Selkirk Street

8 02 2008


Photos taken December 2003

Selkirk Street is typical of Cheltenham’s piecemeal development in the mid-19th century, with lots of different styles and designs of houses all sandwiched together into long terraces. The first houses were probably built around 1839 or 1840 by Edward Cope, and the rest of the street was filled in by the 1890s. As was the norm at that time, some of the groups of houses had their own names, such as Selkirk Terrace, Rye Villas, Torquay Villas and Cottage Villas.

Merrett’s 1834 map of Cheltenham shows a timber yard and a big open field where Selkirk Street now stands. Nearby Portland Square and Albert Place had already been built, but everything to the east was undeveloped farmland. Albert Place was originally meant to be part of Portland Square, an ambitious project started in the 1820s by Winchcombe-born builder Joseph Hughes. However there was a major credit crunch in 1825 and Hughes went bankrupt before he had completed his scheme. Consequently there was a gap between present day numbers 30 and 32 Albert Place where two of Hughes’ building plots remained undeveloped. They were sold off in 1828 to another builder, John Darby. Instead of developing the plots, Darby used them to make a rough access road to his timber yard, where in 1833 he built Kensington Villa along with some workshops and stables. The villa still survives, albeit without its outbuildings. It was this short entrance road into the timber yard that soon afterwards became the west end of Selkirk Street.

The name, however, predates the street. At the top end of the field was a large house called Selkirk Villa, which has long since disappeared. It stood approximately on the site of what is now Selkirk Close, and was licensed as a place of worship for a short while (around 1817) when a dissenting minister lived there. Although the house is long gone, its name has survived in various nearby places. The street now known as Back Albert Place was originally called Selkirk Road. There were also groups of houses in Prestbury Road called Selkirk Parade and Selkirk Place.


These days Selkirk Street is a very nice residential area and the houses are expensive. But parked cars are a bit of a problem. The houses have small front gardens and basements but no off-road parking.



8 responses

17 08 2009
Valerie Sweet

Amazing. I have been looking for Colombia House/Place for 13 years and in 5 mins found so much. Thanks. This was my ancestors home and business address. I have visited Cheltenham many times now wil have to come again. How exciting.

14 09 2009

Thank you Valerie, I’m glad you found it useful! I have since taken a couple more pictures which I will add to the article when I get a moment. Incidentally, there is a beautiful old building with an original 19th century shopfront right next door to Columbia Place which goes by the name of Columbia House – I don’t know if this is the one you are looking for? It has “Morris Fishmonger & Poulterer” inscribed across the frontage … although it hasn’t been a fishmonger’s for a long time!

7 11 2009
Valerie Sweet

Isn’t this wonderful feels like a Xmas present. Thank you to the good people of this site. Emily Phillips married Daniel Hawkins and they lived in Colombia House from 1870. He was an architect with office at 1 North Place. My great grand mother Maria Phillips was brought up here by her aunt Emily though I have never been able to discover her father or what happened to her mother Ann Phillips (born 1821 Tirley). The rest of the family had bookshops and a circulating library 1821 21 Albert Place. Charles Webb married Matilda Campbell 1820 and I have not been able get back on their line. They had Anne Webb who married Llewellyn Bruton who had Charles Llewellyn Bruton who married Maria having my grandmother Edith Annie Bruton. The info from this site is another lovely piece of the jigsaw. Thanks again

16 07 2012
Brian Wright

Interesting article about Selkirk Street. My grandparents and father used to live in Kensington Villa from 1965, moving there from Trafalgar House in St Margarets Road and in the mid 1980’s I too lived there. It belonged to Whitbread for whom my grandfather worked, until being sold by them after his death. Brilliant to find out a little bit about its history all these years later.

22 02 2014
Lynda White

I used to live at 1 Selkirk Street (Kensington Villa). Prior to that I lived at Trafalgar House, in St Margarets Road, opposite the Black & White Coach Station. I would dearly love to find a photo of Trafalgar House if anyone has one. Brian Wright is my nephew.

28 05 2014
Valerie Wakefield

Have been and taken photo of Columbia House now hairdressers this was the one the family lived in for years. Went to Holst museum and looking out of bedroom he was born in can see back of house. Whilst there I went to museum and saw painting of my Somerset ancestor Joseph Horlor in gallery

19 07 2014
Valerie Wakefield

I have visited Columbia House (paternal ancestors home) and taken photos and visited Holst museum and also new C
heltenham museum that has a painting in the art gallery by Joseph Horlor a ancestor on my maternal side

27 05 2020
Miranda Tarren

It may be a coincidence but our auntie Patricia Tarren (nee Hawkins) lived in Selikirk Street circa 1960’s returning there after our Uncle Brian passed away about 2001. Pat lived with her mother Joyce Hawkins who was a popular lady in Fairview, and well known for riding her push bike everywhere. I think Joyce was in her late 70’s when she passed. Our cousin Steve Tarren still lives in the same house in Selkirk Street.

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