Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are these May Cottages?

In the 1891 Census, and again in the 1901 Census, three cottages appear in this part of town. They are recorded as May Cottages - numbers 1, 2 and 3. Their placement in the census would suggest that they are in the vicinity of Radcliffe Street.


I had never heard of May Cottages before but it seems to me that these might be likely candidates. They are out of keeping with the Green Lane houses on the other side and just fill in a little triangle of land behind Aylesbury Street and Radcliffe Street. There were actually three cottages there 50 years ago and it looks as if the garage and the room above it is a later addition. I dimly recall a builders yard here at one time.

Later they were numbered as Green Lane and I suppose the May Cottages name was dropped. Why they were called May Cottages in the first place is another mystery.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Parish Markers

I am grateful to Andy Baxter for pointing out to me the existence of these boundary markers. When he was a boy at Bushfield School he discovered a stone marker in the bushes on the eastern boundary of the school. He describes it thus from memory: 'The stone took the appearance of a miniature headstone with, from memory, a date in the 1840s and some other markings such as "St G" and "No.2"."
Photo courtesy of Chris Gleadell




He asked Ken Speaks, who was at that time a teacher at the school, and he did a little research to discover that there were at least three of them. Andy Baxter then found another on the Old Wolverton Road, near to the Arden Park light industrial units and was led to believe that a third was in the cellar of the house on the corner of Jersey Road and Stratford Road - possibly Number 82. He doesn't say if any dates were associated with these markers, but the location suggest that they were later.


The original parish of Wolverton included the whole manor, from the east side of the Watling Street and bounded by the River Ouse to the north and Bradwell Brook to the east and south and this remained unaffected until the later middle ages when Stony Stratford was large enough to form two parishes - St Mary Magdalen on the east side and St Giles on the Calverton side. Holy Trinity continued to serve the extensive parish of Wolverton quite complacently until the arrival of the railway in 1838.


As I have described elsewhere, the original land purchase by the London and Birmingham Railway was quite small but in 1840 they purchased another 22 acres to the south of the Stratford Road.



As you can see from the plan here, Wolverton Station was quite small, being bounded by the canal to the north and east and a hedgerow bordering the west of Bury Street and including the Creed Street school. I did thin that the southern boundary was Green Lane, but Andy Baxter's discovery of the marker a little further south suggests that the railway portion extended to that point. (They were later to build The Gables and the doctor's house and surgery here.)

St. George's was originally a chapelry and the first incumbent, George Weight, was styled Perpetual Curate. St George's itself and the Vicarage was built on Radcliffe Trust land and the Radcliffe Trust retained a controlling interest for a number of years afterwards.

At about the time the church was completed the Church Commissioners, in recognition of the quite sizeable population, wished to create a new parish. Their first definition, that it would include all houses and buildings on the western side of the railway, met with opposition from the vicar of Holy Trinity, who foresaw that if Wolverton expanded further his parish would be gradually eaten away. In this he was supported by George Bramwell, Secretary to the Trust, who was already at odds with some of the directors of the railway company. Bramwell formulated a definition which was tied to a plan (such as the one above) and this was agreed to. The parish was thus created by Queen in Council on 19 May 1846.

It may be after this that the first marker discovered by Andy Baxter was installed.

The Radcliffe Trust then resisted further expansion and would not sell any land for housing development until 1860. In the meantime, the L&NWR were forced to develop New Bradwell in order to accommodate their workers. When the expansion did come, it went as far west as the back alley before Cambridge Street. Possibly, when the parish thus expanded, a marker was laid down here. Wolverton so remained until the next expansion of the 1890s which saw the development of Cambridge Street and Windsor Street.

At the turn of the century, the Radcliffe Trust itself, bowing finally to the inevitable, developed its own streets to the west of Windsor Street, including Jersey Road and Anson Road.

I don't know the detail as yet, but it sounds to me from Andy Baxter's description, that a new parish boundary was determined at Jersey Road. I do recall that Anson Road residents tended to use Holy Trinity and Jersey Road residents tended to split both ways - some went to Holy Trinity and some to St George's. My grandparents, who lived at 179 Church Street, went to Holy Trinity for example.





Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back Alleys

When Wolverton was built in 1838 the back alley was a new and revolutionary concept in urban sanitation. If you look at the older parts of Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell you can understand why they were so new in the 19th century. They were there so that the "night soil" men could come round and clean out the earth closets at the end of the back yard. The Water closet was a slightly later invention.
Back Lane between Ledsam St and Young St 1960
You can see here the relative narrowness of the back alley compared with later ones. The outbuildings were outside toilets and those with chimneys were wash houses.

By the time the later parts of Wolverton were built a public sewage disposal system had been installed and the back alleys were no longer required for their original purpose. But they were used for rubbish collection, for the so-called dustbins that were put out every week. If you forgot to put them out the dustmen would open up the back gate and pick them up and then put them back. Of course in those days there was no elf and safety and the dustmen were actually expected to lift the bins - which they did without complaint! The dustcarts would make their progress up and down the back alleys, manned by the council workers who were usually very adaptable. One day they would be working on the dust carts, and on another they would be patching a hole in the road.



Very little household rubbish was thrown away a couple of generations ago. Packaging was not really invented until about 1960. Typically the only things you bought in boxes were cereals and detergent and there were tin cans. Bottles tended to be recycled. So most of what ended up in the dustbin at the end of the week were the ashes from the coal fired grate - hence the name dustbin.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

R J Fleming

Here's a bit of memorabilia. This R J Fleming badge has been kindly sent to me by Nicholas Platt.

Bob Fleming, who was a generation before me, established his business on Stony Stratford High Street, probably about 1930. In the 1950s and 60s this was the place to go if you wanted a motorbike or to get it serviced. I bought a BSA Bantam from him in the 1960s.

You can see the building on the right hand side of this photograph beside the second car. It is still there


What I find astonishing about this photo (probably taken in the early 1960s) is how few cars there are in the picture. This shot was taken before there was a bypass and when the A5 was a major arterial road. Some traffic would have been absorbed by the M1, but even so....

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Arrival of the Motor Garage

It goes without saying that 19th century Wolverton did not have to consider the motor car, and it was only about 1930 that anyone began to pay attention. Even when I was a boy cars were very few in number but one or to people were beginning to convert their wash houses at the back into garages. Even so, it did not occur to town planners that there was any need to build space for cars. look at Stacey Avenue, Marina Drive and Gloucester Road for example - all built in the 1930s - and now the front gardens have been claimed for the car. Try to drive down any terraced street in Wolverton  and you will immediately understand why this town pre-dated the age of the motor car.

Nevertheless, some people were buying cars in the 1930s and they needed to be serviced - probably more frequently than they are today - and garages did emerge.

Charles Gabell at 27 Church Street. This had a conventional shop front but the service entrance was at the back.
27 Church Street on the left in the middle - Sellicks at this time in the 1950s.
William Applin at 53 Stratford Road. The service garage was in the back alley and utilised the old wash house.

R W Pitt at 83 Stratford Road. This was probably the longest lasting of the early service garages and is now a motor cycle dealership.

There were two petrol pumps along the Stratford Road - one at the Grafton Cycle Co and the other at 83 Stratford Road - later Pages. The Grafton pump had the hose on a swing arm so that it could be brought put over the pavement. Pages Garage had the traditional type of pumps on the forecourt. I am not sure about a petrol pump on Church Street. There may have been one but my memory is a bit fuzzy on this.

Stratford Road - late 1950s or early 1960s
The scarcity of cars on the road was quite normal and there was no need for yellow or even double yellow lines. There is one car beside the Grafton Cycle shop - possibly having just been filled.

1960s view down Stratford Road - Michael Page's Garage by the Regent petrol sign

Petrol tanks were a lot smaller in those days so a few gallons would fill the tank.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Historical Tour along the Stratford Road 8

Up to the end of the 20th Century all development was under the auspices of the LNWR. As we have seen from the start of the Stratford Road in 1860 the LNWR purchased the land from the Radcliffe Trust and opened up some of the building lots to private development, particularly along the Stratford Road and Church Street.

After the end of the 19th century the railway company backed away from its paternalistic control and the administration of the town was assumed increasingly by the local council. The Radcliffe Trust, on the advice of their secretary decided to develop the land themselves. From the western back lane of Windsor Street to Anson Road the Trust opened up new building lots to builders and home-owners. This was built in the first decade of the 20th century. In fact my grandparents, who married in 1908, moved into their new house at the western end of Church Street as it was being finished.

The Stratford Road and Church Street retained their names and were extended. The new streets took their names from Radcliffe Trustees: Viscount Peel, the Earl of Jersey, and Sir William Anson.



65 Stratford Road
The house and the attached yard was occupied by a builder, first Wilson & Martin, and later a member of the Gurney family, for the first period in its life.

67-68 Stratford Road
Number 68 was used as a dental surgery from 1911 to 1939.

69-70 Stratford Road
Number 70 was a solicitor's office for about ten years from 1924-1935.

71-72 Stratford Road
These first six houses, built as a block in the same style reflect the newer styles of the early 20th century, with a sheltered porch and a squared bay window offering extra front room space. You can see these styles in Jersey and Anson Road.

73-74 Stratford Road
Number 74 has an interesting history in that it was the house an office of the owner of The English Novelty Company, Wooden Toy manufacturers. I believe the factory was on Church Street, on the site later occupied by the Empire Cinema.

75 Stratford Road
These next three revert to an earlier Victorian style, seen in the 1860 section of the Stratford Road.

76 Stratford Road

77-78 Stratford Road

79-80 Stratford Road

81 Stratford Road 
This was originally a house, probably with the same frontage as Number 80, but shows up as a shop in the 1911 directory. In 1924 Joseph Lennon operated as a hairdresser and was succeeded in 1931 by M G Pedley, who practiced his trade as a hairdresser here for well over 30 years. In recent years the shop has become part of the corner shop.
82 Stratford Road 
It's interesting that this shop has maintained its identity for all this time. It appears in 1911 under the ownership of Alfred Kilpin, although he is simply described as a shopkeeper. In 1931 Eric Gordon is running a confectionary business here and was succeeded by William Bew in 1939. As I remember the shop from the 50s is was purely a sweet shop and one of the few shops allowed to open on Sunday. Obviously the present owners have continued this tradition.
83 Stratford Road
This corner shop began life as a milliner's, although Mrs. Pitt's husband acted as an insurance agent from here. It appears that the son, R W Pitt, first set up a garage here in 1931 and it went through a succession of owners - Samuel Lott, Ron Page, Michael Page. The business was in the servicing of cars and selling petrol. Now it is a motorcycle dealership.

84-85 Stratford Road

86-89 Stratford Road

90-91 Stratford Road

92-93 Stratford Road

94-95 Stratford Road
Number 94 was a shop from the beginning - a confectioner, lawrence Long. It went through various owners but essentially remained the same type of business for about 50 years.

96-97 Stratford Road

96-97 Stratford Road
These ornately presented buildings were once the home of  Gurney Brothers, Monumental Masons, and the yard, edged by wrought iron railings was filled with graveyard monuments. I think the business went through two or possibly three generations.

98-99 Stratford Road

100-101 Stratford Road=
In 101 houses we have been able to follow the development of Wolverton from 1841. In 1841 The Royal Engineer was the western outpost of the new town. In 1860 a largish tract of land was opened which extended Wolverton to the back alley of Cambridge Street. The next phase began in the 1890s and extended to Windsor Street. The last redbrick phase began in 1907 when the Radcliffe Trustees opened more land for development up to what is now 101 Stratford Road.
In very recent times the McCorquodale building has been converted to residential development and further houses have been built to the weds.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Historical Tour along the Stratford Road 7

The Picture Palace

On Monday 18th December 1911, Barber's Electric Picture Palace opened for business with a French silent film called Zigomar. I don't know anything about the film but I am sure the first audience found it very exciting. In those days the films were very short, initially "one-reel" films and the "two reel films". In between films, or changing reels, the Palace used to offer live variety acts. The pianist accompanying the films was Oliver Thorneycroft.

The Palace could seat up to 650 and in the days before television was a great success. Even in the 1950s I can remember the house being packed for Rock Around the Clock with Bill Haley and the Comets, but shortly after that audiences fell sharply and the cinema closed on January  22nd 1961 - a fifty year life.

Since that time it has been a bingo hall, a dance hall, a night club and a church. The front used to have a canopy over the forecourt area. I don't know when that disappeared.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Historical Tour along the Stratford Road 6

The Craufurd Arms

The Craufurd Arms has a curious history. It was built by an organization known as The People's Refreshment Association, founded by the Bishop of Chester and one Colonel Craufurd, after whom this house was named. The motivation behind the PRA was to encourage teetolalism but theey took a more enlightened and liberal approach. Rather than strict bans they built hotels such as this which would serve alcohol but also provide non-alcoholic beverages nd food. They hoped thereby to wean drinkers off their alcoholic habit.

Their original intention apparently was to built their house on Green lane, but this met with objections from the owner of the Victoria Hotel Tarry, who had designs of his own on a Green Lane site. Applications were made in 1903 and 1905 and both were unsuccessful. However a deal was struck whereby Tarry was allowed to go ahead with his Green Lane development and the PRA were given a licence for the new premises, now to be located on the Stratford Road. The licence was approved in 1906 and the Craufurd Arms opened in 1907.

So with the building of the Craufurd Arms Wolverton's development moves into the 20th century. It was at this time that the Radcliffe Trust, bowing to the inevitable, decided to open up more land for development. This time, however, they decided to do the develoment themselves rather than sell the land to the railway company. Windsor Street marks the end of LNWR development of housing.

A block of land had already been taken at the back of Windsor Street for the Boys School in 1896 and the Girls School was added on Aylesbury Street in 1906. In the first decade of the 20th century Wolverton entered a new building phase.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wagon Plate


This photo has been sent to me by Martin Mellon of a wagon plate collected by his father. Does anyone know anything about this?

Obviously the date and place are a giveaway but does anyone know what the numbers mean?

Not having worked behind the wall I have no idea where or how these plates were made. I assume that these were individually cast in sand with the numbers changed in sequence.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Historical Tour along the Stratford Road 5

Wolverton Working Mens' Club
Working Men's Clubs were a product of the industrial age. Most large towns and cities had founded clubs in the 19th century and it is no surprise that Wolverton and New Bradwell followed the trend.
The first Working Men's Social Club was an adapted house at 72 Church Street, founded in 1872. Less than 30 years later the club was able to afford this imposing building on a new lot at the bottom of Cambridge Street. It opened in 1898. The style is quite ornate and continues with the next four houses which are also decorated with a mixture of stone and red tile. I imagine that the attic rooms, which are quite spacious, were originally designed to accommodate the club steward and his family. The club did expand into Number 50 in the 20th century as well as build extensions at the back.

50 and 51 Stratford Road


52 and 53 Stratford Road
These four houses are quite spacious. I know because my grandparents owned one of them. they followed the conventional terraced house plan of three rooms downstairs with a scullery and three bedrooms and a box room above the entrance hall with a bathroom and w. c. Except these terraces were so much wider and larger - perhaps only a few feet, but that made the difference. the entrance hall was wider, the rooms were a foot or two wider. And at the back of the scullery was a pantry, which was later converted into a bathroom. These houses also had a large wash house at the bottom of the garden. When the motor age came along these were converted into garages.

Mostly these houses were residential and most households had a domestic servant in the early years of the 20th century. I presume the servant lived in the attic room.

54 and 55 Stratford Road
The next four houses in this block are also spacious but less ornate in finish. Number 55 was occupied by Frederick Field, a boot and shoe maker who had moved from an earlier address on the Stratford Road an it remained a sho shop until Norman Cosford retired. (I think.)
It's a pity about the frontage. While it was a shop window it was not out of place, but the bricking up of the window and the insertion of a window which is completely out of proportion rather destroys the appearance in my opinion. It would have looked better if the lower bay window and the porch had been retored.

56 and 57 Stratford Road
The final two houses in this block became dental surgeries for much of the 20th century. Sidney Warden had a practice at Number 56 from the early 1920s and next door George Weller established himself in 1911. Both men worked their until their retirement in the 1950s when the practice was sold on.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Historical Tour along the Stratford Road 4

The house at Number 44 was at the outer limit of Wolverton for about 50 years and in the 1880s another house was built at the back which became an off licence, known as The Drum and Monkey.

The building of Cambridge Street, and later Windsor Street in the 1890s expanded Wolverton further to the west. These new terraced houses were more substantial than any of Wolverton's existing stock of houses and all had bay windows and front gardens.

The first set of buildings filled the Stratford Road in between the Cambridge Street back lane and Cambridge Street. These were built as a block of four with two gable-ended "bookends".

45 Stratford Road
It appears that Number 45 was initially a private residence, although a few years later it became a grocery and general store. In 1935 Ewart Dale ran a chemist's shop on one side and his wife Wallace had here hairdressing business on the east side. Ewart Dale was also keen on photography and sold a good range of cameras and photograhic processing equipment. I don't remember the doorway being quite so far set back in the 1950s, but perhps it was.


46 and 47 Stratford Road
Number 46 started off as a drapery with a tailor next door at Number 47. By 1915 the drapery, Fairburn and Heeley, had expanded to include the two shops. I imagine the side porch at Number 46  was replicated at 47, and it is likely that Number 46 started off with two sash windows rather than the single bay.
In 1930 Lloyds Bank moved from its premises on Church Street to this address. The new frontage was added at this time and the manager lived in the flat upstairs, accessible from the side door at Number 46. The building has now been converted into flats.

48 Stratford Road
This corner building started off as a grocer's shop and within a few years became a butcher's. It was in the hands of Green Brothers in 1911, and subsequently under the name of Leonard Green. In 1915, Leonard Green split the shop and let half of it to a hairdresser. Tom Jordan was there for well over 30 years.
In the 1930s, 48a (as it was known) changed hands with some frequency, being a confectioner, a tailor and a radio engineer. The two shops are now reunited as a wine merchant's outlet.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Historical Tour along the Stratford Road 3

The houses between Radcliffe Street and the back lane of Cambridge Street were also built in 1860. They were all residential and vary from quite modest houses to more substantial ones. The relative speed of construction suggest that there was pent-up demand in 1860 as no new houses had been built in Wolverton since 1847. The houses number from 23 to 44; the presbytery, number 22, was added in the 1870s.

22 Stratford Road - The Presbytery

23 Stratford Road
This is still an elegant and well-cared-for house after almost 150 years and from the looks of it has preserved its slate roof and the sash windows. It was may not have been the first house built on this section of the Stratford Road and it is only in the 1871 census that there is an obvious resident. This was George Applin and his family. George Applin was not a railwayman and he appears as a shopkeeper in St Pancras in the 1861 Census. It was possibly this new building boom which brough him to Wolverton where he set himself up as a painter. His grandson, William Applin, entered the motor age as a garage mechanic, operating from the back of 53 Stratford Road.

George Applin died within a few years and his widow moved to a house in Radcliffe Street. The next occupant was Joseph Parker, retired Station Master, who lived here until his death. George Claxton, a foreman in the Carriage Works lived here from 1890 and later set himself up as a builder.

24 Stratford Road
This rather modest house has been modified beyond recognition. It was built for William Harvey and his family. Harvey was one of Wolverton's original workers in 1838 and he came down from Derbyshire. He at first shared lodgings with Hugh Stowell Brown in Old Wolverton and then lived in Young Street after he married. I would guess that he had been saving for a house for 20 years before he was able to buy this one and he lived here until his death in 1904.

It was then occupied by Lloyds Bank for about 15 years until they moved to larger premises at 46-7 Stratford Road. This may explain how the house acquired this particular frontage. Subsequently it was an office for Pearl Assurance.

25 Stratford Road
In the same way the house at 25 has been modified out of all recognition. In the last 20 years of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th it was inhabited by Robert King and his family. King was manager of the Gas Works which might suggest that it was not a mean residence.
In the early years of the 20th century electricity came to Wolverton and the Northampton Electric Light Company set up an office here in 1907. This may explain why the frontage extended over No 24. After the war an nationalisation this became the offices and showroom for the East Midland Electricity Board. 

26 Stratford Road
For the firt fifty years of its life this house was a residence, occupied by various people. In 1911 it experienced its first shop conversion - at first a shop for samuel Hull, a boot and shoe maker, and the Arthur Watts, a furniture dealer. In 1935 it was taken over by Chamberlain and Norman, who were there for over 20 years. In my memory they also sold prams, and were probably the only shop in Wolverton to do so.

27 Stratford Road
This remained in private hands until 1930 when Arthur Watts expanded to include this house. After Chamberlain and Norman took over the business from Watts, No. 27 became a drapery shop.

28 Stratford Road
I have written about the famous Lakes elsewhere, but this house did not become a shop until 1931 when Lewis barwood, who had bought the ironmongery from Samuel Coop & Son at 6 Stratford Road, decided to move to this location. The Lake Brothers

29  and 30 Stratford Road
Number 29 remained a private residence until 1903 when the front room was converted to Refreshment Rooms. This enterprise did not last long and in 1911 it was a cycle shop. In the 1920s the Ministry of Labour was using it for an office (or labour exchange, as it was called in those days) and in 1930 Barclays Bank moved their branch office here. It remained a barclay's Branch until quite recent times.

Number 30 was the home of Arthur Scovell, an electrician, at the turn of the 20th century and by 1911, frederick Clarke, the printer was based here. he later moved to larger premises on Church Street.


31 Stratford Road
This was for a time one of the grander houses in Wolverton and was the home to John Williams, Assistant Superintendent of the Carriage works and in 1901 home for John Appleton, the Manager of Mcorquodales. 
It is unclear to me at the moment when the shop frontage was added unless Stobies expanded here. There is no business using this address, even in the 1950s.

32 and 33 Stratford Road
During the WW Frederick Stobie established a furniture dealership at Number 32 and it remained in the family for at least two generations. Number 32 was always a residence although there are signs in this recent photo of a shop conversion.

34 and 35 Stratford Road
Number 34 has been much modified from the original with a new shop frontage and new windows. Number 34 has retained its original frontage, although slate tiles have been replaced

36 and 37 Stratford Road
The house at Number 36 was residential until 1911 when William Airlie, and artificial teeth maker appears in 1911. Since then, and now for 100 years, it has been a dental surgery. The bay window, and the porch over the door may have been added in the 1950s. the wheel chair ramp is recent.

Number 37 became a branch practice for the Stony Stratford physician Arthur Habgood and continued under various partnerships - Habgood and Gooch, Bull, Habgood and Lawrence, Lawrence, Douglas and Witheridge until more modern clinics evolved. It has now reverted to a private hoise.

38 and 39 Stratford Road
These two have stayed as private houses since they were built in 1860. Number 38 concludes the terrace of four with a round arch doorway, although this house has replaced the original sash window with a bow window.
Number 39 begins another series with rounded arch upper windows and faux stone facing. Note how steps appear as the Stratford Road dips and the level of the terrace is maintained.

40 Stratford Road
This larger, double-fronted house, built in the same style and probably by the same builder as No. 39 was a private residence for some years and then became a coffee house. Later he converted it into a "Temperance Hotel", providing accommodation for travellers who did not wish to stay at the licensed hotels - the Royal Engineer, the North Western and the Vic.

41 Stratford Road
This is the last of the three houses with arched upper windows. Like No. 39 it has retained its status as a  family residence and the facing on the front wall is presumably original.

42 and 43 Stratford Road
There is no evidence for shop conversions here until 1939, when Archie Day opened his ironmongery at No. 42. As you can see the frontages are a later design from some of the earlier conversions to the east.

44 Stratford Road
This substantial house was, until the development of Cambridge Street in the 1890s, on the western edge of Wolverton. It was Number 1 Stratford Road until 1900, when the local authorities decided on a more logical numbering system for Wolverton house and businesses, and after almost 40 years of being 1, Stratford Road, it was re-numbered as 44.
Each house now has a long history. Some, like the rather fine looking house at Number 23, have maintained their residential status throughout, while others have been converted into commercial premises.