Park Road was originally a no-through road called Butts Road or Butt’s Lane. It began at the cross-roads of Marlborough Street, Coxwell Street and Gravel Walk and ended at the junction with Sandhill Lane. With the advent of the railway in 1864 the beginning of the road was renamed Station Road as far as the station and Butts Road continued thereafter. Butts Road was later renamed Park Road and was definitely in use by the 1950s. Exactly where the park was is uncertain. A ‘Recreation Ground’ is marked on a map from 1910 about where Tesco Supermarket is today and activities held in the ‘Town Park’ were mentioned frequently in local newspapers of 1916.
Butts Road was probably named after the archery butts erected on Jasper’s Hill for practising the art of the bowman. The earliest reference to this name was in 1551 and ‘Butts’ can be seen marked centre right on this map dated 1842.
The map also shows an unnamed single-track road continuing from the end of Butts Road at Sandhill Lane to join up with a track or footpath extending from Southampton Street. The track then turns south to Wicklesome Farm. When the A420 bypass was built in 1979 this track was upgraded and extended along the path of the old railway line to join up with the bypass. The short section of track that was cut off by the bypass still exists as a public footpath to Wicklesome Farm on which there remains evidence of earlier tarmacking.
Today, Park Road starts from the Swan public house on the corner with Bromsgrove and now forms a major route off the A420 bypass into Faringdon and beyond to Lechlade and Cirencester.
A turning off Park Road called Butts Close was renamed Butts Road as it now leads into what in 1972 became the Marines Drive and Townsend Road housing estate.
See Faringdon Streets for an indexed list of all streets in Faringdon.
A Tour of Park Road in the 1900s
1995. The Swan Hotel at #1 Park Road taken from the Eagles. The small public garden left from the demolition of the sweet shop is in the foreground and Bromsgrove behind. 1988. Looking up at the start of Park Road. Compare this with the older photo from 1953 above. The white wall on the left is part of the Swan Inn, once a hotel. Opposite is a road simply called Eagles, a new residential estate. The name derives from Eagle Coaches that used to occupy this whole area. The grass covered corner was occupied by the Eagle Motors car repair workshop and stores, shown in the previous photo. They also had a car-hire service and a fleet of coaches.The nearest corner is the small public garden mentioned earlier, that used to be Elliott’s sweet shop. Further up the road on the left, in front of the large brick building with a flat roof, is Regal Way and the start of the industrial estate that grew up on the site of the old railway.
2000 & 1910. Right next door to the Swan Inn is what is now #3 Park Road. The old photo shows Paul Goddard’s ‘Grampy’ (1877-1931) outside his house with his horse. Next to him is his brother-in-law John Ritchings. Later, Fred and Nora Morton used to live there; they had a general store in London Street until 1986, selling school uniforms, bicycles, toys and lots more. They also used to own the little sweet shop on the corner of the Eagles, mentioned above.
1988. Further up the road, just past Regal Way is the old Railway Station, which had closed in 1963. For a while, the old waiting room then became an undertaker’s ‘Chapel of Rest’. Shown here, the area was occupied by Russel Spinage (funeral director) & Michael Devitt (builders & decorators). During the 1990s it became Scats (farmers’ wholesale store) and now it is The Old Station Nursery for pre-school children. Further up the left side of the road are numerous industrial buildings that sprung up on the site of the old railway line.
1988. The next junctions on the right side of Park Road are Marlborough Close and Marlborough Gardens. The latter leads up to the housing estate on Folly View Road. Out of view on the left side of Park Road here is now the new Tesco Supermarket.
1988. Further up Park Road on the left is Old Sawmills Road, named after the timber sawmill that was there since 1905. It was owned by Henry ‘Harry’ Hodgkins for a few years then was purchased by Mr Elliott who traded under D.J. Elliott & Sons, Steam Saw Mills, Butts Road. The mills were again sold, this time to Montague L. Meyer & Sons during WWII, but still traded under the Elliott name. Mr Elliott, senior, lived in the house called Hiawatha, now Livingstone House, in Coxwell Road. His family made an important contribution to life in Faringdon, his son, Merle Elliott, who later emigrated to Canada, built the Rialto Cinema in Gloucester Street. Miss Eileen Elliott ran Hignell’s sweet shop in London Street. There was also a small sweet shop run by the family on the corner of Eagles, now the open garden.
The sawmill was Faringdon’s biggest employer right up to when it closed. One of whom was Neddie Pauling, who started work at the mill at the age of thirteen, a few weeks after the mill had opened in 1897 at its earlier site on the opposite side of the railway station. His starting wage was 7/6 a week. He was still there when the mill closed in 1961. In the early years their were 9 men and 4 boys, who used to deal with 7 trees per day. The main trade was elm for coffin boards and boxes to hold tinplate which used to be exported from Wales.
It finally closed in 1961 when the Express Dairy next door purchased the premises (more below). Many of the 32 employees had to find work outside Faringdon, even as far away as Harwell and Oxford, as there was very little other light industry in the town. Since the closure of the railway the whole area has undergone much redevelopment. On the left here in 1988 is CP Tyres & Batteries, which was later demolished and became Second-2-None (car repairs). Cameo Glass, on the other corner has also been rebuilt and is now Active Plumbing Supplies. Cameo Glass moved to larger premises up Pioneer Road (the next turning on the left). The building marked Challow next door is now Screwfix.
1966. The Express Dairy in Park Road opposite the turning into Marlborough Gardens. There is a milk churn lorry at the milk bay having just collected milk from the local farms. The chimney was 120 feet high and was a prominent feature in Faringdon. Underneath the chimney was a ship’s boiler that came from Liverpool to what was then the Buscot Dairy before it was purchased by the Express Dairy, who enlarged and modernised it. Next door was D.J.Elliot & Sons Sawmills, Mr Elliott bought the boiler from the dairy and the intervening walls were demolished to enable the boiler to be rolled into its new position. To supply the steam for the mill, the boiler consumed waste wood and sawdust plus a truck-load of coal per week. In the later 1950s, the boiler failed an inspection test. It was cut up for scrap and the associated steam engine was dismantled and sold to a lace factory in Nottingham. The site was later taken over by the White Horse Dairy, now all demolished and occupied by the Tesco’s Supermarket car-park.
1955. Running up the left side is the Faringdon Branch Railway. The road through the centre-right is Park Road. In the middle foreground is the start of Marlborough Close followed by Marlborough Gardens. Top right is the entrance to Butts Close leading to the old Royal Marines Camp (more below). To the left of the railway is Hobwell allotments, just beyond Hobwell footpath, which crosses from Park Road to Southampton Street – you can just see the level crossing on the railway line. Along the edge of the railway line on the right are Hobwell cottages. The 120 foot tall chimney at the Express Dairy is adjacent to the smaller 60 foot chimney of D.J. Elliott & Sons Saw Mill. In the centre background are the top mill buildings with the new Turner sheds and stacks of tree trunks waiting to be picked up by the travelling crane and taken to the mill. Also visible to the left of Butts Close in the aerial photo below.
1988 & 1955. A little further up the road, the corner with the present day Butts Road is shown on the right. The building with a blue-grey frontage in the distance across the road on the left is Faringdon Upholstery. This new Butts Road was previously known as Butts Close as it was originally a short ‘cul-de-sac’ with just four houses (older photo). During WWII it lead into a Royal Marines Camp, which later became an Agricultural Training Camp. In 1952, one of the Nissen Huts, which was used as a cinema and theatre during the war and later just for agricultural storage was converted back into a theatre by Faringdon Dramatic Society. In 1972 there was also a community of 40 families living here in what was called Sandshill Caravan Park, but all was demolished to make way for a new housing estate – Marines Drive and Town End Road, which leads off from the end of the close now renamed Butts Road.
1988. Turning around at the corner with Butts Road and looking back into town, the road on the right is Pioneer Road. On the corner is Cameo Glass again, now Active Plumbing Supplies. On the other corner out of sight is now Travis Perkins. The next road down on the right is Old Sawmills Road again and you can just see CP Tyres & Batteries, now Second-2-None (car repairs).
1988. Continuing up Park Road and arriving at Faringdon Upholstery on the left. It was there for many years and has recently been converted into another motor repair garage. The second photo is looking back towards town again. On the right is Faringdon Upholstery, then A.P. Heating, and Travis Perkins (timber & building supplies), which is at the corner with Pioneer Road. Cameo Glass can just be seen on the opposite corner.
1980s & 2020. Further up Park Road on the right is an old pumping station, which is situated on the corner with Sandhill Lane, just visible to the left. This lane leads to Rogers Concrete and before the bypass to Wicklesham Quarry. It then becomes a public footpath via Cole’s Pits to the village of Fernham. The pumping station was stated as ‘New’ on a map of 1910 and appears in the 1980s to still be occupied by the Thames Water Authority (so before nationalisation in 1989). It is now derelict and very overgrown.The presumably ‘old’ pumping station was further up at the end of Sandhill Lane just past Rogers Concrete. What was originally called Butts Road more or less ended here
2001. Looking back into town a little further up Park Road. The low building just beyond the new ‘town wall’ (officially opened 1997) is the old pumping station and just in front is the turning to Sandhill Lane (shown above). This section from here up to the Oriel Cottages and beyond was originally an unnamed single-track dirt road to Oriel Cottages and a bathing pond. The track had to be upgraded to join with the new bypass opened in 1979.
1953. A winter view looking across towards the Folly taken from either here at the end of the old Park Road or possibly up Sandhill Lane. One or two houses can be seen on the Stanford Road, otherwise there was nothing at this time to obstruct the view apart from a few trees.
c1990s. Looking up the road just past Sandhill Lane. The factory on the corner with Palmer Road can be seen in the distance with the new petrol station just beyond. Oriel Cottages is hidden behind the trees on the field boundary. The newer photo taken in 2020 is looking at the same fields on the right, where work is starting on a new housing estate called Oriel Gardens.
1999. On the opposite (left) side of the road, work was being started on a new Volunteer Way housing estate. 2001. The slightly later second photo shows some of the new houses and the land being cleared for the new health centre. 2020. The last photo shows Volunteer Way and The White Horse Health Centre now well established.
Volunteer Way has been built over the old public footpath from the end of Southampton Street. It gets its name from the route taken from town by volunteer soldiers to their rifle range, since at least 1551. The Berkshire Volunteer Corps in 1799 had an infantry totalling 785, which included 40 men and 4 officers from the Faringdon area under Captain William Ward. The ‘Volunteer Rifle Range’ is marked on the map shown here dated 1842. This was where volunteer soldiers used to practise firing at the butts that were placed at the foot of Jasper’s Hill. It was still being used by the volunteers in WW1.
1999. About 50m up the road on the right is Oriel Cottages, situated on what was originally an unnamed but later tarmacked single-track road leading to Wicklesome Farm (see 1842 map above). It remains now as part of a public footpath through the farm to the villages of Shellingford and Fernham. The main road shown here is where the railway line used to be (see below). From here on, a brand new road was carved along the route of the old railway line to join up with the new bypass opened in 1979.
Opposite the cottages is a turning into Palmer Road, which leads to another new housing estate and to the Folly Country Park.
1953. This older photo shows the railway line, which was still in use but only for freight at that time. The footpath in the foreground is coming across open fields from the end of Southampton Street. It goes through a gate across the railway line to two gates on the other side where it splits into two tracks (gravelled or tarmacked?). One goes straight on past the front of Oriel Cottages to Wicklesome Farm and the other goes to the right until it reaches the end of Park Road. This can be seen more clearly at the bottom of the map from 1910 above. The new photo was taken in 2020 from the same position – the footpath is now the start of Palmer Road and the railway line is now Park Road.
Faringdon Swimming Baths
Faringdon Swimming Baths was the topic of a rummage sale advert in the local paper in 1903.
It is also labelled as a ‘bathing pond’ shown at the bottom of the map from 1910 above. It was situated on the opposite side of the railway line to Oriel Cottages where Palmer Road is today. The pond was fed by a brook that first appears now as a mostly dry ditch starting just beyond the industrial buildings and running along the left or north side of Park Road up to the corner of Palmer Road.
The four ladies in this photo of the pool are named on the back as D. Bowerman, E. Fletcher, E. Fletcher, and L. Fletche. Unfortunately the date of the photo is unknown but it was probably taken soon after this advert when the pool opened ‘officially’ as the Faringdon Swimming Bath in 1931.
The pool was unheated, open to the elements and said to be occupied by newts and frogs. Nevertheless many learned to swim here and school children were taken by classes to the pool, no doubt marched in convoy along the footpath extending across the fields from the end of Southampton Street.
The is no sign of a swimming bath in the old photo of the Oriel Cottages from 1953 shown above. If still there, it would have been just off photo to the left of the footpath. According to the local paper in March 1972 there were “open fields here leading down to a marshy area before the former railway level-crossing” but otherwise no mention of the swimming baths. There were also many complaints at that time about the lack of a pool in Faringdon and bus trips were arranged for swimmers from the town to go to Highworth.
The area has since been concreted over by an industrial development called the ‘Radcot Estate’ on the far corner with Palmer Road. However, the brook does reappear from underneath the concrete, flowing quite steadily throughout the year, swinging around the back of the new Aldi supermarket, under the A420 bypass, and onwards through Shellingford to join the River Ock.
1987. A little further up Park Road, just past the corner of Palmer Road, work is being started on the new petrol station that is being moved from its previous location on Coxwell Road (the old A420).
Late 1980s. Looking back into town at the junction of Park Road with the A420 bypass (opened 1979) before the roundabout was added in 1992. Oriel Cottages, where the road once ended, can be seen in the distance across the field on the left. The petrol station on the right was moved from its previous location on Coxwell Road (the old A420) in the late 1980s (before 1991). The open field on the right was developed in the late 2010s and is now a new shopping area occupied by Waitrose and Aldi Supermarkets, and a Costa drive-in cafe.
The following shops and businesses were advertised in Butts or Park Road, Faringdon in the years stated:
CHALLOW PRODUCTS AGRICULTURAL LTD, Park Road, FDS 1978
ELLIOTT D.J., timber merchants, Steam Saw Mills, Station Yard, FA 1902, 1904, Butts Road FA 1907, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1919.
ELLIOTT D.J. & SONS Butts Road FA 1925, 1926, no address FA 1927, 1931, 1936, 1937.
FARINGDON GLASS LTD, Old Sawmills Road, FDS 1985
GP TYRES & BATTERIES LTD, Park Road, FDS 1987, 1988, 1989
LANE & HAWKES, furniture removal & storage, Marlborough St & Station Yard, FA 1903.
MARTIN SOBET DEVELOPMENTS LTD. Park Road. Assembly of cassettes. FV 1973.
PETER KINCH PLANT LTD., Park Road. Building equipment, electric tools, FV 1972.
ROBERTS & LEONARD LTD. Park Road. Wood, bricks, garden tables. FV 1972.
ROGERS CONCRETE LTD, Sandhill Lane, FDS 1985, 1987
RUSSELL SPINAGE DECORATORS LIMITED (INC. M.J. DEVITT), The Old Passenger Station, Park Road, FV 1972, FDS 1987, 1988, 1989
WHALLEY M. & J., 31 Park Road, Carpets and Vinyls, FDS 1987
WHITE HORSE DAIRY, Park Road. Dairymen G. & R. Cameron FV 1972, FDS 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989
Media Key: FA = Faringdon Advertiser; FDS = Faringdon Dramatic Society; FV = Faringdon Venture; FF = Faringdon Folly
1. The Changing Faces of Faringdon and Surrounding Villages – Bk 1 p83. By Rosemary Church, Jim Brown, Millie Bryan and Beryl Newman. Robert Boyd Publications.
2. Faringdon Advertiser 24th July 1931 p4 – The New Faringdon Hall.
Researched by Ian Lee, December 2019.