Sunday, 3 August 2014

Spotlight on Middleton Place

Mysteries of Middleton Place uncovered


Much of Loughborough in the latter part of the 19th century was given over to farms and farmland. According to Charnwood Borough Council (2006) the area on which Herrick Road, Park Road and Middleton Place is built, was originally mostly made up of trees:

Coming up to the entrance to Middleton Place

“The estate consisted of several fields, some 17 acres with fruit trees and hovels (presumably agricultural sheds), lying between Far Park Lane [now Park Road] and Middle Park Lane [now Beacon Road] ... It was divided into 50 plots of about a third of an acre each.”

In 1875 bylaws were introduced that specified room sizes and ventilation standards. This meant that the building of small, plain terraced houses, like those on Albert Street and Victoria Street, and Oxford Street, Paget Street etc., stopped and houses became more flamboyant, with elaborate bay windows and being built in a grid, with, what I would call a side passage, but with what you, coming from Leicestershire, would call a side entry.

The owner of the land that was to become known as Middleton Place, died in 1878. Edward Chatterton Middleton was the joint owner of Loughborough Bank, with one Mr Craddock, and his son, Edward William Craddock Middleton. The Borough Council (2006) suggests that Mr Middleton [snr.] died leaving behind debts of about £10,000: This is an over-simplification of the situation, but as this is not the main subject of my discussion here, I refer you to Day (1986) where the matter is fully investigated, and to newspaper reports of the time (Times 1878, London Gazette 1878 & 1882), which make for interesting reading.  

In 1881 Mr Middleton’s debt was cleared by the surrender of the aforementioned land, which was then freed up for the building of houses, and by 1889 the first six houses had been built on Middleton Place. According to a 1901 map of Loughborough, Middleton Place was called Middle Park Lane, but people recorded their address on the 1901 census returns as Middleton Place. I suspect that the naming of the street was at least in part in honour of the previous landowner: As well as being a respected banker, he was also a Justice of the Peace, Sheriff of Leicestershire, Paymaster to the Leicestershire Yeomanry Cavalry and laid the foundation stone of the cemetery chapel.

Build, build, build

Right to left: Nos. 3-13
So, these first houses to be built on the street were built on the shorter arm of Middleton Place:
If you imagine the street to be like a letter r then the houses were on the top line of the r.
There were six of them, and they were numbered 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13. There must have been some reason for this numbering, but I admit, that had it been me, I would have used numbers 1-11! At the time of the 1891 census all the houses except number 3 were occupied: If there were any occupants, perhaps they were away visiting relatives!

Right to left: Nos. 53-59 

Right to left: Nos. 61-67
By 1901 a further 14 houses were constructed, in three blocks of four and one of two.
These were built on the long arm of the street, the upright of the r. While these houses may have been built in about the same year, and all were characteristic of the Victorian era, each group had subtle differences from the others. Some (numbers 53, 55, 57, & 59) were quite distinctive, with elaborate wrought ironwork above the bay windows, and church window-style doors.

Others (61, 63, 65 & 67) all had bay windows, were slightly taller than 53-59, with rounded arches over the doors, and with the house name carved into shaped stone above the door (Sunnydene, Lyndene, Rosedale & Avondale).

Right to left: Nos. 77 to 83 

Numbers 77, 79, 81 and 83, have very similar doorways to 61-67 and, like 61-67, the house names – Mystrayla, Jesmond, Danesford, and Cresford - were carved into a stone block above the doorway, but these were a more plain rectangular shape. NB There is no number 75.

Right to left: Nos. 85 and 87

Assuming that the final two houses, numbers 85 and 87, have not been modernised, whilst still being Victorian, they appear to have broken away from the mould of the previous builds, being three-storey properties, with rooms in the attic, decorative woodwork slats above the doorways, and ornate ridge tiles and chimney pots. Although the date carved into the stone between the two houses is 1900, the properties do not appear on the census of 1901, not even being listed as unoccupied.

Victorian house-building often followed a pattern, and this might help to explain why the properties on Middleton Place were built in twos or multiples of twos. Apparently, houses were often built in pairs, and were owned by the same person, who lived in one of the pair, and rented out the other one.  

Left to right: Nos. 22-24

It wasn’t until 1925 that more house-building followed, with the construction of two almshouses. Numbers 22 and 24 were two bungalows, built by the Edgar Corah Trust. They were different from previous builds because, as well as being bungalows, with low roofs and pebble-dashed walls, they were built on the opposite side of the road from all the previous properties.




To the right of the lamppost - No. 69


Fill the gaps, please
Rather like today, if there were a gap between properties, it was likely to be filled, and this was indeed the case in 1930 when a single property, number 69, was tacked on to the end of one of the rows of terraces. However, this still leaved a little bit of space, so, between 1941 and 1945, a pair of semi-detached houses were built to completely fill that gap.

Right to left: Nos. 71 & 73

Right to left: Nos. 45 - 51

There followed an hiatus in house-building on Middleton Place, presumably due to the restrictions imposed after the war which stated that you had to prove a need to build new accommodation, and even then there were serious restrictions on building materials. However, in 1959, after the passing of the Housing Act 1957, two pairs of semi-detached houses were constructed on the corner with Oliver Road. In order to accommodate the corner, one pair was set back, well off the road.
Right to left: 15-23

A row of five dwellings, built in 1977, was attached to the first row of six Victorian terraced houses that were built, on the short arm of the road. The juxtaposition of these relatively modern properties, with their obvious low ceilings and up-and-over garage doors, with the stately redbrick, bay-windowed Victorian buildings is quite telling. 

The newest home

Joining the dwellings on the less well-developed side of the street, in about 1986, was another bungalow. So, similar only in that it was a bungalow, but in other respects quite different, with its brick construction, different roof tiles and concrete and brick garden wall. This was the last of the new-builds on Middleton Place, at least, for the twentieth century!

No more room?

Over the years, and into this the twenty-first century, there have been a number of developments on the street, with lots of improvements and extensions.

If you look closely at some of the earlier pictures you can see evidence of late 20th/early 21st century loft conversions, rebuilt garden walls and changes to windows.

So who lived on the street?

It is unlikely that the occupants of the new houses built on Middleton Place in the early 1900s were the owners; most would have rented their property. It is interesting to note the types of people who were living here and how these changed as the street grew. According to the 1891 census, when there were only five houses lived in, the inhabitants were not natives of Loughborough, with some coming from as far a-field as Mauritius! Amongst the occupations of these folk were a schoolmaster, a teacher of classics and a Methodist minister.
In 1901 about half the people who lived on the street were from Loughborough, and their jobs reflected the industry of the time: there were people who worked in the hosiery industry, an ironmonger and a blacksmith, as well as a nurse, a dressmaker, a watchmaker and several apprentices.
By the time of the 1911 census, slightly more than two-thirds of the house-dwellers were originally from Loughborough, the rest coming from a whole range of areas, including Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Norfolk, and Staffordshire. The range of occupations they were involved in represented a cross-section of the community: There were several people living under their own means, and quite a number of the inhabitants had live-in servants. If you were to wander down Middleton Place in 1911 then you’d expect to be sweetened up by the local confectioner, measured up by the local tailor or photographed as you perambulated! Other occupants of the street were engineers, apprentices, draughtsmen, joiners, and brick/tile manufacturers, as well as The Headmaster of the Art School and The Principal of the Technical Institute!

Today, you will find schoolteachers and university staff, librarians, local government workers, NHS employees, landscape gardeners, and retirees living on the street. Some have been living here for many years, while a few are fairly new to the street. Interestingly, number 51 was inhabited by the same owner from the time the house was built in 1959, to well-into the 21st century.

And what of the garages?

Part of the wooden garage block

Apart from the houses, there are also a number of garages on Middleton Place. Some of these are wooden and appear along the street, whilst there is a group of other wooden ones opposite numbers 3-13, which actually look rather spectacular.

One small group of garages on the street

Also, there is a group of 1970s garages with up and over doors, opposite numbers 15-23 and 45-49. Before these garages were built the area housed the school kitchens where they cooked meals for all the local schools. After that, the area was used for a coal merchants depot (possibly called Martins, owned by Edgar Martin's father). Later in the twentieth century the garage area was the headquarters for a taxi firm, but this was short-lived as house owners in the area complained about the persistent noise, somewhat ironic as now the area seems to be regularly used as a car park by a Loughborough taxi firm!

What does the future hold?
Loft conversion in progress, 2010

We cannot know what changes will be seen on Middleton Place in the future. A recent application to build a pair of semi-detached houses beyond number 85, where there are currently several garages, was refused. The work on a loft conversion at number 49 has been completed, and a loft conversion and extension have recently been added to number 73 and have also been requested for number 71.

Loft conversion completed

The owner of the land opposite numbers 15-23, which is currently given over to garages died a couple of years ago, and the land passed to his beneficiaries; so one does wonder what may be in store for this land, but so far all that appears to have happened is a general clear-up of the area, a small fire in one of the skips, and the Leylandii trees have been severely cut back!

And in a similar vein, the vista changed with the building of a house on a plot on Herrick Road previously occupied by a bungalow.

But, whatever may happen, the history of this street will be documented, through street directories, census returns and other sources, like newspaper articles, and this will help to put the present day and the future into context for its inhabitants. Hopefully, it will remain the quiet backwater that it is currently.

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