The Lost Streets of Wolverton

I’ve just put together a plan of the original settlement of Wolverton north of the Stratford Road. Garnet Street, Cooke Street, Walker Street and parts of Bury Street surived for just about a decade when they were demolished to make way for workshop expansion.

Gas Stret and parts of Bury Street survived until the 1890s.
This information has been compiled from a close study of the 1851 census. The 1841 census has not been much help in this regard as no addresses were recorded. This data has been checked against the 1861 and 1871 censuses.


Garnet Street

Garnet Street was one of Wolverton Station’s first new streets. It was a short terrace of six cottages only, facing the railway line to the north of the locomotive works. The cottages, which were probably two up and two down, were numbered 342,343,344,345,346,and 347. Little is known about this row but it is reasonable to suppose that they were in no way different from the other cottages of the period. Brick built, with small windows and low ceilings, they were probably built cheaply and fast and provided adequate shelter for workers, but not, in those days, for their families. The railway line was complete for traffic in 1838 and the workers who came to this new town of Wolverton were young, single and transient.
The census of 1841 does not record street names or numbers so it is difficult to guess who the inhabitants were; however, the 1851 Census is more detailed. The comunity is now more settled and families are beginning to arrive. Unfortunately, Garnet Street, along with the neighbouring Cooke Street and Walker Street, were demolished in 1860 – some 40 houses. The houses lasted 20 years. In consequence there is only one snapshot of the people who lived in these houses – the 1851 Census.
At Number 342, probably at the end of terrace by the canal is Emmanuel and Susannah Eaton and their five children. Emmanuel was an Engine Driver and therefore on a good wage. He probably had no need to take in lodgers which was a feature of many of these residences. Josiah and Sarah Kingston lived next door. Josiah was a Bradford born mechanic and his wife was born in Manchester – an illustration of how mobile the railways and industrialization had made people. There are two teenage daughters at home working as dressmakers. possibly there had been older children who had left home. The third house was inhabited by the William Packing (at least that appears to be the name) family. He was Brighton born but his wife and children were born in Stony Startford so given the age of his eldest child – 10 – one can infer that Packing, a bricklayer, arrived during the first building boom.
Robert Alger and his wife and two small children lived at 345. he was a pointsman and presumably his work was to manually switch over the points. At this period railway jobs were emerging. The signalman, operating his levers in a strategically placed box had yet to develop. The men who were called policemen had signalling duties. Sometimes this included switching the points and walking the line, but they were the ones who took responsibility for siganlling with flags and clearing the line of stray humans and animals. The Alger family were in their twenties and took on two lodgers, both labourers. If the house had two bedrooms the lodgers I assume shared one room and the family the other. Again this family illustrate mid-century population movement. Robert Alger was born in Islington, his wife Charlotte in Portsmeouth. his first daughter in Lambeth and the second. only a year old in Wolverton.
A single family, William Quicly, an Engine Fitter, and hiswife and children lived next door. They hailed from Staffordshire.
        Samuel Dawes, who lived at the end of terrace was born in Gibraltar in 1818, possibly the son of a soldier stationed there after the Napoleonic war. His wife Mary was 12 years older. They had one 9 year old daughter who was born in Woolwich so one suspects that Dawes himself might have been a soldier, stationed at the Woolwich arsenal. He was now employed as an Engine Fitter. They also have two young lodgers in their twenties, both employed as Turners (Lathe operators).