Oxford Terrace

Oxford Terrace on the Eve of War

by Allan Palmer

My previous research into the street neighbouring All Saints’ Church has looked at the Census records for 1901, 1911 and 1921. Under a 100-year embargo, the 1931 Census would not be released to the public until 2032, but in fact the records for that Census were destroyed by fire during the Second World War. 

However, there is a source of information that provides details about the residents on the eve of World War 2. The 1939 Register, compiled in September of that year, was a snapshot of the civilian population. The Register’s initial use was to produce identity cards. Subsequently the information was used to issue ration books, administer conscription and other matters. Updates of the Register continued while National Registration was in force, which required the notification of changes of name or address. This ended in 1952, but since 1948 the Register had also been used by the National Health Service, who continued updating the records until 1991, when paper-based record keeping was discontinued.

The 20 households I have previously described in Oxford Terrace and Victoria Park Terrace are recorded in the 1939 Register as a single named street: Victoria Park Road. There are now only 64 residents listed (about two-thirds of the number in 1921), of whom 5 are “At school”. While there is one household of 7 people, the other households average 3 in size. Albert Butler is still a resident from previous Census lists, continuing as a groundsman at May’s Bounty cricket ground. Likewise, Arthur Austin, the plumber is still a neighbour of All Saints’ Church, as is Henry W Cooper (head gardener at The Shrubbery).

The range of occupations has changed; I note only one personal obviously in the tailoring industry - 16-year-old Jean Mumford is a “Trimmer – cloth”. There are 5 residents with the occupation of “Nursery hand Glasshouse Food production” – possibly reflecting the number of nurseries to the west of the town centre in the Kings Furlong and Cranbourne areas off the Winchester Road for example. There is a Post Office Telegraphist and a Post Office Telephonist. Albert E Downham at number 15 Victoria Park Road has his occupation transcribed as “Body building”! But looking at the image of the original hand-written record, this is followed by what appears to be “Heavy works”, so I suspect he built vehicle bodies at Thorneycroft’s, or Wallis & Stevens’ factories. 20 residents are listed as having “Unpaid domestic duties”.

Looking across the variations in the population during the first four decades of the twentieth century gives an indication of how life changed with smaller families and varied occupations. By the 1930s, the local Basingstoke population has increased to over 14,000, more than 50% growth since 1901, and while the density of population in Victoria Park Road has decreased, newer houses have been built across the town.

Th outbreak of war led to changes in the pattern of services at All Saints’ Church due primarily to blackout regulations. The resulting changes of service times imposed by the actions of an outside dictator wishing to enforce his vision were commented on in the Parish Magazine: “It must have been in such conditions that in the ancient heroic days of the Church similar services would be held in the catacombs.”. 

When the 1939 Register was compiled, the Priest-in-Charge position for All Saints’ was vacant. Rev George William Outram Addleshaw (a supporter and scholar of the High Church tradition) had taken up a new appointment. Rev R K Haslam arrived from Maidstone in Kent to take up the All Saints’ post in January 1940.

The Historic England website (https://historicengland.org.uk/) has an archive of a photographs. I found an aerial shot taken in August 1928 that shows part of Basingstoke looking south, from a point roughly above where New Street meets Timberlake Road, towards the Fairfields area. Here is a cropped extract from that photograph with a few locations identified to give you an idea of where Oxford Terrace was. 

Aerial photograph(Aug 1928) from Historic England Archive  showing location of Oxford Terrave

See these pages for more information:

📍 Neighbours of the "Iron Church" (1901-1911)

📍 Neighbours of the "new" All Saints' (1921)