Thursday, April 9, 2015

Early Wolverton House Numbering

From time to time I get asked by people researching their families from the 19th century census to explain the baffling system of numbering houses. In the Little Streets they will encounter house number such as 542, Glyn Square or 437 Creed Street. Sometimes the numbering on the Stratford Road seems bizarre.

The first railway houses were numbered according to an LNWR system which numbered all railway properties starting with Number 1 at Euston and working north. Wolverton numbers therefore started at 336 and ended at 612. These numbers encompassed all the 1840s housing known as the Little Streets. A precise plan of this system in Wolverton is published in my book The Lost Streets of Wolverton.

The convention of numbering odd houses on the left and even numbered houses on the right did not begin before the 20th century. Prior to that houses were numbered up one side and down the other. So, for example, Number 1 might be opposite Number 101.

The Stratford Road is relatively straightforward, EXCEPT that up to 1900 numbering started from the wets. The house on the corner of the Cambridge Street back alley (with the former Drum and Monkey at the back) was Number 1, with numbers increasing to the east. Take some care with the earlier censuses because there was some infilling (on either side of the North Western for example) and some splitting of properties, especially the shops in the first section.

Church Street was numbered in the 1871 Census, staring from 1 at the house on the corner of the back alley on the south side (presently 97) going east to the Science and Art Institute Caretakers house, and returning westwards. It is not clear whether these were simply numbers used by the census takers or whether they were official.. I suspect that in those days that the postal service was heavily dependent on local knowledge, so that a letter address to Mr Smith, Church Street, Wolverton was almost certain to be correctly delivered.

See also this post from 2008.

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