Magdalen Road at night

Magdalen Road at night
December 2010

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Magdalen Road Christmas Fair 2012

On Saturday December 1st, Magdalen Road (also known as "St Leonard's Village") was closed to traffic for a Christmas Fair.  Here are some pictures from that event.

All photographs are copyright (under Creative Commons) David Smith.

Rides for children outside the pharmacy

Stalls on one side of the large marquee

Outside the delicatessen

Maxine in a festive hat outside the Village Bakery

The pavement was crowded

As dusk fell the lights illuminated shoppers and stalls

Bunting and bright lights

One of several shops which opened up on the pavement outside their premises

Food outside the Cafe Magdalen

More food outside Bon Gout delicatessen

Musical entertainment

More of the big marquee

The police put in an appearance

Exeter Brewery was a busy stall - so I snatched this picture in a quiet moment

A slight gap in the crowds allowed this picture to show the marquee

The eastern end of the marquee

Lights from the children's roundabout reflected in the window of Gibsons Plaice, which avoided the glare of bright street-lights

Bright lights on the "Teacup" ride

Friday, 23 November 2012

Have you looked at glass, and other things?

Three years ago, I started to write this column for Neighbourhood News.  I expected to write six articles, enough for one year.  Three years later, this (eighteenth) article is about a selection of little things that didn’t fit into an individual article.  In some cases, there are more questions than answers!

We’ll start with glass and windows.  Every house has windows.  Most businesses do, although some of the warehouses on our industrial estates lack natural light.  Around St Leonard’s there are windows of various shapes. Some are square and some rectangular, others are circular and there are other curved outlines.  Within those shapes, the panes vary as well.  Apart from picture windows with no panes, most windows have their panes divided into rectangles.  But the fancier shapes demand fancier patterns for the panes, and in several of our local streets, there are ornate fanlights, divided by ironwork.  So, look out for the variety of shapes that can be seen around us.

We have a few local buildings with coloured glass.  The companies who supply glazed doors these days offer a range of standard coloured glass panels.  In earlier generations there was more variety.  During the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century, many houses were built with coloured glass above or around the front door, and there are plenty of examples around the neighbourhood.  Houses of that era sometimes have a fixed window with tinted glass, often with a rough surface making it translucent. 

Businesses – and a few homes – have patterns etched on the glass to make a decorative feature.  Look at the windows next time you walk through the village to see the variety of decorations and labels there are.

Most of the stained glass in St Leonard’s church dates from the time of its construction in the 1870s. 

Earlier in the series, I wrote about chimneys in the neighbourhood.  There is an ornate chimney pot on Trews Wear Court which I hadn’t noticed when I wrote earlier.  There are fireplaces in two of the first floor reception rooms of County Hall, but I wonder whether they have ever been used.  Does anyone know?  On the other hand, as I noted earlier, Bellair does not have any chimneys, because they were in the wings of the house which have been demolished.  (Incidentally, I have met people who did not realise that the grounds of County Hall were open to the public – do use this pleasant open space on our doorstep!)  There are a few local houses where the brickwork of the top of the chimney is turned through 45 degrees relative to the house walls; does this have any significance other than an architect’s whimsy?

After I wrote about balconies someone asked me whether there was a male counterpart for a Juliet Balcony; perhaps Romeo has a patio?  Sadly, there is no such item, but there is a town of Romeo in the United States, and there are suppliers of builders’ material in the town.  So, if anyone is travelling in that area, perhaps they could buy a ladder from the store, to help Juliet on her balcony?

I grew up in a country village, and many of the older timber-framed cottages had tie bars across them with the characteristic iron plates showing on the wall.  They are somewhat scarcer in cities, but there are two tie bar plates to be found in Lansdowne Terrace.  Two houses at the east end of Magdalen Road also have tie bars; for one, the plates are painted to match the wall.  There are others in various places.  But for a really good selection of tie-bar plates, look at the house in Southernhay East, visible from the northern entrance to the offices with a dozen plates.

I have had five questions about stone.  (1) Does anyone know what kind of stone was used for the house at Mount Radford?  The pub sign shows a stone-faced building, but what stone was used, and where did it come from.  (2) And what happened to the stone when it was demolished?  (3) The front garden walls of the terrace in Barnfield Road appear to be made of a hard limestone; does anyone know where the stone came from?  (Is it Beer stone?  Or Bath stone?  Also the facades are stone; are these houses of stone construction?)  In Colleton Hill, the paving slabs are made of a stone which is definitely not granite.  (4) Does anyone know where the stone came from?  Finally, there are a few gardens whose front paths are lined with large flinty rocks.  I suspect that this has come from East Devon.  (5) Did someone bring a load of these rocks to Exeter to decorate gardens?

From the Neighbourhood News, Nov-Dec 2012

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Have you ever looked at … Horse Chestnut trees in St Leonard’s?

There are several horse chestnut trees around St Leonard’s, with a few fine specimens overhanging Matford Lane from the grounds of County Hall.  They are trees which make their presence felt at this time of year, when the conkers start falling, and children start collecting them to play with.  (Despite rumours, it is not necessary to wear goggles for games of conkers!) 

We are also aware of horse chestnut trees in the spring, when their “Roman candle” flowers make a splash of colour. 

Something odd has happened to our horse chestnut trees in the last ten years.  The leaves are turning brown earlier in the autumn, and the fallen leaves are shrivelled.  The trees are being attacked by a moth, the horse chestnut leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella).  Its tiny caterpillar (a little smaller than a grain of rice) is responsible for the damage.  The first reports of this moth in the UK were on Wimbledon Common in 2002, and after that, the infestation spread very rapidly.  It was unknown in Devon until 2005 or 2006, but by last year, it had spread all over the county.  Some of the spread has been natural, as the moths multiply and fly, aided by the wind.  It is thought that some of the caterpillars hitched rides on dead leaves carried by cars, lorries and trains!   Certainly, the early reports of damage included several towns that were well away from other sites with infestation.

It looks as if we will have to live with the moth, its caterpillars and larvae.  The trees do not suffer, except for their visual appearance.  The species has no known predators or inexpensive way of control, despite intensive study in Britain and across Europe.  The moth first came to the notice of biologists in the 1970s and 1980s, and was named as a species in 1986.  In the past year, there has been reported success as a side effect of some experiments treating horse-chestnut trees for a bacterial disease.  There are some natural predators, but they haven’t been so successful in hitching lifts across Europe.  The best advice that can be offered to reduce the effect of the caterpillar and moth without this experimental method is to remove all the dead leaves and burn them, or compost them in a hot compost bed.  This reduces the number of moths that emerge in the early spring.  However, the gap is quickly filled by moths spreading in from surrounding areas.  In September last year, the trees in Matford Lane were badly affected, possibly because there were leaves underneath them all the previous winter.  A few trees in Countess Wear, where the dead leaves had been swept away, had not been so badly damaged.

Biologists at the University of Hull are studying the leaf miner and some of those natural predators.  If you want to find out more, look for “Conker Tree Science” on the internet.

Meanwhile, this autumn, look at the horse chestnut trees around us, and reflect on the way that a moth and its tiny caterpillar can affect something so large as a tall tree, and spread across our country so rapidly.  (September - October 2012)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Have you looked at … the battlements, turrets and towers in St Leonard’s?

Battlements and fortifications in St Leonard’s – surely not!  But it is true, there are buildings with crenellations at the top of their facades, and others with towers or with turrets on the roof.  Of course, these are purely for the sake of appearance, but their presence reflects a fascination with architectural features from earlier times.  Originally crenels referred to the gaps between merlons and merlons were the uprights at the top of fortified walls where the defenders took cover and crenels were gaps through which the defenders could shoot arrows or throw stones at the attackers.  Although I have not climbed up to see, I assume that the local walls we can see do not have walkways for archers.

In the early medieval period, people were supposed to obtain a licence from the king before they could build such defences.  It is on record that the Bishop of Exeter had two licences, in 1290 and 1322.  I don’t know how many archers the bishop employed at the time!

Locally, there are fine examples of crenellated walls on a house in Claremont Grove, visible from Matford Lane; the façade of The Maynard School has decoration which is influenced by crenellations.  Exeter School also has a low stone wall with crenellations in Victoria Park Road.  Just visible from Penleonard Close, there is a garden building with battlements which is associated with a house in Victoria Park Road.  Besides the school wall, there are several garden walls with such decoration in brick or stone.  There’s a concrete wall beside the Weirfield Path which has this design.  As a change from battlements, there are several houses with balustrades closing the top of the facades.  Painting the reverse of a roof-top balustrade is one of those domestic tasks that is essential but nobody will notice that it has been done.

The travel writer and TV presenter Bill Bryson wrote about the sight of some 19th century houses: “… with every embellishment known to the Victorian mind – cupolas, towers, domes, gables, turrets and front porches you could ride a bike around.”  Several of our local houses have towers on the corners, with turrets or cupolas on top.  I wonder what the owners do with the rooms in those towers.  Are they used as living space?  Or as storage space?  Do children play hide-and-seek in them?  With so many outside walls, heating them must be challenging.  There are examples of such corner towers in Spicer Road, Barnfield Hill and Matford Road, among others.  The bays of the main block of The Lodge in Spicer Road are topped with cupolas.  One of the local modern houses has a circular tower on the street façade.  (Reference books seem to indicate that the terms dome, turret and cupola overlap.  Cupola means “little dome”, so is probably more appropriate for domestic buildings – nobody would say that St Paul’s Cathedral had a cupola!)

On the top of the towers, the turrets are generally more substantial than their medieval equivalent.  The latter were generally wooden, lighter in weight than a stone or brick structure with tiles or slates.  Our local ones have finials of various kinds.  (Older residents will remember that flags were flown from the flagpole of the tower on Cornish’s store, at the corner of North Street and Fore Street.  There is a mechanism in the building which allows the flagpole to be lowered so it can be repainted.)  Exeter School’s main block has a four storey tower, and there is a square tower on the separate building beside Victoria Park Road.  That tall tower is remarkable for the chimney stacks on the east and west walls, and for the fine brickwork of the facades.  The Mormon Church in Wonford Road has a slender spire. 

Other buildings have turrets on the roof ridges.  Some of these are there to provide ventilation to the roof voids, as is the case in St Leonard’s Church and (just outside the neighbourhood) the Barnfield Theatre.  The builders of these chose to make a feature out of these vent covers.  The Maynard School has another example, visible through the surrounding trees.  The pavilion overlooking Exeter School’s playing field has a small ornamental turret.  In the adjacent grounds of Matford Lodge there is a coach house with a conical roof, topped with a large turret.  Round the corner, the modern building of Mardon House is one of several buildings which have large turrets covering clerestory windows which give natural light to the interior. St Leonard’s Church Hall has a turret with a small bell in it, as does the chapel at Wynards.  Maybe you want a turret for your roof?  There are online suppliers of small roof turrets if you want to add one to your home. 

An article about towers can’t overlook the spire of St Leonard’s Church, floodlit each night and a landmark for those travelling through the neighbourhood.

(The quotation from Bill Bryson comes from “The Lost Continent”) 
(July-August 2012)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Have you ever looked at people’s forenames in St Leonard’s?

I have added names that I have discovered since this article appeared in the May-June 2012 edition of St Leonard's Neighbourhood News.  The additions are in red.

People’s forenames (Christian names) come and go in fashion over time.  My name, David, was popular and in the top ten for boys’ names for a generation after the second world war, but has dropped from its position, so that last year it was number fifty in the country, just behind Tyler and ahead of Sebastian.  A hundred years ago, it wasn’t popular either …. Such is fashion.

These days, some children are given unusual ones, but the majority have names that most people would think of as forenames.  And you can find some of these around St Leonard’s, inscribed on public monuments and signs.  So this month, here are a selection of these, and where to find them; I have not used any house-names or the names of the businesses in Magdalen Road or elsewhere.

Agnes (Prest) was martyred at Livery Dole and her name is on the obelisk there

Alice (Vlieland) is named as the benefactor of the health clinic in Bull Meadow Road.  Her husband was mayor of Exeter, and her daughter (Dorothy) is one of very few women whose death is commemorated on a war memorial for the first world war.  (In St David’s church.)

On the quay, there is the Andrea tree, which (sadly) has perished, and yet the railings and plaque remain. 

Councillor Anthony Fry was the mayor of  Exeter when Trews Wear bridge was refurbished in 1991, and there is a plaque to mark the engineering work.

Archibald names a road.

Athelstan also names a road.

The sculptor, Barbara Pearson is named on the monument (“Loving Care”) to the centenary of Devon County Council outside Belair at County Hall

There are several signs for Belle Isle Park, where you can see a plaque to mark its opening by Ben Bradshaw, MP.

Bernard appears on the street sign for Bernard Close.

Brumwell Thomas  was on of the building committee for the former Eye Infirmary, and his name is on the foundation stone, shown under George (below). I suspect this was an unhyphenated double-barrelled surname.

Clave Saunders is named on the foundation stone of Pyramids; does anyone know whether this was a forename or a double-barrelled surname?

Besides being the title of a clergyperson, Dean (as in the name of a street) is a forename.

A seat in Belle Isle Park is in memory of Derek Puddepha. 

Ernest Toby was the secretary of the building committee for the former Eye Infirmary, and his name is on the foundation stone, shown under George (below).  Poor Ernest, all the other men on the stone are given a title, Rev or Esq, but he is not.  I am sure that he worked just as hard as the others on that committee.

Frederick Howard Sheldon laid the foundation stone of St Leonard’s church hall in Roberts Road

To mark “40 years of loyal service”, there is a seat in honour of George Barnes at County Hall.  A man named George (William Petter) is also named on the foundation stone of St Leonard’s church hall.

Another George (George Franklin) appears twice on the foundation stone of the former Eye Infirmary, now the Magdalen Chapter Hotel.

Glen appears as part of Glenwood Drive

Harry Hems is named as the sculptor of the reliefs on the obelisk in Denmark Road, but you will have to search to find the name!

I have written about  Frederick Howard Sheldon earlier in this article.

Sir Ian Amory planted a Lucombe Oak outside County Hall in 1986 and is named on the plant label at the base of the tree.

Jennifer is the name of another Close.

John (Palmer) appears on the plaque in Magdalen Street opposite the hotel, and John (Bennett) on the foundation stone of Pyramids

There is a seat in memory of Kathleen Irvine in Denmark Road. 

Ken Passmore is remembered with a seat in the grounds of County Hall

Kimberley Road is a cul-de-sac leading off Bull Meadow Road.  Kimberley in South Africa was the scene of a famous siege in the Boer War, and the British were besieged from late 1899 to early 1900.  Ladysmith Road in Heavitree also takes its name from the same conflict.  Redvers Road and Buller Road in St Thomas are also reminders of the Boer War.  The Boers besieged Kimberley for 124 days, shelling it on most days, except Sundays!  Kimberley has been used as both a boy's name and a girl's name, though in the 21st century the latter is much more common.

Signs with the name Leonard are everywhere; as I wrote last month, there is a bus shelter in Topsham Road where the name is misspelt.

There are several signs for the St Luke’s campus of the university

You don’t have to go far to find Magdalen written on a wall or sign, but you can also find Magdalene with an “e” on the east wall of the Almshouses in Magdalen Road

St Margaret’s School is on the edge of the neighbourhood.   (Until it closed in 2013)  And Councillor Margaret Midgley is on the plaque that announces the opening of Belle Isle Park in 1997 (see Ben Bradshaw above).

Mary is also on the Almshouses

There is still a sign relating to St Nicholas School, advising of its new address.

Petrock is remembered in St Petrock’s Close; there is an old story that someone named a street of sheltered housing “St Peter’s Close”, to the discomfiture of the elderly residents.

Richard West was a member of the building committee for the former Eye Infirmary, and his name is on the foundation stone, shown under George (above). 

 Roberts (Road) is not really named because it is a forename, but for the surname of the Victorian soldier.

Sheila Cooper appears as the name of the head teacher of St Margaret’s School on the school notice board.  In autumn 2012, a new headmaster took over, Lee Bergin.  At present (October 2012) his name does not appear on the notices.  Since then the school has closed.

Stephen Lancaster is recorded as the engineer responsible for the refurbishment of Trews Wear bridge.

Thomas Benet is named on the obelisk in Denmark Road.

Vera Jones has a bench outside the Coaver Club in her memory.  Sadly, the inscription is almost illegible now.

Victoria Park Road commemorates the queen; part of Lyndhurst Road was known as Albert Terrace to honour Victoria’s consort.  The terrace of houses at the southern end of Marlborough Road was originally called Queen’s Terrace

Marlborough Road: the terrace formerly called "Queen's Terrace";  there is a patch on the near end where the name was once to be found
 Councillor William Evans (then chairman of Devon County Council) helped Sir Ian Amory to plant a Lucombe Oak outside the main entrance of County Hall.  I have mentioned George William Petter earlier.

There are several other names on the foundation stone of the swimming pool at Pyramids, but they only have initials.  You might expect to find names on foundation stones of other public buildings. At County Hall, the foundation stone is inside the building, near the ladies’ toilet outside the council chamber.  It reads: “On the sixteenth day of October 1958 this first stone was laid and levelled by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent”.  As the stone is six feet long and over a foot high, I suspect that the duchess had considerable help when she laid the stone.

And St Leonard’s Church has a foundation stone on the east end (hidden by plants) and another on the church centre.  The church foundation stone records that it was laid by the Earl of Northbrook, but without his forenames.  (The first Earl of Northbrook was Thomas George Baring, of the family which gave us Baring’s Bank.)  The church centre’s stone was engraved when the building was opened and reads “to the glory of God”.  The names on the foundation stones of the Salvation Army Temple only give initials, and the same is true for the New Theatre, formerly the church hall of Holy Trinity church in South Street.  Amazingly, though the foundation stone was laid by the Bishop of Exeter, he is not named, simply identified by his title.

The foundation stone of the Holloway Street Schools, now the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses reads: Exeter Schools Board Holloway Street Schools This stone was laid on the 9th day of October 1875 These schools complete the number required by the Education Act 1871 William Barnes Chairman of the Board, Thomas Andrew Vice chairman, Revd Henry Bramley, William Buckingham, Bartholomew Charles Gidley, William Townsend, Charles Westron, John Henry Bond, Frederick Clapp, John Austin Clerk, Pearson Hayward Architect, Charles H Tozer Builder  

I am sure that I have overlooked some names, so please have a look and let me know of any others that you find around the neighbourhood. 

David Smith

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Have you looked at signs in St Leonard’s?

We were driving along the old Exeter bypass last autumn, and were amused by the sight of two signs, one above the other.  The first was a sign to a Wedding Fair at Westpoint.  Immediately below was an advert for car-sharing, and so the two signs together read “Wedding Fair. Register now at”

Signs around St Leonard’s generally convey information without such opportunities for a smile.  Looking around the neighbourhood, there are signs of various kinds.  Every road and street has at least one street name sign, and we have assorted styles for these in St Leonard’s.  Several have the name spelt out in ceramic tiles, which are distinctive and unusual.  Sadly, in the course of some development work, the last two ceramic letters of “ROAD” for Magdalen Road have been lost from the sign opposite the junction with Denmark Road.  Most local roads have simple metal plates a couple of feet high, which are widely used around the city.  And a few have their names mounted on high poles, about ten feet above the ground.  This makes sense for Cedars Road, so that the name can be seen by traffic on the hill in Holloway Street, but it makes less sense for Matford Lane at its junction with Wonford Road.  Does anyone know why the road is identified in such a way?  And anyone who is a stickler for punctuation will discover that the County Council website does not recognise apostrophes, so St Leonards Road is the only format one can use.

Computers have made us all aware of different fonts, with and without serifs; had you noticed that road name signs are not uniform in this?  Variety is the spice of life, and the same can be said about the signs around the area which spell out the parking regulations all around St Leonard’s.  The signs which tell you that you are entering the area with parking restrictions around County Hall use upper and lower case for all the text, except for the last word “ZONE” which is in capitals.  They are matched by signs that read “Zone ENDS”.  (Readers of a well-known daily newspaper will probably tell me that this change to upper case letters is all due to “Health and Safety”.  In truth, this layout is that specified in the Highway Code.)  But why is there a “Limited Waiting” sign in St Leonard’s Road which reads “Mon-SAT” with the last day in capitals, while all the others read “Mon-Sat”? 

But for curiosity in signs for restrictions on parking, wander over to Athelstan Road.  You would think that there was a standard text for indicating that an area was for residents only … but within a short stretch of the road there are three minor varieties of the first lines of “Resident(s) permit holders only”, with or without a capital P for permit, with or without making the first word plural.

The signs that are put up by the local councils are just one sort of sign that we can find around the neighbourhood.  The bus routes that cross our area give rise to signs for stops, and strapped to many of the posts used by the D and H services are laminated sheets announcing changes to the timetable (from January 2011!) and a contact number for texts telling when the next bus is due (has anyone ever used this?).  Last spring I found a Russian couple on holiday trying to make sense of the information, and wondered whether the effort that had been put into creating the text service could have been directed towards simple timetables for these services.  On Topsham Road, Barrack Road and Heavitree Road, the bus shelters are labelled with their location.  Someone has used white paint to indicate a correction to the spelling of Leonard opposite the church in Topsham Road.

In an earlier article I mentioned the signs for fire hydrants and utilities.  There are still a number of poles carrying overhead telephone cables, and most of these poles are inspected regularly to make sure that they are not rotting away.  The inspectors should leave a coded sign on each pole to record the date of the inspection, and examples of these abound. 

The businesses and organisations in the neighbourhood vary in the types of signs that they show to the world.  Some, like the schools and St Leonard’s Church, have a logo designed to identify them.  The shops which are part of national associations do as well.  Others have used sign-writers and artists, or computer graphics, and have added to their signs at different times and in different styles, so name-boards over the frontage may be in one form, and the lettering on the windows and display boards in another.  Those who have discovered the range of fonts that come with word-processing packages can explore the range of fonts and effects used in the village.

So much for the permanent signs; around the neighbourhood you will find a range of temporary signs of many kinds, ranging from those for slimming classes through lost animals to estate agency signs (For Sale, To Let, Under Offer, etc).  Ever since moving to Exeter, I have smiled at the signs proclaiming that a property has been “Sold by Force”.  Incidentally, by way of amusement, I was fortunate to see, in its short life, the sign outside a local school that said it was a “School for Boy’s and Girl’s” – the sign was hastily replaced with one lacking the “greengrocer’s apostrophes”.

But the last word must go to the three delightful notices on the white seat in Raleigh Road.  One sets out common-sense rules for good neighbourly behaviour in that road; these rules of courtesy should apply everywhere.  Another invites you to pause on the seat and enjoy being there.  And the third sign?  You’ll have to go and see!

(Neighbourhood News March - April 2012)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Cycling and Cycle Safety in St Leonard's

The Times Cities fit for cycling As a cyclist in St Leonard's, I want to express my support for the campaign in this blog. I don't always endorse the views of the Times newspaper but the paper has put its weight behind a campaign. What are the problems for cyclists in St Leonard's? (1) Heavitree Road (outbound) where the traffic speeds because there are no residential properties and it "Looks clear". Turning right from Heavitree Road into College Road can be risky. (2) Bus drivers, taxi drivers and other motorists persistently ignore the rules about where to stop when there is an advance stopping lane (College Road, Matford Lane/Topsham Road, Wonford Road) (3) The owner of the small car which parks in the space for the cycle racks opposite the shops. (and the owners of motorcycles and motor-scooters ditto) (4) Holloway Street hill But, having said all that, St Leonard's is a great place to live if you are a cyclist. There are cycle racks in the Magdalen Road village. There are racks at the Pyramids pool. There are racks at St Leonard's church as well. There are reasonable cycle routes into the city centre. It is a flat ride to the hospital. The cycle route along the river and canal is easy to get to, and so one can cycle to Countess Wear, Topsham, Marsh Barton, Alphington, St Thomas, Exwick easily. The two major places of work in St Leonard's, Devon County Council and Exeter University are cycle-friendly employers with reasonable provision of racks.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Have you looked at the walls of St Leonard’s? (again)

Two years ago, I wrote the first of these articles about things to see in St Leonard’s, and that was about the garden and property walls around the neighbourhood.  This month, I would like you to look at the same walls, again, to see features that were not included first time around. 

As I wrote then, a great deal of the history of a wall can be gleaned by looking at the way it develops from ground to top.  Many local walls have foundations of one kind of material, with further layers added over time.  But this time, why not look along the length of the walls that face our streets, and you will find traces of the history of the street, and of the properties in the street. 

We can start with Magdalen Road, in the village.  Because we come to shop, most of us pay little attention to the walls of the houses that front onto the road, but there is variation along its length.  You will find, roughly, three sections.  The first, towards Fairpark, has sandstone walls; then a section of brick, and after Wonford Road, there are walls of a hard grey stone.  As each section runs in front of several properties, the sections are an indication of phases of development of the houses there.  Within each of these three parts, there are signs of change over time.  You can find a stone wall patched with brick, rearrangements to the walls as access to the house has changed, and repairs with newer materials.

Beyond the junction with St Leonards Road, the wall shows several stages of development.

Friars Walk and Lansdowne Terrace are among several local roads which show similar variety in front of the older houses along their lengths.  In front of the terrace of Colleton Crescent there is a fine example of a wall and railings which have not been significantly changed since the crescent was built.  The greensward opposite retains a fragment of a wall and ironwork in the same style, but sadly there are several parts of the railings missing.  Does anyone know whether the railing was spared being salvaged during the last war?

The walls around The Maynard School in Denmark Road, Barnfield Hill and Spicer Road give other opportunities for detective work about changes along their lengths.  In Denmark Road, there are distinct breaks in the style, one obviously for the garden on the corner of Denmark and Spicer Roads, and another further along, hardly noticeable under the trees.  Besides the modern break for the electricity substation in Barnfield Hill, there is a change from stone walls to brick part way up the hill.  And in Spicer Road, there are reminders of former gateways for the private houses which were there.

In Melbourne Place, the wall includes stones which once formed the lintel of a door.  This has been blocked; there are a few other walls with disused doorways around the neighbourhood.

While thinking about walls, there is an archway in the wall on the north side of Bull Meadow.   Presumably this is where the stream once ran, before being put into a culvert.  The first chapter of the popular history book, “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England” by Ian Mortimer opens in the valley of this stream.  “Four hundred yards from the city gate, the muddy road you are following crosses a brook.”.  The author’s imaginary traveller would then have climbed along the line of Holloway Street but would not have seen the distinctive mural, created at the end of the 1970’s and recently restored. 

That slope up to the city along Holloway Street possesses another wall that shows signs of change over the last few generations.  It is the wall of the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, occupying the former premises of the Holloway Street Schools there.  Sections of the wall have been replaced over the years; does anyone have old photographs that predate the conversion to a place of worship?

(For those who may have missed any of the earlier articles, all are on the website
David Smith (Neighbourhood News, January-February 2012)