Roberts Row, Hoole Lane

The houses Nos.189–203 Hoole Lane were built in the late 1920s on land which was a market garden run by H. S. Roberts called “The Oaks”. Two of the properties appear in a 1927/8 Directory and all are listed in a 1929/30 Directory. An aerial view (“Britain from Above” website) shows them in 1931. Locally they were known as Roberts Row. Apparently, the Roberts family owned the land and were able to build on it, and in 1933/34 no fewer than three of the houses were actually occupied by families called Roberts.

Originally all the houses had individual names – the only one displaying its name today is No.195, “Sunningdale”. In the 1933/4 Directory only three of the four houses to the east of it (i.e. in the direction of Piper's Ash) were named (presumably one was unoccupied). There is speculation which could have been called “Marna”, “Deepdene” or “Brindlewood”.

The original No.205 was a farm house set back where Hornbeam Close is today. This was occupied from 1927/8 until the 1950's by a George E. Roberts and was called “Lynwood”. George E. Roberts looked after the spinney behind Pine Grove and had large chicken houses there. (The spinney had been planted to block out the view of the Workhouse lower down Hoole Lane so that the then lady owner of Hoole House could see neither it nor the poor and destitute of Chester forced to seek shelter therein.) The spinney can be seen on the aerial photograph which was taken before Pine Grove was built around 1932, Myrtle Grove having already been completed. The white building very near to Hoole Lane below Myrtle Grove (level with the smoke from a passing train) was Shortridge's Dairy Farm which was still operating and selling milk in the late 1950s.

Copyright ‘Historic England’ http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/EPW037241

When the Royal Agricultural Show was held in Hoole in 1893 the site extended from Hoole Road across the current playing field, also taking in what is now Alexandra Park, Lime Grove, Canadian Avenue, and the allotment area to Hoole Lane. The cattle pens for the Show were located near to where Roberts Row stands today.

Even earlier, the Tithe Map for Hoole circa 1839 showed that the field name for the narrow north side of Hoole Lane from Canadian Avenue to Pine Grove was “Lower Slang” owned jointly by Mrs. Frances Bagnall and the Rev. Peploe William Hamilton.

This land on the north side was sold in 1852 – the sale details show that Hoole Lane was then called St. Anne's Lane. When the Workhouse was built in 1878 it was for a short time known as Workhouse Lane. Hoole Lane was a long-established route from Chester through Boughton to Guilden Sutton and remained a country lane for many years, the last farm “Batemans” not being developed for housing until the middle of the 20th century.

[Article by Ralph Earlam, some parts of which were initially published in ‘Hoole Roundabout’ in December 2015 - http://www.hooleroundabout.com]