Walter Taylor (1734-1803) was the third member of his family to bear that name and the third in a line of master carpenters. Walter Taylor III and his father had a very successful business making pumps and blocks for use on board ships. The Taylors also invented machines to undertake manufacturing processes reliably and repetitively thus anticipating the era of mass production. Walter Taylor III is also credited with inventing the circular saw. It was the mass production of ships blocks for the Royal Navy that made them famous and rich enough to buy Portswood Lodge as the family residence in 1800. Taylor was the sole supplier of blocks to the Royal Navy from 1759, supplying 100,000 blocks a year, until his death in 1803. He was buried at South Stoneham Church on 8 May 1803.
The sites particularly associated with successive members of this local industrial family are:
1) A Bugle Street workshop in 1713. It was situated on the west side near the south end. The premises extended to the Corner Tower with a loft spanning Cuckoo Lane (after 1774).
2) A Westgate Street workshop from 1754. It was on the north side of the street adjoining the former Tin Cellar.
3) Weston Mill from 1770. This was in Mayfield Park, west of Weston Lane. The mill leet was supplied from Miller’s Pond.
4) Woodmill from c.1781. Walter Taylor built a block mill alongside the two existing corn mills. These buildings were destroyed by fire c.1825, and it is thought that the present buildings were built soon after this.
5) Portswood Lodge was Taylor’s residence from 1800.

Walter Taylor III

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Portrait attributed to Gainsborough Dupont, 1780

Further reading:
Southampton People, by John Edgar Mann, p88-89. (HS/t)
Familiar and Forgotten, by Southampton Art Gallery. (HS/t)
Southampton Occasional Notes 2nd series, by ‘Townsman’, p83. (HS/h)
The Portsmouth Block Making Machinery, by K. R. Gilbert. (HS/t)


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