London Clay Pipe Studies

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Clay tobacco pipe research by Kieron Heard




The Tappin family: pipe makers of Puddle Dock Hill, Blackfriars, in the City of London

This report presents the results of a detailed study of a previously little known family of 18th-century pipe makers. The Introduction describes the background to the report and outlines the research objectives of the study. This is followed by the main body of the report, which is in three parts:

Part One describes the parish of St Ann Blackfriars, in which the Tappin family lived and worked. It includes descriptions of the history, topography and social characterisation of the parish, an analysis of other trades and industries that were carried on there in the late 17th century, and a survey of what is known currently about the history of pipe making in the parish.

Part Two reveals the documentary evidence for the Tappin family. William Tappin, Senior (1662–1742) was born in Monmouthshire and served his apprenticeship in Bristol. Having moved to London, he acquired a house and workshop in Blackfriars that had been occupied previously by at least two other pipe makers. For the next forty years he produced pipes at that same address in Puddle Dock Hill. His youngest son William, Junior (1717–69) was born in Blackfriars. Having inherited the family business he continued in the pipe-making trade, but also became a prominent figure in the community through his involvement in local government. He was succeeded by his widow Joanna (1722–75), who continued the tradition of pipe making in Puddle Dock Hill. 

Part Three contains catalogues, descriptions and illustrations of the Tappin family’s pipes and makers’ marks, discusses the distribution of their products and presents the conclusions of the report. The most significant conclusion is that Tappin pipes had a limited geographical distribution, possibly because the family operated outside of the jurisdiction of the company of tobacco pipe makers. The final section of the report contains Appendices, Acknowledgements and a Bibliography.

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The clay tobacco pipe industry in the parishes of St Margaret and St John the Evangelist, Westminster

The parishes of St Margaret and St John the Evangelist lie at the heart of historic Westminster, which is known most widely today for its Abbey and its associations with the British monarchy and Parliament. Less well known is that during the post-medieval period it was a thriving industrial centre, and one of those industries was the manufacture of clay tobacco pipes. During the early years of the industry in this country the pipe makers of Westminster were at the forefront of their trade, and the town became one of the principal pipe-making areas in the London region. This report is the result of 10 years of research into the clay pipe industry of Westminster. 

The report opens with an Introduction describing the origins of the study (as a Museum of London Archaeology Service project, funded by the City of London Archaeological Trust) and stating its main objectives. These were to identify the pipe makers living and working in the two parishes and to locate their workshops. The introduction is followed by a brief account of the history and topography of the parishes, and an attempt to place the local clay pipe industry within its economic context (Historical background). Next there is a discussion of the origins of the industry in Westminster and a summary of what little is known about the pipe makers of St Margaret's parish in the 17th century (The origins of the Westminster clay pipe industry).

The bulk of the report deals with the pipe makers of the 18th- and 19th centuries. The evidence for them is derived from a wide range of published and documentary sources, the latter including rate books, parish registers, wills, census returns, insurance policies, poll books, trade directories and the records of the company of tobacco pipe makers. At least 10 workshops or centres of production have been identified and each is described on a separate page, arranged in chronological order according to their earliest known dates of operation. The workshops are located on historic maps and, where possible, some indication is given of the likelihood of their archaeological survival. Most of the workshops were occupied over many decades by successions of master pipe makers, each of whom is recorded with as much biographical detail as is known. There are illustrations and photographs of many of their pipes. The Conclusions of the report are followed by an alphabetical List of pipe makers containing 133 names, many of which do not appear in similar lists published previously. The report concludes with various Appendices, Acknowledgements and a Bibliography.

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This page was updated last on 27 December 2012