Tanners Lane

8 11 2009


Tanners Lane is one of those places which has been around for centuries but you could live in Cheltenham all your life and never know of its existence. Partly because it’s far enough out of town to be off the edge of most older maps, but also because there’s practically nothing there. It does, however, have a history.

Imagine, if you will, a time when Hester’s Way was just fields around a farmhouse and Princess Elizabeth Way was completely non-existent. Arle was a self-contained village distinctly separate from Cheltenham. A few yards to the south of the village, Alstone Lane led westward from the hamlet of Alstone, but as the area was just open fields it didn’t go anywhere in particular, just fizzled out into an unmade footpath, eventually joining up with Village Road just below the village of Arle. This section of footpath was called Tanners Lane.

The name goes back to at least 1776 when it was marked on an enclosure map as Tanhouse Lane. Which suggests it was probably named after the local tanning industry which was quite big in Alstone, having its heyday during the 17th century.

In the 1930s, when Brooklyn Road was developed, most of the footpath was built up and formalised into what is now Orchard Way. The big change however came in 1951, when Princess Elizabeth Way sheered the village of Arle in half down the middle, and the development of the Hester’s Way housing estate began on a large scale. The (undeveloped) western end of Orchard Way was sliced off, and retained its original name of Tanners Lane.

Here’s what the area looked like in the 1920s, before PE Way and before the housing estates.


1927 map. It’s not easy to equate this with the present road layout because it has drastically changed. Village Road is the vertical one running down past the left hand side of Arle village – it’s now hemmed in by residential streets, but here it was very isolated and rural. Alstone Lane goes as far as Brooklyn Road (as it still does today) and then turns into a footpath as far as Village Road. This footpath was originally Tanners Lane. The whole area shown on this map is now densely built up. PE Way now slices right through the village of Arle and cuts through both the footpaths shown here.

It also slices through Arle Road, which originally went right through Arle village but is now a dead end where it meets PE Way. The dogleg curve shown on this map is still there, but is now a cul-de-sac, and Arle Road’s former western end is now Kingsmead Road. The brook shown here running from east to west across the lower part of the map is a tributory of the River Chelt – it is now almost entirely culverted and built over.

Tanners Lane

The junction where Orchard Way (foreground) is cut off from Tanners Lane (where the bollards are) by Princess Elizabeth Way. Originally the ancient line of this road just carried on uninterrupted to where those three terraced cottages are, where it then joins up with Village Road. If you’re at all familiar with this stretch of road you can probably guess how long I had to stand here to get a picture without any cars in it.

So Tanners Lane, once a footpath across the fields, is now a strangely misplaced relic, a stump separated from its original course, and isolated in what otherwise appears to be a modern housing estate. It still isn’t much more than a footpath as it isn’t properly surfaced, and it only has a couple of houses on one side … the other side butting up against the wall of a 1960s church. This cottage (which looks to me like a modern one in Victorian style) is about all there is to see in the lane.


Elmhurst Cottage

Although Hester’s Way is synonymous with a housing estate begun in the early 1950s, the name goes back a lot further than this. It was originally an enclosure name for an area of fields which included a farm, known as Hester’s Way since the early 1800s but going back to at least 1714 when it was known as Hayster’s Way. There was a plan to develop a ‘beautiful’ housing scheme there as far back as the 1860s, and a few preliminary roads were laid down, but nothing came of it and the fields remained untouched for the best part of the next century.

Many of the old cottages of Arle village were demolished under compulsory purchase orders when the estate was built, but there are a few incongruous survivors. Including Tanner’s Cottages, a terrace of three small 19th century houses, with a smaller but very pretty adjoining one called Box Cottage, which front onto Village Road at the corner of Tanners Lane, all with long front gardens. Presumably the cottages were named after the lane, but it’s also been noted that there was a Tanner family living in the area in the early 19th century.


Tanner’s Cottages, a Victorian oasis left intact among the post-war estates.

Tanners Lane also lends its name to a nearby residential development off Orchard Way, called Tanner’s Road (spelt with an apostrophe) which dates from around 1939.



8 responses

24 05 2010
barb woodham

Love your site, photos, maps and information make me feel like I know the place.
Am particularly interested in your information on Casino House, do you have a reference re William Childe having the school in Casino House?

28 11 2010
Catherine Shawcross

Hi, it was nice to see my house, Tanners Cottages, on this site and read the relating information! Elmhurst Cottage at the top of the Lane is an original Victorian House, I believe owned by the Booths. There was a Tannery in Tanners Cottages back garden which once owned the land up to the culvert on Hesters Way Road.The cottages date back to the 1840’s. It would be great if anyone had any information about Tanners Cottages that could be passed on to me!

28 11 2010

Wow, that’s really useful information Catherine, thank you! I knew there must have been a tannery somewhere in the area but didn’t know it was actually behind the cottages. It does make sense though. If I come across any more information about the cottages I’ll pass it on.

10 02 2012
Erica Price

It’s a bit off topic, but thought this plaque that West Midlands police have found may be of interested to anyone interested to Arle and the Welch family.

30 07 2014

Is Box Cottage in the photo? I am interested in the Booths who used to live there.

16 05 2016

The 1960s church was called St Thomas More’s Catholic Church but it was demolished in about 2014.
The parish hall was then converted so that services could still be held there.

2 04 2017
Ann Wallace

Have just discovered your webpages. Very interesting. Thank you. I used to live in Orchard Avenue and I’m sure it was the Booth’s cottage that I went to because they had two ponies that I loved to groom and sometimes ride. My parents knew nothing about the world of horses so visits to the Booths were wonderful for me and I could easily walk there from my house in the early mid to late 1950s.. I’m not sure how welcome I was but they tolerated me. Anything to be near horses.

17 01 2022
Graham Wilks

Catherine. When I lived in Village Road in the 1950s I recall one of the Tanners Cottages (possibly the middle one) being a small shop run by two elderly (to me anyway) ladies. They sold sweets and and it was a favourite destination to spend my pocket money on sherbet fountains, liquorice sticks, penny chews, etc.

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