Mount Pleasant To City Centre

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Head past the church, down the walkway next to the supermarket (Tesco opened in 1969, closed 2001), and you'll come onto King William Street, go left until you reach Longbrook Street and the Black Horse Inn. The Blackie is a very popular haunt for students. The beer is good and the atmosphere good. At the top end of Longbrook Street once stood the Theatre Royal, many of the actors that used to play the theatre stayed or drank here at the Black Horse.

Black Horse History

New London Inn

There was also another Hotel, the New London Hotel which also catered for the actors as well as other visitors. This was situated opposite Debenhams and later became the Savoy or ABC cinema but was demoloished in the late eighties to make way for the new shopping development on that corner of the High Street. A pub called the London Inn harked back to that era and was part of the cinema complex. It shut in the late seventies. The New London Inn was the main coaching terminus in Exeter.

Somewhere in the region of 65 coaches departed the New London Inn. The mail coaches would take about 20 hours to reach London. The original London Inn was built in 1794 of brick with an inner courtyard. The New London Inn opened in 1837.

The Black Horse Inn was a coaching house from the early C18th. A man called Spurrier Flashman held the licence for a Black Horse in Sidwell St. from 1780 to 1787. This inn was renamed after the Sidwell St vesion was destroyed by fire in 1788. Originally constructed in 1454.

Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal opened on 13th October 1886 and was Exeter's fourth theatre. Less than a year after it opened it was burned out during a performance of Romany Rye. 188 people were burned to death, the building holds the record for the most deaths in a single building in the UK. After repairs, the building was re-opened and could hold 1500 people but all the seats were rarely filled and for this reason the theatre eventually failed. The Theatre Royal closed in 1962. For further information click here.

The Theatre Royal
Harry Hems

Just down Longbrook Street from here is Harry's Restaurant on the right hand side. Don't bother taking a look just now but next time you're passing its worth a look. This was Harry Hems Workshop built in 1881-82 and enlarged in 1884. He was a sculptor and originally came to Exeter in 1866 to work on the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. He found a lucky horseshoe which is now fixed above the doorway of this building.

The building itself is very impressive in a style known as 'domesticated' or modified Queen Anne Flemish. The architect was R. Medley Fulford. The workshop made carved stonework for churches and towhalls all over Britain including around 100 statues for the High Altar screen at St Alban's Abbey and the huge William Of Orange Statue in Belfast.

He died in 1916. The place has been used as a restarant in the past and a church reading room. The statue in the centre column of the building is "Art Personified", whatever that is or means.

There is also a plaque which says that the Long Brooke crossed this road seventy feet west (with an arrow pointing towards the City.'The wooden footbridge which spanned it was removed when the river was arched over in AD1832. William The Conqueror and his troops waded it's waters intent upon beseiging our City AD1069'. The plaque was erected by Harry Hems.

Exit the Black Horse and turn left and left again. Eventually you'll come to New North Road with the Locomotive Inn on your right. Nip in here before heading off to the Thirsty Camel which is about 50 yards further back along the road on your right.

The Locomotive is fairly quiet and was once the South Western Hotel, after the railway that reached Exeter in 1860. The original station was just below Northernhay and this hotel will have originally served much of the passenger traffic until the Rougemont was opened as the South Western Hotel in 1875. This place possibly became the Locomotive when Queen St Station opened in 1933. On the other corner is the Inland Revenue office, built in 1993 at great expense to yourself.

The Northernhay Brewery once stood where the Inland Revenue offices. The brewery was originally owned by John Hyett, later being run by his widow Mary Hyett and her sons.

The first listing for a brewery on this site is 1850 (white), though the brewery was created from an old iron foundry run by Charles Coldridge & Sons in 1845. The brewery only had a very short life and ceased trading in 1858.

The building was taken over by Bristol Brewers Garton, Russel & Co. who later had premises in Queen Street Chambers. These were used for storage only.

At the turn of the century, the Anglo Bavarian Brewing Company moved in, their premises in Batholomews Yard and Fore Street becoming too small for the demand for their product, however by 1906, the building had been converted for the manufacture of hard-wearing cloth, tents and tarpaulins. Later the building became Reid & Lee's motor mechanic workshop until demolition, listed at 34 & 35 New North Road in 1947.

Locomotive History

Oddfellows History

The Oddfellows (formerly Malloys, Thirsty Camel, The Gate) opened in 2006. It is shown on an O.S. map of 1876 as the Odd Fellows Arms.

The Old Firehouse is over the road. Amazingly enough this place used to be the firehouse opening as a pub in 1986. The gate piers originally held lamps. Stairs and a trap door hoist led to two large workshops from which a further trap door led to the roof and a wooden platform used for drying hoses.

When this place was a firehouse, there was a pub next door (the Black Horse Tap). The firehouse moved to Danes Castle in 1931. The original building was constructed in 1833, a two storey red brick engine house with a three storey Georgian style range behind. It housed the West of England Insurance Company Fire Brigade from 1834 to 1888, finally vacated by the fire services in 1931 when the Exeter Fire Brigade moved to their new premises. This fire station was eventually auctioned for 1500.00 and later partly demolished at a cost of 2000.00.

Old Firehouse History

Head back towards High St. At the top of Longbrook St, you may want to nip into The King Billy, formerly Strikers Sports Bar (until 2005).

During the time of the Theatre Royal, this place was a haven for the actors and performers. It was then known as The Horse & Groom. Demolished in 1966 and rebuilt it was known briefly as The Dunkirk before becoming the Horse & Groom again. In the nineties it became Strikers Sports Bar.

At the very top of High Street is the site of the old City East Gate which was removed in 1769, the Eastgate became the Salutation Inn after it ceased being a form of defence. Just behind a plaque to mark the position of the gate is an emergency exit for the underground passages.

King Billy History


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