The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History

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Updated:  14 March 2013 

Welcome to my PLYMOUTH DATA Website.  My name is Brian Moseley.  Pleas let me introduce myself, tell you something of my work and how to make good use of the site.

I was born in 1947, in the Reign of His Majesty King George VI, in the Alexandra Maternity Home at Stoke, and lived in Warleigh Avenue, within sight and sound of the then Great Western Railway.  After primary school I attended Sutton High School for Boys in Regent Street.

All of my life I have had three interests.  The oldest is in the railways and tramways of Plymouth; the second is in publishing, which only started in 1957; and the newest is Plymouth local history in general.  The last started in 1961 when I became curious about the name over my local Post Office - "Keyham Barton".  I had always been told I lived in Keyham so what was the "Barton" about?  I discovered that a "Barton" was a manor house, a place of ancient importance, and that Barton Avenue was built on the site.  A house is small and square but Barton Avenue is long and thin so clearly the manor house only occupied a small part of the land covered by the Avenue.

I went in search of a map that might help and my diary records that it was on Saturday December 2nd 1961 that I first climbed the stairs of the Central Library to visit the reference library on the first floor.  I was on hallowed ground: children did not venture up to the first floor in those days.  The doors to the Reference Library were closed so I pushed them open gently, peeped inside, was immediately overawed and withdrew.  The doors to the Scott Lecture Theatre were also closed but one set of doors were wide open, and thus welcoming.  It was the home of what was then called the Devon and Cornwall Collection.  They haven't been able to keep me away ever since.

So I have now spent fifty-one years researching aspects of Plymouth history.  2012 looked a very long way away back in 1961 yet 1961 seems like only last week to me now.  Between then and now I have produced several typed and duplicated booklets ("History of Transport in Plymouth", "Shipping on the River Dart", and short histories of Plympton Grammar School and Sutton High School) and eight printed books, including "Vanishing Plymouth" and five volumes of "Plymouth Through the Lens".  On January 7th 2002 I launched this website, thanks to a heart attack and the persistence and help of an old Devonport High School friend from my Keyham days, Mr Chris Bollard, who had spent a couple of years trying to get me to go on the Internet.

The best place to start looking at the site is from the A - Z Contents page.  What isn't listed separately on that page will be found under one of the collective headings, like Army Barracks and Depots, Business Houses, Charities, Churches, Memorials and Monuments, Railways, Roads and Streets, Royal Navy Establishments, Schools, and Who was Who in Plymouth History, etc.

Readers should be warned that follow some old-fashioned conventions in the text.  The apostrophe is alive and well on PLYMOUTH DATA as are the use of the terms Master, Miss and Mrs.  For those researching matters relating to their family history the use of "Miss" and "Mrs" is important.  One slightly unusual convention is that the First World War is always referred to as the "Great War".  They were not to know at the time that there was going to be another not long afterwards.

Every possible effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information published in PLYMOUTH DATA.  Often errors that were made a century ago are being perpetuated today by people who do not go back to the original or contemporary sources to check it.  Almost every date in the website has been double-checked with a newspaper of the time.

And now for the bad news!  I am not able to supply copies of any of the photographs on the website as the vast majority are the copyright of other people.  I am not able to offer a research service as I am more than fully occupied with research of my own.  Finally, I do not get involved in family history, other than my own and as required by my website.

The cost of research and the maintenance of the website is funded entirely from my pension.  I receive no grants from Plymouth City Council, the National Lottery or any other body.  I also derive no income from the website.


As was stated by Lord Wilberforce in the House of Lords in 1979, 'The protection given by the law of copyright is against copying, the basis of the protection being that one man must not be permitted to appropriate the result of another's labours'.  Users of this website are therefore respectfully reminded that all the material is copyright and although the right to reproduce it is unlikely to be refused it is expected that this website, or its author, will receive credit for the research involved to produce it.  Several cases have recently been noted in Plymouth where that basic right has been ignored and material has been taken from the website and reproduced as though it were the author's work.  Legal action could in future be contemplated in such cases.

FACEBOOK PAGE NUMBER 201850573160334

PLEASE BE AWARE that the Facebook page number 201850573160334 entitled "Brian Moseley's Plymouth Data" has nothing whatsoever to do with me or this Website.  I never created the Facebook page and any messages posted on it will not be answered by me.  Any photographs uploaded to the page for my benefit are not seen by me and are therefore not added to my Website collection.  I have no knowledge at all of the removal / house clearance business mentioned on the Page.


Mrs Marian E Beckford was the Local Studies Librarian when I first visited it in 1961.  It was due to her encouragement that my interest in old Plymouth was nurtured.  She died on June 3rd 1972 at the early age of only 60. 

The staff of the Local Studies Library, now the History Room, have changed several times over:  Owen Baker, the late Ken Burns, Michael Crews, Anique Williams, the late John Smith, 'Polly' Lamb, Ann Landers, Joyce Brown, Malcolm Matthews, Ian Criddle, and currently Graham Naylor and Lorna Basham.  Without their continuing help, and the facilities that the library provides, very little of the Plymouth Data website would be possible.  Likewise the staff of the former Reference Library have had to put up with me for 51 years as well.

Just recently I had the pleasure of explaining to one of Mrs Beckford's daughters that she used to write booklets about Plymouth.  Apparently the family had no idea that one of her literary masterpieces was the first Plymouth local history translated into another language, something that no other Plymouth historians have so far achieved.

The Plymouth Local Studies Library in 1970.  The lady in the background is Mrs Marian Beckford, the Local Studies Librarian.  You can tell which was her desk - it was always covered with paper.
The Plymouth Local Studies Library in 1970.
The lady in the background is Mrs Marian Beckford,
the Local Studies Librarian.  You can tell which was her desk - it was always covered in paper, just like mine is today.
  Plymouth Library Service.
Buy a Copy.

I also acknowledge the help of Louise Mann, Anne Morgan, Deborah Watson, Alan Barclay and Ian Conday of the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office along with the former archivists Paul Brough and Sam Johnston.  I still remember when former City archivist Keith Holt, who sadly passed away in East Yorkshire on August 10th 2009, introduced me to the collection of old newspapers that were housed in the basement of the Library building, way back in the 1960s.  The Devon Record Office, Cornwall Record Office, Cornwall Local Studies Library and the South West Image Bank have also been very helpful on some matters.

Lastly I should like to thank Mr Tom Jewell, of the Devon Family History Society in Exeter, along with members of the Plymouth Group, for their valued assistance in researching Who was Who in Plymouth History.

Thank you for visiting the Plymouth Data website.

Brian Moseley
Investigative Local Historian
'Semper Veritatem Quaerens'



  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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