William Helmore in 1860
William Helmore in 1860

The first William Helmore handled the sale of four properties near Exeter in 1699, establishing a thriving business that has been passed from father to son for over 3 centuries.

There have been at least 8 William Helmore’s since 1699, one of whom is this distinguished Victorian gentleman who joined the firm in the mid 1800’s and handled the sale of properties, farms and land from his premises in Newton St Cyres.

Perhaps the most prestigious being Cowley Place Estate near Exeter which he sold following the death of its owner Joseph Sheppard in 1866 for £6,000 – a considerable sum of money in those days!

Frederick John with his wife & baby son circa late 1800's
Frederick John with his wife & baby son circa late 1800’s

Probably the most famous Helmore was Frederick John.

He was a real character, and known locally as “The Pride of Kirton”.  In 1876 he moved the business from Newton St Cyres to Union Road in Crediton, and was very well known for his practical jokes.

One of his most memorable pranks happened when he was returning from a day at Exeter Market in Frank Bourne’s Hansom cab.  As they arrived back into Crediton, Frederick John hopped off the back of the horse-drawn cab (unbeknown to the driver).  He ran up Park Road, along Dean Street, and into his office in Union Road.  Frank arrived some minutes later only to find Frederick John standing in his door looking rather smug.  “Surely it can’t be you, maister – you’m still in me cab!” exclaimed poor old Frank!

After the First World War his son Bert joined the firm, and like his father, Bert was also a character with many people having fond memories of an old trinket or wash stand being knocked down to them for a shilling at one of his popular furniture auctions.  Bert had no sons when he died in 1965, leaving his long standing business partner Alan Stoyle snr to take over the reins, together with his 2 sons John and Alan jnr, before his retirement in 1976.

John and Alan took the business to a new level – they were extremely well known and highly respected in the town both renowned for their honesty and true professionalism.  They moved premises several times in the 1970’s through to the 1990’s to accommodate the needs of the rapidly growing business, finally arriving at 117 High Street which is now known as the Creedy Centre.

In 1990 Alan’s son, Rob, joined Helmores, and since John and Alan’s retirement in the early 2000’s he owns the firm together with his business partner Phil Morgan.  In 2011 they moved again to even larger office premises at 111-112 High Street which Rob & Phil completely refurbished and customised to take full advantage of all the exciting 21st century technologies and to ensure the business for future generations to come.

Today, in addition to the sales team, they have New Homes, Land & Planning, and full Rental departments – all open 7 days a week.   If he could see the firm today, we wonder what William Helmore have made of it all!