THE HISTORY OF FLEET HAMPSHIRE
Welcome to the History of Fleet Hampshire. History is fascinating – especially when it’s on your own doorstep – and it doesn’t have to be a million years ago. Even seeing a photo of an old Fleet shop that no longer exists or an event that brings back happy memories can be immensely powerful.
If you’re interested in local Fleet history, I hope you enjoy the information both here, as well as our Fleet and Crookham History Group, both of which are packed full of wonderful stories, nostalgic images and details of times gone by…whether that is yesterday or decades ago.
This project is no small task and will be updated as much as possible but I need your help to do it! Every addition to the History of Fleet Hampshire timeline is another piece in the jigsaw puzzle of our local history and I’d love you to help me build it. I have also had the incredible honour to have been gifted some of the late Percy Vickery’s research data on Fleet, by his son and daughter-in-law, Colin and Tina Vickery. Percy wrote many books on the history of Fleet in his lifetime and over time, that information will be added and shared online, carrying on the work of the great man himself.
Whether you have a single image from a shop that shut down only a few weeks ago, or a pile of albums going back a hundred years, I’d love to add them to the archives here. Even those things you wouldn’t normally think twice about…an old carrier bag or advert from a long gone store or an old newspaper, magazine or event programme, they all help build up an overall picture for others to enjoy…and of course you will be given full credit for sharing your goodies! I’m happy to collect, scan and return items, or equally happy to be sent any digital (or even original!) copies in relation to the History of Fleet.
It’s a never ending project and an awful lot of work but more will keep being added as time permits. It’s a fascinating journey back through time and I truly hope you enjoy it.
THE BIRTH OF FLEET
Written by Katherine Rusbridge
200 years ago, Fleet as we know it did not exist. There was a track going roughly north towards Reading and one going east. They intersected at what is now the Oatsheaf crossroads (but the Oatsheaf had not been built yet). The whole area was treeless heathland, used by the people of Crookham for grazing their animals and as a source of peat as fuel. Three events changed all this.
The first was an Enclosure Act in 1829 which allocated the common land to local landowners and required them to enclose it. This meant the people of Crookham could no longer have access to it and one objective was to make land usage more efficient. Bad news for the people of Crondall but it did not have much immediate impact on the development of Fleet.
The second important event was the coming of the railway , with a siding and platform at “Fleetpond” authorised in 1847. This made the area we now know as Fleet accessible from London. It was in effect a tourist destination, a relatively easy day trip to the countryside, with the added bonus in some winters of skating on the pond.
The third and key event which led the way for Fleet to become what it is today was the auction by landowner Edward May of a huge tract of the enclosed land in 1878.It was bought by Henry Brake who set about clearing some of the heathland to make roads, laying them out in the grid pattern we are all familiar with. He then divided the land into literally thousands of building plots, each 20’ in width and people could buy just one or any number of adjoining plots. Brake’s land stretched from near the Station, along the Pond down to what is now Pondtail Bridge, up to the next canal bridge at what we know as Reading Road South, to the Oatsheaf crossroads and back to the Station along Fleet Road. It might help to realise that some of the roads have changed their name. Kings Road was originally Station Road, Clarence Road was Middle Street and Connaught Road was, somewhat incongruously, High Street.
If you are particularly interested in the history of Fleet Carnival, would like to view our local Remembrance Services, or fancy joining our Fleet and Crookham History group on Facebook, here are some links you might find interesting:
GET IN TOUCH
If you have anything, no matter how small, you could share with us about Fleet, please get in touch!