Page updated 20 June 2009
Originally named Red Lane or Howells Lane, it was renamed New Road in 1753 when it became a Turnpike. It was a back lane, that was used as a short cut by horsemen, running around the north of the city, from the bottom of St David's Hill, past the back of the prison and down to Longbrook Street. It was referred to on a 1792 map as both New Road and Howells Lane. It was also named Barrack Road after the Higher Barracks built in 1794 for cavalry soldiers. Originally, the barracks were named Town Barracks. In 1810, the lower end of Howell Road at least, was referred to again as Howell's Lane in a sale notice for some properties in Red Cow Village.
There is evidence of the whole length of the lane being named Howell Road from the 1840's. The 12th century siege castle, Danes Castle can be found at Howell Road where you will get good views over the top of the prison to Rougemont Castle.
The proximity of the Higher Barracks meant that incidents related to the military could occur in Howell Road, especially when it was still named Barrack Road. A valuable horse that was being exercised by Capt. Clark of the 1st Devon Yeomanry Cavalry, in 1833, took fright and "ran with violence" in Barrack Road. It collided with a wall and was so seriously injured that it had to be put down.
A field off Barrack Road was used to hold a wrestling match in June 1845. One contender was the famous Mr. Abraham Cann, who with the best men of Devon and Cornwall would compete in a series of bouts organised by Mr Rowe of the Elephant Inn, North Street. The winner received a prize of £12.
When the London and South Western Railway ran its inaugural train into Exeter, Barrack Road bridge was lined with hundreds of spectators who "lustily cheered the arrival". The railway divided the bulk of Howell Road from a short length that joined Longbrook Street. The Station Yard sidings ran right up to Howell Road, below the railway bridge, and James and Co., Pocknell's and Miller & Lilley ran coal yards from the sidings.
Devon County Prison makes its presence known with the high, red sandstone, wall that is adjacent to the southern side of the road. On the northern side can be found the fire station which opened in 1933, and which is in the process of being rebuilt.
The western end of Howell Road continues into Velwell Road - Velwell Villas in Howell Road were constructed by John Ware in the 1860's. The villas overlook Bury Meadow, which once extended as far as the Longbrook Valley. A nursery run by Richard Veitch and Son was established between the prison and Elmgrove Road with access from both New North Road and Howell Road. F J Widgery, the artist and Mayor of Exeter in 1903, lived at 11 Howell Road.
Lance Corporal, Charles Edward Cox, Devonshire
Regiment. July 1916. Age 25. Howell Rd
Clerk (Assistant) Jack Arthur Charles Kneel, H.M.S. "Defence.", Royal Navy. 31 May 1916. Son of Alexander Kneel, of 31, Howell Rd
Lieutenant, Thomas Selby Latham, Royal Field Artillery. 29 November 1917. Age 36. "Hawarden," Howell Rd
Private, William Hedley Remonger, Somerset Light Infantry. 4 September 1916. Age 19. Howell Rd
A wartime queue outside the grocery store of Albert Morgan that was on the corner of Hoopern Street. Photo courtesy of Robert Morgan.Howell Road just where it turns right to join Longbrook Street. Station Yard sidings were on the left.
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