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What Service Do You Require?

Those of you born before the 1960s (or Doctor Who fanatics) will certainly recognise at least one of the colour images, possibly both. The two black & white images belong to a much earlier era and have been discovered in the Garton & King Archives. Quite when they date from I have no idea, possibly they were on our streets (of Exeter at least) before the ubiquitous Red Phone Box. Further information I do not have. Long standing residents of Exeter may recognise the location of the Lamp Standard as being the junction of Wonford Road and the southern end of Victoria Park Road, the street light has since been removed. Careful examination of the sign on the ladder rest of the lamp states:-

Exeter Gaslight & Coke Company
NOTICE A reward of Ten Shillings will be given for information leading to the conviction of any person for breaking the glass of any Public Lamps.

You have been warned! Are there any Gas Lamps still in Exeter?

Police box at Earls CourtPolice call box

Police wall-mounted call boxPolice post-mounted call box

On the face of it there would seem to be little else to connect Garton & King with the Emergency Services but it may interest you to know that amongst the many hundreds of heating installations designed, created and installed by the Company after WW2 was the fitting out of the heating system for the new Police Station in Heavitree Road. The premises were constructed in 1959 and replaced the Waterbeer Street Police Station which was located on the corner of Pancras Lane and Waterbeer Street, a few yards eastwards from G & K’s old foundry premises at No 7 & 8.

Police Station Heavitree RoadPolice Station Waterbeer Street

For over a century the Company and its predecessors were involved in heating and hot water systems and installations as the page on Heating Equipment show. The plan of the Exeter Guildhall Heating system shows that the system installed there even included the cells within the design! The Customers page gives a list from mainly Victorian times.

The Old Police House in Bradninch was constructed probably in 1899. The architect was E.H. Harbottle of Exeter. The building came about as the Devon Constabulary took over the policing of Bradninch Borough in 1886. The red brick property was built by the well known local builder W & A Nicks. They have, over generations, constructed many buildings, not just in East Devon, but throughout the County and further afield. The building specification sheets remain, some 39 pages of handwritten foolscap paper.

Old Police House in Bradninch

On page 9 there are recommendations that Garton & King should provide the iron windows. The text in the image reads:-

”The Cell window frames be obtained from Messrs Garton & King of Exeter or other selected maker and are to be of cast iron with hoppers to open inwards and to balance so as to act as ventilators and as recommended by the Surveyor General of Prisons, The frames must be securely set into the brick and stonework and pointed with cement; also securely fit 3/4” wrot (wrought) iron guard bars 6” centre and centre.”

Thanks to Warwick Knowles, Bradninch History Group.

Windows Spec

The image of the outside of the property comes from an old Sales Brochure for the premises. If you look carefully you can see an inspection cover embedded in the pathway. Actually there were two of these and they are now in my possession, thanks to the current owner. It is most unusual to be able to date any castings very accurately but these date from 1899 as the groundworks were completed in the Spring of 1900.

On retrieving them it was noted that they are not identical, though very similar in pattern, and their location ensured they suffered very little wear.

Nowadays airtight covers are placed above sewer and soil pipes, these, however, allowed the obnoxious smells to escape and as the property is now residential this is not something appreciated by anyone relaxing in the vicinity so they had to go! They have now been cleaned and the locking tabs on both of them freed and can now be rotated. The iron frames were also salvaged. They are extremely heavy and their future has yet to be decided!

According to the Independent Newspaper, (September 2010) Manhole Cover Enthusiasts include Jeremy Corbyn amongst its supporters! A somewhat little known fact. I have checked the Guestbook to see if he has left a comment but no!

If you discover any product of Garton & King or its predecessors that you feel might be of interest to me and that hasn’t appeared on these pages then do contact me. Details on the About Me page. It would be helpful if you could provide an image or two and a location. I am most keen to follow up on articles that are still in existence. Please DO NOT send images of manhole covers, gulleys or gratings – I have a large collection of these! However, if there is no ‘Ltd’ cast into the item after the foundry name as in the image on the right please contact me.

Gratings, Old Police House in Bradninch 1 Gratings, Old Police House in Bradninch 2 Gratings, Old Police House in Bradninch 3

May 2020
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See also:
Municipal CastingsThe Little Bit UnusualMixed Bag
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