WEST ROAD, BURY ST EDMUNDS
As the boundary for many years of the Westfield Estate it now consists of many house styles. Numbers 23 and 25 aptly named West View Cottages built in 1884, then looked over open fields no 31 was put on the market in November 1999, having been in the same family for over a hundred years!
West Road ran uphill from Westley Road, then ran parallel with the cemetery, meeting Hospital Road at a sharp bend at the bottom of the hill. Until it was altered, several road accidents occurred here including wartime convoys and a brick lorry that shed its load.
At the junction with Abbot Road there used to be a white farmhouse by the name of Priors Farm; it was demolished at the beginning of the 1960’s to allow for an L-shape block of flats. A major headache for the demolition crew was the brick/reinforced concrete domed air-raid shelter from WW2. It was solved by burning inside all the timber from the house, the inferno cracking the dome!
Arguably the highest spot in town, the top of ‘Cemetery Hill’ became the location of the Borough water tower in 1952, now looking forlorn and unkempt it is covered with unsightly phone masts!
On the corner with Westbury Avenue (once known as Priors Lane) was a Co-operative self-serve grocery store with a butcher’s shop next door. These closed in 1983 after fifty years in existence, victims of larger competitors. At first a fitted kitchen company, Harmony Kitchens traded from here then All Over Beauty from 1986, they are still here (2016).
Opposite is West Road Church, formerly West Road Hall from 1939. A non-conformist group, the Brethren used to meet in Garland Street but when the opportunity arose to purchase this land on the corner with Queens Road for £300, it was taken. One of three standard ‘church designs’ by the Mildenhall Airbase builders John Laing at the cost of £2,000 was selected by the church elders, Percy Lee and Albert Catton amongst them.
During WW2 a canteen was run from part of the Hall. In the 1960’s the Hall had acquired neighbouring no.68, Queens Road, a link made between them. This was followed up later on with the purchase of no.69, their cellars then knocked through to provide a club room! However, as time progressed a decision was taken to build a new church as the congregation expanded. In 1991 the last service was conducted in the Hall, demolition following and though many building materials were re-used costs overran, however advantageous loans were soon repaid. Whilst works were carried out Sunday services were carried out at King Edward VI School and in November 1992 the newly named West Road Church came into being. The popularity of the church grew but so did car parking problems. This was partially solved with a purchase of the adjacent garden of no 33, West Road becoming a tarmacked car park. Today the church goes from strength to strength.
The text on this page is taken from pages 46 to 48 of the book written by Martyn Taylor, published by Amberly Publishing 2016.
If you wish to continue the journey through the streets A to Z of Bury St Edmunds, or indeed read more about the history of Bury St Edmunds, you can purchase Martyn’s book from St Edmundsbury Cathedral shop, Waterstones and Moyses Hall.
Look out for the next instalment next month, or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when Hazells’ Histories returns!