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West Street

The Name:

Harper Street is one of the oldest streets in Tetbury.  A deed of 1381 refers to a ‘croft in Hatterystret’.  It is mentioned before 1398 as Hatter Street.  By the early c.17th it was called Harper Street.  Between 1917 and 1930 the name changed to West Street.  This was at the request of one Harry Barnes, founder of the Tetbury Coal and Coke Company who bought a house on the corner of Bath Road and Harper Street [Source: great grandson by email Feb 2014].

In the late c.16th houses were built at the entrance to the street.

In the most recent edition of Pevsners Guides, the Buildings of England - the Cotswolds, by David Verey, West Street is described as "once packed with artisan housing".  

It was once a notorious area of the town and associated with poverty, and a newspaper report from the 25th February 1905 shows some typical behaviour:



A married woman, of Harper Street, was summoned for an assault on a married man, also of Harper Street.  It appeared that the complainant and defendant, with others while in the Talbot Hotel on Saturday night, had some dispute on a trifling matter; in the course of which, defendant alleged, that complainant made some offensive remarks to her.  Meeting with him later in the street she went for him, striking him a violent blow between the eyes, cutting his face open, the blood flowing freely.  The man declared he did not lift a hand against the woman, and she has positively asserted that he pressed his hand against her breast, and pushed her back.  Both had been drinking.  Charles Belcher, a youth corroborated complainant's evidence in every particular.  The chairman said the defendant had undoubtedly committed an assault.  If provoked, as she possibly was, she should have kept out of the man's way.  Fined 1s.

By 1962 plans were being discussed to systematically rebuild the street in a slum clearance move by the council, section by section, following on from the Housing Act 1957 [section 16].  Compulsory purchase of numbers 35 - 77, which abutted the Prince of Wales Inn, was to take place and eventually to be demolished.  As numbers 81 to 95 came up for sale they were to be purchased, tenants rehoused ready for phase 2 of the scheme.  When all tenants in phase 1 were rehoused demolition took place.  As this was taking place phase 3 was to be enacted which involved the purchase of the remaining houses 1 - 33, tenants rehoused and cottages rebuilt. All who live locally know that beyond the demolition of numbers 35 - 77 no redevelopment took place.  As these cottages have all been improved by owners over the last 60 years these are now desirable homes forming a much nicer street than it would have been should the proposed redevelopment taken place.  Why it didn’t happen has not been discovered but I am sure that many are grateful that it didn’t.

The Prince of Wales Inn, locally known as the Drum and Monkey, with its skittle alley, formed part of the continuous line of houses along the street.  This Inn has now been demolished to make way for new housing.  Deeds at Gloucestershire Archives indicate that there was another inn - The Rose and Crown on the street in the early 1800s.

These cottages at each end of the street, still retain many of the original features.  Note the curved tops of the windows, door positions and the attic windows.  Another internal feature which seems to point to a date c.1650 in Cotswolds architectural style is the curved staircase around the large fireplace in the wall between two properties.