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Payne Trapps & Co Limited

The Payne and Trapps Estate - The Development of North Hartley

The Fawkham Park Estate

On  1 November 1905 John Charles Payne and George Trapps bought a  block of  land (122 acres) from the then owner of Fairby, Thomas Morton.  This  was land to the north of Church Road and east of Ash Road. They  laid  out the roads Woodlands Avenue, Gresham Avenue, Larksfield  (formerly  Silverdale), Wellfield (formerly Haverstock Drive), Porchester  Avenue  and Merton Avenue. Porchester Avenue was where the Wellfield  Estate is  now and is commemorated in Porchester Crescent, although this  is in a  different location.  They paid Thomas Morton, the owner of Fairby Farm,  £5,194 for the land.  

Payne & Trapps  borrowed money to buy the land.  The lender was the famous theatre  architect Frank Matcham.  Some of his work that can be seen today   include the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, and the Victoria Palace Theatre  and Colloseum in London.  

Frank Matcham (Public Domain from Wikimedia)

They  then laid out the estate into 25 feet wide parcels which were sold off  at a series of auctions in 1907 and 1908. The brochure for the 24 April 1907 sale was full of estate agents' puff: "bound to become a favourite residential district", "admirably suited as a residential district for Londoners", "Builders and speculators should lose no time in putting up some attractive villas", "a good and profitable remuneration must result therefrom".   A Hartley  resident at the time recalled that they set up a tent, got a  load of  people down from London, plied them with drink and then sold  them the  plots! This is lent support by the company's adverts which  mention a  marquee being ereected and  luncheon being provided.  A break  in to Payne and Trapps's  warehouse at Hornchurch in 1906 where as well  as crokery the two  thieves made off with 117 tumblers and 8 bottles of  champagne,  which they had already drunk before the police caught up  with  them! (Essex County Chronicle 2.3.1906).

Certainly most of the known purchasers came from London:

  • W T Baggs of Acton and JJ Baggs of North Kensington (1 plot in Porchester Crescent)
  • A Blackwell of Caledonian Road, London N (1 plot in Porchester Crescent)
  • William Clinch of Rosherville, Gravesend (10 plots in Wellfield)
  • Charles Henry Dobell of Brixton (bought at least 26 plots in 3 blocks)
  • Jabez Horne of Upper Norwood (bought 10 plots in 2 blocks)
  • William Kirby of Newington (6 plots in Merton Avenue)
  • Thomas Rodwell (bought 16 plots in 4 blocks)
  • Edward Matthews of Walworth (1 plot in Larksfield)
  • Edwin Sable of North Kensington (8 plots in 3 blocks)

The  purchasers were told that the tithe rentcharge had been  redeemed,  which was not the case and in the 1920s the few people who  could be  traced were faced with demands for all the tithe on all 122  acres.

Clearly  many of the purchasers had little idea what to do about  their plots  and evidence of their ownership was lost. Even by 1913 when  the  Valuation Office tried to find out the owners of all property in the   country, they could not find out who owned 529 of the 640 plots,   although the true numbers of unknown owners was much  less. Some of the  owners could not be traced when compulsory purchase  orders were served  on parts of the estate in the 1960s.

Only a  handful of houses were built by the first owners - Grafton  House and  Amberley (Ash Road); Bertha Villa and Colyton (Wellfield);  Nil  Desperandum (Merton Avenue); The Elms (Church Road). And before the  war  only the frontages to Church Road and Ash Road were developed. The   remaining land lay unused and was requisitioned by the War Agricultural   Executive in both wars.  In 1917 the Dartford Rural District council said it was a scandal the land was lying uncultivated, by 1918 the tenant had 12 acres of potatoes to sell.

Payne Trapps & Company Limited
Payne  Trapps & Co Ltd was founded by auctioneers John Charles  Payne and  George Trapps. After running the business as a partnership,  they set up  a company of the same name in 1909. On 17 May 1909 they  transferred  the interest of the partnership to the company. The  conveyance shows  that they had many similar estates around southern  England at:                   

  • Harold Wood, Essex (Elm Park Estate)
  • Hockley, Essex (Harrowgate Park Estate, Ashington Park Estate, Hockley View Estate, Wadham Park Estate)
  • Laindon, Essex (County Estate, Basildon Waverley Estate)
  • Latchingdon, Essex (Grove Park Estate)
  • Weeley, Essex (Norwood Lodge Estate, Folley Farm Estate, Grosvenor Estate)
  • Broadstairs, Kent (Grafton Park Estate)
  • Hartley, Kent (Fawkham Park Estate)
  • Margate,  Kent (Vincent Estate, Kent Park Estate, Vincent Park  Estate, Westleigh  Park Estate, Manston Park Estate, Alexandra Park  Estate)
  • Ramsgate, Kent (Belvedere Estate)
  • Whitstable, Kent (Lees Park Estate, Clapham Hill Estate, Pean Court Estate, Sea View Estate)
  • Ashford, Middlesex (Ashford Park Estate)

The  company had 4,000 preference shares, originally shared equally  between  Mr Payne and Mr Trapps. But very   quickly Mr Trapps transferred his  shares to J G Hammond & Co Ltd of  Birmingham, printers; and Lepard  &   Smith Ltd of London, paper makers, for reasons probably related  to his  publishing business. Meanwhile Mr Payne had transferred 500  shares each   to his wife Catherine, and daughters Catherine and Alice;  and later 350  shares to a Josephine Lenora Hurst of Rosalind, First  Avenue,  Westcliff.   The 7 ordinary shares were owned one each by:  

  • George Trapps of 14 Dukes Avenue, Chiswick
  • John Charles Payne of 24 Sutton Road, Southend
  • Walter Alfred Chadwick, solicitor, of 35 Coleman Street, London EC
  • W V Reeve, solicitor, of 56 Hazeldene Road, Goodmayes, Essex
  • John Henry Freeman, clerk, of 57 Beechhill Road, Eltham Park, Kent
  • K D Jones, clerk, of 306 Shrewsbury Road, Forest Gate, Essex
  • Charles E Matthews of 38 St Lawrence Road, North Kensington, London

The company went into receivership on 17 August 1912 and finally wound up in 1923.

John  Charles Payne (1861-1938) he married Catherine Scott in 1879 and had  two daughters Catherine and Alice.   He began his working life as a  newsagent,  but then changed to becoming an estate agent.  In  1911 he  lived at Sutton Road, Southend.  He died of 91 Burdett Avenue, Westcliff  on Sea in 1938, his estate then was only  £337.   

George Trapps  (1857-1920) also started in the newspaper trade as a publisher (1891  census). As partner in Trapps Holmes & Co, he was the publisher of  many popular comics  and through Trapps Holmes & Co became a publisher of comics including "Smiles", "Vanguard" and  "Funny Cuts"  which ran from 1890 to 1920.  He then became an  estate agent, whose  2nd wife ran a boarding house at 43-45 Cliftonville Road, Margate in  1911 and then the Connaught Lodge in Harold Road, Cliftonville.  He had  at least 3 children by his first wife  Emily.  He was a much more  successful businessman.  His estate in 1920 was worth £20,644 which  would make him a millionaire today.

Vanguard Library - comic published by George Trapps

Further Reading

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