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Tubbs Lewis & Company

The Property Business

Two Maps

have tried to create two maps (not to the same scale and they do not quite overlap) based on a modern edition of Stanford's 1863 map which give an indication of how concentrated the activities of Tubbs abd Lewis were into a small part of the City of London EC Postal District. Strictly speaking the areas outside the boundary of the original City are only part of Greater London. The City of Westminster is almost as ancient as the City of London, but only London is under the administration of the Corporation of London, the historic administrator and owner of a great deal of the freehold in the City.

Key to the maps

  • 1- The rubber processing works on Wilmer Gardens

  • 2- The Bridge Mills works of Tubbs Lewis

The second map shows the area round Aldersgate which became the centre of the family's business activities

  • 3- The Peerless Pool and surrounding properties.

  • 4- Charterhouse Buildings

  • 5- The site of the Manchester Hotel.

  • 6- 125 and 127 Aldersgate Street which may have surviving fabric of the Tubbs and Lewis development there.

  • 7:- New Street. Tubbs and Lewis offered a property for rent on New Street.

  • 8:- 29-30 Noble Street, the offices and warehouse of Tubbs Lewis and Co from around 1854. Their remains are still exposed.

  • 9- Castle Street, Falcon Square. Probably named for the former Castle & Falcon Public House.

  • 10- Fann Street. Tubbs and Lewis certainly owned property here and legend has it that one of their properties came with the deeds to the land at Littlestone

  • 11- Jewin Street.

In just this small segment of the City shown in the detail map there are numerous halls of London Livery companies, including the Weavers. They had recently demolished theirs at the time of this map. There are also the Wax Chandlers, Brewers, Dyers, Goldsmiths, Girdlers, Barber Surgeons and Haberdashers and this list may not be exhaustive. The present Haberdashers hall is built on land that was once occupied by MCT’s former employer Berisfords. Berisfords’ London office was also destroyed in the Blitz. Just opposite the hotel on Aldersgate St was no 68, for many years the office of Leonard Tubbs which was shared at times with his cousins Percy B and Walter B Tubbs. The General Post Office mentioned in the advertisement for the Manchester Hotel is on the extreme southern boundary of the map on Noble Street. The Royal Mail Public House was nearly opposite TL's offices. Whitbread’s Brewery was considered to be the largest brewery in the world by the end of the 18th century. Bunhill Fields Burial Ground has been in the news in 2018; the grave of William Blake has been properly identified and marked for the first time with a memorial stone, despite the poet and artist’s disapproval of such things.

Of more importance to the present story is the presence of West Smithfield Market which was a new creation made in conjunction with the 1865 extension of the Metropolitan Line and Aldersgate Station below the SIX on the map. At the risk of inconsistency I have retained the now obsolete hyphenation of street names where they are directly reported in print, a small tribute to the tireless work of the Society for the Appreciation of the Hyphen)

Other sites to be discussed in future are The Farringdon Market, the short-lived market on Farringdon Street just south of the Holborn Viaduct, also Littlestone on Sea in Kent. Tubbs also bought land from the Duke of Devonshire's Chiswick estate which was sold in lots for housing development both during and after Henry Thomas Tubbs' lifetime. There is also reference in surviving documents of property on Old Street, probably on the north side a little west of CHarterhouse buildings. Outside the scope of this page is the residence of Henry THomas Tubbs Nether Court in Finchley, now the Finchley Golf Club

The story so far To recapitulate. Tubbs and Lewis opened their elastic web manufactory at Bridge Mills (Key Item 2) in 1854. Around the same time they opened offices and a warehouse at 29 Noble Street (8).

They later extended in to 30 Noble St which was adjacent. In 1856 Henry Thomas Tubbs was at 31 Noble Street, described as a commission agent. Whether that was out of date or he was carrying on more than one business is not clear

This business was evidently successful and the partners soon ventured into Property speculation as well as textiles. The impetus for this was the arrival of the Metropolitan Railway in 1865. Not only was there a great deal of land to be redeveloped but the simultaneous arrival of Smithfield Market created new business opportunities and brought many new visitors inviting Tubbs and Lewis to build the Manchester Hotel almost next to Aldersgate Street Station. An image of the hotel has now been found (p24).

Property Development

New Street (7)

NEW MEAT MARKET (near to).— Lease, the House and Shop situate 23, New-street, Cloth-fair, containing five floors and good light. Apply to Tubbs, Lewis, and Co. 29. Noble-street. Falcon-square. Rent. £5O (London City Press June 1869).

New Street off Cloth Fair is another one that has disappeared. Cloth Fair still includes some of the oldest inhabited buildings in the City of London, but the numerous side alleys have almost all disappeared. New Street ran into Cloth Street and Cloth Street formed one of the boundaries of the site developed by Tubbs and Lewis as the Manchester Hotel. The present Newberry Street is probably on the same axis but there has been considerable redevelopment. I suspect that TL had already purchased the site that was about to include the Manchester Hotel and this was part of their purchase.

New Street did not go without a fight for there is a report from Saturday 6th July 1867 that in the parish of St. Bartholemew The Great. on Thursday, a meeting in Vestry of the ratepayers of the parish was held in the Vestry-room of the church. It was then proposed by Mr. W. Evans, that a deputation should wait upon the City Lands Committee in reference to the stoppage of a thoroughfare by Messrs. Tubbs, Lewis, and Co., at the bottom of New-street, leading into Aldersgate-street, such Committee consist of Messrs. Evans, Harris, Butcher, Palmer, H. Hood, Solomons, and Jackson (the Vestry Clerk).

St Bartholemew’s is of course the church in whose name Bart’s Hospital was founded and the Church is situated on Cloth Fair. Barts were landowners in their own right and benefited mightily from the increase in property value that was associated with all these developments. Thus we read as a matter of interest to all that :- Value of Property - The Peerless Pool Estates, the property of Bartholomew's Hospital, formerly let at £600 per annum, has been recently leased to Messrs. Tubbs, Lewis, and Co., at a yearly rental of £2,8oo. How much?

Peerless Pool Estates (3)

Now the Peerless Pool Estates are an amazing and very little known aspect of life as it was lived on the borders of the City. For a start Peerless is not designed to impress, not originally anyway. It is a corruption of Perilous, as in Siege Perilous which takes us dangerously near 1066 and all that. There was a swimming pool there, all regular and ship shape and no more dangerous than any other swimming pool. The swimming pool opened in 1743 and was 170’x108’ and among the first two or three such pools built in modern times.

An Advertisement in the Morning Post from 1801 reads

The MANSION of HEALTH, in the City Road, justly famous not only " for its Cold Spring and Transparent Waters, but also for the advantages and accommodation experienced by its votaries. This haunt of pleasure daily rises in the scale of consequence, and needs only to be surveyed to ensure applause. Cold and Pleasure Bathing and Angling are its peculiar properties, for which unequalled provisions are made, both as to the dimensions of the Baths, and their delightful situation. By embracing these advantages, the debilitated and the valetudinarian are reanimated, and the enervated and relaxed become invigorated and robust.The Annual Subscription, including every attendance, 11. 6s. or One Shilling a time to Bathe.

The Peerless Pool shows on the 1863 Street Map. The buildings facing Old Street were Alleyn’s Almshouses, St Lukes Hospital for Lunatics and The City of London Lying Hospital, which would now be called a Maternity Home. That was an elegant 18th century edifice partially destroyed in the Blitz.

The hospital lasted until 1919, after which it was used for printing bank notes and the building with a magnificent 500 ft frontage by George Dance the Younger, the City of London Surveyor in 1786, survived until 1963. Originally built as a paupers’ asylum it later became a fee paying middle class affair which claimed a high rate of curing patients. Cold water plunges were a part of the regime and that probably explains the continued existence of the pool. What it does not explain is which part of the estate came under the control of Tubbs and Lewis, nor does it explain what if any development was made there by Tubbs Lewis or by Barts, or for how long they leased the estate property.

Castle Street (9)

Tenders. —The following are the tenders for alterations, additions, and repairs, No. 19, Castle-street, Falcon-square, for Messrs. Tubbs and Lewis, Mr. H. Ford, architect: —Messrs. Palmer and Son, 1,177l.; Mr. Rawlins, 1,056l.; Mr. King, 898l.; Mr. Ashton, 748l. (London City Press - Saturday 02 December 1865). THe lower case ell for libra as in L.S.D. or pounds shillings and pence (denarii) was the customary symbol for the pound sterling until the elaborate ell £ took over.

There’s more here than is immediately obvious. Castle Street and Falcon Square have disappeared from the map but they were there until the Blitz and post-war redevelopment. Castle Street is now actually under the Museum of London. Meriel Jeater of the Museum writes on a museum blog “It is sometimes tricky to explain to visitors why the wall, while having Roman origins, is made mostly from Victorian brick and includes two medieval towers“. The Victorian brick is down to developers such as Tubbs and Lewis incorporating the original Roman Wall into the rear of their later buildings. Similarly one of the mediaeval towers was discovered at No 7 Castle Street.

The photograph shows Nos 8 and 7 Castle Street after the Blitz. No 19 was approximately opposite no. 7

No coincidence I think that discovery was also made in 1865, the same year in which TL were at work. Castle Street ran immediately to the north of Noble Street whose buildings similarly incorporated part of the original London Wall. The Plaisterers’ Hall, part of a modern building, faces across what was Falcon Square, which conveniently housed an urinal at its centre, for those who were plastered perhaps. Whether the modern wide road London Wall is an improvement I leave for you to judge. Number 19 was just opposite Number 7. The photograph of Castle Street after the Blitz was taken from the Northern end of the street. No 19 was on the western side. 23-24 Castle Street belonged to AMT until the Blitz, so it is likely that 21 had also been in family ownership.

125-127 Aldersgate Street (6)

An imposing building of six stories has been erected at 127, Aldersgate-street (Item 6 near the junction with Charterhouse Street), partly on the site of the old candle factory. The owners of the building are Messrs. Tubbs and Lewis, and the occupiers will be a firm of wholesale druggists of long standing. The architect was Mr. W. Smith, Copthall-court, and the builder Mr. Henshaw. Considerable difficulties with regard to light and air, and the presumed right of way to Clothfair had to be encountered, notwithstanding which a substantial and even elegant building is the result. The premises, No. 125, Aldersgate-street, belonging to the same landlords, have been adapted so as to give additional accommodation to the same firm This work has been carried out by Messrs. Sewell and Son. A six-storey warehouse has been erected on the site of three old houses at the back, by the same architect, and for the same owners (Messrs. Tubbs and Lewis) Shoreditch Observer - Saturday 05 October 1867.

This is particularly interesting because 127 (and 125) Aldersgate Street is a building that survived the Blitz and the post-war reconstruction. The existing building is four stories above street level rather than six but is of the correct age.

Jewin Street & Jewin Crescent (11)

This area has been completely built over as The Barbican Centre. It was also the centre of the Cripplegate fire of 1897. Tubbs and Lewis offered the lease on supposedly fireproof premises on nearby Lansdon Street in 1896. There was widespread awareness of the severe fire risk in the narrow streets of the Barbican area in in the ward of St Giles, Cripplegate. The "Gate" in the name is another reminder of the sometime importance of the old City walls which no longer coincided with the modern City boundaries. Cripplegate was without - outside the walls. In London Gate means Gate; in the Midlands it means Street. Vive la difference!

Branching from Jewin Crescent after the 1897 fire was Australian Avenue, which radiated from the outer side of Jewin Crescent at about 10.30 p.m. if standing at the centre looking North; It was probably built over Paper Street. AMT owned 18 Australian Avenue in 1940. The stock image shows the East end of Jewin Street and good money was parted with for its use, for obvious reasons. The fact that Tubbs & Son are the second names on the board suggests that the building was not wholly Tubbs property. The Tubbs in question was Walter Burnell, of whom more elsewhere in this issue and his son Claude Walter. He had offices at 37 Barbican from at least 1905 to 1927. The aerial view of the streets affected by the fire show quite clearly that many properties on Castle Street were also affected, including Numbers 7 and 19, 23 & 24.

The image shows Jewin Street looking east toward Red Cross Street, with Tubbs & Son sign outside premises and their posters in the window. This is said to be about 1920. It is probably Number 38, sometime home of the City of London Photographic Stores (1901) and Belprex Ltd (1927) The Fire Station at the end was built after the 1897 fire. Unsurprisingly the street name derives from an ancient Jewish burial ground. It was widened after the fire.

The Manchester Hotel (5)

An advertisement in a Leicester newspaper from November 1879 makes it clear that the hotel was a Commercial Hotel and that its clientele was expected to arrive by rail particularly from Cottonopolis and the Midlands.

I would like to leave discussion of this until a little more is known about it, but I have now identified some certain photographs of the hotel, that it opened on 1st October 1879 and confirmation that its end came with the Blitz of 29 December 1940. Link to Manchester Hotel. The view of St Paul's from Aldersgate Street was possible perhaps for the first time ever. The distance is about 500 yards.

Charterhouse Buildings (4)

Still standing at the corner of Goswell Road and Clerkenwell Road Charterhouse Buildings was described within the family as being immensely profitable. It has not yet been possible to substantiate the tale that Tubbs and Lewis refused to pay rates until The Corporation of London had built access. Charterhouse Buildings is now both a road and the buildings which which border it. There is evidence of a court case over access rights. There was damage in the Blitz but this has been reinstated or replaced.

The illustration from old maps online shows open Fives courts at the rear of the buildings. Hands up if you have ever played Fives! After Charterhouse School decamped the MErchant Taylors moved their school onto the main CHarterhouse site, which is not part of Charterhouse Buildings, which show up as a separate property on older maps on what was then Wilderness Row, how though it is to imagine a wilderness in the City of London.