Thursday, October 7, 2010

A History of Shopping in Wolverton Part III

The Expansion to Stratford Road and Church Street

Throughout the 1850s Wolverton wanted to expand, needed to expand, but the Radcliffe Trustees were unwilling to sell any more farm land. Accordingly, the L&NWR purchased land down the hill from the neighbouring manor of Stantonbury, owned by Earl Spencer in the 1950s. New Bradwell was born.

In 1860 the Trustees finally relented and release land to the west of Bury Street. The northern portion was used for workshops and south of the Stratford Road was used for residential and commercial development. Unlike the earlier development which was undertaken entirely by the railway company, the new building lots were to be sold for private development.

There is a plan from 1861 in the Buckinghamshire Archives which I reproduce here in four sections.
They can be read from left to right, or east to west.

The first part here shows the pre-existing buildings in grey shading - Creed Street, St George's, the recently-built Lodging House on the site that was later the Church Institute, the School Buildings, the Royal Engineer and the end of Bury Street.

The plot numbers do not quite correspond to what was built later or to subsequent numbering. Plot number 1 on the Stratford Road is now numbered 6, 7 and 8, and if you look at the roof profile you can infer that they were built at the same time. The building which became 9a and b looks as if it filled Lot 2 and the North Western, built around this time, must have taken Lot 3. The two smaller houses/shops filling in the access to the Western yard must have been built later. The three storey building which later accommodated the Grafton Cycle Company looks as if it filled Lots 4 and 5. Then there are three buildings filling Lots 6,7 and 8, two filling Lot 9 and the corner building for Lot 10.

This first house was built by the enterprising Charles Aveline, whom we have met before on Bury Street. By this time the Bury Street shops had been demolished, so he had a good reason to be the first to sign up for a new lot. I suspect that the first house (No. 6) was erected and occupied and the other two units added later. Aveline also became the post master and ran the Post Office from here as well as his building operations.
The house numbered 9a and b was occupied in 1861 by a grocer, Abraham Culverhouse.

These two were the first Stratford Road shops. A year later, John Lepper, who had a Grocery on the corner of Gas Street, built a new shop and house on Lot 9. You can see the name Lepper pencilled in on the drawing.

I think the house and shop that Lepper built was the red brick one showed here, now numbered 18 and 19. Later this became divided into two shops but the one on the right, Number 19, remained a grocery until well into the 20th century.

The early development of "The Front" was patchy, in the way of all new development.  But it is possible to identify the way it looked in, say, 1862. There was The Royal Engineer, which had been there since 1841, then Aveline's fisrt three buildings, the Culverhouse's grocery at Number 9 and Lepper's at Number 18-19. The North Western appeared in 1864.

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