We have always referred to the houses shown in the above photograph as ‘The Houses opposite the Grammar School’ although since the early 1950s they have more officially been known as 19 – 31 Gloucester Road. They were also given house names (see below). Click on the links below to read the history of the individual houses.
- Glenthorne – 13 Gloucester Road
- Heathview – 15 Gloucester Road
- Fernleigh – 17 Gloucester Road
- Nesdale – 19 Gloucester Road
- Glyndwr – 21 Gloucester Road
- Coombe Dale – 23 Gloucester Road
- Devonia – 25 Gloucester Road
- Holmleigh 27 Gloucester Road
- Greystones – 29 Gloucester Road
- Alresford – 31 Gloucester Road
Each of the first four houses has its name inscribed in the concrete above a window and the names are still clearly visible today. Those names must have been chosen by the developers, Tucker Brothers. The others were not inscribed in the same way and we have deduced their names from other sources such as electoral records and baptism records. These names may have only been used temporarily by the occupants of the house at that time. Two of the names (for 29 and 31) are partially visible, painted on the front gate posts. This might suggest that the other houses had their names painted in the same way.
On 13th July 1895 the Governors of Thornbury Grammar School met to consider an offer from Messrs Tucker Bros to take four plots of land in Gloucester Road on “fee farm rents”.
It was some considerable time later that the two pairs of houses were built by Frank and George Tucker. We don’t know exactly when they were built. The owner of one of the properties (number 15 Heathview) once told us that her deeds went back to 1907. We know that the first house, Glenthorne, was occupied by January 1908 because the Gazette of January 25th 1908 reported on the wedding of Helen Burchell and Robert George Daw. Their wedding reception was held at the home of Frederick Henry Burchell, the bride’s brother. The house was specifically described as ‘Glenthorne’.
However not all the houses that the Tuckers built were finished and occupied by this time. Another newspaper report on February 15th 1908 reported on the theft of tools owned by Tucker Bros and two other builders Herbert Liddiatt and Joseph Davis whilst they were finishing one of the other three houses in Gloucester Road.
The next two houses (21 and 23 Gloucester Road) were constructed by William Valentine Davis and his brother Charley Davis. They submitted their planning application for these houses in 1910. In 1913 plans had been approved to build at the rear of the houses an extension with toilet and bathroom with a tank on each extension roof to catch the rainwater from the main roof.
Charley Burchell has given his family a very detailed account of the building of theses houses and he says;
“My brother Bill went to a sale and bought a piece of land in Gloucester Road from the Burchell family to build some houses. Time after time the plans were rejected so in the end we went to see Mr Harold, Chairman of the Board, who finally passed the plans. We cleared out all the muck as it was a disused Quarry. We started building the first two houses in 1911. The stone was dug at Baden Hill and we dressed it ourselves. I made the windows out of Thornbury gravel and cement and it was the first piece of reconstructed stone done in the district. The gravel was dug from the land on the opposite side of the road where the canteen now stands at the Grammar School.” (note the canteen was later demolished when a cluster of houses at Castle Combe were built). “We had a job to let the houses at £15 a year, but eventually let them to Mr Thompson the schoolmaster and my brother Bill and his wife Alice.”
We have been told by a family member that William and Charley worked as builders and were often out of work at this time. They used the time when they were unemployed to build the two houses which are now known as 21 and 23 Gloucester Road
In 1913 the Davis brothers obviously already had plans to build further houses in the row at a later date. The two thumbnail photographs below show that the wall on northern end of number 23 was built with the fireplaces and chimney breast and protruding bricks to facilitate the erection of the next house. Click on the photos to see a larger image.
There was a delay of several years in the Davis brothers pursuing their plan, perhaps caused by the intervention of the First World War. In 1920 the brothers submitted plans for a further two houses (numbers 25 and 27). The plans indicated that they anticipated two more being added at a later date. We are not actually sure when the houses were built but they were there and occupied by the time of the 1925 Valuation List and 1925 Electoral Register.
William Davis died in 1922 so the work of building the last two houses fell to Charley. Again we are not sure when these houses were built but the earliest occupants we can identify appeared in the 1935 electoral register.
It is interesting to note that when the Davis brothers built their houses they were told they wouldn’t find any tenants who wanted to live that far out of Thornbury. Charley had an interesting business plan to target professional men as his tenants. From our knowledge of the people we know to have lived in the houses he was successful in this aim.
It is also interesting to see that the rear gardens of the six houses (nos 21 – 31) are at a lot lower level than the other four houses and those gardens fall steeply from the Church Road to the basement level of the houses. We believe that they were built in the gravel pits which were in this area back in the 1800’s