Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Historical Tour along the Stratford Road - 2

For many years the Radcliffe Trust refused to cede any more land to the new railway town, and this led to the development of New Bradwell in the 1850s, but in 1860 they finally relented and made land to the west available. Events then moved very quickly. Church Street and the Stratford Road were laid out as far as the back alley of Cambridge Street. The LNWR decided to open this up to private initiative - hitherto the company had laid out and built all housing using their own contractors.

This first section of the Stratford Road was of interest to commercial developers. The stretch to the west of Radcliffe Street was residential and was actually completed before this section, but I will come to that in the next post. 8 shops at the north end of Bury Street had been demolished a few years earlier, and although there were shops on Creed Street, the growth of Wolverton meant that there was a pent up demand for shop premises in 1960. Charles Aveline, who had had a furniture shop on Bury Street, took lot number 1 for himself and may even have bought other lots for development because he had at this time reinvented himself as a builder. At any rate, he appears to have been a prime mover in Wolverton's new development. At the time this plan was drawn (December 1861), all the lots had been sold and several already developed. Lot number 9 has Lepper pencilled in and the words built on at the bottom. Since he doesn' appear in the 1861 census taken in March, this may suggest that building was still in progress. John Lepper was a grocer with a shop on the corner of Gas Street. Moving may not have been so urgent for him.

I'll describe the history of each building below. (The images are taken from Google Maps and are a little distorted in places.)

Lot Number 1

6,7 and 8 Stratford Road

These houses are now numbered 6,7 and 8. In 1860 this was a single building encompassing numbers 6 and 7.  Number 8 was a later addition as you may tell from the upstairs window, and until the end of the century stood as a detached building with space on either side. It was occupied by Charles Aveline, who started out as a young cabinet maker in Bury Street in 1840. In these premises he sold furniture, ran his building business and also managed the Post Office.
The frontages have much changed over a century and a half.
Aveline continued his business here until he retired to Bedford in the 1880s, whereupon it was sold to Samuel Coop who was a house furnisher. The addition which later became Number 8 was built in the late 1890s. Coop and his son expanded the business from the sale of furniture to include ironmongery and a stationery shop. 

Lot Number 2
9a and b Stratford Road
This was probsably built about the same time as the first building and judging by the style was likely built by Charle Aveline. This was a grocery run by Abraham Culverhouse. It was possibly a double-fronted shop from the outset, although the plate glass windows must have arrived later in the 19th century or early 20th century.

Culverhouse was here until the late 1880s, although curiously he is listed as a Baker and Confectioner in the Trade Directories. He had a large family, including two sons, but there does not appear to have been much interest in the Wolverton business and by 1891, he was living with his family in Stony Stratford selling insurance.

The shop was empty for a while and then taken over by Richard Stapley, a tailor and outfitter and then run by his wife for a few years after his death. Tailoring continued with Herbert Jennison until about 1930, when Muscutt and Tompkins took over the left hand side for their Stationery shop and the right hand side was a betting shop (or Turf Accountant in the euphemistic language of the day).

Lot Number 3

The North western Hotel

The North Western opened in 1864 and has continuously traded ever since. The main entrance used to be in the middle but in recent times this door has been closed off and two side entrances introduced. Originally the building was open on either side. 

In the late 1860s the space on the west side of the hotel was filled by a small house, now number 12.

Originally occupied by Thomas Robinson, a carpenter, it became a Fancy Repository a decade later run by Annie Clayton. A few years later, and certainly by 1887, William Sach was practising here as a watchmaker. He was quite a young man and may have moved to another town because he was then succeeded by the German immigrant, Emil Sigwart, also a watchmaker and jeweller. His association with this shop lasted a good part of the 20th century and after he died the shop was run by his son. Today it appears to be a lock-up shop on the ground floor with a first floor flat reached by the entrance on the left.

The other "in-fill" came at the end of the 19th century when the narrow house now known as Number 10 was built. The first occupant was Alfred Davis, a hairdresser, but he later expanded into furniture sales. His sons then operated a furniture removal business from here in the mid century.

Lot Number 4 and 5
The next building was possibly the most impressive on this new section of the Stratford Road, next to the North Western. I have seen references to it as Bellevue House so the expectation may have been grandiose.
13 and 14 Stratford Rd.

But large as it is it does not appear to have enjoyed long-term continuous occupancy and it was often vacant.

The building dates from 1861. One side was occupied by John Rowland, a butcher, and the west side (No 14) by Thomas Burchall, a coppersmith, with his family and three lodgers. In 1871, Number 13 is occupied by Symingtons, draper, and they were to remain here for the next twenty years and were then succeeded by Frank Braggins, also a draper. Curiously, there is another draper next door at 14, William Bannion, in 1871; it is not clear if he a part of the Symington operation. At any event the shop is a grocery in 1881 and then it is unoccupied in two successive censuses after that.

From about 1924 the unit on the left was occupied by Eva Herbert, a music seller, until the war. She would have sold sheet music and possibly instruments. In those years before recording people had to make their own music and sheet music sales were high. Incidentally, I have never seen evidence of a piano shop in Wolverton, yet by mid-century almost every front room had a piano. I suppose they were purchased from Northampton.

The Grafton Cycle Company moved to Number 14 in 1915, after a brief spell at Number 19, so the company in one form or another is now approaching its centenary.

Lot number 6 and 7

These two houses appear to have been built as a pair and are more modest than the preceding three storey buildings.
Number 15, now occupied by a bookie, was a grocery from the beginning until 1911, when it became a shoe shop _ Freeman, Hardy and Willis for about 50 years.  Number 16 started out a a butcher and appears to have continued as such for at least a century. Most of those years were shared between Harry Norman and later the Canvin family.

Lot number 8

17 Stratford Road

Number 17 was established as a chemist with George Atkinson. He was succeeded by William Barton about 1890 and then by Alfred Leeming in 1911 who ran the shop until the late 1930s when Walter Mackerness took over. In the middle of the 1950s R J Escott bought the business and I assume he continued until his own retirement. Now I do recall the Escotts living on Cambridge Street so by this time the shop was separate from the flat above. There are a few shops in Wolverton which established their function early and continued in this line for over a century. This is one of them.

Lot number 9

This was the lot marked on the plan for John Lepper, the Gas Street Grocer but there is no evidence in the censuses or trade directories for his occupancy. I can only conclude that  he built the larger building on the corner and added these two for rental purposes.  There are two shops now, as there have been for many years, but it was probably one originally. As you can tell from the upper windows and thechimnety placement, this was conceived as a single building.

18, 19 Stratford Road

Number 18 started out in 1871 as a hair dresser, Charles Barker. he was succeeded 20 years later by William Hutchinson - also in the same trade. From 1911 to 1931 it was an outlet for the Wood family, millers. here they sold corn and flour. After this it was known as the Maypole Dairy, a grocery that operated until the 1960s.
Number 19 was first occupied in 1871 by Richard Smith, a tailor, who was succeded a decade later by John verney, a bootmaker. After Charles Aveline retired Verney got the post office franchise  and the post office was probably here until the GPO was built on Church Street in the 1930s. I say probably, because the trade directories are not clear on this; after 1915 he is listed as a Stationer only.
In 1935, Edmund Grice, moved his confectionery here and it was henceforth known as Grices.

Lot Number 10

This is the famous corner building at the bottom of Radcliffe Street. You can see that it was conceived as a large building from the outset, although for many years it housed two shops.
20 and 21 Stratford Road
It was a large grocery store from the outset but after a decade it was divided into two units. Jacob Holliday appears as a draper in 1871 and he was succeeded by James McCubbin in the same trade. In the 2oth centruy Number 20 became G.E. Neale, Provender Dealer. followed by Pearks, who were also Grocers.
The corner shop, later known as Foster's Corner was a men's clothing shop run by Foster Brothers from 1924.

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