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Dartford & District Archaeological Group (DDAG)   -    Rediscovering Dartford - Page 32

14. Clay Tobacco Pipes Manufactured
       in Dartford

   Following the introduction of tobacco into England at the end of the 16th century, numerous people were to set themselves up in business producing the clay tobacco pipes required to enjoy the new habit of smoking.
   The first local reference to a pipemaker is in 1670 when Thomas Harris was noted by Dartford’s churchwardens as being a donor to a fund set up for the ‘redemption of slaves in Turkey’. William Jefferies is next to he mentioned, this time on his burial recorded in the Parish Registers on the 2nd January 1710. Five years later, William Danbey is believed to have worked as a pipemaker in Dartford although no reference to him has as yet been found locally. In 1792, a document dated 28th December, mentions a Joseph Dames as being a pipemaker on the north side of Spital Street near its junction with Hythe Street. It is not however, until the 19th century that more information becomes available as to the full extent of the pipe industry in the town. This information was obtained from various sources including census returns and local directories covering a period from 1832 to 1892. The production was based at 15 & 17 Overy Street, with a sales outlet on East Hill. Thomas Pascall, a Chatham man, was first to use the premises from 1832 until 1851. He was followed by Charles Yonwin who is more commonly connected with Gravesend as a pipemaker but appears 

in the census taken in Dartford in 1861. In 1862, the business was taken over by William Sandy of Bromley. He is listed in directories until 1874 as a pipemaker as well as operating as an agent for Whittington Life Insurance. The last pipemaker to work in Dartford was James Rumley who had originally worked as an apprentice to Thomas Pascall. He had continued with Pascall’s successors until becoming qualified in his own right. His name appears in directories of 1879 and continues until 1892. It was about this time that the popularity of the briar pipe and the cigarette were to challenge that of the clay pipe. This change in smoking habits was to be so complete that many smaller pipe making establishments such as that in Dartford went out of business.
   Clay pipes are now an important means of dating layers on archaeological sites from the late 16th century. This has been made possible largely by the efforts of Adrian Oswald who has developed a dating sequence based on the fact that the shape of the clay pipe evolved during their successive centuries of use. We are therefore now able to date a clay pipe within twenty years, from its size and shape. This means that an excavated layer on a site of this period can now be dated closely even in the absence of other datable material such as pottery and coins.
   The excavations carried out by the Group including that at the ‘Pipe House’, Overy Street have produced not only an almost complete sequence showing the clay pipe’s developments but also the products of a once thriving industry in Dartford.

15 & 17 Overy Street, Dartford

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