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BUSINESS HOUSES

Messrs VINER, CAREW & CO.

Updated:  14 May 2011 

The Plymouth business house of Messrs Viner, Carew & Co., were auctioneers, estate agents, chartered surveyors and valuers.  (It was apparently never Messrs Viner, Carew & Company")

Before the Great War Mr George Claud Farrer Viner had served in the Loyal Suffolk Hussars and then had been employed in the District Valuer's Office in Norwich.  After serving in the Royal Norfolk Regiment in Belgium, France, and Germany during the Great War, he found temporary employment with the agents responsible for disposing of the Duke of Rutland's estate, which was the whole of the County of Rutland.  [1]

Captain Viner then moved to Plymouth, where he joined Messrs Calloway & Company, auctioneers and estate agents, to become manager of their local office in George Street.  He and his family occupied the flat over the premises and one of the conditions of his employment was that he used his army rank of Captain and he was forever known as "Captain Viner".  Shortly after taking up this appointment the firm went into liquidation.

He then entered into partnership with Major Peter Fitzwilliam Carew and they took an office on the third floor of the Prudential Building.  The year was 1920.

Only six years later the partnership was dissolved and Captain Viner became sole proprietor.

In 1934 Captain Viner's son, Mr Raymond Farrer Viner, joined the business as an articled clerk.  He assisted with the letting, management and sales of many of the landed properties in the Plymouth area including Beechwood, Langdon Court, Sydenham, Thorn, Trematon, and Wembury House.  He qualified as a chartered auctioneer and estate agent, later known as a chartered surveyor, in 1939.

Mr Raymond Farrer Viner married Miss Barbara Elliot Square, daughter of the Plymouth solicitor and chairman of the Plymouth Argyle Football Club, Mr Edward Elliot Square, at Emmanuel Church on October 28th 1939.  [2]

Being already a member of the Territorial Army, he served in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War, in which he gained the rank of Major.  He twice served with the Expeditionary Forces in North West Europe, including at Dunkirk, and ended his military career as second in command of the Eleventh Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery.

In 1946 he returned to join the family business and 'set about bringing a more urban flavour to the practice'.  He was taken into partnership with his father in 1947.

The Prudential Building was badly damaged during the War and was demolished in 1951, as a result of which the business moved to a Nissen hut at number 55 York Street.

Captain George Claud Farrer Viner died on August 30th 1952 at the South Devon & East Cornwall (Greenbank) Hospital.  He was 61-years-old.  He had been a member of Plympton Rural District Council since 1942 and Devon County Council since 1943.  He had been associated with the Plymouth Branch of the Royal British Legion for 22 years, chairman for 12 years and president since 1946.  [1]

It was mentioned earlier that one of the founding partners was Major Peter Fitzwilliam Carew of the Suffolk Regiment but that he left the business in around 1926.  (His name was still on the Company's letterheads up until December 1927).  Born on June 3rd 1887 at Rattery, Devon, he was the eldest son of the Reverend Henry William Carew, the Vicar of Rattery Church.  He continued to followed a military career and during the Second World War was Lieutenanet-Colonel and, from September 1st 1929, Brevet-Colonley of the 5th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.  He had married Miss Joyce Margaret Fortescue on April 10th 1919 and they had two children, Mr Nicolas Jasper Grenville Carew and Mr John Mohun Carew.  The first was killed in action in 1943 but his younger brother married Miss Barabera Joan Stewart Roberts in 1950 and they had a son, Mr Nicolas John Stewart Carew.  [4]

Mr Peter Fitzwilliam Carew died on March 31st 1954 at Orpio, Provence, France, where both he and his wife are buried.  In that same year his book "Combat and Carnival" was published by Messrs Constable, London.  [4]

When the new Prudential House, in Royal Parade, was opened in 1954 the practice moved into offices on the first floor.

They were the first estate agents to open an office at Plymstock, in Dean Cross Road in 1958.  This was relocated to number 1 The Broadway in 1960.

In 1962 the firm moved their headquarters to number 94 Tavistock Road, on the corner with Tavistock Place and Gibbon's Lane.  The premises had previously been occupied by Mr James T Howard, radio and television engineer.

Mr Michael John Farrer Viner, grandson of the founder and newly qualified as a chartered surveyor, joined the firm in 1963 and became a partner three years later, when another branch was opened, this time in the Ridgeway, at Plympton.

A Mr Tony Pope joined the partnership in 1967 but he died just five years later.

In 1973 a branch was opened at Tavistock and the following year Mr Andrew Elliot Farrer Viner, another of Captain Viner's grandsons, joined the business.

The business expanded into number what was by then number 46 Drake Circus in 1974, where the commercial/industrial department was established.

Mr Marten Holden joined the partnership in 1975 and two years later Mr Andrew Viner was admitted as a partner.

During 1978 extensive alterations were made to the headquarters at 46-50 Drake Circus to provide office accommodation on five floors.

A new branch was opened in 1979 at Ivybridge.

Another new partner, Mr Richard Creed, joined the practice in 1980 and the following year a further new branch was opened at Totnes.

When Mr Raymond Farrer Viner retired in 1982 he was succeeded as senior partner by his eldest son, Mr Michael John Farrer Viner.

An existing practice in Torpoint was acquired in 1983 and in 1986, when a Mr Andrew Ware joined the partnership, another chartered surveyor's was acquired in Exeter and a new branch opened at Saltash.  A second practice was acquired in Exeter during 1989.  As a result the firm had nine offices and had 75 people on the payroll.

In 1992 Messrs Viner, Carew & Co., was sold to Messrs Fulford's of Exeter, a member of the London & Manchester Insurance Group.

Mr Raymond Farrer Viner TD, JP, FRICS, passed peacefully away on February 15th 2000.  He was 82 years of age.  During his life he had been chairman of the Plymouth Round Table, the Plymouth Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Plymouth Rotary Club.    [3]


Sources:

With grateful thanks to Mr Andrew Viner, who supplied much of the information, 2010.

[1]  "Death at 61 of Capt. G C Farrer Viner", Western Morning News, Plymouth, September 1st 1952.

[2]  "Plymouth Marriage Index, Volume 1", Devon Family History Society, Exeter, and Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, Plymouth, 2003.

[3]  Obituaries: "Found rewards in voluntary work", Western Morning News, Plymouth, February 22nd 2000.

[4]  1891 Census, RG12/1714/36/8; documents held by the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, especially accession number 114/53/19; "Regular Army Reserve of Officers", London Gazette, London, issue number 32878, November 9th 1923; "Territorial Army", London Gazette, London, issue number 33531, September 3rd 1929.

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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