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London Bridge...

Ropemakers put out of business by the building of London Bridge!? Sards Rents? News coming in from Australia...

----- Original Message -----
From: Graeme Sorby-Adams
To: london-bridge# zyra.org.uk
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 7:07 AM
Subject: London Bridge.

One of my Grandfathers was from a family surname SARD. They were Londoners . They were rope makers. The family story is that when the London Bridge was built in about 1850 or so, their property was usurped to provide road access to it. This cut in half what was then known as Sard's Rents as the family owned a 900 foot long walkway along which ropemakers could twist hemp to make ships hawsers. The family went broke paying lawyers fees for an attempt to get compensation. I should be pleased to know how to follow up this story.

Graeme Sory-Adams Grandson of Samuel Austin Sard.

Zyra responds...

----- Original Message -----
From: ZYRA
To: Graeme Sorby-Adams
Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2002 4:42 AM
Subject: Re: London Bridge.

Hi Graeme,

That is interesting. I am sure the history of this can be unearthed. I think we have to first find the history of construction of the different variants of London Bridge, as the first was clearly much longer ago than that, and there have been various bridges called London Bridge at about that point on the river, the latest of them being about 1975. In 1850 there were newspapers and public records of court cases, so it should be possible to locate the info.

As well as being historically interesting, if a modern court actually found in your favour and the authorities were ordered to pay interest on the amount owing, you could be awarded a fortune!  I'll see what I can find out. Also, as my site is a participatory system, additions may be made. This would certainly add something to the site!




Graeme responds...

Thank you for your reply and your interest. I have looked for records of when the Sard lot did actually arrive here. I have searched the records at Nile St Port Adelaide in the maritime museum. But I found nothing there. There is a more complete set of records in the Mortlock Library here in South Australia. Here we are a bit proud of the fact that this was the only Australian state that was settled other than as a penal colony. Wakefield set up the South Australia company, and people could buy their land. Aboriginal population was rather sparse. I shall do some more homework on my mother's side of the family. By the way my Grandfather Sard was a Pilot at Port Adelaide which is an inlet some 12 Kms long separated from Gulf St.Vincent by what is really a sand bar of very recent geologic age:-some 6,000 years only. I row at the Port Adelaide Rowing Club with crews of my septuagenarian ilk. So I am fond of harbours and bridges and the like. Please feel free to use any information that you see fit. Graeme Sorby-Adams

Now you respond... Write in if you know anything that may help to cast light upon this matter. Note: messages to this address are received by Zyra, who will forward some items of interest on to Graeme.


Here's a message from Steve Sard:

----- Original Message -----
From: Steve Sard
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2004 3:18 AM
Subject: Sard's Rents/London Bridge


Dear Graeme and Zyra,

I too had heard of "Sard’s Rents", and it being swallowed up by the development of the London Bridge – but I have no information regarding this property, and it would be interesting to find out more.

I know all of the Sards in South Australia are related to the one guy, Richard William Sard, who came out prior to 1864, and settled in Port Adelaide, where he worked as a sailmaker, living in Dale Street, also Elizabeth St. Glanville, and also the Bower Road Cottage Homes in his latter years. He had four children, but three of them died of atrophy/typhoid in 1875, with only the son – William Richard Sard – surviving.

William Richard Sard, settled in Port Pirie initially as a fitter & engine driver for Dunn’s Flour Mill, then eventually the BHAS Lead Smelter. He had Ten children (5 boys and 5 Girls – my grandfather being one of those) who all went on to have families of their own, which is too extensive to keep track of.

Richard William Sard was the son of (as far as I can tell) Sam Austin Sard and Sarah Sard who lived around Bermondsey, Surrey in Church St.

In the 1851 Census Sarah Sard, her son Samuel Stevens Sard and her daughter Mary Sard were listed in partnership as owners of a rope making business employing 3 men and 3 women (by 1851 Samuel Austin had died). I have heard it was either called "Sard’s Rope and Ships Chandlers" or "Rope, Twine Spinners"– making other goods for ships as well. I have heard they may have started as employees, and eventually bought the business – but am unclear on the validity of this.

However this business was apparently located in Bermondsey, near "Tower Bridge", maybe this has something to do with the location of Sard’s Rents and perhaps the family stories we have heard?

I do not know if they went broke fighting some legal battle – I have not heard that before – but I definitely know that when Samuel Stevens Sard died in 1884, his personal estate was 3635 pounds or around $900,000 in todays money (or so I believe).

I do recall finding that when Sarah died her estate was in the vicinity of 80,000 pounds (which is $20,000,000 in today’s money), but do not have that info any more – or know exactly where I found it – which allowing for a hazy memory – could mean she was worth only 8,000 pounds also (still not bad though!).

There are stories from some info my uncle received from a lady in England, who said her Great Great Grandfather was a part of this family, and there was apparently some large family dispute – and he was cut off with a few leasehold properties. Perhaps Richard William was cut off too, or decided to make his own way in the world and come to Australia – either way he did not have a lot, working initially as a labourer, then sail maker. It was his son William Richard, that (while he was in Port Adelaide) secured his engine driver’s ticket and worked (amongst other places) on the government marine vessel the "Governor Musgrave" as an engineer.

Hope that info helps – if you have any different info, or want to know anything else please e-mail me (it would be interesting to know how you fit into the family tree!)


Steve Sard

And here's a message from Stella Wilson:

----- Original Message -----
From: Stella Wilson
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 12:40 AM
Subject: Sard's Rents

Hi Zyra

as to what happened to Sards Rents.. my family used to live there! They were the Pooleys and the Dillons and there were lots of them.
I was intrigued by this story so I've done some research here in London, if you could pass on to the people on the Sards page in Australia that'd be great. Sards Rents was indeed in Bermondsey. more specifically an area called Horsleydown. If you look on a map
www.streetmap.co.uk, the now Dickens Estate between George Row and Bermondsey Wall was roughly where Sards Rents used to be. The street ran to "Horsleydown Stairs"... stairs were literally steps down from the road into the Thames that gave access to the river and the flats at low tide. If you look along the map you can see lots of other names of "stairs" still there today.
You have to remember what the Thames was like in those days... ships from all over the world mooring into the docks and trade flowed into Bermondsey, the larder of London... they would have needed a lot of rope!!! If you've ever read Dickens' Oliver Twist it'll give you a picture of what life was like here... he based those final scenes in the slum tenements around Horselydown stairs and that's why today it's called the Dickens Housing Estate, rebuilt after WW2 and all the bomb damage.
The rope was made in the alley that lead down to the stairs.. straight past Sards Rents.
There were many benefactors/employers who built accommodation for their workers like the Sards. They were Neckinger (Neckinger Mill), Guinness (now the Guinness Trust) and Peak (the Peak Freanes biscuit factory where my old Nan used to work!!!))

Such personal accounts are a remarkable insight into the history.

More about London Bridge here.

Zyra's website continues to be some help, and you can Write in, although you have to be patient as it can sometimes take quite a long while to respond, the website being this big and being somewhat understaffed!