Pavement history

One of Bath’s most historic thoroughfares has been included in a study which has identified the fifty greatest streets in Britain and Ireland.

Looking down Great Pulteney Street from the Laura Place fountain.
Looking down Great Pulteney Street from the Laura Place fountain.

From the thousands criss-crossing these islands historian and author Melanie Backe-Hansen has selected those with the most character and history to help her tell the story of the origins of the British Street – and Great Pulteney Street – laid out by Thomas Baldwin from 1788 until finances collapsed in 1793 – is in there amongst them!

Miss Backe-Hansen, a lecturer at the University of Dundee, has published a book called ‘Historic Streets and Squares‘ which chronicles the evolution of the British street from its origins as primitive strings of settlements, usually stemming from a geographical features, such as a river, which were first transformed by the arrival of the Romans.Historic Streets and Squares

From the late 17th century the country embarked on a period of grand street building with new locations established – often from scratch. It’s here that terraced avenues like Great Pulteney Street come into play.  It’s a thoroughfare which she also selects because of the notable list of  former residents.

Everyone from fictional characters in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Northanger Abbey to the mistresses of both the Prince of Wales, later George lV, (Mrs Fitzherbert) and Admiral Lord Nelson (Emma, Lady Hamilton). Others who spent time under those long terraced roofs include anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce and social reformer Hannah Moore.

The book also highlights Queen Square in Bristol. One of Britain’s largest – it was built on reclaimed wetlands. ‘Historic Streets and Squares‘ is published by The History Press in hardback form at £20.

Published: 2013-11-01
ISBN: 9780752464299