The Victorian population boom between 1841and 1901 doubled the number of residents in towns and cities and fuelled huge building programmes. Suburbs grew as a result of the railway development. Housing estates, like Oldfield Park in Bath, grew up around the local railway stations, where land values were lower than in existing urban areas. Speculative builders bought small plots of land from farmers and built rows of identical housing. The interior layout tended to stay the same with a hall leading to two or three rooms on each floor. The fashionable decorative details, such as cornicing and ceiling roses, would have been ordered from building merchants and catalogues.
The exterior was built with local bricks (there were three local brickworks in the Oldfield Park area), although in Oldfield Park most of the builders used the local Bath stone for the front of their terraces. Oldfield Park houses had roofs made of slate mainly coming from quarries in Wales. Sash and large bay windows became common as large panes of glass now became available from rolling presses in 1832. The ground floor bay window often had its own slate roof, or might continue into a first-floor bay, again topped with an individual roof. Quite a few of the Victorian builders in Bath topped the bays with balustrades in Bath stone. Doorways received their own small roofs sometimes in stone or metal edged with fretwork. Stained glass was popular for small windows and glazed front doors.
The builders would have sold the houses to landlords or become landlords themselves renting to tenants. Very few people owned their homes.
Victorian Brickworks in Oldfield Park
During the rapid expansion of the city in the 18th Century there was a demand for bricks, roof tiles and other constructional material made from local clay. Brick kilns were set up at building sites and clay pits were sunk in the area now known as Oldfield Park. Charles Harding’s Moorfield Brick and Tile Works was situated on what is now Shaftesbury Road. The works was in existence by 1888, but by 1907 had been built over. By 1900, Harding was operating from the Moorland Brick and Tile works in Oldfield Lane. By the time it closed its doors in 1913 it was producing over a million bricks each year.
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