The road embankment at Wolverton Station

This photograph taken by Helen Orme in the 1970s, more-or-less from Stonebridge Farm, is a reminder of how this once looked.

You can see the peaked roof of the third station and the large signal box which once controlled traffic through and around the station. In the background is the then recent Gables Tower block.

About a decade before this photo the bridge had been raised further to accommodate the electric power cables so this embankment became even steeper. The road configuration has changed now but at one time the Newport Road started to rise to the left of this picture and made a sharp left hand turn at the junction with the Haversham Road. This hill was entirely artificial.

As you can see from the foreground here the natural slope is fairly gradual. 1t rose to canal level, which is a good bit below the level of the railway line which was not here before 1880. The original railway line went along what is now McConnell Drive, close by the Tesco car park and the access road to the Old Wolverton road was closer to Wolverton Park. There was probably a hump-backed bridge over the canal but even so the slope would have been much more gradual than it is now.

In 1844 a new road was constructed from Wolverton to Stony Stratford and has been since then the main road between Wolverton and Stony Stratford. The old road was no longer supported by the Turnpike Trust and probably deteriorated until roads were taken over by County Councils in 1888. This became the “Old” Wolverton Road.

The LNWR decision to build a  railway bypass so that the Works would not have to straddle an increasingly busy main line, led to the creation of the embankment, a third station (seen here), a second bridge over the Old Wolverton road, and, as a by-product of these decisions, a new sports ground in the field between the two railways. The new line opened in 1881.

Ever since then, people have had to labour up a steep hill to get to Wolverton.

The Case is Altered

The Case is Altered

The Case is Altered is a rare pub name, although it is found in places other than Stony Stratford. Quite why it was ever adopted as a pub name will probably remain a mystery.

The phrase originated with an Elizabethan lawyer, Sir Edmund Plowden, who died before 1585. He was called upon to defend a gentleman who was charged in those sensitive religious times with hearing Mass. This was against the law, but Plowden discovered that his client had been set up and the man conducting the mass was not an ordained priest. therefore he argued, if there was no priest there could be no mass. “The case is altered!” he triumphantly announced and all of Elizabethan England was buzzing with the news. The phrase slipped into the language as a sort of catch phrase and frequently in tavern arguments  a man would assert the rights of his argument by saying, “The case is altered!” It later became the title of a Ben Jonson play, written in 1597. This play is a somewhat haphazard confection of intertwined comic plots and is thought by some critics to be the work of several authors, and has no special bearing on the naming of a pub in Stony Stratford.

Quite why this title should resurface four centuries later as a pub name may not be easily explained. Possibly by this date the phrase had come into general usage as a way of asserting one’s rights in an argument.

The Case is Altered got its first license in 1867, and was one of three that started up along the Wolverton Road at this time. The other two took their names, The Prince of Wales and The Duke of edinburgh from the titles of Queen Victoria’s two eldest sons, Albert and Alfred. The Case is Altered started out with a beer shop license and this seemed to continue for many years as the landlord appears in the trade directories as a “beer retailer”, so I presume it was not licensed for wines and spirits, which may have mattered not at all to its clientele.

The first landlord was John Franklin, a bricklayer by trade, which would suggest that the pub did not provide a full source of income.

It is not clear to me if the Case started out life as two terraced houses knocked into one, or whether that transition took place later. Clearly, from the external appearance, this was built originally as two separate domestic cottages.

The Prince of Wales

This building at 68 Wolverton Road offered clear attractions for the would-be publican. The three storeys provided two floors of domestic living space and a ground floor for a public house. However, the first incumbents, Thomas Gregory and his wife Pamelia, were both, as far as I can tell, childless. In the 1871 Census Thomas is 28 and Pamelia 30. They were still there in 1881 but were gone by 1891 and can’t be traced after that. It is possible that Gregory died and his widow re-married. I suspect, although it is not clear from the census that they sub-let part of the house.
The Prince of Wales ceased to be a pub around the time of WWII and became a private residence. It is now a lock-up shop with separate living accommodation above.

The Duke of Edinburgh

The pub on the corner of King Street is the sole survivor of the Wolverton Road trio, except that it has now been re-named after the Duke of Wellington. As mentioned above it was named for Queen Victoria’s second son and when he died in 1900 the title fell dormant until it was revived in 1947 for the present Duke. In recent years the owners must have decided that the former Duke of Edinburgh was completely unknown to the drinking public and thought that the Duke of Wellington was a more recognizable name from the 19th century. I don’t know how important that distinction is.
The first landlord, like John Franklin at the Case is Altered, had another trade. William H Cowley was a mason. A decade later, the new landlord was Walter Sykes, who doubled as a commercial traveller. Unlike the other two premises on the Wolverton Road, the Duke of Edinburgh had a full public house license from the very beginning.