Queen’s Road

13 11 2008

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Photos taken October and November 2008

Without wanting to offend anyone who lives there, I think it’s fair to say that Queen’s Road is a “mixed” area. Its slow piecemeal development over a century and a half have left it with a very eclectic mix of architechture, from lush villa to bland flat, along with (for a bit of contrast) a railway station. The road is also sliced off at the end by the now disused Great Western Railway line to Honeybourne, which it passes over on a bridge.

Queen’s Road owes its present form to Cheltenham Railway Station, which began life in 1840 as Lansdown Station. The Birmingham & Glos. Railway company made the road as a grand approach road to the station from the Lansdown estate, laid out with appropriate glamour and taste. It took on its residential form at the same time the station was built. It wasn’t entirely new however. The road was initially formed in the early 1800s as a railroad for horse-drawn trams, going up to the quarries on Leckhampton Hill and bringing building stone into the town. The tram road was an important route in the Regency period and the section which linked up Westal Green with the lower end of Gloucester Road was what became Queen’s Road. The fact that Victoria had been crowned a couple of years previously may have had something to do with the name.

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Osborne Villas were among the earliest houses in the street, in existence by 1853 at the Lansdown Road end. Much of the rest of the land failed to find a buyer for several decades. A large chunk on both sides of the road became the home of Cypher’s Exotic Nursery in 1868. A few years later in 1878 “several pretty villas” began to be put up on the north side of the road. More building followed in the 1880s, including Midland Terrace and Queen’s Villas near the station and Queen’s Buildings.

The gable on this cottage bears its date in art nouveau. This building was formerly a post office. Now it’s a chip shop.

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The residential roads off Queen’s Road are mostly later. Kensington Avenue and Glencairn Park Road didn’t exist until about 1900, when they were carved through land which was still heaped up with earth from the digging of the railway cuttings. Across the road, Eldorado Road was started a few years earlier, in 1894.

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There are a lot of very lovely turn-of-the-century villas in the road. The example above is Rose View, presumably so named because it looked out over Cypher’s Nursery at front and back. The nursery originally occupied five acres of land. It was founded by James Cypher and specialised in exotics, growing fancy flowers in its extensive village of glasshouses and exporting them all over the world. The 1881 census lists James Cypher as a “Master Nurseryman Employ’g 17 men & 9 Boys” and living in Queen’s Road.  The firm thrived for nearly a century but went out of business some time around 1960 and the land was sold off. The north side got a sensitive development of quirky houses but the south side got Queen’s Court, an extensive area of medium-rise flats built in 1964, followed by the 1970s Skillicorne Mews. This map from 1927 marks out Cypher’s Nursery.

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Other interesting residents in the 1881 census include John Drury, an Irish “Clergyman Without Cure Of Souls” (i.e. without his own parish), Joseph Bendall the Railway Station Master, and a Retired Pork Butcher living in Hope Villa.

The eastern end of Queen’s Road is adorned with the grandest villas, with this one below probably the finest of all. Scroll back up and compare it with the cottages in the top picture!

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