Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 15, 2019
Webpage updated: September 15, 2019




Messrs Fox, Eliott and Company Limited, timber merchants, were located at the Great Western Docks, Plymouth, and Richmond Walk, Devonport, before the Second World War.

Mr George Fox was apparently born at Gonvena, in the parish of Egloshayle, near Wadebridge, in Cornwall, in 1797.  On August 4th 1819 he married Miss Rachel Collier Hingston at Dodbrooke Parish Church.  The couple appear to have returned then to Wadebridge, where all their children were born, the last being Albert Fox on September 1st 1837.

In contradiction of the above, in Mr George Edward Fox's obituary it stated that the family moved from Wadebridge to Kingsbridge shortly after he was born on July 27th 1826.   It also stated that then was when Mr Fox senior commenced business as a banker in partnership with his wife's younger brother, Mr Alfred Hingston.  Their Bank was later merged with the Devon & Cornwall Banking Company and in 1850 Mr Fox was the manager of the Kingsbridge Branch and Mr Hingston was sub-manager, under Mr David Derry, at the headquarters in Plymouth.

Sometime prior to 1850 Mr George Fox went into partnership with Mr John Bayly as timber merchants in Sutton Road, Plymouth.

When the South Devon Railway reached Millbay Station in 1849 and was then extended to the Great Western Docks at Millbay, Mr Fox severed his links with the Bayly business and went into partnership with a Plymouth town councillor by the name of Mr Samuel Eliott doing exactly the same thing, importing timber.  By  a curious coincidence, Mr Eliot lived at number 7 Lockyer Street, where Mr Alfred Hingston had formerly resided.  At that time there was also a Mr Joseph Eliot, of The Parade, Liskeard, declaring himself as a timber merchant and he may have been a partner in the business.

The Company took similar action when the London and South Western Railway Company opened their branch to Stonehouse Pool and established a timber yard at Richmond Walk.

It is thought that Mr George Fox had retired from business life before 1878 so it must have been his son, Mr George Edward Fox, who in 1880 established another venture, the West of England Joinery Company, which was located in Newport Street, on the East Stonehouse side of Stonehouse Pool.  And when in the following year the telephone was first  brought to Plymouth, they quickly subscribed and became Plymouth number 17.

Mr George Fox died at Ford Park, Plymouth, on February 3rd 1882 at the grand age (for those days) of 85 years.  His widow, Mrs Rachel Collier Fox, died on August 4th 1889, her 90th birthday.

Soon after this Mr Eliott left the Company and reputedly set up as a timber merchant at Southampton, Hampshire.

In 1891 the partnership was formed into a limited liability company.

Mr George Edward Fox died of congestion of the lungs on Monday April 8th 1912.  Although he had always taken a lively interest in affairs in the town and surrounding countryside, he only once held a public office.  In 1894 he was elected as chairman of the Port of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.  With his death control of the business passed to two of his sons, Mr Edward Fox and Mr Walter Richardson Fox.

Having been an active member of the Society of Friends' meeting at Treville Street, his funeral at the Efford Cemetery followed their tradition of silence until someone was empowered to speak.

The West of England Joinery Company ceased to operate just before the Second World War.  Messrs Fox, Eliott lost a great deal of their timber stock during the Blitz although the business continued to be run from the home of Mr Walter Fox at Penlee Gardens, Devonport, and a makeshift mill in a garage at Millbay Docks.

At this point Mr Walter Richardson Fox's son returned to help his father run the business but the younger son, Sergeant (Air Gunner) Terence Rochfort Fox, went missing, presumed dead, on September 6th 1943 while serving with number 427 Royal Canadian Air Force in a night bombing raid over Germany.  His plane had taken off from Leeming, in West Yorkshire, on the night of September 5th 1943 but did not return.  The Officer Commanding, Wing Commander R S Turnbull, wrote to his father: 'I would like to assure you also how much we all honour the heroic sacrifice your son has made for the cause of humanity in the service of the British Commonwealth of Nations.'

In 1945 the business was purchased by two brothers, Mr A H Reeves and Mr F G Reeves, and thence traded as Messrs F J Reeves and Fox, Eliott Limited.

Mr Walter Richardson Fox died at his home in Penlee Gardens, Stoke, Plymouth, on Sunday November 4th 1951 at the age of 84 years.  During his life he had been managing director of both Messrs Fox, Eliott and Company Limited and Messrs West of England Joinery Company Limited.  He had been treasurer of the Devonport and Stonehouse Habitation of the Primrose League and a Justice of the Peace.  At one time he represented Devon County at football and was also an active participant in hockey, golf, yachting and shooting.

The business still traded separately until 1964 when the names were merged as Messrs F J Reeves and Company Limited.

It is not known when the timber yard at Millbay or Richmond Walk closed down.