Townsend Lane Estate

A Wimpey development

Cover of Sales brochure, containing the available designs

The area known as the Townsend Lane Estate in the nineteen sixties was built by George Wimpey and Sons. It embodies Barns Dene, Pondwick Road, Claygate Avenue, the north side of Townsend Lane and a small part of Broadfields. Wimpey had put in planning applications for a variety of brick built houses in 1959, all to be detached with four bedrooms and generous plots.

The site consisted of several parcels of land. Adjacent to the Nickey Line was Claygate Orchard which closed in 1955 after two poor seasons. Between the orchard and Townsend Lane, which was just a rough track, was pasture where cows grazed. Next to it ponies occupied a shallow valley draining down to a pond which no doubt gave Pondwick Road its name. A few old barns were scattered along the valley and at the far end of the site was a mushroom farm where Broadfields is now. The entrance to the mushroom farm is still marked by a five barred gate near thirty six Townsend Lane but the track has long gone. Owners of the houses built on this part of the site had mushrooms coming up in their gardens for years.

In the north east corner the land had belonged to the Shrubberies a large house at the top of Moreton End Lane. Four green prefabricated huts stood there among the mud where Claygate Avenue now joins Alders End Lane. They were left over from the wartime evacuation of the offices of the Friends Provident Co. to the grounds of the Shrubberies, which was the home of the Company Secretary. They were demolished in 1962. All that remains to be seen of their occupation is a brick and slate toilet block. It now serves as an annexe to the house on the corner of Claygate Avenue and Alders End Lane which was made up when the final part of the estate was developed. The last three houses in Claygate Avenue and those on the east side of Pondwick Road stand on former Shrubberies land. Mrs. Bea Spring who moved into Pondwick Road in 1964 remembers digging the garden and coming across concrete foundations where heavy safes belonging to the Friends Provident had stood. The boundary between Claygate Orchard and the Shrubberies appears to have run from the side of 31 Claygate Avenue down the west side of Pondwick Road and along the northern boundary of Barns Dene’s back gardens to the back of 5 Broadfields.

Plan of Townsend Lane Estate

Broadfields in 1982

The scene began to change in 1960 when building started on the Townsend Lane and Barns Dene section together with five houses in Broadfields. Wimpey’s offered at least twelve different designs some with a choice of wood or tile cladding. Mrs. Gill Mulley who moved into 5 Claygate Avenue in 1962 gave some of the original sales brochures to the history society. They list features including central heating, woodblock flooring, Hygena kitchen units and pink bathroom suites complemented by black tiles. Among the extras available were concrete paths at £0.6.0d per foot, a concrete clothes post at £2.5.0d and additional power points at £4.0.0d each, A standard fireplace was fitted or for buyers wanting their own choice an allowance of £10 was made. Some properties had integral garages while others came with the garage as an optional extra. The houses proved so popular that the plots were reduced in size as more were fitted in. By 1965 the estate was complete. Red bricks covered the site and the rural scene was no more.

Now a second transformation is taking place. Most of the houses have alterations of some sort. Porches have been glazed to provide shelter for the front doors. Garages, no longer large enough to accommodate modern cars, have been converted into living space. Many houses have major extensions, some built right out to the boundaries of the plots, providing as many as seven bedrooms. Loft conversions incorporating dormer windows allow more room for bedrooms, extra bathrooms and studies for those who work at home. Solar panels now dominate some rooftops reflecting changing environmental priorities. Several houses have been demolished and rebuilt on a much larger scale some incorporating a third floor others a basement. The area is no longer a uniform estate. Looking at them it is not easy to identify the types they once were but with the help of the original brochures it is possible to sort most of them out. Less than a dozen houses remain unaltered.

Photographs of houses which still show the original house types are shown below. Ed: We apologise that the new layout of our website makes it difficult to group the pictures and Wimpey catalogue designs meaningfully.

13 Barnes Dene

 

 

 

 

 

27 Barns Dene

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Broadfields – unaltered, except for addition of a glazed porch

 


13 Claygate AVenue

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Claygate Avenue – garage extended forwards

 

 

 

 

 

 

45 Claygate Avenue

 

 

 

 

 

 

72 Townsend Lane – asymmetrical chalet, extended on the right

 

 

 

 

 

 

86 Townsend Lane – glazed door added to porch

 

 

 

 



On a separate page is a gallery of images, with notes on their house-type and comments on alterations, or rebuilding.

Comments about this page

  • Do you have pics of the area before Wimpey Estate?
    I use to live at 64 Townsend Lane and can remember before the houses were new build houses at 61, 59& 57, there was a large Edwardian House across the road.

    Ed> Unfortunately we do not have any photos of the Townsend Estate, nor of the Edwardian house, Somerled, which you mention. However, we did receive an enquiry in 2018 about this house, from a nephew of Charles Goodall, who had lived in Somerled from 1928 until he moved to Leeds after the war. The house seems to have survived (becoming 71), still recorded in the last Kelly’s Directory wich was published in 1974. Hartwell Gardens was developed at this corner by 1982. It is such a pity that no-one seemed to keep a photographic record of houses destined for demolition. This is still happening. The main part of the estate had been Claygates Apple farm.

    By Dr David Taheeri (25/09/2021)

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