Local Heritage

The History of Hungerford’s Atherton Crescent

Atherton Crescent, as the name implies, is a curved line of houses at the top of Hungerford High Street, and is set back from the road by a sloping raised grass area, like a village green. It is bounded by Salisbury Road, Church Way and Atherton Hill, commonly referred to as Picture House Hill.

Origins of the Crescent

The land on which Atherton Crescent was built is shown on an enclosure map produced in 1819 and, at that time, it was owned by Mathew Loder Smith. Smith had purchased the land from Thomas Robinson, who in turn had used the land as a large allotment – the ‘crescent’ itself was built just after the end of WW1 in 1919. 

Prior to development, it consisted of a large field owned by Lady Harriet Atherton, who rented it out to the Macklin family to grow barley. The Macklins also farmed fields around the waterworks situated at the top of the Salisbury Road, which stretched back to Sanden Close. Hearsay has it that Lady Atherton had offered it to the town for use as a cemetery as she had founded a burial charity in the town in 1909.

Atherton Crescent today

Up until the late seventies all the houses were owned by the council, and all were uniformly white in colour. However, Maggie Thatcher’s right to buy scheme under the Housing Act of 1980 gave secure tenants of councils and some housing associations the legal right to buy, at a large discount. Today most of the houses are privately owned and have adopted their own personalities. At the top of Atherton Road is Church Way on which the former Hungerford cinema was found, and today is the site of the Royal British Legion.

 

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