THIS photograph of Andover Town by Charles Wardell was taken in 1968 just before work started on building the new town centre shops in Chantry Way.

Despite demolishing a vast swathe of shops, houses, outhouses and sheds in the open area to the left, which stretched right across to the back of the Guildhall, some buildings escaped those initial, mass demolitions.

On the southern side of Chantry Street, everything between the Phoenix inn and Ford Cottage was torn down, though much of the northern side survived for a short time, including the block of six three-storey houses in the foreground that remained standing for a couple of years before its demolition.

Opposite and what in hindsight seems particularly pointless was the demolition of the Phoenix inn, a building of probable, similar age to the shop next door, which is now regarded as one of Andover’s gems.

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What replaced the Phoenix was nothing more than a high brick wall in front of an area of unnecessary space, a tiny part of the rear loading and service area for the Chantry Centre.

Lower down the street, on the northern side, was Chantry Farm which became the site for the Cricklade complex of college, sports centre and magistrates’ court, building for which began in 1972 but was not fully completed until 1974-75.

It was a very boggy area with the Anton river passing nearby and the water table was only just beneath the surface.

At the bottom of Chantry Street, Ford Cottage with its timber framing can clearly be seen. Here, the demolitions stopped, partly because it was on the Pontings’ garage site but also because the council suddenly became sensitive about destroying a building claimed to be 16th century.

There it stayed empty for years and years, subject to the ravages of the weather and minor arson attempts, as the arguments raged over whether it was really worth saving.

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Finally, it was resolved to move the whole building to its new site under the church tower at the junction of the upper High Street with Marlborough Street and Chantry Street – a costly compromise that ostensibly kept the building, though destroying any on-site archaeological value it may have once had.

It freed up the old site and enabled the construction of a new complex of flats called Chantry Lodge.

Surrounding Ford Cottage is the motley collection of buildings that housed Ponting’s of Andover, the Ford specialists.

Here we might pause a moment and muse over whether Ford Cottage was named after the Ford cars sold here or because the site was that of an ancient ford over the river Anton which, before town development, would certainly have passed nearby.

In order to build the new (ground level) car park of 1970, the course of the river Anton was moved westwards, so it was much nearer the bottom of Chantry Street in former times than it is today.

Because this low-level, very flat land would no doubt have been subject to flooding, Ford Cottage does mark the point where the land rises sufficiently to enable passage across the wet land.

The answer to the question lies in whether Ford Cottage was so-named before the age of Ford vehicles or not, something that curiously is difficult to verify. Perhaps somebody knows for sure.

Ponting’s was named after Philip Ponting, who was mayor of Andover in 1954.

He acquired the garage from the Macklin brothers - also Ford specialists – who moved to Chantry Street from Bridge Street when their premises were bought by the Wilts and Dorset bus company in 1948.

Philip Ponting retained the old name for a while but subsequently, it became Ponting’s – certainly by 1953.

The garage premises expanded later to include a showroom on the opposite side of the street for the sale of new cars, and also a filling station. In the 1980s it became Doves.

Returning to the photograph, the path of the future Western Avenue can be seen running right across, in front of the houses of Junction Road and the various residential streets beyond.

This was formerly the branch line of the railway that linked Andover Junction to Andover Town.

Now the railway was closed and work was soon to start in constructing the new road, which actually opened for traffic before the demolition of the Town Station buildings in Bridge Street.

These were left to deteriorate for some years before a rising clamour to remove what had become an eyesore was finally answered in 1971.