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A short history of Belsize Avenue, Woodston, Peterborough

Locally given the name of ‘Klondike’ (after the Yukon goldrush), Belsize Avenue in Woodston, Peterborough, accommodated mostly the influx of brickyard workers. The initial deeds of the houses, built around 1901-1903, bore the name of Mr J.C.Hill who was the owner of most of the local brickworks, the nearest brickyards were LB1 off High Street, Fletton: LB2, just Fletton & Yaxley side of the London Road railway bridge: LB3 and LB4 on the opposite side of the road and 300 yards further south. All were accessible to the railway loop. LB2 was the first to close in the 1930’s and became the Maintenance and Engineering works.

To the south-west of Belsize Avenue the railway ran parallel the full length, linking the LMS lines to the LNER and serving the Sugar factory and the brickworks. From Belsize there was an ungated crossing over the railway where at seasonal times trains could be as frequent as every 15 minutes, access was opposite the Woodston Hotel.. From here, over the railway was Old Fletton school football field, allotments, and then green fields all the way to Orton Longueville village road, passing en route a number of orchards and walnut trees to the rear of Oundle Road – mushrooms in abundance when in season. Of course we used to scrump some apples, pears and walnuts, but if caught you felt the strong arm of the law and perhaps a fine or probation.

Belsize Avenue.jpg

Belsize Avenue had shops:- On the South-West side, starting from Celta Road. Opposite the School entrance was a chemist and next to that was Burton’s Shoe Shop then a further 200 yards a Fish Shop, owned at different times by Flemings, Newson, Feetham and later Barnard, next door was Flemings’ shop, (and as advised by Terry Aspittle later), Marshall's; and next to that a Newsagent later owned by Mrs Featherstone. Another 150 yards was the Post Office operated by Higgs, Tolliday, and later, Sugg. Opposite Orton Avenue was Walter Clayton’s Grocery (later Stan Ashpool) and next Johnny Braines the Barber – and Bookies’ Runner!

(Picture courtesy of Andrew Clay)

Then a break between houses giving access to the railway crossing, Old Fletton School Football field (which is now Morley Way), allotments and a right of way path to the Ortons. A further 75 yards on Mrs Pick ran a shop selling a variety of commodities.

On the North-East side, starting from Celta Road:- The entrance to Woodston Junior School, then a few yards at number 68 was Wilf Apthorpe who repaired cycles and also offered an exchange service for accumulators, which were required to be recharged for all wirelesses before the era of transistors. At number 76 was Percy Jauncey who tinkered with all kinds of machinery. Further on, at the junction with Orton Avenue, was Crowsons Butchers, owned by Johnny Crowson, the shop being part in Belsize Avenue and part Orton Avenue, naturally known as Crowson’s Corner which was announced by bus conductors on the arrival at that stop. Later butchers were Chamberlain, Hounsham, and Coleby. At this time a ladies hairdressers was run by Mrs Wright. On the opposite corner, The Woodston Hotel was owned by Mr Ted Walker, the early beers being Marshalls of Huntingdon, Hall, Cutlack & Harlock Ely Ales followed by Watneys and other amalgamated brewers. Walter Sprawson was a later landlord.

On Orton Avenue, between The Woodston Hotel and Huntly Road there were Co-op butchers and grocers shops and opposite just past the St Augustine’s Mission Hall (then known as The Church Army) there was a Shoe Repairer, Newsagent, a Fish & Chip shop; which was a hut, operated over some years by Barnett, Vine and Sam Bedford. At one time there was a dentistry workshop on this site. In Huntly Road our local policeman was in residence, the police house being occupied at different times by Police Constables Busby, Wright and Seamark.

At the Northern end of Belsize there was a track known as Baker’s Lane (since adopted and developed), it ran through to Oundle Road. A family named Baker lived at the Oundle Road/Peterborough side of the lane and were thought to own a pit close by which was used as a local dump – old wheels, bike frames, mangles, pots and pans. Absolutely anything unwanted found its way there. The waste ground at the Belsize end was developed with a Cold Store around the beginning of the war and further commercial units followed, with EMAP and others two decades later.

The last house in Belsize Avenue, owned by Mr French had garages at the rear with entrances from Baker's Lane, and it was reported that an elephant was housed there when the circus was in town.

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