Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Joseph Tappy and the market carts.

A few days ago I went on a walk with my camera, taking pictures of the market when it was quiet;  and I spotted the carts in the main road. These carts-or stalls- are synonymous with all London markets; each market seems to have had its own maker or keeper of carts.

I remember seeing on the web that some makers carved their name into the side of the cart; on closer inspection, these carts all had the same name carved into them too:

 I found it difficult to make out the name, it's carved very ornately; I could make out the "22 Saville Place, Lambeth Walk". I could make out a "J" and a "T" but nothing more:

Thank goodness for Google; this turns out to be the work of one, Joseph Tappy, he was established by 1910 at 22 Saville Place, this was off Lambeth Walk; it carried on from Walnut Tree Walk when people  crossed Lambeth Walk. I looked on Google maps and even used the street view to find it and it's no longer there, the area is now covered by the China Walk Estate. I also used google to quickly see when the last time Saville Place is mentioned, it seems that there was damage due to a flying bomb in 1944 and Saville Place is mentioned.   It's quite possible that this cart chassis is between 68 and 102 years old; I would surmise that it's somewhere in the middle or toward the later dates myself. This cart seems to have had the wheels replaced my a set of modern ones with pneumatic tyres; the more traditional ones are seen here on the other set of carts that were nearby.

Joseph Tappy moved premises a few times apparently, finally settling on 9 Newport Street; I found out, courtesy of Google Maps, that the original area is now covered by a modern housing development.
I will need to find out if they are still trading, and if so, would they be willing to have a chat with me about the company. Hopefully I can find someone who used to work there or is related in some way. I also found on the internet  two other pieces of  information: one, that the company was last seen trading under the name of J & J Tappy and was listed at the Newport St address so this must be fairly old information. Plus, there was a relative who built and maintained carts in East Street Market. It may well be that the Tappys' had various works over a wide area of South London, dealing with the different markets such as those at Brixton, The Borough, etc, in fact, anywhere there were markets.

Anyway, back to the carts; these and the previous pictures show the handiwork of the people involved in making these great historical, almost iconic objects.

The modern replica, seen below and used mainly for clothes, certainly is not very appealing to my eyes and I doubt if it will stand the test of time as well as these wonderfully older objects.

Really, all that the old carts need is a bit of a refurb and a lick of paint to make them almost a showpiece for the market; with the red and green contrast, they have the look of a Travellers Caravan about them.
I have been told that the market stalls are starting to increase again, maybe a new cart-maker could be employed to make replicas of these fine old workhorses with the same spoked wheels etc.
If anybody knows anything about the Tappys' of Lambeth Walk or any that had a hand in or knew of any that made carts, I would very much like to know if they are still trading or what has happened to them.

Update: 27/4/12. I would like to thank my sister Catherine who deals in genealogy at www.cathgen.co.uk for taking the time to search the Tappy name and reveal some interesting information.
Not only did Joseph Tappy build and repair carts, or 'Barrows' as he puts it on the census form in 1911; he also leased them to the traders. This must have been a lucrative business as many of the Coster's may not have had the money to own and store the carts so it would have been easier to rent them; a lucrative and wise move by Mr Tappy. Also I found out that on the census there was an Elisabeth, a daughter, who must have been only  a few months old at that time; she may well be the relative who later helped in the business of repairing barrows in East Street Market that I wrote about above. And the J & J Tappy that traded from Newport St later on may well have been either a business set up by either the original Joseph and one of his sons, who were called John and Joseph or by the two brothers.
The census records show that the original Joseph Tappy was born in Lambeth in 1873, his wife, Julia, was born in 1881 in Southwark and that they married in 1901; they may well have lived in Southwark during the early part of the 20th Century, as the first three children: Joseph, John and Rebecca, were all born within that Borough in 1902, 1903 and 1905 respectively. The last three: Julia (1907), William(1909) and Elisabeth (born between 1909 and 1911) were born in Lambeth  . So the Elder Joseph has already settled in Lambeth at least by 1907.
Finally, there is another site that deals with the barrows/carts of Spitalfields, Leather Lane and also possibly other markets within the City of London; that family was called Hiller and is extensively written about plus has information on different aspects of Spitalfields past and present; it can be found here.

Update 29/4/12. On searching through Google pictures, what seems like a sheer stroke of luck, I came across this photograph from the City of London Library collage site; it shows the address of   22 Saville Place being demolished and the sign of "J. Tappy: Barrow Builder and Lender". It says that the firm was established in 1903 which corrects my assumption that it started in 1910.

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