London Clay Pipe Studies

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

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42 New Peter Street (184187)

William Brown

The pipe maker William Brown moved from 16 Great Peter Street to this address in 1841. He was recorded there in the census of 6 June 1841, aged about 50, with his wife Mary and William Clark, a labourer, aged about 20. For some reason Mary was responsible for the payment of the poor rate on the premises, which she paid from 1841 to 1844. There is no evidence to suggest that pipes were made there before the arrival of the Brown family. The previous ratepayer (since at least 1830) was a Mary Stichell, who is not known as a pipe maker. The building can be seen on Horwood's map of 1792–9 (Fig 20).

Fig 21  Extract from Horwood's map of 1792–9, locating the house in New Peter Street that would be occupied later by William Brown

New Peter Street had been built in the late 18th century. Walter Besant (writing in 1895) quotes a correspondent whose mother had been born in Peter Street in 1770. According to her, in her childhood the neighbourhood had been respectable (apart from Duck Lane), but that it had declined after the building of the cheap houses [my italics] in New Peter Street (Besant 1895, 294). True or not, it is clear that William Brown's new premises was smaller than his previous one in Great Peter Street, being assessed at a gross estimated rental of £11, which compared with £27 10s for 16 Great Peter Street. This is confirmed by the 1851 poor rate book, which gives the estimated area of 16 Great Peter Street as 28 rods (847 square yards or 708 m2) compared with 15 rods (453 square yards or 379 m2) for 42 New Peter Street. The first edition Ordnance Survey of 1869 shows that at some time during the 19th century the building was extended at the rear, and it is tempting to suggest that this was done to accommodate the pipe-makers' workshop (Fig 21).

Fig 22  Extract from the first edition Ordnance Survey of 1869 locating 42 New Peter Street, and showing an extension at the rear that seems to have been added during the 19th century 

At his new address William Brown was listed as a pipe maker in Kelly's Post Office directory for 1842–4, after which he disappears from the documentary record. His wife Mary died in 1844 at the age of 52; she was buried on 5 May in St Margaret’s churchyard. William might have died in the following year; the parish register for St Margaret’s records the burial of a William Brown of York Street, Westminster on 1 January 1846. Although no age or occupation was recorded in the burial register it is possible that this was the pipe maker.

John Vickers Burges

Following the departure of the Brown family, the premises was occupied by the pipe maker John Vickers Burges. Baptised in the parish in 1813, he was the son of John and Elizabeth Burges of 91 Great Peter Street. His father was a shoemaker. It is feasible that John Vickers was apprenticed to one of the local pipe makers, either William Brown (then at 11 Great Peter Street) or Henry Powell at 86 Great Peter Street.

The poor rate books show that members of the Burges family occupied (or at least were responsible for the rates at) 91 Great Peter Street from 1799 to at least 1846; ratepayers during that period were Samuel 1799–1813 and John 1813–46. In fact, Samuel Burges took over the house from his long-time friend and landlady Elizabeth Cant, who was almost certainly the mother of the pipe maker Francis Cant (see 79 Great Peter Street). A John Burges also paid the rates on a house in Romney Terrace in 1836.

John Vickers Burges married Caroline Cooke at St Martins-in-the-Fields, Westminster on 15 November 1840. She was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Cooke. Thomas was a pipe maker who was born in Maidstone, Kent in about 1798/99. He was living somewhere in Great Peter Street from at least 1821, when Caroline was born, until at least 1835 when the last of his seven children was baptised. Cooke is not known to have been a master pipe maker and he was not recorded as a ratepayer, so he, like Burges, might have been an employee of the Brown family or Henry Powell. He was probably related to the Cook family of pipe makers, with East London and Kentish links (Tatman 1994, 112–3).

In 1841 the census recorded that John and Caroline Burges were living as tenants at 85 Great Peter Street, in the house of Helen Dunderdale, a shopkeeper. However, by 7 August 1842, when their first child John Thomas was baptised, the couple were living in John's father's house at 91 Great Peter Street. There is no evidence to suggest that pipes were ever manufactured at that address.

Burges moved to 42 New Peter Street in 1844, and from 1845–54 he advertised in trade directories at that address. His daughter Elizabeth was born there in 1846. In 1851 the census entry for that address recorded a George Burges (presumably a clerical error) with his wife Caroline and son John. 'George' was described as a pipe maker employing one man. That man was presumably his father-in-law Thomas Cooke (by then a widower) who was living at the same address.

A previous employee had been John Hedges, who gave his address as 42 New Peter Street when he married Frances Wadley of 3 New Peter Street on 25 December 1846. He was the son of the pipe maker John Hedges who is recorded at Grays Inn Lane 1805–11 (Atkinson and Oswald 1969, 60) and who was warden of the company in 1821 (Guildhall Library ms 3601). After his marriage Hedges went to live at his wife’s address, and the couple had a son George who was baptised on 19 December 1847. In the following year they moved to Spanns Buildings, St Pancras (Atkinson and Oswald 1969, 60).

John Burges remained at 42 New Peter Street until 1853 or 1854, but does not appear in the records after that date and it is not known what happened to him and his family.

The Clarke family

The next occupant was the pipe maker George Clarke. Clarke was born in Hounslow, Middlesex in 1811 or 1812, and was possibly related to the Holborn pipe maker of the same name, who is recorded in the period 1789–1820 (Oswald 1975, 133), and who was one of the executors of the will of James Harrison (see 11 Great Peter Street).

Clarke was recorded in Great Peter Street in 1835, when his son William Charles was baptised. After that he must have moved temporarily to Marylebone, where two of his children (Charles and Mary Ann) were born in the early 1840s. Another daughter, Emma, was born soon after the Clarkes moved to New Peter Street.

Census returns show that the Clarkes shared the house with two or three families, none of whom were pipe makers. The 1861 census reveals that George’s son Charles, aged 17, was working in the family business. Charles was still living at 42 New Peter Street in 1866 when he and his wife Mary Ann had a daughter Mary Ann Jane, but by the time of the 1871 census he had moved to 8 New Peter Street, where he lived with his wife, daughter and four-month-old son Charles, Junior.

George Clarke was apparently listed in directories for the period 1870–84 (Oswald 1975, 133) but is thought to have died in 1877 or 1878, because from that time his wife Mary Ann was named as the ratepayer. She continued in the trade, alone at first, as shown by the 1881 census. By 1883 she was being assisted by her son Charles, who had moved back into number 42; he gave that address when his wife Mary Ann gave birth to their son William Frank at the Lambeth Lying-In hospital, on 5 September of that year (Hammond 2005, 30).

By 1886 the business seems to have been in decline; in that year Mary Ann (George's widow, that is) was excused payment of the poor rate, and the £1 13s 9d which she owed was written off as not recoverable. In the following year Mary Ann's name was deleted from the poor rate book and the comment gone away, empty, was inserted in the margin.

Her departure seems to have marked the end of pipe making at 42 New Peter Street. The house was taken over by George Redman, who also paid the rates on other properties in the same street. None of his tenants at number 42 were recorded as pipe makers in the 1891 census. In 1889 the street had been renamed, and 42 New Peter Street became 8 Chadwick Street. By the end of the 19th century the street was one of the main pockets of poverty in Westminster, at a time when many of the slums were being cleared to make way for modern office buildings (Watson 1993, 134).

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