ALPHINGTON

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Fairfax used to be known as Belvil or Belville and is one of Alphington's ancient houses. It is possible that General Fairfax was stationed here during the civil war but there is little evidence. The shaft of the cross that now makes up the War Memorial cross was found in the garden of Belville. The gardens were later developed for homes. Cross Cottage appears in many old photos of Alphington, especially ones showing the old railway bridge, as shown on the previous page. I bet the owners were well impressed when the bridge was built.

Mandrake House has a bit of history. Watson's moved here after WW2, this was the company responsible for supplying the steel for the rebuilding of Exeter after the war. They later moved to premises on Marsh Barton. Mandrake Farm backed onto the house. John Wandrake was a tennant in the early C18th and a liitle later the property was known as Wandrakes. Somewhere along the way the 'W' became an 'M'. Church Road

After WW1, Devonia Terrace was built up (these are those from Blenheim Rd to the Post Office). The road was later named Church Road. Alphington Cars Garage was built at around the same time and was originally known as Webb's Garage. Harry Webb lived opposite his garage in one of the houses built around 1930.
One of Webb's specialities was the recharging of accumulators so that people could listen to Churchill on valve radios. Accumulators were the first batteries and valves were replaced by transistors.

Dickens

A little further on is Mile End Cottage, the old  home of Dickens' ageing parents (let in 1839). Dickens was a frequent visitor to Exeter and had his own corner in the Turks Head. The rent was £20 per annum and the furniture cost £70. The landlady lived next door, a woman who bore 'the highest character with bankers and the clergymen'.
The cottage was originally a pair of semi detached cottages, the one in which the Dickens' lived, was the one on the left. In the 1930's the cottages were knocked into one.

Mile End Cottage.
Dickens wrote to Mr Mitton in March 1839;
"I do assure you that I am charmed with the place and the beauty of the country round about, though I have not seen it under very favourable circumstances, for it snowed when I was there this morning and blew bitterly from the east yesterday. I shall be quite sorry to leave it...the house is on the high road to Plymouth and, though in the very heart of Devonshire there is as much long stage and posting life as you would find in Picadilly. The situation is charming - meadows in front, an orchard running parallel to the garden hedge, richly wooded hills closing in the prospect behind, and away to the left, before a splendid view of the hill on which Exeter is situated, the Cathedral towers rising up to the sky in the most picturesque manner possible."

To John Forster, his biographer, he wrote;
"I took a little house (for my parents) this morning. It is exactly a mile beyond the City. Two white cottages, one is theirs, the other belongs to the landlady.........
I almost forget the number of rooms; but there is an excellent parlour with two other rooms on the ground floor. There is a really beautiful little room over the parlour which I am furnishing as a drawing room and there is a splendid garden. The paint and wallpaper throughout is new and fresh and cheerful-looking. The place is clean beyond all description and the neighbourhood, I suppose, the most beautiful in the most beautiful of English counties."

It is thought that Dickens based his character Mr Micawber (from David Copperfield) on his father John Dickens. He had been a clerk in the Navy pay office and was in endless financial difficulty. He was committed to Marshalsea debtors prison but was eventually released in 1824 after paying off his debts via a legacy from his mother. Charles rented Mile End cottage for his parents John and Elizabeth and their youngest son Augustus, though some people believe it was bought in order to prevent Dickens senior from running into debt.

Local author Lucy Simister reckons that John Dickens learned how to forge his son's signature and began getting credit in the local pubs in Charles' name. Charles' friend, Exeter Journalist Thomas Latimer wrote to Charles with a warning that his father had borrowed money from local people and was not paying it back.

Further along Church Road on the left is the Post Office and several other shops, this at one time was the site of a petrol station and the post office as one might expect was alot closer to Alphington Church. Before ending up here, the post office had also done some time in Cross View. In 1750 Cross View was the home of a rope walk. This was a long building used for preparing, weaving and drawing out rope. These ropes supplied the thriving shipping trade at Exeter Quay. Large sums of money were paid to local farmers for flax and hemp.

Cross View was built in 1905, one of the houses at least was a police house complete with police sign over the door. It was occupied by Sergeant Henry Boutfield.(Justin Milton)

During the 1930's the building now occupied by Queen Street Carpets was a laundry.

Alphin Brook Roundabout

Further along again is Bridge Garage. This site used to house Rawle Gammon & Baker, still seen further down Alphin Brook Road, and before that was the site of the Brooklands Hotel and Rose Cottages. Brooklands Hotel was formerly Brooklands Farm-house built around 1774. The hotel was badly damaged in the 1930's (Aplin and Gaskell, 1988) and late 1950's when the thatched roof caught fire. It was bought and demolished by Rawle Gammon and Baker in 1974 providing a site for their DIY shop and car park whose building was later demolised to provide a site for Bridge Garage in the late 1990's.

On the adjacent corner from Bridge Garage stands Lidl's and the Alphin Brook Residential Scheme built in early 2002. This land had stood unused for many years. The town-houses however are built on a site previously occupied by the Bridge House Hotel and Bridge Cottages. The Bridge House Hotel became a private residence after a fire in 1936, when Dr Spencer moved in and used it as his surgery after renovation. Later flooding in 1960 prompted demolition. Rawle Gammon and Baker demolished Bridge cottages and used the site as a storage yard.

Bridge Cottages

Bridge Cottage used to be the home of Sid Raddon's coal business. Blossom was the last shire horse to pull a coal wagon around the streets of Exeter.
For a picture of this part of Alphington at this time, click here.

Lidls was built in Winter 2000 /2001. To provide access to the site, Alphin Brook Road was closed for several weeks while Alphin Brook was bridged further and the road geometry of the area changed together with the installation of the roundabout. Husseys moved into the old Egg factory once owned by the Poultry Farmers of Devon and Cornwall in 1951, and Toghill Car breakers was also close by in the premises now occupied by the metal finishing company.

Alphington Sports Club is just over the road. The club has an interesting history. It was formed in 1945 by the amalgamation of Alphington FC, CC and tennis club. The newly formed club required playing fields at around the time the present site formerly known as the 'Chronicles' became available. Financial assistance came in the guise of the Devon Playing Fields Association. A former Nissan hut then became available that used to house American troops at the County Ground. It was moved onto the ground and used to stand for years where the Clubhouse now stands. It functioned also as changing rooms for many years. Sports Club

The Tennis section of the club folded soon after opening due to lack of support, the Football and Cricket sections though thrived. The Nissan hut was refurbished in 1969 and foundations for a new building laid. The new sports club building was erected in 1989. In 1967, Exeter City Council became responsible for Alphington Parish and therfore for the playing fields. This was of great help to the club and it is currently flourishing.

Marsh Barton

Alphin Brook Road is one of the major entrances to Marsh Barton Industrial Estate. The entire estate is indeed built on marshland and subsidence is commonly a problem. The Newberry family that now own Oakmarsh Farm were the original owners of the land upon which the industrial estate is built. The family made their money in cattle dealing. Tuberculin tested cattle were bought from Northumberland and Cumberland and sold to farmers in Devon so that the farmers could be declared to have a tuberculin attested herd. Possibly circumventing the rules but allowable. They made an absolute killing. Marsh Barton farm was the subject of a compulsory purchase order by Exeter City Council so they made again here. They later bought Oakmarsh Farm (now Oaklands Riding School) and The Villa in Cowick Lane off the Bonus's. This house was later converted to flats.

Brook Bridge

As you head further towards Alphington Church you'll cross Alphin Brook over a 1960's concrete bridge. Alphin Brook & Sports Centre with the canalised Alphin Brook. The original bridge was wooden and was constructed in 1699. 1729 saw the construction of the first stone bridge but the centre support of the twin arch bridge impeded the flow of the brook thus causing increased flood potential. In 1843 the bridge was rebuilt with a single span, and widened in 1926.

Flood water

The brook was always prone to flooding until it was eventually canalised and diverted from it's natural course in the 1960's after severe flooding in 1960. Flooding from the brook in 1960 went as far as the site on which Sainsburys now stands with flooding from the Exe just about meeting at this point. On 2nd July 1760 a sudden flood from the brook caused more than 1000.00 of damage and completely took out 20 houses. In 1875 several more houses were washed away.

You will notice a concrete wall in the middle of the brook on the bend. This was put in to stop the brook at maximum flow (30mph) spilling over its banks on the bend. A little further on the brook opens into a flood bay 120 ft wide, designed to hold water if the river is in flood and at high tide. The A30 link road is partly built on the old embankment used for the Teign Valley Railway. The brook enters a tunnel under the embankment and is canalised. If the water flow here is too great to allow the water into this tunnel then this bank is designed to act as a dam to stop the village flooding.

Brook and Canal

Until 1566 when John Trew built the first Exeter Canal, Alphin Brook joined the Exe opposite Countess Wear Mill just upstream from a small weir known as Lampreyford Weir. Alphin Brook had caused an obstruction and was diverted into Matford Brook, closely following the path of the canal for a few hundred metres. The original canal rejoined the river via the lower reaches of Matford Brook. Alphin Brook's confluence with Matford Brook was upstream of the canal.

In 1671-1676 the canal was deepened and extended towards Topsham via the Exminster Marshes. This will once again have caused engineering problems. Matford Brook had become the obstruction. It had to issue into the river somehow. Oliver (circa 1824) states that Alphington Brook (this should read Matford Brook) was dropped into iron cylinders three feet below the bed of the canal and then issued into the bed of the river. This also will have dropped the water table making canal bank construction slightly easier.

Old Cottages, formerley the Bakery & Newsagents Not far now

Proceed up Church Road, there are two cottages prior to Chapel Lane on the right, these were once 'Ye Olde Alphington Bakery & Cafe' and the newsagents. The newsagents only went out of business when the new Alphington Corner Shop in Ide Lane began selling papers. Prior to being a newsagents, it was the second (chronologically) Alphington post office having moved from the original building that housed the New Inn in 1872. The row of cottages were collectively known as Buscove Cottages and were built around 1700.

Just about opposite Buscove Cottages is Rosemont, hidden behind a high wall on the left. Developers in 1975 wanted to demolish this building and replace it with 13 flats. It was built around 1840 and had been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. It was at the time a grade II listed building in 'Greek Revival' style but this often does not stop developers. It was a professional man's family house, so your PhD in Applied Nuclear Physics would have been no use whatsover, but a 4x4 Mitsubishi Shogun and a loan from Daddy will have seen you firmly ensconsed in the place.

The flats opposite had already been constructed. Smith and Lacey were the developers who were part of the Costain Group. Smith and Lacey built much of the Fairfield Estate in Alphington. Luckily the house was saved, unfortunately so was the high wall that hides it.

Rosemont House

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