In the past St John Street was one of the four arterial roads linking Thornbury to the outside world. It ran from the centre of the town at The Plain to the road leading to Grovesend through Gillingstool. The name of John Street seems to be used frequently in the older records we have seen. Others changes have taken place over the years which led to the eastern part of the street being re-named Pullins Green and more recently the major re-development of the town centre has turned the street into two separate cul-de-sacs. The street was also referred to as ‘Back Street’ in many of the earlier records, thus adding to the confusion as this name was also used for St Mary Street and Rock Street.
The street seems to have got its name from a cross called St John’s Cross which stood somewhere at the far end of the street. An indenture of 1824, for example, refers to “a street or highway leading from Bells Cross or The Plain aforesaid to Saint Johns Cross and commonly called Saint John Street”. It is not clear exactly where St John’s Cross is but it sounds as though it should be in Pullins Green or the top of Gillingstool.
We have been told that St John’s Cross and Bell’s Cross were likely to be examples of standing crosses used as meeting places for preachers. Many of these crosses would have been removed at the time of the Reformation in the sixteen and seventeenth centuries.
In researching the history of the area we have also faced the usual problem of house numbering. There was no such thing in the old days. The full house numbering system was not introduced until about 1953.
In the late 1970’s the road was made into a cul-de-sac when it was closed at the junction shown in the above photo. This was done as part of the re-development of the south side of the street. This involved the demolition of a few houses (numbers 6 and 8), the bakery at number 4 and the old Quaker Meeting Hall to enable the Quaker Court elderly persons accommodation to be built.
We have also included ‘The Georgian House’, otherwise known as number 6 The Plain, in St John Street for the purposes of this website. At various times in the past the house has also been listed under both Gloucester Road and St John Street, and we thought it should go under St John Street because of its historical links to the houses now known as 1A, 1 and 3 St John Street.