WelcomeHouse HistoriesFrom Chimney Pots to Boot ScrapersFrom Aqueduct to Viaduct



Introduction

A Compact Community

A Catalogue of Victorian and Edwardian Workers' Housing

A Complete Community

Vulnerability to change

Strategic sites in Wolverton of important lost buildings

The significant buildings of Wolverton and associated open spaces:-

Vulnerability to change

Although the fabric and urban form of Wolverton has proved to be fairly robust, its character is nevertheless vulnerable to change. Already there is evidence of where damage has been done and there is a danger of more serious damage being done if a close eye is not kept on developments, all of which should contribute and reinforce the town’s distinctiveness.
1. The houses are relatively small buildings and changes to the materials and design of doors, windows and roofs can have a dramatic effect and result in a loss of character disproportionate to the size of the changes because the town is so compact.
2. There is a failure by some property owners to understand the key materials from which the town was built and the incompatibility of modern materials alongside the traditional - e.g. cement pointing, concrete roof tiles that are heavier than slate, plastic guttering and down pipes, UPVC windows and doors; rendering etc.
3. Traditional materials are relatively more expensive than modern materials and are often more difficult to obtain. Skilled tradespeople can also be difficult to find. It is often easier and cheaper, for example, to completely replace a slate roof with concrete tiles rather than repair it.
4. There have been significant developments that have wilfully ignored the architectural distinctiveness, scale, layout and sense of community of the town and have been built ‘at odds’ with the rest of the town - most notably the Agora that interrupts the street grid and the Gables flats that are of a scale that is disproportionate to the surrounding housing.
5. Echoes of the original plan that help us understand the design concept of Wolverton are in danger of being lost; most notably the two gaps in the housing in Western Road at the ends of Jersey and Anson Roads that reveal how the grid pattern was to be extended. Already one of the gaps (at the top end of Peel Road) has been lost.
6. As shopping habits change an increasing number of the former corner shops are being converted to private dwellings. It is important to retain the evidence of their former use and not allow destruction of the old shop window and fascia in any contemplated changes. Better still to encourage small business to retain the shop frontages and gain specialists uses.
7. Some of the Railway Works buildings have been lost already, including the world’s oldest purpose built railway workshop ( this influenced Brunel’s designs for Swindon works) that made way for Tesco’s car park. Some of the original workshops have been listed, hopefully the rest are now protected by the designation of the conservation area.
8. The other main industry in the town McCorquodale’s print works, has contracted and we have already lost the original factory building with its interesting wall on the North side of Stratford Road, replaced by car showrooms. There are some important buildings on the south side of the street that need to be safeguarded for the future.
9. The back gardens to the terraced houses have been eroded to provide space for the car, with garages and hard standings.
10. The backways are in need of proper restoration. They have been maintained in a haphazard way and many of them have lost their original cobbles and central stone gutters ?. They are important arteries in the town and need to be preserved and enhanced as such.
11. There has been an erosion in the street and paving surfaces. York paving has given way to concrete paving and then to tarmac. Cornish granite and blue brick kerbs have been replaced by concrete.
12. There is an indiscriminate use of concrete tegula paving. Co-ordinated thought should be given to surfaces that make Wolverton distinctive.
13. There has been a loss of allotments ( an important feature of Victorian and Edwardian Wolverton’s leisure) to new housing developments and there will always be a pressure to take more as the town develops in the future.
14. The loss of a mixed development. Wolverton was built as a working town with appropriate facilities provided alongside housing. It is important that in the future development of Wolverton this mix is continued rather than providing suburban estate type development.

Two adjacent houses in Cambridge Street, 'improved' with painted bricks and stone cladding
Two adjacent houses in Cambridge Street, 'improved' with painted bricks and stone cladding
House in Jersey Road that has been modernised unsympathetically
House in Jersey Road that has been modernised unsympathetically
The Agora, Church Street side
The Agora, Church Street side
One of the car showroms that has replaced the original McCorquodale buildings in Stratford Rd
One of the car showroms that has replaced the original McCorquodale buildings in Stratford Rd