October 2020 has seen the completion of the ambitious project undertaken by Pittville History Works, the research arm of Friends of Pittville, to collect details about the inhabitants of Pittville in the past.
The main sources were the ten-year national censuses from 1841 onwards, electoral rolls and Cheltenham’s various street directories. At first it was planned to cover the period from around 1830 – the beginning of the Pittville estate – up to 1901. Subsequently this was extended to 1945. All of the data has been loaded on to the Pittville History Works database, http://pittvillehistory.org.uk/service7.php? , which can be consulted online by researchers in Cheltenham and around the world.
This work has now been completed and the names and details of 18,804 people have been added to the database. In many cases there is only a name and an address; but for some people there is a full life history. The work has been done by five or six group members at any one time transcribing data from the censuses and directories.
This data will form the basis for further research into life in Pittville, which has seen a number of changes over its history. It was designed as a private estate for the well-to-do, and many early residents came from British India and elsewhere overseas, attracted by promises of a healthy environment, a good education for their children, and congenial company. The data also shows that many leisured Scots and Irish people bought or leased Pittville’s new housing stock in the first half of the 19th century. As the nineteenth century progressed, the profile of Pittville reflected wider changes in society. Gradually, household size reduced, and the largest Pittville houses often found a new function, as schools or even in one instance as a nunnery. By the time of the First World War many of the houses were beginning to be broken up into multi-occupancy, and a new brand of resident poured into Pittville: teachers, office clerks, and shop-assistants.
Each of the 18,804 Pittville residents has their own tale to tell and one of the next PHW projects will be to tell more of their life stories.