As its name suggests, Gloucester Road is the main road leading out of Thornbury to Gloucester.  In the photograph above Gloucester Road runs from the top right hand corner of the photograph (by the Royal George on The Plain) to the left hand edge.  The photograph could have been taken in the 1950s because the terrace of houses on the West side of Gloucester Road (in the centre of the photograph facing away from the camera were demolished in the early 1960s.  Other interesting features to look for in this photograph include, the structure in front of The Georgian House on The Plain which was then a shop but has since been demolished and a very large building towards the top end of Gloucester Road which was the Old Mill but which rather spectacularly burned down.   This latter building had a large yard behind it which was part of Thornbury Transport Company in the 1950s.  Next to the yard in the top left hand corner of the photograph is The Saw Mill

Early history

Until well into the nineteenth century, Gloucester Road was classified as the main turnpike road for the use of horse drawn coaches between Bristol and Gloucester.  It was however a mere lane and until the 1830s there were only a handful of houses built alongside the road between The Plain in Thornbury and Morton.

For a long time there was no official name for the street.  Early Thornbury records show the name of ‘Collestreete’, or ‘Colestreet Lane’ in the 17th Century.  We don’t know the origin of the name, but we note that an indenture dated 3rd November 1688 refers to a property on St Mary Street as ‘ extending from the said messuage forwards to the one backstreet there leading from Collins Street Lane towards a place there called Gillingstool backwards‘.  This might suggest that the name was associated with the Collins family.

In the census records of the 1800s, the road had assumed the name of Colwell Street Lane, sometimes called Colewell Street Road, although reference is made that it was also known as  ‘Collesters Lane’.  We assume that the name of Colwell Street Lane derived from the fact that it was lane leading off Colwell Street which was the old name of The Plain. The junction between The Plain and St John Street was known as ‘Bells Cross’ and the 1841 census shows ‘The Royal George’ was then known as ‘The Boars Head’ and this name continued in use until 1875.

It is worth noting that the original line of the road may have passed between the Boars Head (or Royal George) and the property now known as 8 The Plain.  We have no evidence to support this theory, although we note that in George Rolph‘s will dated 1793 there is a reference to a plot of ground having been taken from his property at the top of Gloucester Road ‘into the highway‘.

Click here to see an extract of the 1840 Tithe Map showing the buildings which existed in that time with details of the occupants.

The Thornbury Roots website was created initially t