Pittville History Works is a unique digital local history project. Like most innovations, it started by accident. We had recently moved to Pittville (a residential area in Cheltenham) and I had started looking at its nineteenth century history when the local Friends of Pittville decided to set up a history group.
Pittville was the brainchild (and later the financial ruin) of local solicitor and entrepreneur Joseph Pitt. His plan was to develop a large area to the north of Cheltenham as an exclusive private estate. The centrepiece of the design was (and is) Pittville Pump Room, gazing regally down to Pittville Lake, and beyond that to the smart villas of Pittville and – in the distance – to Cheltenham itself.
Pittville History Works was an online project from its inception. Our team of volunteers has transcribed the censuses and street directories for Pittville from around 1830 until 1945, and used this as a basis for creating a searchable database with information on about 19,000 Pittville residents. The data can be accessed via some rather neat software devised by Jeffery Triggs (a former OED colleague) in New Jersey. We are now able to analyse this rich storehouse of information and use it to prepare talks, articles, photo galleries, etc. Please take a look at the website, sign up for the newsletter (see the button on the home page), or even offer to join our team of volunteers.
One of my own contributions to the project is a Gazetteer of Pittville house names in the 19th century. You can read an article about the gazetteer and how it was put together in The Local Historian (“House style: the politics and practices of house-naming in nineteenth-century Cheltenham”, July 2019, vol. 49, no. 3). Click here to see the issue, and scroll to p. 197 for the start of the article.