shed and stables for Exeter's horse trams. Both the Northcott Theatre and Elands in Mols Coffee House have closed. The Northcott is spending £1.5 million on a refurbishment, to reopen in December in time for the pantomime.

1st December 2006 -

Princesshay is coming along nicely, and much of the boarding and scaffolding had been removed to reveal some really quite nice buildings and some awful. The paving of Bedford Street is progressing, and there are some nice stone and cobbled sections.

Last week I was lucky enough to acquire a library of 1,600 photographs for use on the site dating from the 1960's. They are the collection of Alan Mazonowicz, and many were taken by him. I have started to upload some, and odd ones are appearing in existing essays - take a look at the Exe Bridge, Exeter Leats and Mills essays for some examples. Many show buildings since demolished, in colour. The 1960's does not seem like long ago to me, and probably to many of you, but the changes in the city have been phenomenal. Buildings that belonged in the 19th Century were still standing - many damp and decaying houses and neglected shops in Alphington Street, Cowick Street, Exe Island and Shilhay were photographed just before the bulldozers moved in. St Edmunds Church, demolishing Exe Bridge, Red Cow Village, Exwick, North Street, South Street, archeological excavations, and many events were photographed by Alan, and I would like to thank him for allowing their use. There will also be a bonus for Onedin Line fans in a few weeks.

So, if you have some photographs of the city, let me know. If you only have prints, I'll scan them and let you have a copy back on disk, so don't be shy, share your pictures!

20th October 2006 -

I have spent the last few weeks working on the display of the site to make it fill the screen for all screen resolutions currently available. I hope the effort has been worth it and that the majority who are now using screens of 1024 pixels, or more, wide will find the site more attractive. The re-working of the site has allowed me to introduce drop down menus, which I hope will make it easier to find your way around.

There have been many other changes and additions in the last two or three months. The most important being the addition of many maps for the Exeter Streets and Areas section. Each topic, with a map, has a small M next to it. I hope you all find the maps enhance your understanding of how much of Exeter has changed in the last 100 years.

12th August 2006

- MD from Exeter has left a comment in the Guestbook which leaves food for thought. This is part of what MD wrote:

". Sadly though I fear Exeter is in a state of decline and that the next twenty years won’t be as memorable as the last. The poorly thought out ideas by the incompetent council has seen blunder after blunder all at the expense of Exeter’s hard working civilians. The new Princesshay disaster instigated by property sharks from London, whose only intention is to sell out Exeter’s ever decreasing independent traders by hiking up rents and offering discounts to multinational companies based on long term leases, will do nothing to change Exeter’s status as the ‘worst clone town in the country’. With the average cost of rent in Exeter city centre now at £40k per year, is it any wonder that Eland, one of the oldest businesses in the South West is soon to close?

The appalling rise of ‘anti-social behaviour’ stemming from the over development of ‘affordable housing’ in and around the city has taken it’s toll on entire communities and will leave its mark for years to come - much in the same way Burnt House Lane gained notoriety during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. Walk along Sidwell St, the High St or Fore St, much past 7pm and the risk of attack and abuse from the hordes of drunks emanating from chain pubs is appalling.

The underdevelopment of the cities infrastructure and lack of decent affordable public transport sees traffic jams and back logs for miles around the main roads in and out of the city. The rise of asthma amongst children will only worsen as Exeter has yet another dubious honour, this time as having worst air pollution than London!

Good luck Exeter, you’re going to need it! )"

Sad comments from someone in their early 20's. In the last 30 years I have never seen so much building work in the city - is it all for the better, or is it needed, but badly thought out. Do we need all this extra shopping, and is there enough provision for the independent trader. Also, I agree with the comment about traffic, which is getting far worse than it was, even in the 1990's. What do you think - is Exeter in decline while at the same time enjoying more prosperity than ever before. And Eland's, one of the oldest still trading independent businesses is to close - that is a sad loss - I can only hope that the new tenant of Mol's is in keeping with the close, and has some independent eccentricity.

12th June 2006

- I have added a good deal of material to the site in the last few weeks. Exeter Stories has six pages of memories from Olive Johnson (nee Nibbs) from the 1920's to the 1940's. Her memories of early motoring are especially welcome as are those related to health care and poverty in the West Quarter. Her reminisces are liberally illustrated with photographs from the time. The well known local historian, Dick Passmore has also contributed his memories from policing the House that Moved in 1961.

The BBC have released from their archives a whole range of film clips from the South West, under their Creative Archive scheme. I have edited and added sound to the clips related to Exeter, in various places on the site. They can also be accessed from the Exeter Video page. The 1960 floods, the first work on the new flood defences in 1964, the House that Moved in 1961, and the Beatles after their 1964 concert, at the ABC can all be found on film, as well as Exeter Cathedral in 1950. There are also some other short videos produced by myself covering pub signs of Exeter, the demolition of Eastgate House and the Exeter Phoenix mechanical bird at the Arts Centre. This month also saw the last parade of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment through the streets of Exeter - the video of this historic event can also be found on the Exeter Video page.

And lastly, take a look at the Exeter People pages for biographies on Fred Jane of Jane's Ships, David Collins, the first Governor of Tasmania and the incredible, Rev. T B Hardy VC. MC. DSO., the forgotten war hero of Exeter who was the mostly highly decorated non-combatant of the First World War - we should all remember this remarkable man. For those that are interested, a commemorative plaque will be unveiled on Tuesday 27th June at 12:00, on the corner of Barnfield Road and Southernhay East - support this event to honour a brave son of Exeter.

11th April 2006

- Travelling around Exeter taking photos for this site means that I get to see a lot of the new building work that is happening around the city. In twenty years, even taking Princesshay into consideration, I have never seen quite so much construction work in the city. Because of the new flats along New North Road, Exonians will no longer be able to watch executions on the prison roof from Northernhay Park - an old view gone and replaced with a cliff of urban banality - these flats remind me of some of the 1950's blocks you see lining the railways in Bonn. And many of the older buildings are also having makeover's, covered with scaffolding and a little care and attention applied. The museum is one such building which will hopefully be finished before the summer.

Anyway, I have been taking notice of the architectural styles being applied to the new buildings - the Legoland style of the eighties has changed for the worse. At least they knew what a roof tile was then. The latest batch of roofs almost all have one thing in common - they look like flat slabs, at a jaunty angle, and appear to be made of tin. The other part of the roofing style is the colour beneath the tin - blue. The manufacturers of blue paint must be making a fortune. Talk about a copy cat style, or is it the same architect of all these toppings. Alan Titchmarsh introduced blue to garden fences and the architects have obviously been watching Groundforce - thing is, that program hasn't been on for at least two years. In a thousand years time the archeologists will say 'this building was from the early 2000's because the bits of plaster and board dug up have a blue hue'. So come on architects of Exeter - try something new for a change, take your blinkers off and try something without copying the next bloke! And what is wrong with a conventional pitched roof - its kept the weather out of most of our buildings for hundreds of years.

Please email me if you have an interesting story or photo about Exeter. Two articles that have been enhanced by readers photos is the Thatched House and Polsloe Road. Take a look and then have a search in your family archives - these photos are all there is to remind us of what Exeter used to be like and should be preserved.

Exeter 8th February 2006

- Well a month has passed since my last comment and the life of Exeter has rolled on through the winter months - the nights are getting shorter and spring will soon be with us.

I have also been given a reminder, from Claire McLaughlin of Maynard's School, that the school will be celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2008. The school is the third oldest girls' school in the country - it was started for educating four girls between the ages of 7 and 10 years, who left at the age of 14, when they were placed as servants in respectable families or bound as apprentices. Things have changed since then and the school is looking forward to its anniversary. The history of the school can be found at Maynards Schools.

Another interesting story added to the site in the last month is that of Paul Collings. Paul was the landlord of the Black Horse Inn, in Longbrook Street, for twenty years in the 19th Century - he was born in Spain and was a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo - I had done some limited research into Collings for the entry about the Black Horse. This prompted an email from one of his descendents adding much that only the family could have known. I was so impressed with his life that it had to go into the Famous People section - do take a look as his was a fascinating life - see Paul Collings

And finally take a look at two new sections - one is a list of 350 Pubs and Hotels through 800 years of history and Famous Visitors to the city.

Exeter 7th January 2006

- Well the last year has seen Exeter Memories grow beyond anything that I first envisaged. The end of the year went well with some publicity on Geoff Worrall's Nostalgia page of the Express and Echo.

Which brings me to a plea to all visitors to this site who have photographs of Exeter hidden away. Geoff Worrall wrote an article about Willey's Foundry. I have a full history of the site, but I have no historical photos. It was a big concern, employing more than a thousand people at its height. The foundry and ancillary buildings occupied much of Haven Banks around Water Lane. They also had premises in the West Quarter during the 19th century. If you have any photographs or advertising leaflets, or a copy of Willey's Weekly, I would love to see them. Just email me at the link below. If you live in Exeter I could arrange to have the material scanned.

Anyone who can supply me with material for the site will receive a free copy of the Exeter Memories CD-rom.

I still continue to document the Princesshay redevelopment. In my travels (infrequent in the cold weather) around the city it is obvious that Princesshay is not the only building work being undertaken. We lucky people who live in Exeter are gaining five new, much delayed, secondary schools. St Sidwells School is also having a large building constructed in York Road and Exeter College have torn down the old Heles School buildings that were built in 1931 be replaced with some new steel framed buildings. New North Road is becoming a canyon with the new Platform 101 flats - they will do nothing for the views from Northernhay Park. The familiar view of the prison across the railway has gone. The flats and apartments seem very high - is it my imagination, or is the City Council allowing developers to build higher nowadays. The roofline of Platform 101 is hardly attractive with little tin roofs stuck on the top at different angles. The new developmant at Flowerpot also has a strange roofline - why oh why do they have to paint everything blue. The Flowerpot houses built a few years ago are a prime example of architecture that is in scale and that enhances the view. Todays architects are all copying each others unsympathetic, and dating styles.

And lastly, even Mol's Coffee House is surrounded by scaffolding!

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David Cornforth - My Contact email address

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