Guest Blog Post – Exmouth Museum
If you are thinking about history in the context of Exmouth it might be fairly logical to consider visiting our Museum & Heritage Centre in Sheppards Row, where we have thousands of historical artefacts from photographs, posters and paintings from at least a hundred years. There is global history in terms of world events such as WW1 and 2, seen through the eyes of Exmouth participants, including uniforms and medals. There are deeply personal items such as first person narratives and belongings. And we document some of the changes to streets, buildings and businesses through the years.
One historical aspect of the Museum that might not come to mind straight away are the buildings themselves. Many people have said to me over the years that the Museum should be in new, purpose built premises, and that no one can find us because of our tucked away location. I have always fought back on these suggestions. Like moving into a new house where your precious belongings suddenly look tatty our cabinets and displays would contrast too deeply with the clean lines of a modern building.. but anyway, it’s crazy, it would cost millions and who has that kind of money? Our buildings have a history of their own and their location does too. In the heart of busy Exmouth, just where they have always been. Sheppards Row behind the Parade was a thriving, bustling hive of industry predating the Colony, the railway and the whole Western side of Exeter Road. There were numerous livery stables catering to the carriage trade and private hire, orchards, blacksmiths, lacemakers and mariners living in the many cottages (mostly demolished now, although some remain in Sheppards Row next to the Exmouth Arms and all of Palace Cottages behind the Conservative Club and the Strand public house.) Our Stables and Hayloft galleries were refurbished in the late 19th century by the newly formed Exmouth Board of Health to house the dray horses that were to pull the waste carts through the town. The Cottage was built next to them to house the Foreman looking after the yard, and his family the Pynes. Soon the first cesspit for the pumping station would be constructed and the town’s fire engine would also be kept here whilst it was still horse drawn ( with carriage horses from a nearby livery).
Amongst the tasks performed by the family was the firing of maroons (rockets) to alert the coastguard and/or the firemen of an emergency!
We are told by witness’s accounts that children would come to clean the horses’ tack for pennies and often played in the yard outside. Can you imagine their shouts? And the sound of horses in the stables, and customers arriving and departing on horseback behind us? The smiths hammering on an anvil? The rumbling of carts. And all happening two minutes from the fashionable gentry and middle class shopping and taking the air on the Parade.
Find out more about Exmouth Museum on their website here.