Between-war building changes shape of Banbury

Between the two world wars two new suburbs were added to Banbury; Ruscote and Easington.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 2:55 pm
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 3:00 pm

In Easington 528 houses were built (361 council) and in Ruscote 487 (160 council).

Slum clearance and industrial expansion led to increased activity in Banbury but unlike today it was local firms and not national companies who were responsible for the estates.

A tempting offer in a 1937 advertisement for the Grimsbury Manor Estate NNL-190403-110753001

Some idea of the nature and scale of operations can be gathered from advertisements in the Banbury Guardian and Banbury Advertiser but also more particularly an article in the Advertiser issue for March 30, 1939.

Under the heading ‘Private enterprise is filling a great need’ the newspaper focussed on the developments helping to answer the call for houses at a time of town expansion.

Probably the most significant reason was the new wave of industrialisation, especially the arrival of the Northern Aluminium Company whose sheet metal business had been growing since its move to the town at the beginning of the 1930s. Housebuilders could take advantage of the availability of land which was relatively cheaper in the interwar years with fewer restrictions.

On the Grimsbury side of the town Messrs Wardyard and Co Ltd were developing their Manor Estate north of the 19th century working class housing which extended east of West Street. This land was described by the Advertiser as ‘the most picturesque and healthy country surroundings’ with no mention of environmental opposition to the new estate.

Advertisements to entice customers to buy used the seasonal image of the Easter bride. The key slogan was ‘make sure of buying the house SHE will be proud of’. With prices from £500 the company laid claim to the finest house value in Banbury so ‘Why pay rent?’ when a deposit of £25 and repayments of 12/11 per week secured your own home. As for the plots in Grimsbury Manor Estate a £5 reservation fee secured your choice of location. An added attraction was the show house furnished by E Roberts and Sons of 13 Market Place.

Shortly after the appearance of the Advertiser article, Messengers, whose base was in Oxford Road, decided to highlight its Orchard Way Estate with a whole page advertisement of the broadsheet issue of April 6, 1939. Central to their claim for attention was a happy couple who stated the house they reserved was decorated exactly the way they wanted it.

Messengers’ prices started at £450 with a £20 deposit and 11/2 per week payments. If the location had one key advantage over Grimsbury Manor it was Banbury’s topography around Orchard Way ensured they were built on ‘high, dry ground’. Buyers were guaranteed a large garden.

An estate linked to the housing needs of the aluminium company workers was Hill View, close to Ruscote Avenue. Like the Orchard Way development the site was deemed ‘high and healthy’ but accessible by public transport, a 1d bus ride with Midland Red.

Timms and Son, building contractors on Newland Road, Banbury was also heavily committed to a house construction programme on the southern edge of Easington. Their advertisement was also full of quotes from satisfied buyers, ‘I’ve found the home I’ve been looking for’ and ‘a home that comes up to expectations’. The Timms advertisement also stressed the size of gardens and convenient bus links to the town. Location may have had something to do with this as the development was bounded by the elegant Oxford Road and the rural attractions of the Salt Way. Interestingly the company also offered ‘a few delightful detached houses with garages at Second Bodicote turn’.

The 1930s suburbanisation continued the progress of housing away from the core area of the medieval town. Unlike today’s extensions into the surrounding country the estates do not seem to have posed a problem for nearby villages with their concern for retaining unique identities.