Village History

Bricks, Mortar & Public Services

Our village history since 1900 can be traced in several ways - buildings, Parish Records and living memories. Whilst the latter is often the most colourful it can be inaccurate, though this chapter concerns something more tangible: buildings and public services.

Imagine a village, which only occupied the High Street, plus a few cottages on the Bulford Road and a few on the Salisbury Road.

Click on the thumbnail to see the full photo of the high street in the early half of the 20th century

These cottages had thick chalk cob wails and thatched roofs. The chalk had been dug out of the village chalk pit up the Croft Road, known to generations as the Horse Shoe, but planted over with copper beeches by the W.D. [Ed: War Department, now MoD] in recent years.

The chalk was mixed with local clay, brought down from Ashdown Woods on the backs of donkeys, from a spot aptly named by older generations as the "Donkey Pit".

The chalk walls are fine as long as water does not penetrate allowing the winter frosts to break and crumble the wall.

Alas few of these chalk walls remain except around the walled gardens of The Moorings, Garden House, Lorne Cottage and Parsonage Farm. Part of Farthing cottage walls are still chalk, the remainder being brick and flint. Brick and flint are also employed in The Forge, Bramble Cottage, Hillcote and The Moorings. Of the more substantial houses of this period we still have the Manor Farmhouse, Parsonage Farm, Garden House, the Old Vicarage, Lorne Cottage and Snoddington Manor.

New! We now have a partial history of one of the oldest houses in the village, Parsonage Farm.

The military occupation of Salisbury Plain and the building of barracks at Tidworth altered everything,

The Hants. and Wilts. Laundry already serving the army in Aldershot built a new laundry in the High Street and brought into the village some of its workers from Hale. Another laundry was built down the lane past the workman's club and of course Allen and Lloyds built their mineral water works in Salisbury Road. They supplied all the Messes and canteens on the plain. The bigger farmhouses in the village became married quarters for high-ranking officers.

For the new industries new houses were built. A local builder must have had a good supply of red bricks similar to the type used in the buildings of Tidworth barracks. Holly Villas, Wilton Terrace, Vigor's butchers shop, Antrium House (previously a grocers and baker's shop) and Red Villas were all built during this period but Bedlam Farm buildings were abandoned, as well as the cottage in the corner of Ashdown Woods, where the Plank family lived. They were all swallowed up in the intense trench warfare training area. Parkhouse Farm cottages, although in the midst of a vast Australian camp in two World Wars, were not demolished until the early sixties. After World War I, a few wooden framed bungalows clad with corrugated iron were built on plots up Parkhouse Road, plus Vicarage Bungalows, Vigors Bungalows and Cosy Bungalows. Up Bulford Road several railway carriages were converted for habitation.

Click on the thumbnail for the full picture of Sailisbury road between the wars (looking south)

However, between the wars there was little new building though several of the old chalk cottages in the High Street were rebuilt in brick. The most important enterprise was the building of Hedges Close in the early thirties.

After World War II some of the vacant plots in the High Street were developed and bigger areas adjacent to Parkhouse Road became larger estates and Sarum Close and Parkhouse Close were built

During the last 40 years, it seems all the infilling has been completed and the new estates are all now part of the village, including Muscott Close and Goodwyns Close which are Army married quarters.

Is this the end of our expansion?

With the completion of our latest building, the Village Centre, all facets of village life have come together. A compact village bordered by open country for walks or picnics. It is still of course dependent economically for its proximity to military establishments as farming alas employs a minimum of labour.

New! Since the original publication the building of the Kingfishers estate on the site of the old Army Laundry has changed the high street a little, with Astor Mews along the old frontage of Astor Flats. Further infilling has occurred, and the old wooden Vicarage Bungalows were burnt down in a catastrophic fire in 2002, to be replaced in 2004 by some brick-built dwellings.

The Parish Plan has outlined that the village should only be infilled: the school has now reached its maximum capacity and cannot take any more. The village is, in effect, a self-sustaining community but has almost reached its maximum capability for the amenities available. If the village were to be expanded, it would need significant development for shops, a new school and play-areas - and all outside the floodplain which is limiting building in the lower parts of the village (such as along the High Street) as well as in areas which feed their sewers and waste water into the main pipes along the High Street.

Cottages and Old Houses

Shipton Bellinger has not retained many of its ancient cottages and buildings. Of the buildings marked on the Tithe Map of 1840, only nine houses and the church can be found today. Many have disappeared within living memory, since older inhabitants of the village can remember at least twenty thatched cottages all built along the river carriage. Those who had lived in cottages remembered them as having wooden floors, with brick floors to outhouses. The wooden boards could be raised to check the state of the springs below the house.

Cottages often consisted of one long room downstairs and up, with a tin lean-to (e.g. the Forge Cottage). Cottages were sometimes sub-divided to house an extra family, later reverting to one again. The majority of cottages that have gone were chalk-walled, while those that remain are principally flint and brick. One of the oldest of the latter is Bramble Cottage in the High Street, which claims its existence as being since 1604. It was church property until 1899, when the Church Commissioners for England, sold it to Henry Charles Stephens as part of the Cholderton Estate. In 1920, his widow and Executors sold it to Albert Perrior (blacksmith) for 135. The Tithe Records show that different branches of the Gilbert family, whose most famous descendant was of Gilbert & Sullivan fame, lived in the houses now called "The Moorings", "The Old Vicarage" and "Parsonage Farm" (we can find no evidence that Lorne Cottage was similarly occupied). Both the latter two houses are now privately owned, after many years of occupation by Army Officers.

Only four of the old buildings are known to be Listed (Grade II) in 1984:

Farthing Cottage is a typical example of alterations to old buildings. Part was added in 1883 as witnessed by a date in the gable end. Examination of the old timbers suggest that at one period the first floor and roof were raised.

The first Council Houses were erected in 1930 at Hedges Close and the selection of tenants caused some problems, as there were 42 applications for the 12 houses available! Later developments included Sarum Close (1948), Parkhouse Close (1957), followed by Threadgill Way and Gardeners Green in 1964.

The Quarters in Muscott Close were erected about 1964 and Goodwyns Close at the same time.

The significant private developments were:

Also there have been many infill developments of similar vintage, which were all able to take advantage of the advent of mains drainage in 1960.

Roads and Tracks

The Enclosure Acts laid out the width of what were the main track-ways, each of which had to be 40 feet wide. Today, few of these are used as highway's but remain as the old green roads of England.

The old route to Salisbury was the concentration of the present Parkhouse Road, past ''The Beech Tree'' and in almost a straight tine to the end of what is now Boscombe Aerodrome, where the trackway crossed the dawns to High Post, there joining the ''Old Marlborough Road'' and continuing on via Old Sarum to Salisbury.

Another track which was one of the old drove roads, along which the sheep were driven to Weyhill Fair from over the Plain, crossed the Old Marlborough Road at Milston Down. It continued through Shipton along what is now Bulford Road (then called Milston Road), via The Croft Road, and straight on to Kimpton, Weyhill and Andover.

The stretch of track running between the present recreation ground and the Sarum Close council estate was referred to as Mill Road, perhaps short for Milston on the River Avon where the mills used by the village may have been. There is no record of there having been a mill in the village.

The third track came from Everleigh by way of the Cross Belt and then straight on to the Beech Tree, leaving the Parish by the track close to ''Althorne'' to ''Potters Cross'' which was the junction with the A303. This was called the Harroway and led to Romsey and Southampton.

The present A338, much widened since the last war, is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1st Edition map of 1817, it is possible that this was a higher-ground alternative to the village street, which was subject to flooding. A temporary footbridge was erected over the river in Bulford Road whenever the springs issued. The present permanent bridge was built about 1937/38. Such flooding was eventually controlled when the riverbed was deepened and the springs higher up were tapped.

Alas we no longer have our own roadman. Mr. Snook did the job for years and the final road man, Mr. Lennie Young was in 1958 commended by the Parish Council and County Council for his excellent work on the local roads.

The minor road past Snoddington Manor to Kimpton and Fyfield was constructed about 1880. Mr. Alexander the ''squire'' of Snoddington Manor cut through the edge of Snoddington Hill, lined the road with chestnut trees and used it for easy access to the railway link from Andover to London. A similar cutting was made on the B3084 Wallop/Romsey road and the bridge over the River Bourne is dated as 1886

Many country gentlemen at this time improved the routes for their carriages and horses to the nearest railway station.

A village sign once stood on the Parish owned parcel of land at the top of the High Street where the bus shelter now stands. The sign was dismantled in 1940, along with all signposts, to confuse the enemy when invasion was threatened. During the ensuing war years the sign was lost. In 1982 a new sign designed and built by Mr. Elgin was erected on the green, at the junction of the High Street with the A338 Salisbury Road. The old stone base, said to be a very old font was used again and this led to a drive by the Parish Council and other volunteers to tidy up the village

The riverbed, dry and always an eyesore in the summer with its forest of nettles and weeds, was first tackled. Shrubs and trees were planted along its banks, and were especially welcome, as Dutch Elm disease had led to the felling of all the grand old elm trees.

So successful were the efforts of the Parish Council and householders that in 1986, the village was entered for the best-kept village competition.

The lovely chestnut tree in Old Farm House Close at the bottom of the High Street was planted as a conker on V.E. Day 1945 by John Acheson, then a school boy. John's family were the last occupants of the old farmhouse that stood on the corner which was demolished to widen the Tidworth Road. His father Colonel Acheson was chairman of the committee that raised the money and bought the Playing Field in 1951.

Click left for a photo of the Old Farm House looking North on Salisbury Road (A338) between the wars.

Water Supply and Sewerage

The village grew up along the river Bourne, which would have provided an early source of water. Later, wells would have been sunk, and a map of 1896 shows ten wells. Subsequently, developments such as the laundry and the ''Pop'' Factory, required large quantities of water and the laundry sunk its own well and behind the 'Pop'' factory at the top of a small rise, a bore hole with a wind pump was set up and a small reservoir built. (The wind pump was demolished in the 1960s).

In 1904 the Cholderton & District Water Company applied to the Board of Trade for approval for a piped water supply to the village. In 1909, Mr. Stephens decided not to proceed with house to house water distribution, as he was concerned that a plentiful supply of water would only aggravate the serious sanitary situation, arising from a lack of a proper drainage system. At this time a tap was attached to the main ''so that the villagers could have, for the first time, a supply of pure water free by fetching the same'' (a quote from the Parish Council Minutes)

When Manor Close was built in the sixties, the well that used to serve the farm was filled in. This well was 60 feet deep and was a beautiful bell shaped structure built in brick. The site of the well can be seen a few yards up the footpath opposite the Moorings subsidence is still taking place in this well and the footpath has had to be filled and repaired on a number of occasions recently.

The disposal of sewage and rubbish is a continuing saga in the Parish Council minutes of that time. Most properties had night soil buckets that required collecting for disposal and some had cesspits, some of which were a source of nuisance. The appointment, from time to time, of an efficient ''Scavenger'' seems to have been one of the principal occupations of the Council. Mr. Stephens, who was Chairman of the Parish Council, put forward proposals for a proper sewerage system. In 1910 this proposal and others were under disillusion, and remained so for the next 50 years until a main sewerage system came into use in 1960.

In 1915 more water taps were set up on the main. Between the two world wars a piped supply was made available to properties. There is no evidence of there ever having been a central village pump but rather a number of wells which served larger properties individually and other rows or groups of dwellings. The changeover to piped water was gradual. Standpipes replaced the communal wells and whether or not the water was piped into the house depended on the owner or landlord. Properties belonging to the Ministry of Defence had a piped water supply from Tidworth.

Fire destroyed a large number of the original thatched properties. The situation was no doubt aggravated by the lack of a fully developed modern water supply. It was not until 1935 that a proposal came before the Parish Council for fire hydrants. A lack of mains stopcocks in the older part of the village still means that some repairs have to be carried out under pressure to avoid disrupting the supply to other users.

The Croft House nestling at the bottom of the Croft Wood or Shipton Wood as the maps call it had its own water supply. An underground reservoir at the top of the wood was supplied by the wind pump near the ''Pop'' factory.

Captain Corbold Warren, a famous polo player in his day, was a notable resident in the Croft House, where he had extensive stables and paddocks for his polo ponies. In his later years he bred rabbits commercially and his paddocks were divided into rabbit runs,

The house was completely destroyed by fire at the end of the war, when occupied by evacuees.


The Wessex Electricity Company brought the line to the village in 1931. The transformer was rated at 25 kVA, which nowadays is considered large enough to supply only two or three homes. At that time the maximum allowed was three lights and one power socket per house, insufficient to light the whole house in most cases and so oil lamps and candles remained in use as well. Thus a great deal of decision-making was necessary: should the lights be upstairs or downstairs, or perhaps two down and one up or one down and…

In 1937 there was an exhibition in the Church Hall of all available electrical appliances (not that there were many). A cooker cost 5, refrigerator 9, and a set of saucepans for use on a cooker was 1 10 shillings. The items could be purchased by paying an extra shilling (5p) into the meter each week. A set of pans is still in use in the village, as good as ever after 47 years.

Since that time the system has been extended by the installation of a number of pole mounted and ground mounted transformers mainly in the 1950s and early 1960s

Twelve streetlights were installed in the older parts of the village in 1938, although negotiations had started in May 1935, with the Wessex Electricity Company. It would appear from the Parish Council Minutes, that one of the main reasons was to enable the imposition of a 30mph speed limit throughout the Village. Subsequent housing developments have had street lighting included.

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Page Last Updated: 21st September 2005