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1901 Census for the Three Towns

The census showed the population for Plymouth increased by 21% to 107,636, Devonport by 25.8% to 70,437 of which roughly 6,000 were Naval personnel whilst Stonehouse decreased by 2.5% to 15,111. There was a drift from rural areas to the towns which partly accounts for the increase in numbers along with falling death rates especially as slums were cleared. However whilst the housing stock had increased and would continue to do so in the early 1900’s overcrowding was still a major issue. Out of the combined 3 Towns population 17,097 were living in single room tenements which included over 100 families of over 6 persons. A single room tenement was one room in a building where the family had to do everything, sleep, cook, wash, and socialise when living in a home. 41,279 lived in 2 room tenements with 37,654 (19%) living in rooms of 3 or more per room. These were way above the national and county numbers. Things did improve slightly by the middle of the decade, using the Plymouth numbers 12.5% of the population was in single room tenements in 1901 which fell to 8.3% in 1906 and those in 2 room tenements fell from 25% to 20% in the same period. The number of inmates in the Workhouses equated to 0.5% of the total 3 towns population but were mainly elderly with 1.8% of 55 to 65 year olds and 2.8% 0f the over 65’s being workhouse residents.


The Routledges in 1901

The widowed Matriarch Mary is now 68 is living with her daughter Maud who married George Mountstephen and their two children Hilda and Winifred at 111 Wilton Street. George is still a Railway Clerk and Maud runs the home.

William, the widowed eldest son of Mary has moved to 13 Hawthorne Grove in the Pennycross area of Devonport. Living with him are 4 of his children Albert Richard now 15 years old, Jack Dart aged 10, 8 year old Daisy and Leonard William 6. Both William and Albert are at work as general labourers. Unfortunately William and Albert don’t appear to be earning enough to support two of William’s other children, Ida Lucy aged 13 and 11 year old Emily Newman. Both have been admitted to the local workhouse, known as the Ford House Assistance Institution where they are inmates and attend the workhouse school. They would be taught a full school day but the availability of school supplies such as writing materials and slates varied as the workhouses were funded by the local parishes. Of William’s adult children Thirza who married Sergeant Charles Hodgkinson and their 2 year old daughter are living in the Midlands with Charles sister Elizabeth and her husband at 112 Plock Road in Walsall. Charles was abroad with his Regiment, the Worcestershires, in South Africa fighting in the Boer War. Blanche Mary, Thirza’s younger sister is living with her as a boarder and working as a warehousewoman. Percy, Thirza’s and Blanche’s younger brother now aged 9 is a visitor. With Ida and Emily already in the workhouse this may have been a way of keeping any more of the family from being incarcerated.

Sydney Robert is now living on Prospect Farm in Pennycross with his fiancé Gertrude Rendall. Also with him is Sydney’s younger brother 7 year old Edgar William another attempt by father William to keep one of the family from the workhouse perhaps.

Claud Hamilton Percy Routledge meanwhile followed in his brother Alfred’s footsteps and had enlisted in the Army Service Corps in September 1900 aged 18.

Mary Ann, the widowed wife of John is still at 13 George Street with her 19 year old youngest daughter Edith. They are sharing 4 of the 8 rooms with another widower Agnes Beaglehole and her son Harry. Both Mary and Edith are working from home as an uphoslteress and dressmaker respectively.

George St where a number of the Routledge families lived over the years

Charles Maynard has now moved to 60 Alvington Street in Plymouth and is still working as a shipwright. He has remarried to Elizabeth but his two children by Mary Jane are still living with him. Ethel now 21 is working as a Tailoress and 17 year old Violetta is a Dressmaker. Charles and Elizabeth have had two children Kate, 7 and George aged 5.

Frederick Richard now earning a living as a house painter married Ellen Elvins from Mevagissey in Cornwall in July of 1900. They are now living in two of the six rooms at 76 Wilton Street in Stoke Damerel sharing the house with the Martin and Rider families.

Rosina is still living at 47 St Georges Street in Devonport with Richard and their 1 year old daughter Lilian.

For Charles nothing much has changed. He is still living at 13 Jolls Cottages with Amelia and their two children, Bertha Amelia and Lilian Violet who he supports as an Iron Caulker.

Albert Thomas is now in Kildare in Ireland with his wife Ada Mary Ann. Kildare was a military base. Albert doesn’t seem to have enlisted and is working as builders clerk.

Annie and Thomas Ferris were not recorded in the 1901 census so may have been abroad again, possibly back in India teaching as Army School teachers with their 3 children Leonard Thomas 13, Dorothy Mary 10 and Thomas Jnr 8.

1901 – Britain’s Conflicts

Internationally Great Britain was involved in a number of colonial conflicts and wars. In India there was Mahsud blockade and raids by British columns was underway culminating in the surrender of the Mahsud later in the year. The Boxer Rebellion in China which saw 6 European countries together with the USA and Japan allied to maintain Western and Japanese influence over Chinese affairs ended in September 1901 with the defeat of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists or Boxers. The 2nd Boer War in which Thirza’s husband Charles won the Distinguished Conduct Medal is in the Guerilla phase with the British having already established the concentration camps using a scorched earth policy. The war finishes in May 1902 and leads to South Africa becoming a Dominion of the British Empire in 1902. The Anglo Aro War against the Aro Confederacy who were resisting British expansion in modern day Eastern Nigeria began and finished with the British imposing peace conditions in 1902. To give an idea of how poorly the military was paid the Plymouth help committee for Soldiers and Sailors was asking for donations of men’s clothes for those returning from South Africa.

The Island in 1901

Coastal Erosion was becoming a problem along the south side of the Island facing the Rame Peninsular. Although a Sea Wall had been built in 1854 a retaining wall was now built above it to add further protection. Military surveys of the Barracks in Plymouth found a number, including those on the Island in a bad state of repair especially regarding light and ventilation. However with the Western 12 pounder Gun Battery already built the priority for construction was the Central 6 inch Battery and Eastern 12 pounder Gun Battery of 3 Gun Emplacements each. This also entailed alterations to the main ammunition magazines to allow the new types of cartridge and shell to be stored safely and to install new hoists in the upper ammunition tunnels to allow the ammunition to be fed directly to the guns. The ammunition run remained essentially the same with the main magazines at the deepest part of the Island using the existing hoists to get the ammunition to the upper level. However new hoists were built in the upper level of tunnels to get the ammunition to the guns on the new Central and Eastern Batteries. This gun emplacements were complete by the end of 1901 and the tunnel alterations not long after. The searchlights had been installed around 1896 by adapting one of the casemates with a ramp leading down to three searchlight positions on the south east of the Island covering the water out to the breakwater. Although the resident Garrison had been reduced in size there were now major exercises once or twice a year to test the mobilisation plans and as part of the annual camp for the territorial Sappers and Gunners who would man the Island during wartime. The novelty of seeing the Sound lit at night by the searchlights drew large crowds to watch the action and the results were reported in the local press. Smaller Gun practices and drills were carried out during the year both for regular and territorial Gunners.

The sea wall and retaining wall around the turn of the century on the left and the current state today on the right through coastal erosion and neglect. Unfortunately unless the sea wall and retaining wall are repaired more landslip is likely.

Plymouth in 1901

The annual Port of Plymouth Regatta was held on 4 September and in addition to the races there were displays of diving and a water polo match put on by the local amateur swimming club and entertainment including tug of war on the Hoe with bands on the Hoe and on large spectator boats. The local Rail Companies put on special excursion trains from around Cornwall and Devon for the crowds attending.

Two Routledge Marriages

Ethel Phyllis was the daughter of Mary Jane and her husband Charles Maynard. She definitely married in 1901 to either Thomas Roberts or David Burch but there is no definitive proof to either and I can find no further records of Ethel. Sydney Robert, William and Caroline’s son, married Gertrude Maud Rudall in the second half of the year. The couple moved to Tavistock where Sydney was working as a tailor.

Four Routledge Family Births

Rosina, matriarch Mary Ann’s daughter and her husband Richard Blackler had their second child and a brother to 3 year old Lilian Violet on 7 October. He was christened Richard Charles and baptised in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Morice Street. Maud, another of Mary Ann’s daughters who married George Mountstephen had a son on 19 June.  They named hin Goerge after his father and he was the couple’s third child and brother to older sisters Hilda and Winifred. Frederick, one of Mary Ann’s sons and his wife Ellen who had previously a daughter out of wedlock that Frederick adopted, had their first child together and christened her Ellen. Despite living in Devonport Ellen was born in Mevagissy in Cornwall on 25 May, mother Ellen’s birthplace. Home births were the norm at the time and it wasn’t unusual to go back to the wider family and have the baby delivered by their own mother and other female relatives. Albert, another son of Mary Ann and his wife Ada were in Kildare, Ireland when Ada had a baby who they christened Catherine Mary.

Amalgamating the Three Towns

There was an increasing clamour for merging the Three Towns in the Newspapers and from various local groups. Devonport, Plymouth and Stonehouse all had their own Overseers, Guardians, Town Councils and School Boards often independent of any local control, authorised to spend large sums of money. Not only were the same people on the boards of the different towns but their responsibilities overlapped. Merging into one Town was seen as a way of saving money on both officials and buildings as well as streamlining decision making. The merger would eventually take place in 1914.

The Attack of the Devil Fish

In July 1901 the local Crab and Lobster fishermen including those around the Island began to report that their pots contained nothing more than large slimy Devil Fish who were eating the catch leaving nothing for the fishermen to sell at market. These reports continued throughout the summer and caught the attention of Mr Mathias Dunn, a naturalist from Mevagissey in Cornwall who had produced a number of papers on fish behaviour. He investigated by interviewing the local fishermen and a Mr Dower who claimed to have been attacked by a Devil Fish at the back of Drake’s Island whilst swimming. It turned out the local Conger Eel fishermen had moved from using single line and single hook to catch the congers to multiple line and multiple hook to increase their catch. This led to the congers who fed on the Devil Fish being so reduced in number that the Devil Fish numbers increased dramatically as they were without a predator. The Devil Fish in turn fed on crab and lobster leading to the problems faced by the fishermen. Unfortunately with no welfare state this often meant the workhouse for those put out of business not only for the crab and lobster fishermen but also the Conger fishermen who had fished out their catch in one season. Mr Dunn identified the Devil Fish as the Common Atlantic Octopus.

The Devil Fish that gave Mr Dower a fright in 1901 was the Common Atlantic Octopus, the main body gets to about 25cm with the arms each getting to around a metre in length.

1902 Welcomed by a Skating Carnival on the Pier

The Pier Pavilions held a fancy dress skating carnival and dance. Two races were held on the rink over a mile and the main event over two miles which was won by Mr W Spicer. In the procession of skaters Miss Davis won the Queen of the Fairies fancy dress and Mr Bickford won the men’s competition. There were also girls and boys prizes. Music was provided by the Band of the Royal Marines led by Band Sergeant Reed.

The Pier Pavilions

Two More Routledge Births Frederick and Ellen have their Second Child

Little over a year after baby Ellen arrived Frederick and Ellen had another daughter who was christened Ethel. Ethel was born at the family home in Devonport. Alfred, one of William and Caroline’s sons, who married Isabel had a daughter they christened Isabel Winifred. She was born in Devonport where Alfred was stationed with Army Service Corps. Before the end of the year the family are posted to South Africa.

1902 on The Island

Three night exercises were held from June to August to test the defences of Plymouth and the abilities of the Regular and Territorial Engineers and Artillery who manned them. Amongst the Units who manned the Guns and Searchlights on the Island were elements of 30th Company, a Royal Engineers regular unit and the London Electrical Engineers who were territorials and would initially man the searchlights as part of the mobilisation plan. The Waterford Artillery Militia, Durham Artillery Militia, Northumberland Artillery Militia and 1st and 2nd Devon Volunteer Artillery along with regular Royal Artillery units manned the guns around the Sound and on the Island. The Royal Navy acted as the enemy ships attempting to breach the defences and large crowds would watch the spectacle from all round the Sound.

Two Royal Engineers operating the searchlights on the Island

Island Boat lost in the Fog

One Wednesday in March the Island boat left at 2200hrs with a crew of two for Millbay to pick up those of the Garrison who had been allowed into Plymouth for the evening. A fog quickly rolled in and the crew lost their bearings. It wasn’t until the fog lifted they could find their way into Millbay some 4 hours later at 0200hrs by which time any of the Garrison waiting for the boat had found alternative accommodation for the evening.

Home Park Stages National Cycling Championships and Motorcycle Racing

The Argyle Athletic Club (they didn’t change their name to Plymouth Argyle until 1903) held the first event of the English National Cyclists’ Union Championships at Home Park on Saturday 21 June 1902. 4,000 spectators watched the three events the quarter mile, mile and 5 mile all of which had heats followed by a final. A week later Home Park held Motorcycle Races for the first time. These races were more popular on the Continent and a number of European racers entered. A crowd of 3,000 watched on the first day. C. G. Garrad won the Five Mile Final breaking the world record by 10 seconds in 7 minutes and 35 seconds. Victor Rigal of Paris won the 5 Mile Open Handicap. A second world record was broken the following day by Harry Martin in the 1 mile race over 4 laps in a time of 1 min 25 secs (42 m.p.h.). The racing was that popular the same events was held on 4 Aug in front of 10,000 spectators and 8,000 attended on 8 Aug. Silent films of the races were shown to large audiences in St. James’s Hall (Union Street) along with other news films accompanied by an orchestra.

The Motorcycle Racing at Home Park

Fire Destroys Bywater Engineering Factory on Great Western Docks

The factory at Millbay was completely destroyed in March and it took the combined efforts of both Plymouth and Stonehouse Fire Brigades assisted by Royal Marines to put out the fire and save the surrounding buildings. The factory employed around 50 workers who were left unemployed and lost all their tools in the fire.

Stonehouse Fire Brigade in the 1890’s

Beatrice May Routledge Marries

Beatrice, the daughter of deceased Petty Officer John Routledge and his widow Mary Ann and granddaughter of matriarch Mary Ann married Thomas Reginald Gerrard an accountant in Devonport on 31 July. The couple moved to West Ealing in London at some point before the 1911 census.


Blanche Marries George Dyke

Blanche, one of William and Caroline’s daughters and matriarch Mary Ann’s granddaughter had been staying with Thirza for a while. She would have been introduced to George who was serving as a Corporal with the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment at some point, possibly by Thirza’s husband Charles. After courting they got married on 12 January in St Andrew’s Church, Wolverhampton.

Another Baby for Frederick and Ellen

The third baby in three years arrives, Mary Elvins in a nod to Ellen’s surname is born in Mevagissy on 12 September. The family is still living in Devonport as Frederick is working in the Dockyard but Ellen seems to have gone back to her mothers home for the birth.

Gunner William Acock Court Martialled for Disobedience on the Island

On 19 May a party of the RGA were moving 6 inch shells from the Breakwater to the magazines on the Island. After the Barge was unloaded on the Island Sgt Arnold ordered Gnr Acock to assist in moving the shells but Gnr Acock refused saying he had moved his fair share. Lt Dunstable then repeated the order but Gnr Acock again refused. Gnr Acock stated he hadn’t heard any direct order. He was found guilty and given 1 months imprisonment, his first offence in 11 years service. William extended his service in 1904 eventually being discharged in 1908 after 16 years service including 9 years in India.

The Front of the Island as it looked in the early 1900’s, the main jetty wasn’t built until 1939.

Argyle turn professional as Plymouth Argyle and join the Southern and Western Leagues

In March the company agreed on Frank Brettell as coach at £2 per week, with bonuses to a maximum of £50 at the discretion of the Directors and £10 relocation expenses removal. Frank also took over the Golden Fleece in East Street after arriving in Plymouth. The application to the Western League showed Home Park was had dressing rooms for 5 teams, hot and cold baths, a Stand for 2,000 with a lease from the British Electric Traction Company. Locally trams passed the ground from all parts of Plymouth and trains from London were excellent. However there was opposition to the move from the strong local Rugby lobby who feared they would lose spectators and from the amateur football clubs who feared losing their best players which would lead to Argyle’s dominance in the local leagues. From Argyle there was a commitment not to lure players from other Southern and Western League teams. At the time the Southern League was regarded as the football League of the South as no teams south of Birmingham were in the Football League Division 1 or 2. Admission to the Southern League depended on financial inducements to be paid to secure the votes of the majority of the clubs which the board agreed to partly as the trip to Plymouth by the London and Midlands clubs would be a 3 day affair with no prospect of a profit for the away side. After securing the Devon League and Senior Cup double Argyle were voted into the Western League and along with Fulham were voted into the First Division of the Southern League. 15 players were signed, mainly from the midlands and northern professional clubs including Everton, Man Utd and the Arsenal. The first game was a victory away at West Ham in the Western League followed by another win against Northampton in the first home game watched by 4,438 on a Friday afternoon.

The 1903-04 Argyle Squad. Back row: Wattie Anderson, Herbert Winterhalder, Charlie Clark, Jack Fitchett, Jack Robinson, Andy Clark, Johnny Banks, Jack Picken, Robert Jack.

Front row: Tommy Cleghorn (trainer), Bob Dalrymple, Billy Leech, Archie Goodall, Jack Peddie, Harry Digweed, Frank Brettell (manager).


Two More Routledge Births

Thirza, William and Caroline’s eldest and Charles were posted to Ireland with the 3rd Worcestershires on the Battalion’s return from South Africa. Baby Charles Edmund is born in Tipperary on 19 February. Sydney and Gertrude have a baby girl in Tavistock in the first few months of the year who they christen Frances.

New Railway Stations

In 1904 as a result of competition from the street trams a number of new stops were opened by GWR between Plympton and Saltash allowing a suburban service to be run. LSWR began a similar service between Friary and St Budeaux.

GWR Open Bus Routes

Faced with the high cost of new railways for rural areas GWR had trialled using buses as feeders for their main routes in Cornwall. Their success led GWR to expand the bus routes across Devon and Cornwall with the Plymouth feeder services staring in 1904. Services ran to Modbury, Salcombe, Dartmouth, Totnes and Newton Abbot amongst others.

One of the first GWR Buses

Argyle’s first FA Cup Run

Having won 4 preliminary rounds Argyle were drawn at home against Sheffield Wednesday the reigning Football League Champions. Over 20,000 watched Argyle draw 2-2 at Home Park on Saturday 6th February 1904. In 4 days later Argyle lost the replay 2-0 in a hard fought match. In the Leagues Argyle finished 9th in the Southern League and third in the Western League.

Argyle’s 1904-05 season

Argyle finished fourth in the Southern League and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Newcastle United after two draws in the second replay. The match at Home Park was watched by over 17,000 fans. However attendances were not always that large and the two big Rugby clubs, Devonport Albion and Plymouth RFC with England Internationals playing for them drew spectators away.


Thirza and Charles Posted to Aldershot with 3rd Battalion the Worcestershires

Over the winter of 1904/05 the Battalion along with Charles, Thirza and the two kids arrived back in England and went into married quarters in Aldershot. Whilst there the couple have another son they christen Harold Percy.

Blanche and George’s First Born

The couple christen their son Leonard who is born in Worcester where George is serving as a Clerk with the Regimental Depot of the Worcestershires.

Gunner Crane Injured on the Island

The unfortunate Gunner Thomas Crane was at work when a 10 cwt gun fell on his foot. He was taken for treatment at the Military Hospital at Devonport. He had been in the Gunners for 6 years and was a veteran of India and the Aden Expeditionary Force from the previous year. He went on to serve in Hong Kong before being discharged after 12 years service in 1911.

The Military Hospital in Devonport where Thomas Crane was treated

Lack of Territorial Volunteers

Having previously fallen from 12 companies of 116 men each to 8 companies because of a lack of volunteers there was still a shortfall in the Infantry volunteers of 408 including 12 officers out of an establishment of 932 within the Three Towns. In the Royal Garrison Artillery who would man the forts in wartime there was a shortfall of 240 out of 480. The fall in numbers of men volunteering for the Territorial forces was partly put down to some employers not allowing their workers time off to train, partly due to a policy of getting rid of those seen as wasters and also as the younger generation felt the pay and expenses were not enough for the time they were asked to give.

Annual Defence Exercises

These included a partial test of the mobilisation plans for the defence of Plymouth.

Live Night Firing in the Sound

This appears to be the first time live night firing had taken place by Guns in the Sound. Targets were large buoys towed out into the Sound and picket boats with red flares were placed just outside the firing zone to warn shipping. The guns at Fort Bovisand were used in conjunction with the searchlights on the Island and other forts.

Electric Trams replace Horse Trams

The horse trams continued to be replaced by electric ones and those to Pennycomequick were replaced in September. This just left horse trams on the West Hoe route, which was converted on 22 June 1907.

Electric Trams such as this one with Derry’s Clock in the background had replaced horse drawn trams on all but one route in Plymouth.

Waste Dumped off Drake’s Island

There was supposed to be a three mile limit from the entrance to the Sound (roughly the Breakwater) in which no waste was allowed to be dumped. From complaints to the Devon Sea Fisheries it appears this was largely ignored with barges from the small local councils up river shovelling their waste into the Sound just past Drake’s Island after dark. The committee’s response was merely to issue a public warning notice of the rule.

Rugby The All Blacks play Devonport Albion at The Rectory

25 October saw the New Zealand All Blacks (known as The Originals) beat Albion 21-3 in front of 19,000 spectators.

The All Blacks v Devonport Match


Three more Routledge Babies Frederick and Ellen’s Fourth Child is Born

Frederick and Ellen’s fourth child was another girl born in Mevagissey and is christened Sarah Maud. Sydney and Gertrude’s second born is their first son who is born in Tavistock and they christen William. Alfred and Isabel now in the North West Province of South Africa in one of the two large towns, Potchefstroom, have their second child, a boy they name Alfred. So Alfred and Isabel have two children also Alfred and Isabel but it seems that a lot of families christened the eldest son and daughter after their father and mother at the time.

Images of Potchefstroom or Potch as it’s known locally from the time Alfred and Isabel were living there.

Defence Exercises

The annual exercises again included a test of the mobilisation plans.

Plymouth RFC’s James Peters becomes the first Black Man to play for England

Jimmy Peters as he was better known was born in Lancashire but his father a Lion Tamer in a circus was mauled to death. With his mother unable to look after him young Jimmy joined another circus as a bareback rider. He was abandoned by the circus at 11 years old when he broke his arm and ended up in an orphanage in Greenwich, London. An all round sportsman he trained as a carpenter and printer. His trade bought him to Bristol where he played fly half for Bristol RFC. Racism forced him to move away in 1902. He settled in Plymouth and played for Plymouth RFC. Jimmy’s performances established him as a star player and he was a key part of the Devon County side that won the County Championship in 1906. Both national and local press called for him to be selected for the national side. There was both a lot of overt and casual racism at the time and it even appeared to the press that his initial non selection was racially motivated. Jimmy eventually made his debut on 17 March 1906 against Scotland although the Yorkshire Post reported his selection wasn’t popular on racial grounds. However his performance was described by The Sportsman as doing many good things especially passing. England won the match having gone the previous two years without a win and Jimmy set up two of their three tries. He was selected for the next match, the first played against France which England won with Jimmy scoring one of nine tries. The South African Springboks toured Great Britain from October to December. The tourists objected to playing against him in the Devon County match purely on racial grounds and it was suspected he wasn’t selected for England against them because of the objections. Jimmy did play for England three more times. He was selected for the win against Ireland in 1907 then the loss to Scotland at Blackheath with Jimmy scoring England’s only points and his try being the only one conceded by the Scots that season. He made his final international appearance against Wales in 1908. Jimmy continued playing for Plymouth and Devon but in 1910 he lost three fingers in a workplace accident. Plymouth RFC played a testimonial match to raise funds but the RFU regarding the money raised as an act of professionalism which was banned in the amateur world of Rugby Union and Jimmy was banned for life. He subsequently moved north to play in the professional Rugby League playing for Barrow and St Helens before retiring in 1914. The Barrow Herald in 1913 reported “James Peters was the favourite of the crowd and right well he deserved their favouritism … His side-step is bewildering, and his passes are so swift … his place kicking is inclined towards the phenomenal.” Jimmy moved back to Plymouth after he retired from League and was employed in the Victualling Yard at the Navy Dockyard during World War One. He was involved with a few unsuccessful attempts to bring Rugby League to the South West but Jimmy remained in Plymouth for the rest of his life and although teetotal became a publican. Jimmy had married Rosina Finch in 1907, they had two children Rowena and James. Jimmy died in 1954, aged 74, and is buried in Plymouth Old Cemetery.

The England XV v Ireland, Jimmy is sat on the ground on the right.

Jimmy with his wife Rosina and children and wearing one of his England caps


Accident on the Island

Mr Barber a 50 year old contractor working on the Island sustained a broken arm which was treated at the Homeopathic Hospital in Plymouth.

Two more Routledge Babies Blanche and George’s Second Son Arrives

Blanche has a baby boy and younger brother to Leonard was christened Albert and like Leonard was born in Worcester where George was still a Clerk at the Worcestershire’s Depot. Alfred and Isabel have a second girl they christen Lilian Maud and like her elder brother is born in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

Charles Hodgkinson Deployed to South Africa

As trouble threatened 3rd Battalion the Worcesters were sent to South Africa in November however by the time they arrived in Cape Town 3 weeks later the threat had lowered and after a year the Battalion returned to Aldershot. The families did not deploy with their husbands.

Jack Dart Routledge Enlists

As soon as they came of age the sons of William and the now deceased Caroline appear to have enlisted, It seems it was a way of supporting themselves as William couldn’t support such a large family and was possibly influenced by elder sisters Thirza and Blanche and their husbands who were both serving in the Worcestershire Regiment. Jack did enlist in the Worcesters and was posted to the 3rd Battalion in which Thirza’s husband Charles served. They were all in Dover during the 1911 census.

Annual Exercises

The usual round of gun practice and exercises including signalling and telephony occurred over the spring and summer months

Gunner Tickell and Tracey Guilty of Theft

Gunners Percy Tickell and Andrew Tracey both of the Island Garrison were in civilian court charged with stealing 12 shillings 9d from Seaman Arthur Hopkins RN on the beach at Drake’s Island. It is not clear why Seaman Hopkins was asleep but drink may have played a part as Tickell stole the money from his pocket as he slept. Lt AGC Smythe representing the men said Tracey was a fair character and Tickell a bad one. Both had pleaded not guilty but were found guilty and sentenced to 1 months imprisonment.

Nurse Chapman swims to the Island and Back

The swim started from the Ladies Bathing section on the foreshore of the Hoe and even though the tide took her quarter of a mile upstream Nurse Chapman managed the swim in an hour and a half. She was accompanied by a row boat for safety.

Albion RFC’s First Foreign Tour

Albion took a party of 40 including the committee and officials to Paris in February and beat an All France XV that, according to the club was stronger than the national team fielded against England, and that won 11-0. Albions three internationals, Jago, Williams and Mills all played. The French were due to visit Plymouth in 1908.

Collectable Cigarette Cards featured famous sportsmen including Albion’s Jago


Edith Routledge marries James John Armstrong

Edith was the daughter of John R Routledge and Mary Ann. She married James, a Royal Navy Postman from Plymouth in Devonport with the couple living in Pverell.

A Fifth Girl for Frederick and Ellen

Ellen goes back to Mevagissey for the birth of Snow Isabel.

Percy Charles Routledge Enlists

Percy, one of William’s children enlisted in the Worcestershire Regiment as a Drummer. It seems elder sisters Thirza and Blanche who had both married soldiers serving with the Worcesters may have been an influence.

Gun Practice and Defence Exercises

The Sound’s Defences including those on the Island were practised throughout the year starting with Gun Practice in February and culminating with the large scale exercises and inspections in August. The August Exercises included the Examination Service. During wartime the Navy uses two ships to board vessels wishing to enter Plymouth Sound to prevent enemy and unauthorised vessels endangering both the Sound and Devonport. The Examination Harbour was in the waters in front of Fort Picklecombe where vessels could be moored if a thorough examination was required. If any refused to comply with the Navy’s Examination Officers orders they could use the Examination Batteries to fire on the ships. One of the Batteries was the 6 inch Quick Fire Battery on Drake’s Island which would be manned 24 hours a day during wartime.

Kitto Institute Shipwrecked on the Island

30 boys from the Kitto Institute aboard a cutter on a cruise around the Sound struck the rocks off the Island. The boys lit paper and shouted for help which were seen on the Island and by the steamer Eleanor. Both responded with their boats and all the lads were rescued.

Gunner Connell Court Martialled

Gunner M Connell of 45 Coy RGA who were providing the Island Garrison was charged with striking a superior officer. Apparently he was arguing with Cpl T Palmer about work. Cpl Palmer stated he advised Gunner Connell to complain to the Master Gunner if he was dissatisfied and as he was leaving Gunner Connell hit him causing him to cut his head as he fell. Gunner W Douglas confirmed they had been arguing. Gunner Connell stated that Cpl Palmer had started an argument about cooking. He also said he had been hit first and struck Cpl Palmer in self defence. The prosecuting officer said Gunner Connell had 11 years service with several convictions against him.


Five More Routledge Babies A Brother for Frederick and Ellen’s 5 Girls

Frederick and Ellen had their sixth child and first boy who they christened Richard Frederick and was born in Devonport, I don’t know if the large family was a result of wanting a boy but this was the last baby the couple had.

Thirza and Charles fourth baby was their second daughter who was christened Daisy Francis Ida

Edith who had married James John Armstrong a year earlier gave birth to twins Ronald James and Marjorie Edna at Devonport.

Alfred and Isabel, still in Potchefstroom had another girl they named Violet May.

Edgar William Routledge Enlists in the Royal Navy

Edgar enlisted on 16 September 1909 and went into training on HMS Impregnable in Devonport. He is posted to HMS Vanguard in Portland in February 1911 just a year after Vanguard was launched.

The two ships on which Edgar served, Impregnable the training ship at Devonport and one of the Navy’s newest cruisers at the time Vanguard

Annual Defence Exercises

This year a number of small and large scale exercises took place between March and August.


Annie’s Husband Thomas Ferris Dies

Thomas died in Dartmouth although by the 1911 census Annie was living with Leonard and Thomas back in Plymouth. Leonard was working as a pricing clerk in the book and printing trade. Thomas was working in a Brewery also as a clerk. Dorothy had moved down to Liskeard in Cornwall working as an elementary School Teacher whilst lodging with the headteacher James Wyatt and his family.

Leonard William Routledge Enlists

A number of William’s children enlisted in the Military as soon as they were of age, presumably as William couldn’t support such a large family and Leonard was no exception enlisting in the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Boy Soldier aged 16.

Another Two Routledge Babies

Sydney and Gertrude have their third baby and second girl born in Tavistock and christened Daisy. Alfred and Isabel in their 8 th year in South Africa have a second boy who they christen Arthur George and is, like his 4 siblings, born in Potchefstroom.

Bdr Harrison Rescues Girl

In June Bombardier M J Harrison, part of the Island’s Garrison, was in the Island boat going over to the Barbican. Annie Wilkinson who was three years old fell into the sea. Noticing the concern on the Quay Bdr Harrison leapt into the water fully clothed and bought Annie to safety on the quayside.


One More Routledge Baby Just Makes the Census

Edith and James have their third baby literally the day before the census. Baby Reginald was born in Plymouth. His widowed Grandmother Mary Ann is recorded on the census as a visitor and possibly helped deliver Reginald.

Alfred, Isabel and the Five Children are posted to Ireland

After 9 years in South Africa with 4 more kids in tow the family are posted to Ireland.

The 1911 Census on Drake’s Island

The census recorded 19 people on the Island. 14 Gunners and 1 Sapper provided the military element, one of whom accompanied by his wife the only female on the Island and their son. There was also Canteen Manager and his son which made a total of 17 adult males, 1 female and 2 boys aged 4 and 5.

Corporal Frederick Daniels

Frederick was the commander of the Garrison – the Artillery didn’t lose the rank of Corporal until 1920 when it was replaced by Bombardier which up to that point had been the equivalent of Lance Corporal. A Norfolk lad from Dersingham he had enlisted in 1901 as a 19 year old and was now 29 years old and single. Frederick went onto have a full military and saw service in World War One. He had married Louisa Annie Maskell in Norfolk a year after the War finished. The couple retired to Dersingham when Frederick was discharged in 1921 having reached the rank of Battery Sergeant Major with an unblemished disciplinary record. Frederick worked as a self employed Drain Toolman – someone who cleared drains and pipes – although he had his military pension to fall back on as well. Frederick passed away in 1941 aged 60.

Bombardier Norman Harrison and Wife Rose

Londoner Norman and his wife Rose from Crawley, Sussex son was born in Malta 4 years earlier in 1907 and christened Norman James. I couldn’t find Norman’s service record but the 1939 register shows him still married to Rose with the couple running their own Grocers shop in Portsmouth. The same register shows son Norman had married Nora and were settled in Plymouth where the couple also ran a Grocers shop.

Bombardier John Evans

All I could discover about 23 years old John was he was born in Bedminster, Somerset.

Gunner Christopher Saunders

27 year old Christopher was a Londoner from Peckham. He either transferred or was conscripted into the Labour Corps during World War One which he survived. The 1939 Register shows him widowed and working as a Labourer in Camberwell, London which is close to Peckham.

Gunner Thomas Matthews

All I could find out about 24 year old Thomas was his home town of Great Torrington, Devon.

Gunner William Hinks

28 year old William originally a Brewer from Walsall enlisted with the South Staffordshires in 1901 before transferring the Royal Garrison Artillery with whom he served throughout World War One. He was discharged as a Gunner in 1927 after being given permission to serve beyond 21 years. He hadn’t married and I couldn’t find out any more about his later life.

Gunner William Pendry

25 year old William was born in Birmingham which is all I could find out about him.

Gunner George Worsfold

George, from Morden, Surrey, enlisted as an 18 year old in 1901 and was listed as a cook when he was part of Island Garrison. He served throughout World War One and was still serving when he was admitted to the military hospital, Assaye, India in 1920.

Gunner Michael Cooney

Michael, an Irishman from Cork enlisted as a 24 year old in 1901. He had served in China and Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) before being posted to the Island. He was discharged at Plymouth in 1913 after 12 years with the Colours.

Gunner Joseph Montgomery

The only details about Irishman Joseph are he was a single 31 year old from Tyrone.

Gunner John Harris

John was a single 28 year old Lancastrian from Alfreston.

Gunner James Gost

23 year old bachelor James was from Bow in London. He went on to serve in World War One in France with 60 Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was in Rouen in 1916 but I have no more details after that date.

Sapper Richard Hughes

Richard was the only Engineer on the Island and possibly only making a routine maintenance visit – the census recorded where you were on the night of the census not your permanent residence – as it appears he was a late addition to the census roll with his entry in different handwriting to the rest and the numerical totals amended. He was a 22 year old bachelor from Berkshire.

William and Rueben Gillard

40 year old Plymothian Wiliam was the Canteen Manager on the Island. He was a widower and had the youngest of his three children, 5 year old Rueben, with him on the Island. His older brothers, 9 year old William and Adolphus aged 7 were boarding with the Paul Family in Plymouth where they were both at school. In the 1939 Register Adolphus is recorded as being married and working as a Bus Driver in Plymouth. Rueben is working as an Insurance Agent in Plympton and has also married although he either volunteered or was conscripted into the Royal Artillery in 1940. He survived the War and was discharged in December 1945.

The Routledges in 1911

By the 1911 census the 78 year old family matriarch Mary Ann who had married Richard Routledge in 1861 was living with daughter Maud and her husband George Mountstephen, At this point she had 66 descendants, 12 children, 37 grand children, and 17 great grand children. 8 of the families including the Maynards, Mounstephens. Ferris’s and Blacklers were living in the Three Towns. Of her married grandchildren Thirza Hodgkinson was in Dover with husband Charles and family serving with the Worcesters, Alfred was with his family in Ireland, Blanche Dyke with her husband George serving with the Worcesters in Worcestershire whilst the Gerrards were in West Ealing. Five of her grandsons were away serving with the military in addition to the two granddaughters who had married soldiers. Of course there was tragedy, she had outlived 4 of her children and 1 of her grand children.

The next Blog follows the Routledges and Plymouth up to and through the Great War.