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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.

Hartley-Kent: Frank Matcham
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 it is possible 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, one newspaper article mentions grain and wheat being grown there.

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.

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.

Hartley-Kent: Vanguard Comic published by George Trapps
Vanguard Library - comic published by George Trapps

Further Reading

Conveyance of one of the plots in Woodland Avenue
Modern map of the Wellfield Estate overlaid with the Payne and Trapps estate layout
Sales Brochure 1907