The definitive collection
LAIRA, Efford and Crabtree – what do those places mean to you?
If they mean home or happy hunting grounds or somewhere you'd like to know more about, then you would do well to acquaint yourself with one of the weightiest tomes yet produced by the Old Plymouth Society.
Over the last few years, Doreen Mole has worked tirelessly on the production of what is undoubtedly the most definitive work to date on the area encompassed by those very place names.
The big houses, the churches, the schools, the pubs, and the great characters who have inhabited the same are all accounted for in great detail.
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In a comprehensive overview that abounds with maps and photographs, many of which are extremely rare, here you will see images of Efford Manor, Efford Mill, Efford Manor Farm and Estover House.
There are also pictures and accounts of the Laira Inn, the Crabtree Inn, the Rising Sun, the Royal Marine and the Old Road Inn – all of them now sadly long gone.
The short-lived nudist colony at Rock House; the Efford Colony for those servicemen suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis after the Great War; and the Efford Open Air School are all remembered here in what is a must for the many who grew up in the area in the second half of the 20th century.
Doreen's book, however, won't only appeal to those who already have some knowledge of the area, as it also serves as an excellent template for others tempted to research their own particular neck of the woods.
Some years ago now Arthur Clamp went around the city facilitating the production of booklets on different villages within the modern Plymouth boundaries, but worthy as they were, they rarely transcended the photo/caption format.
This, the 13th volume to be published by the Old Plymouth Society in the last 20 years, offers much more.
As someone who spent her childhood there in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Doreen Mole has personal as well as an objective perspective on the area, but it is one that all of her generation will relate to, no matter where they living.
"One weekly chore in many household was darning sock and stockings... many homes didn't have bathrooms and only outdoor lavatories: some only had an outdoor water supply and there were no domestic hot water systems.
"Most houses in Laira had mains gas and electricity, but those further out in Crabtree were still using oil lamps for lighting and coal ranges for cooking.
"The largest vehicles we saw were the double decker buses and the dustcart, or as people called it then, the ashcart, which was about half the length, height and width of a current refuse vehicle."
Laira, Efford and Crabtree by Doreen Mole is published by the Old Plymouth Society and is available to non-members for £8 via Gloria Dixon on 227992 or Doreen Mole on 774316.