Monday, September 8, 2008

The Front I

The Stratford Road was known as “The Front”. And indeed it was the front of the town with the main road running along it and all of the residential and commercial part of the town being behind it. Unlike most other towns which could grow either side of the High Street, Wolverton could not, because the entire length of the Stratford Road was occupied by the Carriage and Waggon Works and McCorquodales, protected (if that is the right word) by a 10’ high brick wall.
The Stratford Road assumed more importance after Cooke Street, Bury Street, Walker Street and Garnett Street had been flattened to make room for works expansion and shops gravitated to Church Street and the Stratford Road. This happened around 1860. Gradually houses expanded westward, the last of the old terraced houses being built in Edwardian times.
I want to explore the shops as they used to be in the mid-1950s. The photo above illustrates how it appeared back then. The road was only busy (mostly with buses) between 7:15 and 7:45 on weekday mornings and again after 5:30pm. Most shopping was done on foot and the odd car might turn up every now and then for fueling at the pump operated by the Grafton Cycle Co. The pump hose was on an arm which coud be swung across the pavement. There were no petrol forecourts in those days.

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