TIME LINE FOR SWILLY/NORTH PROSPECT 1573 - 2011
1573 A small farm built was alongside Swilly Creek (now St Levans Road) by Walter Kempe
In 1652 his daughter Emma Kempe married John Furneaux of Buckfastliegh. Bringing with her a dowry of one eighth of the Swilly farm estate. In 1662 John Furneaux bought up rest of the farm for £120 and the Furneaux family took over
1662 – 1765 Swilly farm grows to cover 50 acres of land from West Down Road to Pennycross and the farmhouse is refurbished to become a manor house known as Swilly House. This desirable property had 5 bedrooms, 2 reception, a kitchen, attics, a barn, courtyard and its own well. A driveway was developed with a lodge, Swilly Lodge, at its gates at what is now the St Levans roundabout. The old Horse chestnut tree that used to grow by the old garage was by these gates.
1772 - 1796 Captain Tobias Furneaux RN. sailed with Captain Cook in 1772 in command of the Adventure. During voyage two seamen were eaten by cannibals one named John Swilley. In 1796 he inherited the estate and Furneaux Road is named after him.
1852 - 1912
1852-4 Workhouse built at Wolseley Road
1855 Land North of St Levans Road becomes available and used to build houses for working people
1859 Cornwall Railways started plus Royal Albert Bridge and first through route to Cornwall in 1876. Local railways start in 1890s
1895 - 1908 Fever Hospital at Beacon Park Road/Bladderley Lane. Initially Devonport Borough Hospital and later known as Swilly Hospital for infectious diseases
1910 – 1912 First houses along Wolseley Road opposite St Neots Surgery
1919 - 1921
1919 Addison Housing Act. Plymouth told to clear 19 insanitary areas of slum housing which comprised 1017 houses and 9865 people. In the same year after some considerable discussion Lord St Levan agreed to sell Plymouth City Council land for a new housing estate on Swilly estate land. These houses were built just after World War I and were indeed built as “Houses for heroes to come home to” ie ex servicemen and families with unsatisfactory housing BUT primarily to clear the slum areas of the Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport.
1921 The first sod was turned by the Prince of Wales to start the building of the Swilly Estate. This estate was planned as the first Garden Suburb for Plymouth.
1921 Swilly House demolished to make way for Furneaux Road. Swilly Lodge later bombed.
The Swilly Housing estate was conceived as a garden suburb and was an experimental design. There were several different house styles, mostly three bedroomed family homes, with large gardens, to encourage people to grow their own vegetables. They had picket fences or privet hedges in the front gardens and a lime tree in front of every house. Cost of these houses was £400. The roads were narrow and windy as the people living there were not expected to own their own cars. The anticipated traffic was a milk float and a coal cart, bicycles and the odd motorbike. The pavements were very wide to allow the passage of two prams alongside. The first residents were thrilled with their new surroundings which they referred to as “Paradise at 12/- a week”. There were people queuing up for the new properties.
1921 First houses built in Greatlands Crescent, Allenby road area
1923 First houses built at Wordsworth Road
1929 Building started in Briardale, Woodville road, Halcyon and Dingle Road. These were the houses with brick lower sections. Houses covered in render such as Grassendale, Ash Grove, Woodville Close and those north of North Prospect Road were built in the 1930s
1932 School built on Swilly Road for £34,000. This was a state of the art school of the times. It had large play areas and open verandas where the younger children could rest in the afternoons. Heating was produced through a “newfangled” boiler system. Much admired at the time it is still in use today. In 1932 the school was formally opened by the Duke and Duchess of York. A commemorative tree was planted outside the school. Local tradition has it that this tree was eaten by goats from a farm in Weston Mill the following night.
1933 Land became free across Wolseley Road near the old railway line and the Wolseley Road flats and the Keyham estate were built.
WORLD WAR II
1939 – 1945 World War II. First bombs in Plymouth fell on a house in Swilly Road opposite the school. 3 people were killed. In no time the much celebrated school was digging an air raid shelter in the school yard. A number of other bombs fell on Swilly and appear in the bomb map of Plymouth. They can be traced by modern infill building between the old houses. During and just after the war newcomers came to the estate having been re housed from devastated areas in Devonport and Stonehouse. This had to be done in a hurry and resulted in families who had been feuding for years in their original streets being rehoused next door to each other. This caused some friction in Swilly as people settled down together.
1950s After only 20 years, Swilly, the estate known as paradise on 12/- a week, became known as the “Cinderella of housing estates in Plymouth”. There were complaints about bad housing, trouble between the neighbours and there were comments about out of control youths making life a misery for everyone. The reasons for this were probably partly because of the new influx of tenants fighting among themselves, and partly because of rivalry between young people in Swilly and new estates. One of these was the estate in Keyham the other a new estate built in Ham in 1947 with a brand new school of its own. Three groups of young people emerged at this time Keyham boys, Swillys and Hams. It was around this time that the tradition of the Swilly bonfire began. This annual event on Guy Fawkes night attracted all generations on the estate to gather on Cookworthy Green around a huge bonfire. This was built by the “youths” around a huge pole. As the fire burnt down everyone watched the pole with interest. If it fell to the East the boys would rush off to Keyham for the “rumble” if West they would go to Ham. This tradition persisted for years until the bonfire was stopped in the early 21st century.
1968 – 1969 Estate refurbished and renamed North Prospect. Increasing complaints from tenants about damp, bad wiring and outside toilets persuaded the PCC to undertake a plan of refurbishment of All the houses. This also include repainting of all the exteriors, mending the picket fences and a general clear up of the estate. Subsequent to the disturbances during the 50s Swilly had acquired such a bad name that people were refusing to be rehoused there. The Council decided to counteract this by renaming the estate North Prospect in 1969. The was not entirely successful and arguments still go on about the correct name of the estate.
PERIOD OF DEPRIVATION
DECLINE OF THE DOCKYARD LED TO A PERIOD OF ACUTE UNEMPLOYMENT
In the 80s and 90s there was a steady decline on the estate which was used as a dumping ground for undesirable tenants for some years. This was complicated by misuse first of alchohol and secondly drugs leading to crime, anti social behaviour and culminated in 1986 by violence on the streets which came to be known as theWordsworth Road Riots
1987 Forbes Watson’s report on the riot sets up North Prospect Management Group. Eventually initiated the Neighbourhood Audit and Action Plan which created the North Prospect Partnership in an attempt to resolve differences between rival community groups in the area and statutory bodies..
RENEWAL AND REGENERATION
2000 – Present day
Master minded by the North Prospect Partnership and funded by Neighbour Renewal fund the estate gradually started regeneration. This focussed on two centres the Halcyon Neighbourhood Centre and the North Prospect Community Centre, now home of North prospect Community Learning. It could be said that this was a time when the Community got together to start to shape its own future. In 2009 Plymouth Community Homes (PCH) took on the council's housing stock and major Regeneration of the area began with PCH and Plymouth City Council.”