This photograph of Andover from St Mary’s church tower is one of the earliest ‘aerial’ views of the town, looking out to the west. A wider view would bring in Chantry Street to the left and Marlborough Street to the right. If only the photographer had turned progressively to the north, east and south as well, we would have seen some instructive and extensive views of Shepherd’s Spring, Marlborough Street, New Street, Vigo Road, East Street, the upper High Street and Chantry Street.

Running right across the image is the white chalk embankment of the link line from Andover Junction to Andover Town station, constructed 15 years before in 1865. Just in front is the River Anton that flows into the Town Mill some way to the left and out of sight. To the right the Anton curls around what was then Cricklade mill and its associated farm. This is the cluster of buildings with thatched roofs. Only the two-storeyed farmhouse is tiled, standing above the others. This, much extended in later years, would become Cricklade House, and confirms that only this section of the house, which in the 20th century was to become a much larger building, is of any great age.

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Back to the top left-hand corner of the photograph and we can see, nearest the camera, the cottage hospital which opened in 1876 on the east side of Junction Road, and was demolished in 1992. Across the road stands the 1836 Andover workhouse of former ill-repute. The harshness of its domestic arrangements made national headlines in 1845 and prompted a parliamentary inquiry with some far-reaching results, including the abolition of the discredited Poor Law Commission.  

The central part of the photograph would have been a marshy area, acting either as a flood plain if the river became over-full or as a water meadow. Operation of sluice gates, allowing some water to flow over the cold land, enables grass to grow at the end of the winter before normally becoming available. It may have been unsuitable for watercress, though this was grown in the equally low-lying Folly and Shepherd’s Spring areas within living memory. With some good reason, no buildings were erected here until Cricklade College and the sports centre were constructed in the early 1970s, when considerable underpinning was necessary.

From this low ground level, the land rises fairly steeply and we can see the back gardens of the houses in Chantry Street and also those for the line of houses, known as Alpha Buildings, which were behind Chantry Street. The extreme end of Alpha Buildings can be seen here, and the edge of the gardens behind.

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The bottom right of the image shows what appear to be farm buildings but they are on land that was part of the tannery. Thirty years earlier, the tithe survey returns describe that area as being a ‘yard for tan bark and barns’ owned and occupied by leather tanner Thomas Heard Mortimore. However, the 1848 map produced at the same time shows those barns to be much smaller and fronting Marlborough Street only, so these on the photograph are later than that.

Mortimore, the owner of the tannery and mayor of Andover in 1857 and 1867, died in 1883. He may still have been operating the tannery at his death – certainly he had retained ownership. In June 1883 auctioneer Frederick Ellen held a sale in four lots of the deceased’s property. Lot 2 was described as a block of stores opposite the tannery premises and were sold for £325 to Alfred Butterworth who in 1899 was made a Freeman of the Borough, mainly for his contribution to establishing a free library in Bridge Street.

Butterworth may not have done very much with the site he bought, as the line of barns was still in existence in 1910 and can be seen on the Ordnance Survey map of that date. However, he seems to have built four new cottages on the part of the land that fronted Marlborough Street. The long line of terraced houses running down the hill in Marlborough Street today includes these houses but others further up the street were built by tobacconist William James Banks, who in July 1887 advertised for tenders to remove the various existing houses and build nine in their place. By the 1970s, that side of Marlborough Street was in danger of demolition as the houses had become derelict. Happily, by then a change in attitude saved them from destruction and they were instead restored and sold to private buyers.

If you are interested in local history, why not join Andover History and Archaeology Society? Details can be found at