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Originally forming the garden and orchard of Spring Grove (a large house in the Upper Sunbury Road now occupied by a cul-de-sac called Spring Grove), the Spring Grove Estate was re-named the River Hill Estate and laid out in building plots in the late 1870s. Some of the plots fronted onto Station Road (then called New Street) and were intended to be developed as shops.
Avenue Road was part of the River Hill Estate, which also included Belgrade Road, Plevna Road and Varna Road, which was laid out in building plots in 1878. Avenue Road (running from modern Station Road to Varna Road) was known as The Avenue up to 1896 (not to be confused with the road now known as The Avenue which runs from Broad Lane to Buckingham Road). It is believed that the name Avenue Road came about because of a nearby avenues of trees that existed prior to the estate being laid out. The estate built up quite quickly and there were already 28 houses in Avenue Road in 1892.
The 1911 Census records 36 inhabited and 2 uninhabited properties. The road was fully built up and would have looked much as it does now (ignoring the parked cars that now complete the picture). It is very noticeable from the Census that a large number of the residents worked at the nearby Metropolitan Water Board (MWB). In fact one third (12) of the heads of household worked there and a further 2 were MWB pensioners. This would no doubt be due to the closeness of the road to the Waterworks as well as the terraced housing rentals being affordable to people in those jobs.
Other occupations were all manual jobs and included a waterman and lighterman, farrier, tallow melter (who would have worked at the candle factory in Thames Street) and others.
It is believed that the reason the name (and those of Plevna and Varna Roads below) was chosen was that this was around the time of the Russo-Turkish war when these towns were in the news. The development of Belgrade Road was slower than the other roads in the estate; by 1892 it had only 7 houses and only 14 houses by 1899.
Perhaps because of this the road developed as a mix of terraced, semi-detached and a couple of larger detached houses. There were 31 inhabited properties in the 1911 Census (5 of which had lodgers) and 3 uninhabited ones. No 4 was occupied by St Mary?s Club and Institute. This was associated with St Mary?s Church and seems to have provided various sorts of entertainment including dances. The principal resident in the road was Michael Farmer who also built a number of the larger houses. He lived at No 39 'St Winifreds'. The Farmer family ran a Copying Apparatus business and a Cabinet Making business in adjacent Varna Road. Number 39 no longer exists and the site is occupied by a block of flats.
About a quarter of the householders are described as of 'private means' in the 1911 Census. There were also 3 schoolmasters and managers and clerks and others. Only 2 MWB employees lived in this part of the Riverhill Estate. There were some manual workers including a tramway motorman, a waterman and a painter and paperhanger.
Plevna Road had 24 houses in 1892 and 26 by 1899.
The Census for 1911 lists 34 houses and the Co-op Stores bakehouse at the corner with Station Road (the shop being round the corner in Station Road at Nos 67-71 - now occupied by 'Not Just Tiles').
The road was completely developed except for the southern end of the eastern side at the Thames Street end. This plot has since been developed and the houses are at a 45 degree angle to other houses in the road.
Due to its proximity to the Waterworks and the rental levels there were no less than 14 heads of household who were MWB employees and another who was Steward at the MWB Institute. The other listed occupations included a Contractor?s Foreman at the Sewage Works, a Building Contractor's Foreman at Hampton Court Palace, 2 gardeners and a nursery worker.
It was originally intended that Varna Road should join Belgrade Road but this extension was not built. Instead a factory was built on this land. In an 1892 Directory it is listed as 'Farmer & Son (Cyclostyle Manufacturers)' and 'Copying Apparatus Co Ltd'. It was commonly called 'The Factory' or 'The Patent Works'. The site is now occupied by the flats known as 'Dyer House'.
In some ways this could be described as 'the road that never was' in that it did not follow its planned course and has hardly any property in it (although it does now include a block of flats on the old factory site).
At the time of the 1911 Census it had one inhabited house and three buildings not used as dwellings. These latter were the workshops of the Copying Apparatus Company, Farmer's Joinery Works and Styles Stables.
The sole inhabitant of the road was a lighterman. During the day there would have been more activity with the workers at Farmer's Copying Apparatus Company and the cabinet maker's etc at the Joinery Works also run by the Farmer family.
John Sheaf
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What's On...

Events, shows, concerts, sporting occassions - month by month in your area -
What's On
Jun 27
Pride in London: Pride Day. London - various Celebration of sexual diversity, including the Pride parade (www.prideinlondon.org)
Jul 6-12
Pride in London: Pride Day Celebration of sexual diversity, including the Pride Parade. www.prideinlondon.org
Jul 11
The Gin to My Tonic Festival Kempton Park Fantastic celebration of all things gin! (www.kempton.co.uk)
Aug 15
Sunbury Regatta Rivermead Island, Sunbury (www.sunburyregatta.com)