Sunday, November 6, 2011

Moreland Terrace revisited

21 Moreland Terrace circa 1900
I am indebted to Julia Bennett for this photograph. It is the house on the corner of Radcliffe Street and Aylesbury Street and is probably a very early photograph. As I wrote before Moreland Terrace was an 1880s expansion, completed in 1884.

The picture shows the rather unique decorative elements around the doors and windows, quite unlike anywhere else in Wolverton. All of these disappeared when the buildings were converted into shops. Today, even the upstairs windows have been modified. It's a large house with two front rooms with probably four bedrooms upstairs. It was clearly designed for a middle class occupant. Somewhat surprisingly the occupants are of more modest occupation.

The head of the family in 1901 was William Bennett (The first letter is obscured, but it looks like Bennett)  a horse trainer. He was then 58 and his wife 56. They had their 30 year old unmarried daughter Emily living with them. She was working at home as a dressmaker. The house also accommodated their widowed sister-in-law, a 31 year old nephew working as a clerk in the Railway Offices, and an unmarried  26 year old niece. So the house was full and between them they could probably afford it.

Squares were prestigious addresses in London in the 19th century and I am sure the intention was to do the same in Wolverton. Some of the houses on the Square are quite large, but others are modest in size, so perhaps the grand plan did not quite achieve its objective.

There were commercial considerations too. The 1890s expansion of Wolverton left the residents of Cambridge Street and Windsor Street a long way from the shops on the Front and Church Street and it was not long before shop frontages began to appear along Moreland Terrace. If you look at this photograph taken around 1910, you can see the beginnings of this development.

This picture begins with Number 17 on the right, so we can't tell if Number 21 had been converted by this date. At the far end Number 1 was  a drapery from the beginning but gradually a conversion to shops was taking place. Only the shop at Number 9 has preserved its frontage. Note too the wrought iron railings around the Square. They were probably taken up during the 1914-18 war and melted down to make armaments. The Cenotaph was not built until after the war so the Square appears to be nothing more than a green space.

Below is Number 21 Morland Terrace today - hardly recognisable.

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