The North Western was one of four pubs in Wolverton. The publican was Stan Weir. I rarely went into this pub – the Craufurd being my haunt. The last occasion I went inside was a New Years Eve. As I was leaving with my friends someone near the door tried to throw a jacket over my head and aim a punch at me. Fortunately for me he was so drunk that he missed the target and hit someone else, who then retaliated. We left the brawl to develop and I never set foot inside again. I have no idea who my potential antagonist was or what was his motivation.
This building, Number 9, has changed very little in 50 years. The wooden sash windows are still in place upstairs and the shop front plate glass framing remains unchanged. In the 1950s, Number 9 on the left was a Muscutt and Tompkins stationery shop, managed by Mrs Tompkins. On the right, Numbered 9a, the firm of Johnsons, the Estate Agents occupied the premises. They also had offices in Bletchley and, I believe, Stony Stratford.
The Stratford Road was known as “The Front”. And indeed it was the front of the town with the main road running along it and all of the residential and commercial part of the town being behind it. Unlike most other towns which could grow either side of the High Street, Wolverton could not, because the entire length of the Stratford Road was occupied by the Carriage and Waggon Works and McCorquodales, protected (if that is the right word) by a 10’ high brick wall.
The Stratford Road assumed more importance after Cooke Street, Bury Street, Walker Street and Garnett Street had been flattened to make room for works expansion and shops gravitated to Church Street and the Stratford Road. This happened around 1860. Gradually houses expanded westward, the last of the old terraced houses being built in Edwardian times.
I want to explore the shops as they used to be in the mid-1950s. The photo above illustrates how it appeared back then. The road was only busy (mostly with buses) between 7:15 and 7:45 on weekday mornings and again after 5:30pm. Most shopping was done on foot and the odd car might turn up every now and then for fueling at the pump operated by the Grafton Cycle Co. The pump hose was on an arm which coud be swung across the pavement. There were no petrol forecourts in those days.
In 1954 the school decided to abandon the whole-school panorama in favour of class photos. I suppose the Headmaster thought that this plan was less disruptive, although the panorama returned the following year due to popular demand.
Detailed views below
I entered the Grammar School in September 1953. At that age you assume that everything has always been there and it was not until much later that I discovered that it had only become a Grammar School after the Education Act of 1944. Fees were abolished and admission was based upon selection – the notorious 11+. This also meant that everything you needed (apart from a pen) was supplied – exercise books, file paper, drawing pencils (coloured green as I recall), protractor and compass. All this was administered by Mrs Burley, the school secretary, from the Stock Cupboard every Monday.
It seems hard to imagine now but at the beginning of the 20th century Wolverton was the second largest population centre in Buckinghamshire – the largest being High Wycombe. Wolverton then was an obvious place to start when the county tried to address secondary education.