Newbury Town Council is pleased to announce the tree-ring dating of the Canal-side part of the Old Waggon and Horses, 26 Market Place, to 1744. This is the latest in its programme of dating the old buildings of Newbury, and provides another valuable piece of information on the historic town.
The Old Waggon and Horses is Grade II listed. Its street frontage is early 19th-century, but the front part of the building contains a fine 17th-century staircase leading up to the second floor, described in the listing particulars. This helps to date the original construction. The significance of its Canal-side dating is that in 1723 the River Kennet became navigable to Newbury as Kennet Navigation, and we may speculate that the 1744 extension was built to provide a private wharf for Newbury’s new role as an inland port. The Canal-side frontage is also of later date.
Tree-ring dating is a technique which enables the accurate dating of the wooden beam of the building from its growth rings, which form a unique pattern. It depends on obtaining a sufficient range of core samples, which in this case unfortunately was only possible for the rear part of the building. Because a succession of dates was obtained from different beams, from 1683 to 1744, we can be confident of the final date.
The specialist contractor employed for the dating was Dr Andy Moir of Tree-Ring Services, Micheldean, Glos.
Anthony Pick, Chair of the Town Council Heritage Working Group, said: “We are delighted at this conclusive result, and the picture that it gives of eighteenth-century Newbury. We are very grateful to the management and owners of the Old Waggon & Horses for their excellent co-operation, and to our colleagues on the Heritage Working Group for their support.”
Newbury Town Council is planning further blue plaques to commemorate historic Newbury characters and events, in addition to the nine already in place which are recorded on the Town Council’s web site. We would also be glad to receive suggestions from the public on future blue plaques, subject only to the rule that the person must be deceased or the event must have taken place at least 10 years previously.
Ideas from members of the public are welcome to Anthony Pick, Cllr Gary Norman, or Cllr Nigel Foot.