2.5 The later Plymouth directory publishers

 2.5.1 W H Hood

2.5.1 W H Hood


Nothing is known about W H Hood except they had premises at St Martin´s House, 29, Ludgate Hill in London as well as a local office in Plymouth at 193 Union Street (West of England Office). The only work listed in the JISC catalogue is William Crossing´s Tales of the Dartmoor Pixies: glimpses of elfin haunts and antics published in 1890. Crossing was, at that time, without doubt the best authority on Dartmoor (according to the Western Antiquary of April 1889) and the book was printed by the local firm of Hoyten and Cole (Russell Street, Plymouth).[i] After the text there are a few advertising pages and one advert is for Hood´s Picturesque Devonshire (Fig.13.). 



Fig.13. Advert for Eyres´ Picturesque Devonshire 


Hood issued only the Fifth Edition before handing over to J G Hammond but they appear to have kept the Plymouth directory going and also issued the 11th edition of the Hotel guide. Additionally, they did attempt to exploit the Eyre Brothers name. While the title of the directory altered slightly from Eyre Brothers’ Post Office Plymouth District Directory to become Eyre’s Post Office Plymouth and Devonport District Directory they advertised a new publication again utilising the Eyre name.

An advertisement in the 5th edition announces; Ready 1st June “Picturesque Devonshire”. This work, priced just one shilling, was to contain 64 pages of beautiful views and be the most attractive county work ever attempted. Page 172 contained another full page advertisement, this time with specimen view, and the title is given as Eyre´s Picturesque Devonshire. A view of Bickleigh Vale is given and the reader is promised about 200 high-class views. Although no copy is extant this could either be the forerunner to, or the original inspiration to, Picturesque Devon and Cornwall. Strangely, the identical advert appears in J G Hammond´s 6th edition of the Plymouth directory.


Fig.14. Advert for Eyres´ Picturesque Devon and Cornwall  first issued by Hood


Although Hood operated from a different address to that given by the Eyre Brothers, the introduction (dated March 1890) to the directory both apologises for the slight delay in publication but also informs the reader that The same staff has again been employed in the preparation of the Directory. The directory follows the format of its predecessors.

Eyre’s Picturesque Devon and Cornwall, however, is quite different to most of the other works produced under the Eyre name: it is far more of an illustrated newspaper than a directory or guide. With its large size (30 x 39 cm) and its soft paper covers it certainly looked like a large newspaper. The 1891 issue (104 p.; Fig.15.) clearly names Hood as the publisher but Hammond´s name does not appear on the cover to the 1898 edition (now with 118 pages of content). Only the address at the foot of the page gives the ownership away. Only the two issues quoted here are known and a perusal of the text makes it clear that no attempt was made at bringing the information within up to date. The layout, the illustrations and the advertisers may have changed but not the landscape! There is a suspicion that Hammond (see below) may have simply copied the original Hood idea seven years later and reprinted; these could be the only issues.



Fig.15. Cover of Eyres´ Picturesque Devon and Cornwall 1891 issued by Hood


 2.5.2  J G Hammond


The 6th to the 11th Editions of the Plymouth Directory were published by J G Hammond. In his first issue, published for 1893-94 signifying a three year break, he has every confidence that it will bear favourable comparison with previous issues. J G Hammond & Co., Ltd had their main office and printing premises in Scotland Passage, which ran between High St and Moor St, in Birmingham.  They were advertising “about 50 other publications” in the Plymouth Directory of 1893/4 utilising the largest and fastest machinery and boasting a large staff of workmen. Hammond also had offices in 48 & 49 Temple Chambers in the east end of London as well as a local office in Plymouth at Victoria Chambers in Whimple Street, Plymouth. In 1898 they were boasting that they were printers of “between 50 and 60 … publications”.

Two copies of Eyre’s Picturesque Devon and Cornwall are known from 1898. The two addresses at the foot of the page, London, 17 Coleman Street and Birmingham, 136 Moor Street give the publisher away (Fig.16.).



Fig.16. J G Hammond & Co. issued Eyres´ Picturesque Devon and Cornwall in 1898


A full page advert in the 6th edition of the directory mentions both the Plymouth directory, Picturesque Devon and Cornwall (which might be the Picturesque Devonshire mentioned above) but no other works are directly quoted. Another advert towards the end of the directory announces that the 1893 edition of Picturesque Devon and Cornwall is now preparing with 112 large pages. This will be the Fourth Edition we are told. If this is so, then the First Edition would have been issued in 1890, i.e. that published by Hood and the 1898 would be the 7th or 8th issue. Given its repetition of text it was very likely aimed at the summer visitor to the two counties. Page 118 has a list of over 60 distributors throughout Devon and Cornwall (including G K Batten in Ilfracombe) and copies in cloth (blue or scarlet) cost 2/-, paper cover copies 1/- and a “Cheaper Edition” just 6d. Local copies at 3d were offered for Plymouth, Torquay, Exeter and Ilfracombe as well as for each of North West, South, and West Cornwall.

Hood had introduced a map by the local printer John Smith for the 5th edition of the Plymouth directory and Hammond continued to include this in all their issues (see below). However, this was not their first map venture: J.G. Hammond and Co.s Map of Birmingham, Aston Manor and suburbs was printed in 1893.[ii]

An advertisement of 1908 from an unknown source still has the Midland Works in Scotland Passage and also a London Works at 32-36 Fleet Lane, Ludgate Circus (Fig.17.)[iii]. The company offered catalogues, books and publications of all kinds, with special attention drawn to “imitation typewriter circulars”.



Fig.17. Advert for J G Hammond & Co. from a publication c. 1908

2.5.3 Theophilus Creber


In 1900 Theophilus Creber took over the directory of Plymouth and published five editions to 1904. Creber was the first local person to publish the directory. In 2016 the British Library ran an exhibition “There Will Be Fun” on Victorian entertainments. Lawrence Worms, in his blog The Bookhunter on Safari[iv], gives some account of Creber´s life. Theophilus Creber (1845-1902) of Plymouth, described himself as a “show printer”. He was brought up in Devonport Workhouse where his father was the teacher. He had a printing business and printed posters for circus shows and other acts (Fig.18.). Fascinated by the world of entertainment he took his own lease on the old Olympia Theatre in Plymouth and re-opened it in 1887 as a Theatre of Varieties, promising “first class entertainments …  free from anything objectionable in the slightest degree”. By 1898 he had taken over the Theatre Royal at Eastbourne, spending a fortune on refurbishing it. At some point he owned and then sold Fred Ginster’s Circus and a column in the newspaper The Era (9th April 1898, illustrated in the blog) includes a long list of all the items for sale.

Although the 12th Edition of the Directory still included the map by John Smith, for the 13th Edition a new map was prepared. In 1905 the publication of the directory passed to A H Swiss, another local businessman. However, Creber´s business survived until 1932 when it merged with the Salisbury Press.


Fig.18. Typical circus / variety act poster printed by T Creber

[i] HathiTrust has the Harvard University copy. The advert is at the back of the work.

[ii] Copy at Birmingham University Library.

[iii] Illustrated at Grace´s Guide online: https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/J._G._Hammond_and_Co.

[iv] https://ashrarebooks.com/2016/10/20/there-will-be-fun/. The descriptions which follow are all from the blog.


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