In 1861, Amersham Hall, a ‘school for the sons of dignified gentlemen’ moved from Amersham to its new building in Caversham – now Queen Anne’s School for Girls.
Development in Caversham then accelerated rapidly and during the 1870s. A new road was laid out called Caversham Place Park, on part of the agricultural land known as Balmer’s Field. This provided large plots of at least half an acre, with a pleasant outlook and peaceful location, away from the hustle and bustle of the river.
The first houses were designed in 1876 and others followed in 1879, 1891 and 1894, many of them built for private occupation. Part of Caversham Place Park was later renamed Derby Road and early photographs show the avenue of lime trees and grass verges on either side, still a feature today.
All the houses built at that time with frontages onto the road had a responsibility to maintain the road in front of their property, until such time as the Parish (Council) might adopt it.
However, Reading Council has identified that Derby Road is “prospectively maintainable and at present there are no plans to adopt this Road. As part of being identified as prospectively maintainable, this Road has public rights of way to cross and re-cross by foot, motor and horse drawn carriages.”
There has been a long-standing practice that residents care for the grass verge and trees fronting their properties, in order to maintain the essential character of the road. In 2014, Reading Borough Council designated certain trees TPO status by requiring residents to carry out only minor annual maintenance to the trees, with planning approval needed for major surgery on TPO trees.
Historically, the plots of land served by Derby Road all have Covenants on the land requiring the purchasers and their heirs to contribute to the upkeep of the Road. Many of the large houses have been demolished over the past 50/60 years and have been replaced by new developments. However, the maintenance of the road and some other services still remain the responsibility of residents.
LOOKING AFTER DERBY ROAD
The requirements to maintain the Road are detailed in some of the household deeds dating from as far back as when the first homes were built. Almost from the beginning, residents joined together to create a Road Fund to collect contributions from residents of Derby Road, and roads leading off it, for its maintenance. This Fund is organised by a team of volunteers.
Reading Council continue to confirm that the Council will not ‘adopt’ Derby Road. Consequently, it will remain Private and, as such, it is essential that a number of key activities are managed by the residents of all the roads. Should the Road fall below a certain legal standard, Reading Borough Council has the right to step in and order any necessary works, and they would charge for the work. This would probably be in excess of the current expenditure.
When the annual request for voluntary contributions is made it is for the following works:
Ongoing maintenance of the roadway and creation of a fund sufficient to enable the road to be resurfaced approximately every 7/8 years, or whenever needed.
Maintenance of the streetlights, including new lights and lampposts when they need replacing.
Annual sweeping and clearance of the drains on the road, normally in late autumn after the leaf fall.
Maintenance of the gates at the Peppard Road end, and road signage.