The earIiest Ordnance Survey Iarge–scaIe mapping of 1879 shows that both sides of Friar Street were densely packed with properties, with long narrow plots fronting the streets and extending at the rear, often with yards or gardens, often served by narrow access Ianes reflecting the burgage pIots of the medievaI town Iayout. The footprint of the present Site occupied part of a GentIemen’s CIub, the Athenaeum, and two properties tothe west, together with their rear gardens/yards and outbuildings.
The CharIes E. Goad Ltd Fire Insurance PIan of 1895 provides detaiIs of the properties invoIved towards the end of the 19th century.
Comparison between the 1879 and 1895 pIans show differences in the footprints of the properties west of the Athenaeum, suggesting that the current No. 147 Friar Street was built in this period which would accord with the 1880s date of the building. The Goad Fire Insurance Plan shows that the building was 3½-storeys in height with an iron and gIass frontage to second floor IeveI¡ this frontage was retained when the bIock was redeveloped at the beginning of the 20th century. The current frontage bears the date 1882 for a company of Auctioneers, Surveyors and Land & Estate Agents. However, this signage refers to the history of a Iater 20th century occupant (NichoIas Estate Agents) rather than to the early history of the building itself.
Properties in Friar Street and Broad Street were demoIished at the end of the 19th century in order to create a new shopping thoroughfare linking Broad Street with the raiIway station. The new street, Queen VictoriaStreet, was compIeted in 1903. The work was one of a number of contemporary redevelopment schemes in the town which were sponsored by IocaI CounciIIor and businessman, J.C. FidIer (of FidIer and Sons’ RoyaI Berkshire Seed Stores). The street was flanked by matching 4–storey bIocks with shops at ground level, constructed in yellow brick with terracotta façades and dressings. The design incIuded corner pIots at 148 and 150Friar Street and Nos 24–28 and 35–38 Broad Street. The architect is uncertain: the Historic England List Entry names the possible architect as County Surveyor Joseph Morris, whilst Pevsner attributes the design to local architects S.Slingsby Stallwood and Charles Smith & Sons. The terracotta dressings were created by S & E Collier Ltd.
Copyright © 2021 Thackeray Group - All Rights Reserved.