Old Town Street, 1890s

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Featured in the Plymouth Extra on the 21st May 2009


PD/19/216 Photograph, Tavistock Road/Old Town Street, 1890s-1900s

"What a wonderful glimpse into bygone Plymouth this delightful study looking down Old Town Street offers us. In no time at all the electric tram would be rattling magically up and down this stretch (by 1899) and before much longer the motor vehicle would start gently easing the old workhorse off the streets altogether - well, almost - but on this sunny day in the mid to late 1890s there are as yet no signs of such intrusions. Rather, here we have three harnessed beasts of burden hauling up the advertising-clad tram up to Tavistock Road. Ernest Kitts' tailoring business is seeking shade under the long canopy; next door William Hender is selling seeds, flowers, vegtables and other items from his market gardens out by the tram terminal at Mannamead, still known to this day as Hender's Corner (though you'll struggle to find it labelled as such on any maps). Alongside is Mr Haddy, selling tea, wine and spirits, while on the other side of the street we see the business base of James Nicholson Taylor, an eminent draper. Taylor's premises stand on the northern corner of Old Town Avenue, across from where Jacob Best, a plumer of this parish, sold all manner of paraphernalia related to his trade.

These were the days when you went into town to buy anything and everything - no out-of-town supermarkets, hypermarkets or wholesale warehouses - and there were delivery men, boys, horses and carts to manage anything you - or your maid, if you were lucky - couldn't carry yourself.

Picture courtesy of the Denise Bailey Collection at the South West Image Bank (01752 665445) ref: PD/19/216."

(Commentary by Chris Robinson)


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