On July 9th 1713 a fire, suspected to be arson, broke out and destroyed the eastern part of East Street. 25 and 27 were likely to have been burnt down so we can estimate that they were built between 1713 and 1731.
In the Great Fire of Blandford in 1731, 25 and 27 are likely to be two of only 26 houses that remained standing.
Information found by Dorsetforyou.com says that the buildings are pre 1731. They are both 2 storeys with a brick front. Number 27 has dormers and 4 windows and the first floor has sash windows. Number 25 has stucco fronts, one dormer and 5 sash windows.
It’s quite difficult discovering who lived in 25 and 27 East Street before the 19th century because houses weren’t numbered. Numbers were only brought in when the postal service started delivering mail.
In 1880, the Hodges family lived in 27. In 1880, William Hodges the head of the household was a stationer. The shop was called a fancy repository. The 1871 census says that William (40 years old), his wife Eliza (36) and their son William aged 6 lived in East Street but as already mentioned numbers weren’t always used so we can only guess they were living at number 27 at this time. It says William was a barber at this point. The 1861 census finds a William and Eliza Hodges living in Portland so perhaps 27 had other residents then.
In 1889, William Hodges and son owned the building and they were a tobacconist, watchmaker and photographer. On Ancestry.co.uk, there’s a William Hodges of Blandford on a record of deaths registered in July, August and September of 1890. The 1891 census says that Eliza and her son lived at 27 and that she was widowed so that’s probably William on the record of deaths. Eliza’s occupation in 1891 was a tobacconist. William her son was a jeweller and photographer. In 1907, Eliza was still a tobacconist and her son William was mentioned as a painter.
Between 1911 and 1939, Frank Rossiter had taken over the building still as a tobacconist. The 1891 census says a Frank Rossiter (23 years old) lived at 9 East Street with his family; his parents, George (53) and Matilda (50), his brothers, Fred (21) a whitesmith, William (19) and Edwin (16) an errand boy and his sister Bertha (12).
In the 1906 Blandford Directory, a hairdresser called E. Rossiter had a business on East Street. Maybe this was Edwin. Matilda and Samuel were still living on East Street in 1912 according to electoral registers. Possibly not with Frank as it seems he had his own family in the 1901 census. He had a wife called Louisa (29) and a son called Frederick aged 4 and they were living in Fairfield Road.
The 1851 census says a William (aged 21) and a Sarah (20) Foot lived in East Street and the 1891 census says they lived at number 25. We can’t be certain that they were at 25 for the forty years between the two censuses. In 1891, William and Sarah had four children. Arthur was 28 and worked as a labourer as did Samuel aged 24. Sarah (20) and Mary (17) were dressmakers.
According to the Blandford and Dorset Civic Society’s 2005 newsletter, there are two alleyways by 25 and 27. Payne’s Court Yard once called Payne’s Yard and then later Gould’s Yard runs along 27. Hardy’s Yard runs down number 25. Hardy was a horse dealer but didn’t live at 25. He lived in fact at 43 East Street. This is a similar case with the Hodges’ in that they lived at 27 but there was a Hodge’s Yard by 18 East Street. The electoral registers of 1912 say a William Hardy was living on East Street. Perhaps he is connected to Hardy’s Yard. It also says that a William Hodges was living on East Street. Perhaps this is William and Eliza’s son.
In the 1960’s a Mattie and Jack Walters lived at number 27 also running a shop. Jack sadly passed away and Mattie ran the business by herself. She again was a tobacconist and also sold toys, books, sweets and other products.
The building looked different than today; our rear surgery did not exist back in the sixties. Mr Jones extended the building when he moved here from West Street. The shop back in the sixties only went up to the fire place in the waiting room and there was another room behind the shop with the fireplace and stairs in it. Mattie had a table right in the middle of this room so she could look into the shop when she was taking a break. Our play area for the children was the kitchen and this stretched right back to perhaps the length of our rear surgery.
Before East Street Dental Practice moved into number 27, the building was a sports shop and previous to that was a lighting shop.