Presentation on theme: "Turnpikes, Trade and Theatricals. Many of Cirencester’s houses were built, or improved, by prosperous townspeople in the eighteenth century. Look at these."— Presentation transcript:
Many of Cirencester’s houses were built, or improved, by prosperous townspeople in the eighteenth century. Look at these examples. Do you know where they can be found in the town? See if you can list some of the Georgian characteristics. How many other examples can you spot on a town walk?
So where does Cirencester fit in? Cirencester was a thriving Victorian market town. Its population increased dramatically and for some time there was a shortage of housing. Many townspeople had poor and unsanitary living conditions. In 1880 the Cirencester Improvement Dwelling Company was formed, and from then many of the Victorian red- brick terraces we see today started to appear, and the larger stone villas. Victoria Road was first known as New Road and was one of the first areas of development. It was then named after the Queen. The town had two stations, one in Watermoor (the railway embankment for that line forms the edge of Cirencester Primary School field) and the other, still to be seen, at the bottom of Tetbury Rd. That Great Western Railway building was designed by the famous Victorian engineer I.K. Brunel.
Education opportunities grew as the town did. There were a range of schools, but mostly private. The Blue and Yellow schools were joined to make Powell’s School in 1876; the boys’ Grammar School (which produced Edward Jenner, the discoverer of vaccination) was struggling to get by, until the decision was made to fund it as the Upper School in a brand new building in Victoria Rd. A girls school followed and eventually joined with it, named once more as the Grammar School and offering some free scholarship places. For the younger children, to comply with the new law, the Cirencester Board Schools, separately run for Boys, Girls and Mixed Infants were opened in Lewis Lane. These were renamed the Council Schools and were the foundation of today’s Cirencester Primary School.
The lack of free secondary education for most adults was the same here as across the country, and this led to the interest in self-help, self-improvement and healthy sports and cycling. The Corn Hall, built to provide a sheltered market area, was also used for lectures, concerts, public meetings and entertainment. It housed a School of Art and a Reading Room and Library. Societies in the town included Agricultural, Horticultural, Temperance, Microscopical and Naturalist, Choral, Cirencester District Teachers, Bible, Cirencester Cricket Club and the Swimming Baths Company Ltd. Wealthy locals were in the forefront of founding the unique Royal Agricultural College. After the turn of the century the town then benefited from the wealth of Daniel Bingham, with an new Library and the impressive Bingham Hall.
In the 19 th century new drainage and water pipes exposed Roman remains. The town’s interest in local history led to the provision of the first town museums - by the Bathurst family in Tetbury Road and the Cripps family in Thomas St...
... and local historians and ‘antiquarians’ wrote books and pamphlets that educated people at the time - and now give us an interesting glimpse into the recent past of the town.
So where does Cirencester fit in? Positioned in the countryside away from bombing targets, but linked to the rest of the country by good roads and two railway lines, Cirencester was a perfect place to send injured troops, or for training and preparations, during WW1 and WW2. In WW1 the Bingham Hall was made into a Red Cross Hospital, and in WW2 became the home of a succession of military units.
The people of Cirencester were as involved in the War Effort as anywhere else. The War Memorials in the town record those who lost their lives, and The Living Memory Historical Association has preserved an Air Raid shelter and has a website and publications with lots of detail of how the town survived difficult times. Those left to keep daily life going, while their loved ones were ‘at the front’, coped with the rationing of food, the constant recycling for industry and the shortage of basic supplies. When The Blitz began, local families opened their homes to evacuees from the bombing; whole schools moved in from London to share school and public buildings. The local town stations saw the arrival of people from all over the world. The US established huge temporary military bases in Britain and Cirencester Park became home to the 188 th and 192 nd General Hospitals. A company of New Zealand Forestry Engineers were diverted to the town after Dunkirk, and remained to process the Park’s valuable timber and support the local Home Guard. You read on while I keep watch... PUT THAT LIGHT OUT!
Bibliography The History of the Town of Cirencester, in Two Parts Samuel Rudder, 1800 History of Cirencester KJ Beecham, 1887 A History of Cirencester W St C Baddeley, 1924 Cirencester, A Series of Illustrations AF Kersting and RLP Jowitt, 1951 The Cotswolds in the Civil War RW Jennings, 1976 Cirencester As It Was D J Viner, 1976 Little Eden E Figes, 1978 Street Names of Cirencester R Tomkins, 1987 Cirencester, A History and Guide J Welsford, 1987 Cirencester in the 30s and 40s J Welsford and P Grace, 1990 Theatre in The Cotswolds A Denning, 1993 Cirencester: Town and Landscape T Darvill and C Gerrard, 1994 Cirencester at War P Grace, 2005 The Little Iron Age Skills Book W Llawerch 2006 Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society published since 1886 Prehistoric Gloucestershire T Darvill, second edition 2011