Milton Conservation Area

Milton was designated a Conservation Area in 1987 and consists of:

  • Park Road, Westcliff (all properties)
  • Parkgate, Westcliff (all properties)
  • Park Terrace, Westcliff (all properties)
  • Park Crescent, Westcliff (all properties)
  • Avenue Road, Westcliff (all properties except 81-93 odd, 66-68 even)
  • Avenue Terrace, Westcliff (all properties)
  • St. Vincent’s Road, Westcliff (all properties)
  • Albert Mews, Westcliff (all properties)
  • Milton Road, Westcliff (Avenue Baptist Church, Milton Gardens, Albert House, Glendaural)

 

Historical Background

 

Milton as we see it today was developed mainly from about 1870 to 1900. But the name of Milton and its history goes back much further.

The area’s medieval name of “Middletun” comes from its position midway between Leigh and Southchurch on the banks of the Thames estuary. In 959 the Manor of Milton, which covered a much wider area than the present Conservation Area, was given by King Edgar to the monks of Christchurch, Canterbury, and it remained in ecclesiastical ownership until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1545.

The Domesday Book of 1086 showed Milton as a small hamlet with 24 families. During the Middle Ages, though , it developed as a fishing port famous for its oysters. In 1571 Milton had three ships of 50-100 tons and five ships under 50 tons. Admiralty courts were regularly held  there.

Milton was a well-known embarkation point for the continent and in the 15th century the area became a refuge for people escaping persecution. One of the first martyrs of the Reformation, John Firth, who denounced Thomas More, was arrested here and was later burnt at the stake at Smithfield, London. Dr. Sandys, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University and later Archbishop of York, a supporter of Lady Jane Grey, hid in a house at Milton, narrowly escaping from Queen Mary’s men. He gave a sermon to 40-50 seamen here, before fleeing to France.

Hamlet Mill, a post mill, stood in Milton to the south of the present Methodist Church, on the corner of Avenue Road and Park Road. It can be traced back to 1299 when a “new mill” was built for £15 5s. 10d. It was here that John, Earl of Holland, half brother to Richard II, was captured by the villagers of Milton whilst trying to escape after an unsuccessful plot against Henry IV. The mill was demolished after the estate was sold in 1869.  Avenue Road, once called Mill Lane, is one of the oldest roads in the Borough, linking Milton to Prittlewell.

The area between Park Street and Milton Road saw some of the earliest developments. It became known as the Park estate after the private “Southend Park” had been created in the early 1870s between Park Road and Avenue Road. The Park was the home of the town’s first cricket, cycle and football clubs. With its lake, playing fields, cycle tracks and special events, it was a popular attraction for the expanding town.

The roads close by the Park were the first to be developed in the 1870s – the east side of Park Road, the southern part of Avenue Road, Park Crescent and Park Terrace.  As development grew, the Park was sold for development and houses continued to be built in the area through the turn of the century.

Milton’s Special Interest

Early estate developments in Southend generally were uniform in character, having a common style and size of building throughout a particular area. The Park estate, however, contains a range of  architectural styles which illustrate the transition in Southend from formal mid-Victiorian to freer late Victorian and Edwardian architecture, from small terraces to large semi-detached houses with gardens, and from yellow London stock brick and slate to red brick and clay tiles as the predominant local building materials. Whilst most of the architectural styles can be found elsewhere in different parts of the town, the Park Estate stands out in that it embodies within a small area a cross-section of Southend’s typical architecture at the time of its early growth. This helped give the area an attractive and unique character. Most of the estate now forms the Milton Conservation Area. The Conservation Area has three general styles of architecture belonging to mid Victorian, late Victorian and Edwardian periods.

Mid-Victorian Period

Mid – Victorian properties built between 1870 and 1880 are generally yellow stock brick frontages and slate roofs. Most have bays of either one or two  storeys and traditional sliding sash windows. Various architectural details such as curved window heads, arched porches and decorative window and door surrounds are also evident on many of these buildings.

Late Victorian Period

Late Victorian properties, built in the 1880’s and 90’s are also mainly stock brick, although some have red brick detailing, and the roofs are traditionally slate, often with patterned ridge tiles. Either sliding sash or casement windows are evident in buildings of this period, many with heavy looking surrounds. Two-storey bay windows with gable ends and restrained decorative details were also common feature in late Victorian houses in this area.

Edwardian Period

Edwardian properties supersede the earlier styles. These are mainly red brick, occasionally with stock brick flanks. They usually have one or two-storey bays with prominent gables or Dutch gables. The roofs of these properties are usually clay tiles, and some properties have distinctive corner turrets. Windows are either timber sliding sash or casement, usually with heavy surrounds.

All the properties in the Conservation Area originally had front gardens enclosed by boundary walls with brick piers. Decorative tile paths were also common features .

In addition to residential properties, the Conservation Area, also has two churches and a small parade of shops. The former Wesleyan Chapel (Park Road Methodist Church) built in 1870 was Southend’s first Methodist Church and considered at the time to be one of the town’s “greatest architectural ornaments”. It is now a Listed Building. Its prominent corner position, materials (Kentish ragstone) and design make it an important townscape feature.

In contrast, Avenue Baptist Church facing Milton Road is in red brick which is typical of the early twentieth century. Note also the flint and stone checkerboard detailing to the parapet.