Wolverton and New Bradwell in old picture postcards

Wolverton and New Bradwell in old picture postcards

:   R.A. Croft
:   Buckinghamshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4870-2
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Wolverton and New Bradwell in old picture postcards'

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Wolverton and New Bradwell are in the northern part of Buckinghamshire, mid-way between the medieval market towns of Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell. The Victorian history of these towns is inextricably linked to the development of the Railway Company.

In 1838 the London and Birmingham Railway Company established a works mid-way between London and Birmingham 'for the examination of trains' and a station 'for the refreshment of passengers'. As aresuIt, the Victorian 'New Towns' of New Wo/verton and Stantonbury were conceived.

The medieval village of Wolverton was centred around Holy Trinity Church and Manor Farm. This became known as Old Wolverton when the prefix 'New' was dropped from Wolverton. The first permanent station was opened in 1840 and was described as a 'miracle of modern engineering', and the Church of St. George the Martyr was opened in 1844. By 1861 Wolverton had developed into a sizeable town with a population of 2,370 and had several inns, a school and a number of recently built terraeed houses. The Railway Company were looking to expand their works and the housing for its workers. By this time it was known as the London and North Western Railway Company and had difficulty in acquiring additional land from the Trustees of the Radcliffe Estate who owned most of the Parish of Wolverton. It was therefore necessary to approach adjacent landowners,

19 acres were bought from Earl Spencer of Althorpe in Northamptonshire who owned a substantial area of land in Bradwell parish about half a mile to the east of Wolverton Station. The first five streets of 'Stantonbury' were constructed in the middle of productive farmland between the canal and the turnpike road. 1t took its name from the nearest medieval vilIage, about a mile to the north. The old village had become virtually deserted but the Stantonbury parish church of St. Peter's survived and it was there that the first residents of the new Stantonbury worshipped.

St. James's Church was opened in 1860 but it was not until 1909 after a special Act of Parliament that the church received the necessary 'instrument' (special permission) for transferring the rights and privileges of St. Peter's Stantonbury to St. James's. This resulted in the rather shocking news that 1,000 marriages celebrated at New Bradwell were 'illegal'!

By the early years of this century private enterprise had extended 'Stantonbury' westwards, building King Edward Street and the streets around 'Corner Pin' on the main road from Wolverton to Newport Pagnell. As development continued the town became known as New Bradwell, taking its name from BradweIl, the nearest neighbour within the civil parish. In its turn this medieval village became Old Bradweil.

Many of the street and road names in both Wolverton and

New BradweIl reflect their railway history and the feeling for the 'Great British Empire' and everything th at was Victorian. The names Glyn Square, and Creed Street reflect important figures in the history of the Railway Company. The buildings, architecture and town planning are not outstanding examples of Victorian urban planning but they do represent a good example of the philanthropie nature of the Railway Company in looking after its workforce. The neat rows of Victorian and Edwardian red brick terraeed houses represented aperiod of substantial investment in the area which braught with it the prospect of a good job for a skilled workman and considerable prosperity in what had been largely an agricultural area. Many families had a strang allegiance to the Railway Works, and it was not unusual to find two or sometimes three generations of a family employed in 'the Works'. In the period covered by this book there were few employment opportunities outside the Works. The only other firm of any size was McCorquodales the printers who employed a large number of women in their Stratford Road factory. In 1910 the Railway Works employed about 5,000 men drawing them in from Stony Stratford, Newport Pagnell and the surrounding villages. A steam tram was constructed in 1887 to link Stony Stratford and Wolverton and at its peak it carried up to 700 passengers each day. It closed in 1926.

In addition to the physical landscape of Wolverton and

New BradweIl it is important to remember some of the important personalities who were instrumental in forming the character of the community and ensuring its success. The stories and details behind many of these nineteenth century personalities are now very fragmentary. Memories and details of the 1920's and 1930's are now disappearing and it is important that this knowledge is preserved in some form or another. It is often said that history repeats itself and it is interesting to note that the new development which occurred in the Victorian period affected the whole pace of life in this part of Buckinghamshire. A similar situation exists today as Wolverton and New BradweIl are absorbed into the expanding new city of Milton Keynes.

The committee of the Wolverton and District Archaeological Society are always interested in obtaining further information about these photographs and readers are invited to contact the Secretary, Mr. Robert Ayers, 150 Spinney Hili Road, Northampton with any details they may have.

R.A. Craft September 1989.

1. The old Loco Hotel is now known as The Galleon. Dating from the early nineteenth century the original building was built to serve as a canalside inn with an extensive wharf on the west side of the Grand Junction canal. The semi-eireular bridge was one of the original canal bridges and has been replaced this century. The stone and thatched cottage on the left of the photograph still survives although much altered. This cottage represents one of the last surviving cottages of the medieval village of Wolverton from which the Victorian town taak its name.

2. Of aU the photographs in this book this particular view captures in a natural way some of the people who lived and worked in Wolverton in the early years of the twentieth century. 'Wolverton Works' was the 'life-blood' of almost the whole population of both Wolverton and New Bradweil. At the end of each working day several thousand men would stream out of the 'Works' gates to start their joumeyhome.

3. The Wolverton to Stony Stratford steam tram standing oudside the main entrance of Wolverton Works c.191O. The photographer had obviously given the police officers time to get themselves into position before the photograph was taken. On the right is the old entrance into the Works, this has now been demolished and a new entrance constructed in 1972.

4. A view of the forbidding brick facade of Wolverton as seen on the approach road from Stony Stratford. A date of 1905 is written on this photograph and there is na reason to dispute its accuracy. The buildings behind the walliater became the Raad Vehicle Shop of Wolverton Works. The lines of the old tramway can be clearly seen in the middle of the road. The north side of Stratford Raad used to be bounded by a wall almast a mile long and local tradition records that many raad travelIers thought that it marked the wall of a prison!

5. Wolverton Works rush hour as men leave the main Works entrance in c. 1906. There are two clues in this photograph which help to explain it more accurately. Firstly the large number of smal! wooden 'trucks' parked on the side of the road confirm that it was lunchtime. These smal! hand carts contained cooked dinners which were brought up the hilI by children from New Bradwel! for their hungry fathers. The second clue can be seen on the left where the Old Market Hal! (behind the wal!) is open, confirming that the photograph was taken on a Friday.


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6. Running practically the whoie Iength of Wolverton is Church Street. This view taken c.1919 shows The Victoria Hotel on the Ieft which looks very much the same today from the outside, but the interior has been much altered in recent years. The buildings on the right side of the road have now been demolished to make way for the Agora eentre which dominates the heart of Wolverton. In the far distanee ean be seen the tower of the Methodist Chureh. Moving eastwards from Mr. Dale's barbers pole were Mr. Beesley the milkman ; Mr. King the baker and J aek Eady the buteher.

7. On the corner of Radcliffe Street and the Stratford Road was Hutchinson's general store. It was renowned in Wolverton and the surrounding villages as being one of the best general stores around. The Wolverton to Stony Stratford tram can be seen on the left of the photograph. Hutchinson's shop has changed hands several times recently but the corner with the main road has been known as Foster's corner for many years. This photograph was taken before the First World War and is dated c.191O.

8. At the turn of the century the Church Army were an active, crusading move ment which travelled the country attempting to convert people into following their particular version of christian thinking. Here a mobile 'church' can be seen parked in The Square, Wolverton c.1900.

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