Sunday, August 30, 2009

The clay pipes of Copsey Place

A friend who collects bottles and used to go digging for them in the 1970s, gave me the above photograph in 2004. It shows a pile of broken and not-so-broken clay pipes, found somewhere near the end of Copsey Place in Avondale. Back when about a third of the old Copsey farm was still Railway land for the planned Avondale-to-Pollen Island link (never happened).
Above is a detail from SO 43071 from 1961 (LINZ records, crown copyright). It muddies any thoerising as to how the pipes came to be dumped in the area. Up until his death in the 1870s, Robert Chisholm used this land as part of his sheep farm (I doubt his sheep were into smoking). Then in 1882, it was bought by a brewer named Donald Norman Watson. A possible lead there. In 1898, Edward Ernest Copsey bought part 55 in the middle, through which Copsey Place was formed when the land (up to the railway bit at the end) was subdivided in 1967. Part 54 to the right went through a series of owners from 1898, until it became the property of the Connell family from 1921 until 2008.
Anyway, my friend was good enough to donate three bits from the pile -- two bowls and a pipe end. The design of the three-masted full-rigged sailing ship and anchor don't help. The design seems to have originated from the 1860s and the time of the American Civil War. It was commonly used and adapted all over, and in various times, though. The donor suggested that the pipes might have come from a German tobacconist's shop ransacked due to anti-German feeling in World War I. He reckoned he saw German-made pipes. The northern shoreline of Rosebank, though, could simply have been a rubbish tip for quite some time, as well as a place over which the night soil was spread in the 19th century.

Meanwhile, another friend back in 2004 donated this complete pipe found in the mid-20th century over at Horton Place, part of the Aickin family farm. Made by Pollocks of Manchester, that isn't too much help for amateur sleuthing either -- Pollocks were going from the 1700s to the 1990s. Still, it's a cool relic.
Any ideas from readers would be appreciated.
Oh, and today most of the former railway land is now all developed and covered by buildings, with just a narrow coastal strip left in public ownership. If there was anything left on the ground to help sort out the mystery -- it's gone, now. Sad, that.


  1. This is in from Stephen Smith:

    "Found an exact duplicate of the Copsey Place clay pipe on Island of St. Croix in US Virgin Island. This pipe has what appears to be a D 75 stamped on the ship side of stem about 1/2" from bowl and ending @ 1". I do not know the origin of this pipe.

  2. I found an incomplete pipe in my garden yesterday, Victorian terraced house in South Yorkshire.

  3. Iv just found one in a garden in norwich norfolk uk