‘Cheltenham Lower High Street: Past, Present and Future’

‘Cheltenham Lower High Street: Past, Present and Future’ is a research project initiated and led by staff members at the University of Gloucestershire. This project places Cheltenham’s Lower High Street in its historical context and examines its past, present and future.

Cheltenham’s Lower High Street (LHS) region is one of the oldest areas of the town, with its history dating much further back than the Regency period, when most of the now historically and culturally significant parts of the town centre were constructed; the LHS area also has a distinctly non-Regency appearance, unlike many of the wealthier streets on its borders. The LHS has recently been the focus of a number of regeneration and renewal projects and has proved itself to be stubbornly resistant to Council-sponsored attempts to impose a form a Suffolks-style ‘gentrification’ in the neighbourhood: why is this the case? Likewise, we know very little about local resident and trader responses to the on-going ‘studentification’ of the area surrounding the University of Gloucestershire’s Francis Close Hall campus as student numbers have grown over the past two decades in relation to the expansion of enrolments in Higher Education.

Cheltenham’s Lower High Street, c. 1955 (Francis Frith Collection)

The primary aim of the project is to produce an exhibition on the history of the area at Cheltenham’s Civic Day on Saturday 17 June 2017. To do this, project researchers will identify and collate from diverse collections and publications the range of primary source materials already available for the study of the LHS, as well as locating and sourcing new materials not used by previous researchers. Researchers will also make use of archival records, census data, local newspaper reports, oral history interviews, parish records and town planning documents.

Cheltenham’s Lower High Street, c. 1955 (Francis Frith Collection)

Researchers and undergraduate students at UoG will carry out both micro studies of a particular business, building or family, and macro studies focusing on such issues as identity, community and migration. This research will include ‘snap shot’ studies of the Lower High Street at particular moments in time, and will track changes over longer chronological periods. A series of oral history interviews is planned with local residents and traders. The project is supported by social media sites and an online timeline to encourage past and current residents and traders to post their photographs and memories.

For more details about project researchers and their areas of expertise, see the ‘Researchers’ page.

This project was made possible by two generous grants:

  1. Funds from the University of Gloucestershire’s Learning Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) scheme, which is geared to bringing transformative, futures-oriented learning into the curriculum, co-curriculum and education support. This money has been used to support the Level 5 group project work.
  2. Funds from the University of Gloucestershire’s Being Human Research Priority Area, which was established to address areas of research that are concerned with human experience and a sense of heritage and direction. This money has been used to run a parallel series of staff and postgraduate projects.