For a full account, visit our sister site at Pittville History Works.
Pittville is the largest and most ambitious of the new building estates which sprang up in Cheltenham in the early nineteenth century. It was created by Joseph Pitt MP (1759-1842), who invested the profits from his legal practice into property development. Although the project was never finished, Pittville remains one of the finest examples of a Regency building estate.
Pitt envisaged Pittville as a completely separate spa town to rival Cheltenham. He acquired much of the land at the beginning of the nineteenth century and started to build on it in the early 1820s, when demand for land and houses in Cheltenham was at its peak. His vision was for a 100-acre private estate of up to 600 houses, with its own Pump Room, walks, rides, and gardens. His architect was John Forbes, who designed the basic layout of the estate and the Pump Room, while the landscaping was entrusted to a local nurseryman, Richard Ware.
The park was laid out by 1827 and the Pump Room itself was opened in 1830, but by this time the property market had entered a slump and only 20 houses had been finished.
Pitt got into financial difficulties and borrowed heavily; at the time of his death in 1842, he was £150,000 in debt (the equivalent of almost £14 million today).
The development of Pittville subsequently proceeded much more slowly than Pitt had planned, with only 216 houses completed by 1860. Various lessees found it impossible to turn the Pump Room and park into a profitable enterprise, and they were purchased by the Council in 1890.
Click to read a fuller account of Pittville’s history , a summary of Steven Blake’s Pittville Pump Room: an historical guide to Cheltenham spa, second edition, published in 2000. A third edition, published 2019, is available online here.