Great Wolford in the 1970s

The following are extracts from a letter written by Meredith Hawes to the Planning Authority in 1970. It reveals a somewhat depressing picture of Great Wolford at the time.

"As residents since 1960 in the small community of Great Wolford my wife and I are concerned about certain events which may effect adversely the present and future development in the conservation area of this village as outlined by your Design and Special Studies Group in February 1970. Our concern is shared by many other residents in this village and I feel I should call your attention to these matters without further delay.

We are not, of course, opposed in principle to alterations and modernisation of existing buildings of character where such changes are unavoidable and essential to the well-being of the residents but, at the same time, we and others have a particular interest in environment as it reflects character and is of group value to such a closely integrated community as exists here. From your study group report referred to above it is obvious that your department and the County Council are also concerned in this matter.

The Conservation Plan (February 1970) of Great Wolford indicates an area of character essential to the village extending from the Church to the cross-roads and northwards to the junction of the Todenham Road. Within this area however two buildings of architectural character and occupying key positions are threatened by decay or demolition. I refer (a) to the semi-detached stone house next to the village shop on the left approaching the church and (b) to the stone thatched cottage at the S.W corner of the Todenham RoadGW55 junction. These two buildings are empty and rapidly deteriorating through lack of attention to the fabric and its depredation by irresponsible persons. In the case of (a) the owner is unwilling to let it or put the house up for sale and it has remained empty for some years. In the case of (b) the person deputising for the owner seems unwilling to put the property up for sale or auction and its deterioration has now reached such a point when the building is threatened with demolition. This would be a great loss and an irresponsible act as it forms a significant terminal feature to the North/South axis of the village. If this building were put up for auction it is certain that it would attract a discriminating buyer who would be prepared to restore the cottage to much of its original character and charm and thereby preserve the group's character of buildings at this cross-roads. (Incidentally, any suggestion that this house should be demolished for road widening is irrelevant as there is plenty of room for this to be done without destroying this particular building or interfering with its access).

In discussion with Mr Cooper, Surveyor and Sanitary Inspector, Shipston on Stour R.D.C we have raised these particular cases and a number of other matters, namely:

Nethercote farm(1) Buildings of character in the village outside the central area of character, including:

  1. Nethercote Farm (completely abandoned but originally a house of dignity and character which with expert care could be largely restored to its original character and made completely habitable.
  2. Brook Cottages on the Toddenham Road, two semi-detached buildings in brick and stone which are in character with other buildings in the conservation area of the village. One is for sale but the other used as a builders yard and store has been neglected for years; with proper care however it could be restored and would make a residence of character.
  3. Modernisation and extension of a brick semi-detached cottage on the Barton Road using totally unsuitable bricks.

(2) The erosion and fouling of footpaths by the constant straying and movement of cattle, the careless driving of large farm vehicles and the parking of cars. This is particularly noticeable on the road leading to Barton.

(3) The small village green in the area of character is in a bad state with the turf disturbed and not replaced where a faulty drainage system leads to periodic blockages.

Mr Cooper suggested that we should approach you and in view of the matters raised above I am now doing so in the hope that something can be done to combat the undoubted erosion of amenities and character of the village which has been and is still taking place. It may be of interest to you to know that, until August 1970, I was Principal of the Birmingham College of Art and Design, when I was also responsible for the School of Architecture (Director Prof Denys Huton) and the School of Planning (Prof Rose). My wife, who is an art historian was also a lecturer at the College of Art at Birmingham".

The map accompanying the documents to which Hawes refers notes that Ingram Close, The Leys, Leylands, Rising Hill, the Coach House (which Mr Hawes had built and occupied), Little Orchards and Homefield were all "recent buildings". Other building has taken place since; "the recent buildings" are now integral parts of the village, each of the dilapidated buildings to which he refers ia now a "des res", and life goes on!