A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9, Burton-Upon-Trent. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.
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Lying on what was formerly the Derbyshire side of the river Trent, Winshill was transformed in the mid 19th century from a secluded settlement into a large village with extensive housing for workers in Burton. Later in the century middle-class houses were built along the Ashby road, and there has also been extensive 20thcentury council and private housing development in the south-eastern part of the township.
Winshill was a township in Burton ancient parish and later a civil parish covering 1,150 a. (465.4 ha.). (fn. 15) The southern part of the township, covering 607 a. (245.6 ha.), was taken into Burton municipal borough on its extension in 1878, (fn. 1) and under the Local Government Act of 1888 that area, then given as 642 a. (259.8 ha.), was treated for municipal purposes as part of Staffordshire. (fn. 2) It was wholly transferred to Staffordshire in 1894, when the remaining part of the township on the north and east sides of Dale brook was added to the adjoining Derbyshire civil parish of Newton Solney. (fn. 3) The acreage of the Winshill ward of East Staffordshire district was 452 a. (183 ha.) in 1981. A boundary change of 1991 added land from the Derbyshire parishes of Newton Solney and Bretby. (fn. 4) This article treats the former township, including the part added to Newton Solney in 1894 up to that date.
The underlying rock is sandstone with some marl, overlain with boulder clay in the south-eastern part of the township along Ashby Road. The soil is loam. (fn. 5) An outcrop of rock near the north end of the present Newton Road recreation ground was called 'Aseclive' in the mid 13th century, and the word 'cliff' was still used in the later 18th century for outcrops to the north of Dale brook. (fn. 1a) The land rises from 149 ft. (45 m.) beside the river Trent at the Newton Road recreation ground to 414 ft. (122 m.) on Ashby Road near the eastern boundary. The hill after which Winshill is named rises to just over 300 ft. (91.5 m.) in the centre of the township. To the north Dale brook forms a broad valley which was taken as the boundary when the township was split between Burton and Newton Solney in 1894.
The adult population listed in an Easter Book probably of the 1550s was 84. (fn. 2a) The township's population in 1801 was 309, rising to 357 by 1821, falling to 342 by 1831, but rising again to 377 by 1841 and 405 by 1851. It then doubled to 880 in 1861 as a result of new housing in Winshill village, and it continued to increase substantially, reaching 1,478 by 1871. (fn. 3a) The most populated part of the township was included in Burton municipal borough in 1878, with populations of 2,829 in 1881 and 3,644 in 1891. (fn. 4a) In 1901 the population was 4,266. Thereafter figures are not available for the same area, but in 1911 the population of the Winshill and Wetmore ward of the county borough was 5,551, rising to 5,680 by 1921 and 6,222 by 1931. In 1951 the ward's population had increased only slightly to 6,279, but it was 8,508 by 1961 and 9,358 by 1971; the rise was chiefly the result of new councilhouse estates. The population of the borough council's Winshill ward was 7,201 in 1981, falling to 6,614 by 1991. (fn. 5a)
The east end of the medieval Burton bridge stood in Winshill, where the road to Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Leics.) took the line of Bearwood Hill Road and High Bank Road. The road was turnpiked in 1753 and a tollgate was erected near the foot of Bearwood Hill Road. (fn. 6) After the present Ashby Road was laid out on a more direct line in the later 1830s, a tollgate was erected near Moat Bank. A tollhouse there was demolished in the 1930s. (fn. 7)
Winshill Village The name Winshill is Old English and means Wine's hill. (fn. 8) If there was not already a settlement in the Anglo-Saxon period, one evidently existed in the later 11th century when William I installed privileged tenants at Winshill, and a village certainly existed in the later 13th century, when there is mention of Ralph at the town end (ad finem ville) of Winshill. (fn. 9) In the later 18th century the village stood around a green on a declivity on the east side of the hill, mostly along the north end of Church Hill Street and Berry Hedge Lane. (fn. 10) A National school was opened at the north end of the village in 1846, and a Methodist chapel opened in 1845 possibly stood in the same area. (fn. 11)
When an Anglican church was built in 1869, a prominent site was chosen on the top of the hill overlooking the developing part of the village along the southern stretch of Church Hill Street. (fn. 12) West, East, and North Streets occupying the block of land in the angle of Church Hill Street and Hawfield Lane were built up with rows of workers' cottages in the mid 1850s by Burton Freehold Land Society. (fn. 13) Nearly half the township's population lived there in 1861, when the area was known as the Freehold Society's 'New Village'. (fn. 14) The houses were demolished in the mid 1970s as part of a slum clearance programme. (fn. 15a) To the south Eldon Street had been laid out by 1879, and a row of houses called Eldon Buildings on the east side of Church Hill Street existed by 1881. (fn. 16) By the late 1870s rows of houses stretched south-west of the village along Bearwood Hill Road, some with polychrome brickwork; Alexandra Road was also then being laid out with large detached and terraced houses, many with decorative brickwork and Gothic details. (fn. 17)
Ashby Road Development Having been laid out in the later 1830s, Ashby Road was built up first from the Burton end. Arthurlie House, of brick with stone dressings set back off the north side of the road, was built in the 1850s, probably for Oscar Stephen, who was living there in 1861. (fn. 18) The grander Highfield House near by had been built by 1857 for Francis Wardle, whose son Henry was a senior partner in Salt & Co. brewery in Burton and Liberal M.P. for South Derbyshire from 1885 until his death in 1892. (fn. 19) Ashfield House, built in the mid 1870s on the opposite side of Ashby Road, is an irregularly-shaped brick house decorated with polychrome diaper patterns and has a dentilled cornice along the gables. Since 1933 it has been a freemasons' hall. (fn. 1b) Smaller houses were also being built by the 1860s, (fn. 2b) and the Swan inn at the foot of Ashby Road, certainly in existence by 1869, was probably built soon after the opening of the present Burton bridge in 1864. (fn. 3b) A Gothic mansion called Moat Bank at the east end of Ashby Road on the Derbyshire boundary was designed c. 1860 by 'Mr. Street' of London (probably G. E. Street) for a Burton solicitor Abraham Bass. The name is derived from a ditch which surrounded a medieval rabbit warren there. (fn. 4b)
Several large houses in Ashby Road have been converted into nursing homes. They include the Rowans, at the corner with Alexandra Road, opened with a new accommodation block in 1991 and owned since 1996 by the Rider House group. (fn. 5b)
Winshill Wood Area Ashby Road runs across part of the former Winshill wood, which was possibly the site of a hermitage in the early 12th century: a holy woman (sanctimonialis) named Aethelgifu then held land in Winshill. (fn. 6a) There was a settlement called 'le Wodehuses' in the mid 13th century, and families were living at Winshill wood in the mid 18th century. (fn. 7a) The woodland was felled in the late 18th or earlier 19th century, the only new planting being Waterloo Clump in or shortly after 1815. (fn. 8a) The nearby house called Waterloo Mount was built in 1897. (fn. 9a) The water tower on the summit was built in 1907 by the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company. (fn. 10a)
Newton Road Area A corn mill stood on the Winshill bank of the Trent at the foot of Mill Hill Lane by the 11th century, but it seems not to have attracted much settlement around it. A fulling mill was built in the 14th century on an adjoining island, and in the late 18th century it became a cotton mill. (fn. 11a) The present Royal Oak inn on the main road south of the mill existed under that name by 1829. (fn. 12a) The nearby Trent Cottage was built in the early 1840s for William Cooke, a smallwares manufacturer from Measham (Derb.), who had recently taken over the cotton mill. The house was converted into sheltered housing for the elderly and renamed Abbeyfield House in 1969. (fn. 13a) Another villa, the Woodlands on high ground at the southern end of Newton Road, was built by 1846 for a Burton surgeon, Robert Tomlinson (d. 1877). (fn. 14a) The house is now occupied as a sixth-form centre for the adjoining comprehensive school. A row of houses called Clifton Terrace along the west side of Newton Road near Burton bridge dates from 1880. (fn. 15b)
Bladon House What was called Bladon Cottage in 1836 (fn. 16a) may have stood on the site of the present Bladon House, built probably c. 1860 for John Gretton (d. 1867), a director of the Burton brewing firm of Bass, Ratcliff, and Gretton. His son, also John (d. 1899), left it to his younger son Hugh Frederick. (fn. 17a) Hugh died in 1928, and the ownership passed to his elder brother John, created Baron Gretton of Stapleford (Leics.) in 1944. In 1945 Lord Gretton gave the house and 23 a. to Burton infirmary for use as a convalescent home. The scheme came to nothing, and in 1947 the house was acquired by the Staffordshire Yeomanry as its headquarters and was renamed Yeomanry House. (fn. 18a) It reverted to the name Bladon House in 1968 when bought by the Honormead Schools group as a school for emotionally damaged children, still its use in 1999. (fn. 19a)
20th-Century Housing Estates Council houses were built by Burton corporation in the later 1920s in an extension of Eldon Street, in streets off its west side, and also in a new street called Bladon Street running over a recreation ground on the north side of Hawfield Lane. A large council estate on the east side of the township stretching from Vancouver Drive to Empire Road was built mostly in the early 1950s, and a block of flats called Elizabeth Court in Brough Road was opened as warden-controlled retirement housing in 1978. (fn. 20) The Dalebrook Road private estate off the north end of Newton Road dates from the late 1960s, and in 1999 another private estate called Trent Gardens was built on the south side of Mill Hill Lane on the site of a demolished secondary school.
Services Although the built-up part of Winshill was taken into Burton borough in 1878, it was not until the early 20th century that it fully benefited from a mains water supply and sewage system. (fn. 1c)
Winshill had its own wake in 1871, when it was held in May. It was still held in the early 20th century. (fn. 2c)
A lodge of Foresters was established in 1860 and the Wardle lodge of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity) in 1878. In 1990 the latter was amalgamated with the newly-formed Trent Lodge in Burton. (fn. 3c)
The Royal Sussex Lodge of Freemasons, consecrated at Repton (Derb.) in 1817, moved in 1869 to the Swan inn in Winshill. From 1888 it met in the newly-opened Winshill Institute in Mount Street, where it remained until 1933 when Ashfield House in Ashby Road was converted into a masonic hall, a temple being added to the house at its south-east corner. The hall was also used from 1933 by Trisantona Lodge, consecrated at Stapenhill Institute in 1919, and from 1947 by Tutbury Castle Lodge, consecrated at Hatton (Derb.) in 1897 and moving to the institute in 1926. Staffordshire lodges which met in Burton moved to Ashfield House in 1976. (fn. 4c)
Winshill Institute in Mount Street, built of red brick, was opened in 1888 and was paid for by subscription. It became the present Roman Catholic church in 1967. (fn. 5c)
A 4-a. recreation ground on the north side of Hawfield Lane was opened in 1895. When houses were built there in Bladon Street in the later 1920s, it was replaced by the present ground on the north side of Mill Hill Lane. (fn. 6b) A recreation ground occupying meadow land beside the river Trent on the west side of Newton Road was opened in 1956. (fn. 7b) A ground in the angle of Canterbury Road and Melbourne Avenue was provided when the surrounding council estate was laid out in the 1950s, and Winshill New Community Centre was opened there in 1990. (fn. 8b)
Winshill tennis club, in existence by 1912, opened courts on the south side of Ashby Road in 1921 and ch anged its name to Ashby Road tennis club. A squash court was added in 1971 and a clubhouse was opened in 1980. The club changed its name again to the present Burton Tennis and Squash club in 1994. (fn. 9b)