The King Ditched?
It is thought that in Saxon times a ditch separated the King’s manor of Cheltenham and manor of Swindon (Village, Glouc) from each other – hence the area north-west of Cheltenham now being known as Kingsditch.
During medieval times and well into the 18th century pastoral farming and ridge and furrow cultivation dominated the area.
Around the beginning of the 19th century it became more profitable to turn this relatively restricted area over to market gardening and to supply the expanding population of Cheltenham with fresh produce.
Photo courtesy of Sue Brasher, Swindon Village
However, changes which would have ‘ditched’ any early monarch were afoot.
The Second World War saw the introduction of a ‘shadow factory’ and what followed is the steady take over of all available land for commercial development.
Much of the area is now covered by steel-framed one- and two-storey structures and owned by multi-national venture capital companies (scoff not, your pensions depend on them!).
For the last two and a half years, two volunteers have aided the VCH team working on Cheltenham’s ‘Big Red Book’, Volume 15 with research into the history of the Kingsditch trading estate from pre-history to the present day.
Now home to more companies than there were ever ploughs belonging to the manor of Swindon and Cheltenham combined (28 1086 Domesday) and employing many thousands -Spirax Sarco alone has 1,000 – it is Cheltenham’s largest commercial estate.
Eileen Allen/Sally Self
Sally Self September 2021