©  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 13, 2019
Webpage updated: September 14, 2019




The Pethick Brothers, Mr John Richard Pethick, Mr Arthur Henry Pethick, Mr Benjamin Herbert Pethick, Mr Nicholas Frank Pethick and Mr Ernest George Pethick, were the sons of Mr John Pethick (1827-1904) and his wife, formerly Miss Maria Oram, whom had married at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on December 27th 1846.

In 1887 he decided to retire and hand over the business to the first four of his sons.  By a deed dated April 6th 1887 he transferred Norley House, the Yard and a shop at number 46 Old Town Street to them.  The fifth son also served in the family firm but not as a partner.  The third of the sons, Mr Benjamin Herbert Pethick, was an Associate of the Royal institute of British Architects.  Mr Arthur Henry Pethick was named ass the superintendent of much of the work in the Royal Dockyard, including the laying  of the railway through the tunnel that connected North Yard with South Yard.

Mr John Pethick died suddenly in March 1904 and the last recorded contract of Messrs Pethick Brothers Limited was dated 1910.  In June 1914 an auction sale was advertised, on the instructions of the Receiver, for all the contractors’ plant, machinery, etc., at the company’s works at Laira Bridge.   This included three unidentified 4-wheel coupled steam locomotives.

List of contracts undertaken by Pethick Brothers Limited

Re-erection of Smeaton’s Eddystone Lighthouse on Plymouth Hoe, 1891;

Part of the Yeo Reservoir at Blagdon, Somerset, for the Bristol Waterworks Company, 1893;

Burrator Reservoir, Devon, for Plymouth Corporation, 1893-1894;

Plymstock to Turnchapel railway for the London and South Western Railway Company, 1893-5/1896 (joint with Mr R T Relf)

Barry to Bridgend, Glamorgan, for the Barry Railway Company, 1895-12/1897;

Lady Windsor Dock, Barry, Glamorgan, for the Barry Railway Company 1897;

Bates’ Buildings, Prince Rock, Plymouth, for Plymouth Corporation, 1897;

Pembroke Dockyard jetty and viaduct, for the Admiralty,   4/1897-1901;

Reconstruction of Porthkerry viaduct (after collapse) for the Barry Railway Company, Glamorgan, 1898;

Demolition of Vauxhall Bridge and provision of foundations and piers for new bridge, London, 1898-3/1904;

Outfall sewer for Plymouth Corporation, 1900

Pumping station, sewage works and some work on the reservoir at Blagdon, Somerset, for the Bristol Waterworks Company, 1901 ;

Vale of Rheidol Railway, Aberystwyth –Devils Bridge, 1/1901 – c12/1902  

Buere(?) asylum, 1901

Widening of London Bridge for London County Council, 1902;

Reconstruction of viaducts on the Great Western Railway in Cornwall and on the Plymouth to Launceston Branch, 1902;

Unspecified work at Penzance, Cornwall, 1902;

Unspecified work at Barry, Glamorgan, 1902;

Unspecified work at Colchester, Essex, 1902;

Work at Pembroke Dockyard, Pembrokeshire, for the Admiralty, 1902-1904;

Extensions to Bodmin lunatic asylum for Cornwall County Council, 1905; 

Six filter beds at Long Ditton, Surrey, for the Metropolitan Water Board, 1906;

Pulpit in Saint Edward's Church, Eggbuckland, 1906;

Sewage disposal works for the Tavistock Urban District Council, Devon, c1907;

Twickenham sewerage works, c1907;

Saint Simon’s Church, Plymouth, c1907;

Totnes workhouse infirmary, Devon, 1908;

Museum and Art Gallery, Tavistock Road, Plymouth, for Plymouth Corporation, 1909;

Educational Training College, Brighton, for Brighton Corporation, 1909;

Dulverton – Exmoor road, Somerset, 1910.

Mr John Richard Pethick, died suddenly on Thursday May 18th 1922.  In his younger days he had followed the Dartmoor hounds but in his later years was more known for his work with the Board of Guardians for Plymouth and the local Conservative Association.  He was 21-years-old in 1875 and upon the completion of the construction of the Plymouth Guildhall on July 5th 1875, a number of friends presented him with a suitably inscribed silver inkstand.

The second son, Mr Arthur Henry Pethick, became the managing contractor for Messrs Henry Saint John Dix and Eric Walter Knowles, of 121 Victoria Street, London SW1, Railway and Public Works Contractors.  A new company, Messrs Pethick, Dix and Company Limited, was incorporated on March 19th 1913 and by an agreement of the 25th of that month all the existing contracts were transferred to it.  Somewhat dramatically, on October 28th the same year, that Company was wound up on the petition of Messrs Taylor and Parsons Limited, ironwork contractors of Bradford, over a debt of £400 for bridge works at Beverley, Yorkshire.

Messrs Pethick Brothers Limited was formally dissolved on November 16th 1948.


  With grateful thanks to Mr Paul Burkhaklter, of Plymouth, for supplying much of the story of the Pethick family.