North Town takes its name from its main thoroughfare North Lane, but why is it called North Lane as it is not north of the earliest known Aldershot Village – in fact it is due East of Aldershot? It appears as North Lane as early as 1841 when only four roads are shown in the area these being:
Cranmoor Lane (then called Cranemer Lane after the farmer through whose fields it passed to link to the old London Portsmouth Road with the Parish Church).
Church Lane and Church Hill being linked to the location of the Parish Church and the original Aldershot village at the foot of the hill on which it was built.
Finally – North Lane. North Lane was never part of the original Aldershot Village. North Lane’s name is taken we think from the old 18th and 19th Century drover’s routes from the West Country to London. The same drover’s route has been clearly identified across Bagshot Heath.
The line of North Lane is directly South to North of these two points.
It was North Lane to London. It linked the route from Ash and round the Fox Hills in the South to Bagshot Heath and on to London in the North.
Apart from a few farm buildings of which only Shawfields Farm House still stands, North Lane remained unchanged until the coming of the Camp in 1854. The Aldershot we know today was already mushrooming around the High Street area but here was a location which might be called the ‘back door’ to the Camp within walking distance of both North and South Camps.
With the establishment of military Aldershot in the 1860s and 1870s, North Town, being very close to the South East corner of it became a ‘back door’ for civilian labour. Much speculative building took place along the farmlands of North Lane; a builder from Brighton constructed rows of terraced houses in an area off the Lane which became known as Queen Street, Alexandria Street and Denmark Street.
By 1913 North Town was a remote working class hamlet of Aldershot separated from it by the steep slopes of Redan Hill. The very remoteness of the ‘Hamlet behind the hill’ attracted Aldershot planners. Where better to build the Cemetery (1860), the Isolation Hospital (1900) the Gas Works (1865) and the Sewage Farm as it was then called.
North Town’s 3,000 inhabitants didn’t seem to mind the combined smell of the Gas Works and the Sewage ‘Farm’ indeed some ancient folk lore still persists in North Town that it was positively therapeutic for chest ailments in children!
Throughout the rest of the century and on until the First World War development continued with a slightly higher standard of housing. The Inter War years saw little development of housing except the sale of the last arable farm the Park Farm, owned by the Chrismas Family, which was developed into the Park Farm Estate.
The post-war years have seen the housing development move eastwards with the sale of the pasture lands separating North Town from Ash to create social housing within Denmark Square area and other housing towards the Basingstoke Canal and Ash together with some light Industry along North Lane itself.
In partnership with Rushmoor Borough Council, First Wessex launched My North Town project in 2009 and work has now commenced on the redevelopment.