We’re often asked why we research the history of each property we are asked to market and the first answer is easy – we enjoy doing it and enjoy even more the obvious pleasure many of our clients take from reading our window displays, newsletters and newspaper adverts. In fact, we have a growing following that have no current intention of buying a property but read our regular weekly Chronicle adverts just for the historical notes!
However, as with many principles at Madison Oakley, there is always more than one layer of method to our madness. To illustrate another reason for our research, I’ll have to tell you a short story about one of our properties;
Last year, we took on a house in Oldfield Park and researched the history of the house right back to date of build. We chose to use some of the information gleaned on the details (see below for example) but also had much more on file. Once we’d agreed a sale on the property, the purchaser sent a mortgage valuer to look round and he raised concerns with “structural movement” on the front elevation.
Left unchallenged, this issue might have led to either the buyer pulling out or, at least, some lengthy and time consuming investigations. Since the valuer was from way out of our area, he had no idea that Bath had been badly bombed in the Second World War and this house was one of many to suffer damage at the time. In fact, we were able to provide him with (among other info) the web link for the City Engineers report from the late 1940’s which specifically mentions this particular property and the level of damage sustained. Once provided with this information, the valuer reconsidered and the sale proceeded to successful completion.
Example historical notes – “Bath Tramways route no5 went from the Guildhall over the old bridge into Oldfield Park to the Cynthia Rd terminus just below this property. To enable the trams to run under the railway bridge in Westmoreland Rd, six single deck cars (nos 50-55) were operated on this route whilst all other Bath routes used double deck trams.”
However, historical research for us isn’t always about identifying issues – we also find thatm for example, potential buyers are pleased to learn the history of the occupiers in a particular home, especially if someone stayed there for a long time. After all, some antiques have extra value when they come with provenance so why can’t it be the same for houses!
Lastly, wouldn’t you like to know that your estate agent really is a expert on the local area when you trust them with the sale of your home?
Here’s a selection of today’s history notes for new instructions;
“Combe Down derives from the Anglo-Saxon Cume (valley) and Dunun (hill). The manor of Cume was owned by the monks of the Abbey Church of St Peter in Bath, hence the later appended “Monkton”.
Evidence of Roman settlement in Combe Down was first discovered in 1822 when workmen widening Summer Lane found some stone coffins.
Tank Field Quarry was owned by the Combe Down (Bath) Freestone Co Ltd (1909 – 1931) and the entrance shaft was situated around the Bradford Rd entrance to the MOD site.
The new estate at Foxhill was built originally for families from Bath whose houses had either been destroyed or badly damaged during the Second World War.”
“West Avenue is first recorded as an inhabited street in 1892. The first owner was Frank A Lewis (clerk), with neighbours Henry Smith (mason) and Thomas Young (tailor). Mr Lewis moved on in 1900 and was replaced by Walter Smith (engine Driver) and in 1910 by R.O Ashford (GWR porter). Mr Ashford remained at the property until 1963 at which point the house changed hands to Thomas Jeffrey.”
“First listed in 1931 named as Homeleigh and the residence of William A Wilcox. The house number is not listed until 1935. Mr Wilcox remained at the property until 1968, to be replaced by Stanley Perriton.”
“Development in this area started in 1889 with the construction of West Avenue, with Millmead Rd following from 1896. The Millmead dairy (run by Ebenezer Chesterman) opened in 1898 and was turned into a stationers in 1908 whilst Charles Davis became the first landlord of the Victoria Hotel in 1897. However, the largest local landmark was the 230ft high chimneys of the Victoria Brick & Tile Company above the railway next to what is now Dartmouth Avenue.”
“Odd Down (Odda’s Hill is the likely translation) is the crossroads of two of Britain’s historical linear landmarks, the Wansdyke and the Roman Fosse Way. Haddon’s Portrait of Bath also suggests a secondary Roman road from Frome and Poole intersected the Fosse Way here. However Odd Down is better known historically for being a quarrying area for oolitic limestone (which was used to build many of Bath’s Georgian and Victorian buildings) as well as Fullers Earth (used in the wool/textile industry).
The Fullers Earth Union acquired rights to mine on Duchy land in Vernham Wood in 1915, with yellow earth workings adjacent to the line of the Wansdyke being open cast in the main (although an adit was sunk in 1916 within the wood). In Feb 1962, the Bath Chronicle reported the opening of a new mine at Vernham Wood, with an 85ft deep shaft sunk, but geological problems forced the closure of the mine a year later.”
“The Horstmann Gear Co factory was built in 1915 on the site of Ashman’s Farm in Newbridge. Gustav Horstmann was a clockmaker and builder of precision instruments who came to England, set up his business in Union St in 1854 and lived at No3 Bladud Bldgs in 1871. Gustav’s five sons formed the Horstmann Gear Co in 1904 and Horstmann Cars Ltd in 1913 (building upwards of 2000 cars in Bath from 1920 – 1928)”