2.7 The Name Survives

While others had tried to issue a Plymouth area directory such as Thomas (1836), F Brendon (1852), W Brendon (1862, 1864 and 1867) or Thorne/Trythall (1873, 1875, 1877), none seems to have lasted as long as that of the brothers. Although the Eyre Brothers gave up their directory after only four editions it did have a long, and moderately successful, life. After 16 editions under their name it was taken over by A H Swiss in 1905 as The Post Office Directory of Plymouth, Devonport & Stonehouse which became … Plymouth and District after 1915. The secondary title being With which is incorporated "Eyre's Post Office Plymouth, Devonport, Stonehouse, and District Directory”. Swiss and Co. were a firm operating from Devonport which seem to have specialised in hunting maps, producing maps for most English counties with hunts.[i] Alfred Henry Swiss was registered as printer at 112 Fore Street in White’s Directory of 1878 and Swiss & Co. - printers to H M Stationery Office, printers, stationers (retail), booksellers, insurance agents, map publishers and relief stampers - were still registered at that address in 1930. In Eyre´s 6th edition they were at 111 and 112 Fore Street.

Although the Swiss directory appeared annually from 1906 to 1915 the war years seem to have upset the regularity of publishing and only copies for 1920, 1923 and 1928 are known.[ii] 

 Fig.23. Title page to the 6th Edition of the directory 

published by Hammond 1893/4

 In 1932 the directory was now published by Underhill and issued as The Post Office Directory of Plymouth, Devonport & Stonehouse and it still retained the link to Eyre. It is not known how many years Underhill published the directory but it seems to have been a short-lived undertaking[iii].

For a short period it was taken over and published as Kelly’s (formerly Underhill’s) Post Office Directory of Plymouth and District but only seems to have appeared from 1935 to 1940 under this name. The directory was revived after the Second World War and copies for 1951, 1953 and 1955 (8th edition) are known. Frederic Kelly (fl.1845-1900) founded Kelly & Co., the London-based publishers who specialised in directories: the first, London, was produced in 1843 from his Post Office Directory offices at Old Boswell Court (later from Temple Bar, 1845-68). The first County Directories appeared c.1845 and they included maps of the relevant county/counties. Devon appeared in 1856 and was re-issued at approximately five year intervals well into the next century with updated maps (identifiable having the title Post Office Map Of ...). In c.1860 the first complete compilation of the maps was issued, the Post Office Directory Atlas. Kelly´s survives today as KellySearch, an online search tool.

We may never learn who the Eyre Brothers actually were but for a brief period between 1875 and 1890 their company survived and though it may not have flourished they laid the foundations for others to not only emulate their efforts but also utilise their name. Their own output was limited to just over a decade but the publications they began (or propagated) meant that their name continued to be used by others on the main titles for another 15 years and would be incorporated in the title pages far longer.

[i] Batten & Bennett; 2000; ibid. Entry 166 has two hunting maps which covered most of the county. Batten; The Tourist Maps of Devon; Little Silver Press; Exeter; 2010 lists a further Swiss hunting map based on the cartography of John Cary.

[ii] All copies held at PCL and WDRO.

[iii] WDRO has only the directory for 1932. BL has a directory credited to Swiss dated 1932/33. 


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