I bought a map and it arrived today. A map of Whitstable from a survey in 1872, with additions to 1906 and printed in 1907. At a scale of 25 inches to one mile it’s a bit on the large size for scanning at around 40 inches by 30 inches so I guess it will mainly see the light of day in exhibitions or talks.
It doesn’t show much of Whitstable town centre and nothing of the sea front as its centre point is a few hundred yards south of All Saints Church, so the largest proportion of it is taken up with the rural areas, now residential or commerce areas.
Naturally, I’ve spent some time studying it and in doing so discovered many things I was not previously aware of, or I hadn’t ever considered, so I am taking this opportunity to note them in case they may be of interest to others.
The most dominant features are the two railway lines, both shown as S.E. & C.R, one being ‘Whitstable Branch’ and the other ‘Kent Coast Line’. For the most part except the eastern area there is no residential development alongside these lines, although a few houses in Clare Road are evident, backing on to the line to Canterbury.
At this date the town Railway station was still situated by the Oxford Street bridge. Church Road (now Belmont Road) ran from there, along are now Old Bridge Road and Bridge Approach to join Church Street Road (now Castle Road) and continue past All Saint’s Church to South Street. The current road name changes were made in 1948.
Land boundaries were influenced by these roads, the railway lines and the path of the Gorrell stream. Apart from the enclave around the church the inhabited areas were the farms of Downshouse (where the Community College is now), Mill Strood at the peak of Cemetery Road (now Millstrood Road) and Rayham (between South Street and Chestfield).
A network of footpaths are shown, between the farms, from the farms to All Saints Church and from the town to the church. This of course makes perfect sense when you consider that this area was the rural origin of Whitstable which then developed down to to the salt marshes as they were ‘walled’ from the sea and the Gorrell tributary.
Of all of the areas that I have mentioned as mainly uninhabited there are roads shown, but as planned and not actually built at that time. This includes the part of Tankerton south of Northwood Road where only twelve houses are shown. Nearer to town Teynham Road was a dead end where it met the old railway line, Station Road only came up part way from the Harbour end, Wheatley Road is shown planned as a dog-leg into Westmeads Road which ran from that point across Diamond Road to the north.
Millstrood Road cemetery shows the original area and the land it has now expanded into being part of Downshouse Farm. Interestingly the two small chapels at the entrance are listed as, on the left – Non-Comformist and on the right – Church of England.
The area of Grimshill is laid out with planned road that bare some physical resemblance to what exist now, except for a ‘Granville Road’ and the lower Downs have proposed roads shown such as Belton Road and Argyle Road that never saw the light of day. Argyle Road was already in existence at the junction of the High Street and Oxford Street and the name ‘Belton’ was used years later for a Close, part of the Council built Grimshill Estate.
The opposing ends of Cromwell Road South and Cromwell Road North were built up. The central section is shown on the map as planned but it was some years before Cromwell Road became one road and explains why the houses at either end are much older than those in the central section.
The planned roads in what we now call South Tankerton are true to what was built in name only, physically they are very different. The area between these and South Street has some planned road which even now are still farmland – a glorious crescent called ‘The Crescent’ which was to come off ‘Seaview Road’ and led to ‘Tankerton Avenue’.
A jewel all by itself, off Church Road, is a driveway with a loop at the end, tree lined all the way up culminating at one single property called ‘The Bungalow’. We now know this as Thurston Park and it has rather more than a single bungalow in that plot.
That’s the description done, but realistically you need to see the map yourselves. Watch this space!