Hearts of Oak

Time was when there were a handful of pubs in Claremont Street; the Valletort, the Oxford, the Prince Albert and, at No.19, the delightfully named the Hearts of Oak.

All are now gone, replaced by residential blocks, the Valletort was the last standing while the others are all long gone, indeed the ‘Oak’ closed back in 1921.

Unusual though it is, the Heart of Oak name often occurs near places associated in the past with wooden ships and shipbuilding – there is one near Exeter and another (Hearts of Oak) in Barnstaple – the heart of an oak being the especially stout (and sapless) central part of the oak tree. Given that thousands of oak trees would be required to build one major wooden warship it’s easy to see how valued such hearts of oaks would be in the nineteenth century and earlier and how in turn the expression would come to be associated with seamen stout and true.


1852 - Mary Stitson
1862 - John Matthews
1873 - Amelia Matthews
1880 - EJ Richardson
1890 - Walter Crocker
1895 - James Radford
1898 - N Simmons
1903 - J Gerry
1907 - FWS Rowe
1911 - Mrs M Trenerry
1919 - Alfred Rust