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Oddities, stories and trivia

Looking through some of the more obscure notes and jottings, and indeed drawings and pamphlets, there are the oddities that make you smile or reflect on events past.

How they came to get a mention isn’t always apparent, sometimes it was something done on impulse.

Here are a few examples you may find of interest:-

When the foundry was situated in Waterbeer Street (prior to 1939) there was an area called the Pattern Loft, where, one presumes, the wooden patterns that make the moulds were kept.

Henry Holladay records the following inscriptions that were to be found there.

“John Bowden died March 17th 1889”
(I’m keeping a lookout for the name but as yet haven’t come across it.)
“Mr King died March 24th 1900 aged 72”
“New Engine started March 30th 1880”

Ransomes Simms Engine plinth
The Drawing is part of the plans for the foundation to be created for the
Stationary Engine. Commencement of the laying of the plinth and foundations
on which the engine was to sit were commenced at the tail end of 1879.

Curiously enough I can add to this story - Garton & King purchased a new Ransomes Simms & Head Stationary Engine in December 1879, according to the plans it was necessary to create proper foundations for ‘the beast’ and by Easter the Engine was in place. According to the back of the cloth-covered plans for the foundations, Mrs King, the wife of the then owner was privileged to, or persuaded to, start the Engine and this she did on Easter Tuesday 1880. She was obviously a cut above the average genteel Victorian Lady of the day and had a strong right arm as I should imagine a goodly helping of muscle was required to ‘wind it up!’ This would be the engine that turned the pulleys that drove the belts that turned the shafts that operated the lathes and milling machines etc etc.

Horses“Old Horse died July 28th 1880”
“New Horse September 5th 1880”

Artists impression of the New Horse – Old Horse on Left, or was it right? – no definitely Left.

“Fire in Paint Shop September 26th 1876”
“Charles Mudge died May 5th 1880; Shaply died January 30th 1877; Southard died July 7th 1877”

And now a sobering entry:

“Drummond Castle, wrecked June 16th 1896 Lives lost 247”

SS Drummond Castle

The SS Drummond Castle (3700 tons, built 1896) left Cape Town bound for London on the 28th May under the command of Capt: W.W. Pierce. Off Ushant, Brittany in thick fog and five miles off course she struck rocks and sank. Actually 243 persons drowned, only 3 were saved (by Breton Fishermen - who pulled scores of bodies from the sea). In 1996 the people of Moshene and Ushant, a poor region of France, commemorated the centenary of this disaster as, amongst the many shipwrecks along that coastline this had left the deepest mark and graves to the victims abound in graveyards along the coast. Appeals by the Mayor to British Representatives and descendants of the victims families to attend the ceremony were ignored. Acknowledgement to thompsononename for this information.

On to a lighter note.

The Management saw fit to introduce Hugo Holladay to the workforce, and others, and published the following leaflet:-

“Messrs Garton & King, Ironmongers, Ironfounders and Engineers,have the pleasure to announce that the Firm will be joined on the 1st of October next, by Mr Hugo Holladay, of Faversham, a Gentleman of large experience in the business of General, Furnishing, Builders’ and Manufacturing Ironmongers, and of intimate acquaintance with all models and progressive methods of business.
The style of the Firm will not be altered but the Business will be conducted (as heretofore) under the name of Garton & King.
The long record of successful business with which the Firm has been favoured evokes the warmest expression of gratitude, and it is confidently hoped that past experiences may justify this appeal for a continuance of the confidence and patronage so generously extended in the past.
The undoubted reputation of Garton & king for Work of the Highest Class and for Goods of the Best Quality may, they trust, afford a fair basis for their endeavour to promote a wide extension of business under the new partnership.
The Ironmongery Business proper will receive the special attention of Mr Holladay with the co-operation of the present efficient staff.
The Engineering and Ironfoundry Department will continue under the direction of Mr King, with valuable detail management of the present officers of the works.
The Developments of recent years in the Manufacture of Stoves and Ranges, and in the important works of Domestic and General Engineering have been followed up by the Firm with untiring care and study.
No effort will be spared in the future to render their methods in these departments, and in the Constructional and General Ironfoundry, such as to command the patronage of Professional Men, Contractors, and their valued connexion.
190, High Street and ‘Exeter Foundry’, Waterbeer Street,
September 1898”

Urinal advertMoving on to more Sanitary Matters here is an advert promoting ... wait for it ... hold on! PHILLIPS & Co.’S PATENT INTERCEPTING URINAL. Apparently all one needs is to give it a wipe with a wet rag and save the contributions for use on your allotment.

Quickly moving on....

Foundry Book entry 1911In 1911 it seems the Exeter Council operated a number of Traction Engines and like all machinery was subject to wear tear and breakdown. This is a copy from an entry for the 21st September in the Foundry Book.

Many volumes exist of this type of ledger. All incoming engineering or foundry work was recorded on the flimsy tissue pages. It seems the Exeter Town Council tendered out their repair work even in 1911.

The packageThe Garton & King Catalogues will be used in future pages on this website to show some of the varied goods and wares available from the front shop. This image shows the packaging the Company must have made up that included Brochures and Catalogues and Leaflets that they then sent to Mr Hugo Holladay immediately before he joined the Company; being heavily involved in the Ironmongery Trade he doubtless would be comparing the business of Garton & King with his (then) current employer Henry S. Tett of Faversham, Kent. The address on the packaging was his home address.

In 1851 J.P. Jarvis and John Garton entered into a rental agreement with a Fred Pinner for part of the Foundry Premises in Waterbeer Street. The Rent per year was to be £74 and included the whole of the area that was situated behind and was accessible from No 25 North Street by a passage; it included lofts, three tenanted cottages, a yard and a portion of a dwelling house occupied by the said Frederick Pinner, who was, by trade and profession, a Brewer. The three page document is shown below.

Rental Agreement, page 1Rental Agreement, page 2Rental Agreement, page 3

The Ironmaster's PrayerHere is a Copy of the The Ironmasters Prayer by Alex Russell. It appeared amongst other papers but I have no idea when it was written or who Alex Russell was.

This next item is bound to ring a bell!

Bellframes, Garton and King photo
The original Garton & King photograph from the archives but no clue to the identity or destination of the object

The picture is of a large metal frame which has been identified as being the frame used in a bellfry to hang church bells from. With absolutely no details to go on the story would come to a halt almost as soon as it had started, but the internet, whilst often frustrating and sometimes leading you off on a wild goose chase, this time came up trumps.

Buckland Monachorum bellframes
The photo provided by Roger Stokes of Woodbury from the days his grandfather Harry Stokes ran the family business
showing almost an identical photograph but with text indicating what the product is and where it was destined.

The second picture was sent to me by Roger Stokes, the grandson of Harry Stokes, Bell Hanger, Woodbury near Exeter. The pictures appear identical with the exception of the writing on the Harry/Roger Stokes picture which goes to complete the story. The pictures were taken at Harry Stokes’ Fernlea Yard, Woodbury, Nr Exeter and the Grandson, Roger, was born in the house beyond the canvas awning. The frame is for six bells and the customer was the Reverend E.J. White of the Buckland Monachorum Bell Restoration Committee. The work of replacing the existing Bell Frame was carried out in March 1906. Many thanks to Roger Stokes and Mathew Higsby for their invaluable sleuthing.

Mystery Machine
This photo (below left) appeared amongst the company archive material I believe, but with no description or purpose. It has been identified as a Horizontal Table Boring Machine and could possibly have been in the Tan Lane machine shop - but the location can't be identified. Whilst my source cannot remember ever seeing such a machine at G&K the photo may well have been taken prior to his time with the Company, and such a machine would certainly have been needed.

Horizontal Borer   Example of a Pearn Richards Machine

In spite of the poor quality of the photo, it can be seen that the lettering on the pedestal reads ‘THE PEARN RICHARDS MACHINE’ - the manufacturer was George Richards & Co Ltd of Broadheath, Manchester. If you visit www.gracesguide.co.uk/George_Richards_and_Co there is a note of the collaboration between that firm and Frank Pearn. A photo of a similar machine found on the internet is shown here on the right - this particular machine is identified as ‘A Rear Axle Boring and Facing Machine’ and although somewhat more modern and elaborate both machines perform the same function.

The workpiece is bolted to the table which can be moved in both directions to position it. The cutting tool is mounted on a post bolted to the rotating head and is offset so that it can bore out a hole in the workpiece, the table moving in towards the head as work progresses. The offset can be adjusted with each pass to increase the diameter of the bore until the required size is achieved. It can also be used to cut circular grooves or channels in the face of the workpiece etc. The whole drive unit carrying the rotating head can be moved up and down the vertical column, just visible in the first photo behind the head.

But was it in the Tan Lane machine shop? - and if so, where?

For the moment that’s it (June 2022) - keep a look out on this site for other features, we are trying to organise it in such a way that you can easily identify the latest additions - feedback is always welcome - go to the About Me page to find out how to contact me.

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See also:
A Little Bit Unusual High Street Emporium
Devon & Exeter HospitalPower to the Pumps
Waterbeer Street FoundryPersonalities
Wheels, cogs and pulleysFlying the Flag
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