Dursley Heritage Trail
A walk around Dursley looking at some of its heritage.
Details and start point
Distance: 3 miles
Distance: 4.82 km
Walking time: 1.5 hours
Grid Reference: ST756981
What 3 Words: natural.trump.respect
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Step by Step Directions
1Start the Dursley Heritage Trail from the Town Hall and Market Place.
The Market House consists of the Town Hall standing on pillars above the Market Place. It was built in 1738 by the Lord of the Manor, Thomas Estcourt, for the holding of markets and fairs, replacing the old butter cross and a decrepit arcade used by farmers and traders to sell their goods.
The Town Hall is reached by a stone staircase at the western end; this replaced an external stair in 1824 as that one had obstructed the passage of horse-drawn carts. The Coat of Arms on the south side of the Town Hall is that of the Estcourt family and it cost a grand total of 13 Guineas. The statue on the eastern side is that of Queen Anne and the choice of subject goes back to the collapse of the tower and steeple of St. James’ Church in 1699.
To raise money for its rebuilding the Parish applied to the Monarch for a Church Brief, a Royal Warrant authorising money to be raised through collections in churches and chapels throughout the Kingdom. It was Queen Anne who responded after coming to the throne in 1702 and her effigy was erected on the Town Hall in gratitude
2Cross the road using the pedestrian crossing and head towards the Heritage Centre and Jacob’s House, now the offices of Dursley Town Council.
Jacob and Elizabeth Stiff were involved in the woollen industry and lived in these premises which used to be known as the Weaver's House.
Jacob was Bailiff of the town in 1740 and a plaque with their initials, along with the date of 1751, can be seen on the front wall of the building. The building design reflects its possible use as a weaving shed, with airy rooms and large windows allowing in plenty of light. Its Grade II listing refers to features rare in Gloucestershire buildings, the sunburst motif on the north side and diamond design on the west.
3Return past the pedestrian crossing and cross Long Street to the Memorial Gate entrance to St James’ churchyard.
The gates are a War Memorial installed in 1922 and carry an inscription over the gateway “IN MEMORY OF THOSE DURSLEY MEN WHO PASSED THRO' THE GATE TO LIFE EVERLASTING IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-18”.
Plaques list the names of the men, and one woman, who lost their lives in the line of duty. A recipient of the Victoria Cross, Capt. Allastair McReady-Diarmid, is among them. The origin of the Parish church of St. James ④ in Dursley dates back to the 13th century although little evidence of the original building now remains. Around 1320 much of the old building was demolished, although the tower was left standing, and a larger, grander building was constructed in its place.
Once again there is little left from this period of history, though the two arcades of octagonal columns are one remnant. The church was extensively restored in the 1860’s, at which time the clerestory was added and the chancel rebuilt. Enter the churchyard and take the path to the left hand of the church, following this around past the Parish rooms, at one time the National School, as seen on the inscription above the door
4Continue on the path and then descend the steps on the left.
Follow the path across the stream, turn left past the open water of the Broadwell and then left again into Water Street. Walk down this Street, past the building which housed Dursley's old swimming pool on the left, until you come to a large three storey building where the road widens out.
This was once known as Howard’s Upper Mill ⑤, then the Pin Mill, as it was later used as a factory for producing pins by hand. At the end of the 19th century it was also used to manufacture “Dursley Pedersen” bicycles. This cycle, an unusual lightweight design with a triangulated frame supporting a hammock saddle, was designed by Mikael Pedersen, an eccentric inventor from Denmark who came to Dursley to work for R.A. Lister & Co. Ltd.
5Turn left in front of this building and take the footpath on the left which passes the point where water can be seen rushing from the site of the old water turbine which powered the pin mill.
The path rises towards Long Street where you turn right. Further down, on the right, you pass Raglan House, the home of Mikael Pedersen, now marked by a plaque.
6Carry on down Long street to the large building at the bottom, known as The Priory. This dates from the 16th century but in more recent times was used as the head office of R.A. Lister & Co. Ltd, a world-renowned engineering company, perhaps best known for its huge range of diesel engines.
A plaque to the right of the door commemorates the part which the company played in Dursley’s history.
7Take the lane to the right of The Priory, known as Chestal. On the left as you walk along this path are the greens of Dursley Bowling Club overlooked by an Ice House.
Opposite is Chestal Terrace, built on the site of Townsend Mill by William Phelps in 1892, as shown on the plaque.
Follow the track round to the right past Chestal Lodge on your left and climb the hill for about 400 metres until the trees end. Take the path on the right and go downhill past another lodge house to arrive at a junction of four routes, near the open area called Ferney, Go left, past Kinver Grange, across the River Ewelme and past another lodge house, to the Uley Road.
Take the pedestrian crossing to your right and just before The Carpenters Arms public house take the footpath to its left.
8At the end of the path turn left into Rosebery Road and after about 100 metres, turn right onto a steep narrow path between a bungalow and a long terrace of houses up to St. Mark’s Churchyard.
Go left, then right between the gravestones towards the church. The graveyard has some interesting monuments, graves and memorials which include Edwin Beard Budding, the inventor of the lawn mower; Captain George Augustus Graham, who saved the blood line of the Irish Wolfhound and George Lister, the father of Robert Ashton Lister who founded R.A. Lister & Co. Ltd.
Others resting here are Margarethe Pedersen, the young daughter of Mikael; several members of the Eyre family of Kingshill House and the Bailey family who founded the Dursley Gazette newspaper.
Look out for a tall tomb which is the vault of the Ayliffe family who once owned the Old Bell Hotel, now renamed Ye Olde Dursley Hotel, near the Town Hall. There are also three war graves from the First World War.
9Follow the path through the graveyard past the church building and leave through the gate onto Woodmancote. Turn right and cross the road opposite Fort Lane and follow the lane uphill for 100 metres. You will see an unmarked path on the right heading upwards and back in the direction you have just walked.
Take this path up to Upper Poole Road and follow this downhill past the red brick Poole cottages on the left and the Council buildings on the right, which were established in 1914. After a small roundabout go into The Slade ahead.
Here, to the left, once stood the Dursley Union Workhouse.
10Follow this footpath to the end where you will emerge in May Lane opposite The Old Spot Public House.
Turn right and walk along May Lane to reach a mini roundabout, then turn right into Parsonage Street and follow it to arrive back at The Market Place.