Bath Road in Thornbury is now mainly an access road for the car parks and to Turnberries, the community centre built on the site of the old cattle market. Its history is rather more interesting.
The earliest records relating to this area that we have found so far are dated in the first half of the 1700s and refer to “all that toft or ruinous cottage and one small parcel of ground thereunto adjoining now being in an orchard and one close or paddock of ground to the same also adjoining and belonging commonly called Blayes containing in the whole by estimation one acre.” Read more about Blayes
During most of the 1800s and early 1900s there were ten houses in what eventually became known as ‘Bath Road’. Now the ten old houses have all gone, although at the lower end of the road there are the 24 houses built by the Council in the 1930s on what was called ‘Market Site’ and there is also the new housing built in 2008 on the site of the old youth centre. The Market was opened in 1911 and there was an access to it between the houses which became known as 4 and 6 Bath Road. We have focused on the history of the ten houses. Please click on the links on the side bar on the left to read about a particular property.
The origin of current name of Bath Road is simple. It was the road which led from the town centre to The Baths. This was a simple open air affair which had begun its life as a natural pond next to a farm building. It was fed by the stream that came down from Vilner but had been excavated and lined to make the town’s only public bathing place.
The Tithe map of 1840 shows the Baths as a simple rectangle on the south side of Bullseys Lane walled in and with a block next to it which was presumably the changing rooms were housed. There was a house next to it which was the farm house. The property was referred to in the Tithe Survey as a house, garden and baths occupied by Thomas Morgan but owned by William Rolph. We understand that for a short time it was even licensed to sell alcoholic drinks under the name of ‘The Bathin Place’, but this ceased trading in 1874. In the twentieth century it was used by the Grammar School for their school swimming sports gala until the school began to use the Blue Lagoon at Severn Beach. Some older locals also remember that as members of large families with limited washing facilities at home they were encouraged to go to the Baths to use their washing facilities which comprised of private cubicles in addition to the swimming pool.
We also have some pages on the Baths and the families associated with it. Click here to see those pages,
The history of the name and the other names by which ‘Bath Road’ was known is very confusing. In the 1800s the road was merely a lane and it was called Bullseys Lane or any one of several variations on this name including Bulls Eyes Lane or Bulls Lane. We have no idea where these names originated. The names were in use a long time before the Cattle Market moved to land adjoining the road so there can be no connection with that.
The street plan shown on the left was dated 1881 and this shows the road then called ‘Bath Lane’. At various times, it was also called ‘Lower Bath Road’ to distinguish it from Upper Bath Road, although at other times ‘Lower Bath Road was used to describe what we now know as ‘Rock Street’. The name of ‘Bath Road’ was also used to describe what we now know as Rock Street.
We said it was confusing!
We have superimposed on this plan the house numbers which were adopted in the 1950s to identify each house.
The very poor quality aerial photograph above on the right is only one we have of these houses.
We have found very few deeds for the houses in this section of the town and it is difficult in some of the early census records to identify which family is in which house. Our ‘history’ of the houses and families is therefore less detailed than we would like. It based largely on the memories of some of the older locals, supplemented where possible with census, church and school records.