Henry Thomas Tubbs

Henry Thomas Stubbs was an entrepreneur who, with Sir Robert Perks, built up Littlestone. He wanted to turn Littlestone into a major resort, and embarked on an ambitious building programme, including the Marine Parade, the Grand Hotel and the Water Tower. Tubbs also had plans to build a pier at Littlestone but disputes over some land meant it was never built. Whilst Littlestone continued to grow, it never quite matched the ambitions of Tubbs; much in the same way as the development of its neighbour Greatstone was never fully realised

The following has been written by Henry Tubb's great-great grandson Julian Tubbs.

"I am a direct descendant of Henry Thomas Tubbs, who is variously described as surveyor to Sir Robert Perks and entrepreneur on your Littlestone page.

Henry Tubbs trained in the haberdashery business and went into textile manufacturing in 1854 and speculated in the property market in London from the 1860s. He and his business partner Joseph Lewis developed property after the reinstatement of land following the opening of the Metropolitan Railway in 1865, and many other properties in and around the City.

I don’t know what his relationship was to Perks, or how the land divided,  but HTT (as he is known in the family) was independently wealthy by the 1890s and though he did describe himself as a builder when it suited him, I don’t believe he was ever a surveyor. It wouldn’t surprise me that he had some kind of alliance with Perks; he seems to have sought business partners in several of his ventures. He would definitely have arrived at the front door.

Henry Thomas Tubbs
Henry Thomas Stubbs

My great grandfather, Percy Burnell Tubbs, trained as an architect and carried out many works for his father and it is more than likely that he did or supervised surveying at Littlestone, though it is certain that he did not design the water tower, but I don’t know who did. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there are any buildings in the area which he designed. Nothing is mentioned in his various obituaries.
The story of HTT’s interest in New Romney, as he called it, is undocumented but comes from my grandfather Cecil Burnell Tubbs who knew his grandfather well, always lived close to his estate in Finchley and worked in the family textile business while HTT was still alive. 

The story is that HTT brought property on Fann Street near the Barbican in the City. As he completed the sale he was handed additional deeds to an estate in New Romney, of which he claimed not to be aware, and so he decided to have a go and develop a rival to Eastbourne, and I am sure that your description is correct of his disappointment in failing to achieve that, despite persuading the SE&CR to build the branch to New Romney and Littlestone-on-Sea.  His partner died around 1889/1890 and the golden touch seemed to desert HTT.

He got his fingers burnt buying the site of the former Farringdon Market, near the Holborn Viaduct at around the same time and was taken to court by the Corporation of London which cost him £20,000.

Another tale, also not documented, is that the water tower was a white elephant from the beginning because the water it was designed to handle was not of usable quality. 

Another son, Walter Burnell, was an estate agent and auctioneer – probably also a surveyor of course - (Tubbs & Charles) and had an office in Littlestone as well as his main office in Gresham Street in the City. 

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any remaining detailed documentation relating to HTT’s business affairs. I know the family holidayed in Littlestone and I attach two photographs taken by my grandfather in 1920. It is captioned Baines & partner Littlestone-on-Sea 1920. I would be interested to know if you can confirm that the building in the background was the Grand Hotel, later Pope’s Hotel. You are welcome to use the pictures.

They were all keen golfers. There was a nine hole course attached to the estate in Finchley, much of which is now part of the present-day Finchley Golf Club, though that was formed independently after HTT’s death.  As well as involvement in Littlestone GC, the land on which the Stinchcombe Hill Golf Club in Gloucestershire is based was given to the community by yet another of HTT’s sons, Sir Stanley William Tubbs."

 Julian Tubbs

Left icon Visitors Homepage
Left icon History Homepage