BETWEEN 1900 and the early 1930s Andover’s population almost doubled, to reach 10,000 people.

The various reasons for both local and national growth were many, but to cope with the expanding population more houses were needed; as well as demand, a combination of low interest rates and cheap raw material costs created a building boom, not just in Andover but all over the country.

The need for new homes meant that outlying, undeveloped land became prime sites.

In Andover, much of this was on the western edge of the town, in the Salisbury Road and Weyhill Road areas.

Salisbury Road saw new streets created - Walnut Tree Road, Marchant Road and St Hubert’s Road, as well as development along the main road itself but there was much more happening off Weyhill Road where entirely new estates were created beyond the railway bridge.

The first local council houses were built to the east of the town in parts of Vigo Road and Batchelors Barn Road during the 1920s but a far larger project was that of the King George Road area in the early Thirties.

Apart from housing those who were in need of accommodation, the council wanted to move people from insanitary areas such as New Street, designated for slum-clearance programmes.

At first, this was opposed by those affected; they did not want to be exiled to the outer reaches of the town.

However, once they had time to appreciate the standard of accommodation, not least a bathroom, hot water, electricity and mains drainage, the mood changed.

Wilfred Armstead, the local councillor who led the policy and initially faced strong opposition, almost lost his seat in the 1933 election but in a complete reversal, topped the poll in 1936

Besides new council houses there was also a spurt of building by private firms who would buy an expanse of land and build houses for sale.

One of these companies was the London firm of Walford’s whose design architects, Wright and Renny, were based in Woolwich.

The site area was the south side of Weyhill Road and included Ash Tree Road that ran parallel behind it. Today’s Meadow Way marks the eastern boundary of the site but in the 1930s that was also part of Ash Tree Road.

Two types of semi-detached houses were on offer here and the cost to the eventual buyer was £525 if on the main road and £495 for all other houses. The deposit was £25 and the weekly payments were 15/- (75p) and 14/2d (71p) respectively.

In days when an average wage was around £2 per week, the mortgage payment represented more than a third of that income, with another 10 per cent to find for rates.

But far easier than today’s situation was the £25 deposit - around three months earnings. Mortgages were typically of 20 years duration and bank rate was stable at 2 per cent.

These houses did not prove easy to sell, however. By 1936, although intended for owner-occupiers, the builders were offering them for rent at £1 a week. Perhaps they were too expensive in comparison to what was on offer elsewhere.

In the Salisbury Road area, the local firm of Cook and Ferris, soon to become Cook and Jack, whose offices were at No 2 The Broadway, were selling their semi-detached houses for a £20 deposit with 10/4d (52p) weekly, while a detached house was available for £30 plus 14/1d (71p).