Look Back with Little: Important Grimsbury lots go under hammer

The Prince of Wales - scene of the 1904 auction sale of Grimsbury property. NNL-180823-171313001
The Prince of Wales - scene of the 1904 auction sale of Grimsbury property. NNL-180823-171313001

On November 22, 1904 what can be described as one of the major sales in the early 20th century took place at the Prince of Wales in Grimsbury.

The subject of the occasion was important and valuable freehold properties. These came under the hammer at the request of the trustees responsible for implementing the terms of the wills of Edwin Stroud and William Neal. Conduct of this sale was in the hands of William Booth of Castle, Son and Booth, a firm which covered Bicester as well as Banbury.

Choice of location for the event was especially appropriate as the inn occupied several plots within an area which was designed to meet the needs of skilled workers and small shopkeepers.

The properties were developed under the auspices of a Banbury Freehold Land Society that had been set up following a town hall meeting. Builders were engaged to develop the terraces of West, East, North, South and Centre streets. A total of seven lots featured buildings within the Land Society area. Three of these were 38, 39, and 40 North Street occupied respectively by CJ Wiggins, Samuel Clark and Mrs Dunn. No 39 was substantially larger with four bedrooms – all had a yard and 38 and 40 a garden.

An attractive prospect in South Street was larger than most properties in that locality. Known as Spring Villa, it had an extensive and productive garden and a side entrance. Occupant at the time of the sale was Fanny Butler.

Only one side of West Street was in the Freehold Land zone. No 16 occupied by EF Neal is most likely to have been on the side nearest where the racecourse had been.

Here space permitted stabling with three stalls and a coach house as well as a blacksmith’s shop together with a large yard which contained a piggery. Rushers Trade directories lists the occupants as a blacksmith and whitesmith who had originally carried out his trade 1885 to 1887 then moved to West Street 1887 to 1889 when the listing changed 1890 to 1905 to Mrs Neal .

The Middleton Road, later known as Grimsbury’s High Street also features in the auction. Three substantial dwellings belonged to the area between the West and East Street junctions, designated South Parade.

These properties attracted some of the highest rentals in 1904. That occupied by Edwin Mawle (No 73) had a coach house with loft over, capital stabling with an entrance from East Street, as well as an enclosed garden and greenhouse. Numbers 48 and 49 South Parade also had gardens and basement cellarage but selling prices achieved of £380 and £355 were less than half the £805 paid by Mr Mawle for No 73.

Subsequent history of South Parade suggests that it was a high class section of the Middleton Road.

It was here that Dr Hubert De Burgh Dwyer practised between 1915 and 1934. He was a physician, surgeon, medical officer and Banbury District public vaccinator.

Lots 5 and 6 comprised houses which were part of a key working class area of Grimsbury. They were among properties flanking the Causeway and Merton Street.

All were the work of speculative builders operating from 1850. It is generally thought that the associated builders might well have been encouraged by the arrival of railway companies.

Two named Causeway Cottages featured in Lot 16. Known as Merton Cottage and Lenton Cottage, both had gardens.

Adjoining them on the south side but with a frontage of 28ft 9in and a depth of 64ft was a piece of building land that had been used by the occupants of the Causeway cottages.

The sale was advertised as embracing Banbury as well as Grimsbury. In reality the only property not in Grimsbury concerned a large yard with numerous outbuildings behind the Catherine Wheel Inn the entrance to which faced the town hall in Bridge Street: the inn was demolished in the late 1960s to make way for road alterations.