Street View: 19 (Suppl. 9)
Address: 70 Strand

elevation 1847

The 1838/40 Street View shows an empty property at 70 Strand, but by 1847 when the Supplements were published, the premises are occupied by Freeman Roe, “Hydraulic engineer and fountain maker”. He advertised his hydraulic water rams in The Gardeners Chronicle and agricultural gazette of 14 March, 1846, also listing the other devices he could supply: jets, baths, steam closets, cooking apparatus, fountain basins, water purifiers and, slightly at variance with the chunky hardware, the Agricultural Chemical Almanac. I have not been able to locate a copy, but another book from his hand, The Hand Book of Fountains, and a Guide to the Gardens of Versailles (1845) can be found at the British Library.

water ram from Gardeners Chronicle 14 March 1846

water ram from Gardeners Chronicle 14 March 1846

Hydraulic Ram from Mechanics' Magazine 1-1-1848

Hydraulic Ram from Mechanics’ Magazine 1 Jan. 1848

Roe’s hydraulic ram receives favourable attention in The Mechanics’ Magazine and one of his pumps can still be seen at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.

Pump at Heligan

Pump at Heligan (Source: Grace’s Guide)

In June 1851, Roe and one William Hanson dissolve their partnership “by mutual consent”.(1) A bit strange that they only feel it necessary to announce the break in September, but that may have had something to do with the Great Exhibition where they displayed hydraulic pumps, fountain basins of iron for pleasure grounds, and a four-horse portable steam-engine for agricultural and other purposes.(2) The Farmer’s Magazine of August 1854 reported on an agricultural show at Lincoln where Roe displayed his wares, giving the prices of the various goods. A farm fire engine, for instance, could be had for £12 12s. and a common pump could be supplied for £1 15s.

Farmer's Magazine August 1854

Farmer’s Magazine, August 1854

A later issue of the magazine (August 1855), reporting on a meeting in Carlisle, shows roughly the same products and prices, but gives William Freeman Roe of 70, Strand (his son, see below) as the supplier.

Plumbers like Roe were used to laying pipes and that skill stood him in good stead when the Electric Telegraph Company wanted to expand their network in London. Roe was contracted to lay all the underground pipes in London. Possibly as an offshoot of this work, he patented an “improvement in paving roads and streets” whereby “parallel timbers are placed in the longitudinal direction of the road or street, such timbers being supported by concrete packing, masonry, or other sound supports […]. These longitudinal timbers are to support a flooring of transverse timbers, by which means, when these transverse timbers are taken up, the longitudinal space between two longitudinal timbers will be accessible for the purpose of opening the way to pipes, drains or sewers […]. On the timber floor thus constructed the paving stones are placed […], sand or a like uncementing material used to bed the stones in.”(3)

Freeman Roe was originally from Thrapston, Northants. He married Elizabeth Hill on 5 February, 1833 in Islip. Their son, William Freeman, is born 6 April 1834 at Camberwell, Surrey. Roe marries a second time, in 1843, at St. George Hanover Square to Susan Thorne, originally from Frome, Somerset, and they have six children: James, Timothy, Mary Ann, Susan, Hannah and Charles.(4) According to the 1851 census, the family lives at Jews House, Bridge Field, Wandsworth.

Bridgefield House

Bridgefield House (Source: Wandsworth Museum & Local History Service, LDWAN/1988/345)

Son William marries Louisa Simpkins at St. Pancras Church on 17 August 1858. On the wedding certificate his occupation is listed as mechanical engineer. By 1861 the other family members have moved to 4 Church Row, still in Wandsworth. Freeman himself died 28 March 1870 at Eton Park House, Fellows Road, Haverstock Hill (now part of Camden). His widow Susan received probate; the value of his estate was less than £300.(5) In 1871, Susan and two daughters, Mary Ann and Hannah, are running a school in Fellows Road. Ten years later, they can be found at 100 Adelaide Road, Hampstead. The girls still have ‘teacher’ as their occupation. By 1891, they are still there, but now James, civil engineer, and Timothy, wine & spirit agent, have also moved in. Mother Susan dies on 29 November 1893 and probate is granted to Mary Ann and Hannah; the value of the estate has risen to just over £600.(6). By 1901, the men have moved out again, but Mary Ann and Hannah remain living at 100 Adelaide Road with two lodgers and a servant.

In 1871, son William and his wife are found in Doune Place, Loughborough Road, Brixton, and in 1881 and 1891 at Holly Bank, Selhurst Road, Croydon. They apparently had no children. William died 2 September 1891 and probate was granted to the widow. The estate was valued at just over £988.(7)

(1) London Gazette, 5 September, 1851.
(2) Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (1851), pp. 33 and 55.
(3) 25 Jan. 1853, no. 186 in Patents for Inventions. Abridgements of Specifications Relating to Roads and Ways. A.D. 1619-1866 (1868), p. 106-107.
(4) James Thorne Roe (born 1844), Timothy Thorne Roe (born 1845 Camberwell, baptised 25 Oct. 1845 at Wandsworth All Saints), Mary Ann (born 1847 in Camberwell), Sarah (born 1849 Camberwell), Hannah (born 1851 in Camberwell), and Charles Thorne Roe (born 1852 Wandsworth, baptised 25 Oct. 1845 at Wandsworth All Saints).
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1870.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1893.
(7) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1891.


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