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North Town Community Base ( 232 North Lane, Aldershot, GUI2 4TH ) is situated at the junction of North Lane and Denmark Square and can be readily reached from Aldershot town centre, by either walking via Redan Hill or alternatively by taking the frequent No 4 or 5 bus from the Victoria Road ( Wellington Centre) bus stop and alight at the North Town shops bus stop. Cross the road at the zebra crossing and you should see the North Town base slightly to your left, as shown in the  picture below.

North Town Community Base

Should you be travelling by car then again take the route via Redan hill which is the next turning off the high street (A323) after the railway bridge. Follow the road to its junction with north lane and then turn right looking for the junction with Denmark Street which is a few hundred yards further on your left. On street parking can usually be found in Denmark Street or nearby.

For those familiar with ordinance survey maps note that we are situated at grid reference SU 8784 5088.

On the second Tuesday of every month we organise a special walk in areas other than the North town location. These often involve catching a bus or driving to the start of the walk. For those travelling by bus we usually meet at 10.15 at the Aldershot bus station but this is not always the case so email or ask the committee for the precise arrangements. Every one who has registered their details with us will receive notification of all of our special walks a week in advance of the event.

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Portrait of North Town Aldershot

North Town, which is centred on and takes its name from North Lane,covers the eastern side of Aldershot.  It is bounded by the railway to the west and the Blackwater river to the east.  Redan Hill to the south west and the military camp to the north west isolates North Town from the rest of Aldershot and has lead to it developing much of an identity of its own.

North Lane has existed for many centuries, long before the development of Aldershot and the expansion of the military camp in the 1850s onwards. It is clearly shown on the old series ordinance survey maps, which were surveyed at the beginning of the 19th century, where it is shown linking the area, through nearby Hollybush Lane, with Farnborough. This route provided a local alternative to the London to Winchester Turnpike road, which followed a course to the west of Aldershot, that is now the Farnborough road.  Some claim that North lane and Holly bush Lane were once part of an old drover’s route between the West Country and London.

In many places the names of the old farms live on in the modern street names.  North town is no exception as Holly road is named after Holly farm and Deadbrook lane remembers Deadbrook farm which was situated in the meadow land that once existed between Deadbrook lane and the river Blackwater near to the canal. Much of the local area of North Hampshire was traditionally devoted to the growing of Hops for the beer industry. There is evidence that this may have been carried on nearby as Yew Tree farm that once stood near the junction of the lower Newport lane (once called Malt House Lane) and North lane, possessed a hop drying kiln.

In the first half of the 19th century, North Lane and its surrounds would have been sparsely populated with a few rural dwellings supporting a mainly agricultural community.  Amongst the oldest of the surving dwellings is Shawfield House off Shawfield lane. Development of North Town commenced with the coming of the Army in 1854, when the area expanded as a residential area for artisans and civilians employed on the construction and maintenance of the camp. During mid-Victorian times a speculator from Brighton first developed Queen Street and Denmark street as a number of long lines of terrace houses.

Between the wars saw further expansion when Park Farm, belonging to the Chrismas family, was sold off and developed for housing around the Newport and Haig road areas. The 1950s saw the building of the large social housing development,Denmark square, which featured an interesting  style of 3 storey brick built flats, with distinctive balconies. Recent years has seen the further expansion of North Town with the building of a sizable residential estate on the site previously occupied by Boots the chemists  south of England distribution centre. Currently the Denmark square area is under redevelopment with the gradual replacement of the existing flats with more modern dwellings.  It's interesting to note that the area between the Boots estate and the canal, now built on, was traditionally a low lying swampy area known as Deadbrooke pond

Possibly because of the isolation of North Town from Aldershot, the end of the 19th century saw a number of interesting developments including the building of a cemetery on Redan Hill, the building of the Gas works in 1865 (just to the east of the junction of North Lane and the Ash road), and in 1900 the building of an isolation hospital (long since demolished) between Canning road and Redan Hill. The Redan hill cemetery features a small distinct Jewish cemetery at its Southern end and across the road, adjacent to the railway embankment, a separate children’s cemetery. The Gas works could boast that its No 4 gas holder built in 1926, with a height of 212 feet was amongst the highest gas holders in the UK; for many years, until its recent demolition, it was a local landmark. The gas works once had their own railway siding which connected to the Guildford to Farnham line near Tongham station.

In post war years there were a number of large local employers, sadly now gone, which include Boots Distribution centre, Air Log, Thomas Christies (manufacturers of Patent medicines and cosmetics), H. Comoy( briar pipes), the REME Workshops and the Chicken Factory. Also remembered is the Holly road dairy,( F Stay ) built on the grounds of Herrett's farm, and modernised in 1949 with a new pasteurisation plant. Henri Comoy came to London from France in 1879 and opened up a tobaco pipe manufacturing  business in London at Nine dials and later whenproduction grew moved to a new factory at Clerkenwell. After merging with Cadogan, who also manufactured pipes, they came to North town in 1950.

Expansion of North town lead to the building of St Augustine's church in 1907, which replaced a small iron Mission Church, opened in 1880,located some 200 yards further along North Lane.

The Aldershot railway marks the boundary of North town and the adjacent South camp, now vacated by the army and soon to be developed as residential housing under plans known as the Wellesley development. The railway itself was late in coming to Aldershot and when the camp was first built in 1854, the nearest stations were at Tongham and at North Camp. A new branch of the South Western Railway, connecting Aldershot to the main London to Southampton route at Pirbright, was opened in 1870. The now removed military sidings joined this branch at a point close to the railway bridge at the north end of North lane. These sidings served the large Army field stores, now demolished, which were situated just west of Redan hill (South of peak hill) and served by Ordnance road. ( see Ann's Memories of the Field Stores )

The building of the A331 black water valley relief road in the 1990s had a profound effect on the local natural environment for the opportunity was taken to establish a green corridor adjacent to the new road with much landscaping and tree planting as well as the formation of a number of new nature reserves and the creation of the Black water path that stretches from the source of the Blackwater in Rowhill copse to its junction with the river Lodden at Swallowfield near Reading.

The Basingstoke Canal also runs through North Town where it crosses both the Blackwater and the A331 on a new bridge specially  constructed  during the building of the of the new road and opened in 1995.  The Basingstoke canal, which originally linked Basingstoke to the Wey navigation at Byfleet near Woking, was completed in 1794 and has a length of 37 miles. Amongst its major engineering features can be included, the one mile cutting at nearby Deepcut, the 1000 yard embankment across the Blackwater valley locally and the 1230 yard tunnel at Greywell near Odiham. All this was constructed long before mechanisation when the main tools available to the navies were shovel and wheel barrow. The canal was surveyed by the canal engineer William Jessop and the building was organised by the local contractor John Pinkerton.

Stretches of the Basingstoke canal, the Blackwater valley path and the adjacent nature reserves all feature in the routes of our local walks.

North town has seen many changes in recent years, with the development of the Boots Site as a modern housing estate and the redevelopment of the social housing estate off Denmark Square, and will see further changes in the years ahead as the large Wellesley (Aldershot Urban Extension) project, on redundant army land the other side of the railway, gets underway. Sadly however, was the loss of all of North Town's public houses with the last, the Heroes of Lucknow, 264 North Lane,closing in May 2014. Other pubs once operational in North Town were the Prince Albert (266 North Lane closed 2002), the Star (208 North Lane closed 2001 but continues as an off licence.), and the White Swan ( 161 North Lane closed 2012 )

These buildings, which have much character, currently still exist and in some cases seem to have found alternative uses which at least will, hopefully, preserve them and their memory.

Long ago, a pub called the Nags Head existed in Deadbrook Lane. One of the town's first schools was a room upstairs in the inn. It was an inn patronised by farmers, drovers and bargees and eventually, in the 1880s, was converted into three cottages which have long since gone.
Close to North Town, off Ash Road near the junction with North Lane, were the Lord Clyde (233 Ash Road), which is still standing but converted to a private residence, and the Colin Cambell which was demolished.

Rowan Fields Canal bridge over A331
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Local Historical buildings

Although Aldershot has no Class 1 listed buildings it does have a large number of buildings listed Class 2, many dating from its rich Victorian and Edwardian heritage during the time when the town expanded as a garrison town, but also a surprising number dating back to earlier times or connected with nearby farming. If you are interested in locating local listed buildings you can find these listed on the National heritage list for England page of the English Heritage Web site. Searching for Aldershot produced surprisingly 74 results. Further information on local buildings of historical interest can be found on the Hampshire County Council web page entitled Hampshire Treasures Volume 3 Hart and Rushmore This latter site, in addition to listing local buildings of interest, also mentions local features and archaeological sites.

I found five class 2 listed buildings in the North Town region as listed below. Photos shown are preliminary and I will take some better ones in due course.

Herrett's Farmhouse, Lower Newport Road
SU 87889 50090 (51.2432769 -0.7422351)

19th C partly timber framed farmhouse, the front of which has been stuccoed. The farm house is named after William Herrett who farmed locally. Behind the farmhouse was the site of the Holly Dairies F Stay ,modernised with new equipment in 1949 and active up-until 30 years ago

Herrett's Farmhouse
North Lane East End FarmHouse, Eastern Road
SU 87917 50741 (51.2491251 -0.7416744)

Timber framed farmhouse possibly as old as 16th C, with 17th C extensions and brick clad 18th C.

Eastern Road Farm House
Yew Tree Cottages,Lower Newport Road
SU 87848 50043 (51.2428607 -0.7428339)

C17 Farm building but with latter extensions, consisting originally of one irregular block with 2 storeys of different heights and now divided into 3 dwellings.In the 19th C Yew Tree Farm possessed a hop kiln the top of which was removed about 70 years or so ago but the rounded wall has been built into adjacent buildings. The presence of this kiln reminds us the extent of hop growing both in our town and adjacent areas in times gone by.

Yew Tree Cottage
Ash Lock Cottage, Government Road
SU 88046 51775 (51.2584008 -0.7395724)

Single-storeyed late 18th C plain dwelling adjoining a lock on the Basingstoke Canal.

Ash Lock Cottage
Military Cemetery Ordnance Road
SU 87512 51380 (51.2549319 -0.7473199)

The Royal Engineer's original layout drawings for Aldershot camp, dating back to 1853/4, show the layout of the cemetery. The cemetery, with a small wooden chapel, was opened for burials in 1855.The wooden chapel was replaced by the current much larger brick chapel in 1879 when the cemetery was extended.

Chapel Military Cemetery

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Stay's Dairy Remembered.

Our member Ann, who remembers the Dairy
(F Stay) when it was still in operation, informs us that they obtained their milk from Fields Farm, which was joined onto and just behind the Prince Albert Pub in North town, and hence at the top end of Deadbrook Lane. The Farm house still stands as a private dwelling but the Prince Albert Pub closed in 2002 and is now used as a hairdressers and beauty saloon.
(Thanks Ann for the photo)

Stays Dairy Milk Float

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