Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Villas

Tucked away, down a narrow approach road just across the railway and canal bridges, were four Victorian houses - twos sets of semi-detached houses. In the 50s they carried the names of The Hawthorns, The Limes, Yew Tree Villa and The Firs. I delivered newspapers there in the 1950s; otherwise I don't expect I would have had any reason to go there. These four dwellings were almost completely separated from the rest of the town apart from the aforementioned approach road.
At the time they were built (there were six originally) their placement mad perfect sense. The original railway line followed a straight line through Wolverton to the west of its present curve and the second station was located here to the south of the Stratford Road. The Villas (including the Station Master's house) were then on the approach road to the Station. Sir Richard Moon's later decision to by-pass the town with a new line (Moon's folly)  led to the demolition of the station and two of the villas, leaving the remaining four isolated.
I didn't know this at the time (or if I did, I was not sufficiently interested) but my great-grandfather Robert Dunleavy lived with his family at The Limes from 1890 to 1895, when he transferred to Leighton Buzzard. One of his sons and a daughter lived into their 90s and it is a pity, in retrospect, that I did not know the questions to ask.
I am therefore grateful for the research undertaken by the Wolverton Society for Arts and Heritage prior to the development of this derelict land as a garden. In their published pages is a floor plan of The Limes and a lot of detail about some of the past residents of these houses. http://www.wolvertonsecretgarden.co.uk
Robert Dunleavy came to Wolverton from Buckingham, where he had been Station Master for a decade. His eldest son Arthur had already left home to work for the L&NWR in Goods, but the two middle boys, Herbert and my grandfather Harold, both reached the age of 14 in Wolverton and began work as apprentice clerks in the Carriage and Wagon Works. Both spent their careers there. In 1895 Robert Dunleavy transferred to Leighton Buzzard, which had more traffic because of the branch line to Luton and therefore paid better. 
The villas were demolished in the 60s at the same time as the little streets were levelled.

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