The Market Square

The only break in the north-south/east-west grid system of streets in 20th century Wolverton was the so-called Market Square. If there was ever a market held here its existence must have been very brief. There was a covered market hall on Glyn Square, but that burned down and the old school on creed Street became the venue for the Friday market until the Agora complex was constructed from the razing of parts of Church Street and Buckingham Street.

The Market Square was (is) bounded by Buckingham and Aylesbury Streets and Radcliffe Street on the east side. The inner quadrangle was dressed up with shrubbery and trees and provided benches for seating. At the south end a cenotaph was installed after the 1914-1918 war and fenced off. The configuration is not much different today except that the orginal cenotaph has been replaced with a polished granite version. Missing also is the old Congregational Church which dominated one side of the square for about 80 years.
Addresses at the Square start to appear in the 1891 census. In 1881 there is only Buckingham Street and Aylesbury Street, and of course Radcliffe Street, so I am wondering whether some houses were demolished in Buckingham and Aylesbury Streets to create the Square? Perhaps it was the intention to host the weekly market there. All the streets to the north of the Stratford Road had been demolished. Oxford Street, Cambridge Street and Green lane were developing, so this new square, far from being on the edge of town, was becoming its centre. If it was ever used as a market, its prime was short-lived.

Street numbering

I hadn’t realized until I tried to track back the history of some of the shops that the house-numbering system of the 19th century was somewhat different to what we were used to in the 20th. The convention, still used today, was that streets were numbered odd on the left hand side and even on the right, except for the Stratford Road which was numbered consecutively on one side, for an obvious reason. This convention is established by the 1901 census.

However, the 1891 Census numbers the Stratford Road from 1 in the west, so that house number 44, then at the edge of town, becomes number 1, moving upwards as the houses move eastwards. The system of numbering the little streets appears to date from the early days of the town where each house was assigned a number by the L&NWR regardless of which street it was on, so there is a 610 Ledsam Street and a 612 Creed Street; other houses in Ledsam Street are numbered in the 500s and 400s. If you go back to the early censuses you can find houses in the earlier  Garnet and Walker Streets numbered in lower hundreds.