Vanished Streets

1780 workhouse was near here


The area behind Middle Row was once covered by a labyrinth of streets and old cottages. These were demolished in 1957 to make way for a new Sainsbury's supermarket and car park (now Wilkos), and the new shops of Ashton Square. The only building to survive was the Baptist Chapel, still standing in the centre of the car park. The chapel was built in 1708 on a street called Tile Kiln Close, which then became known as Chapel Walk. This was alongside areas called St Mary Overs and Butts Lane, where archery would have been practised.

The name of today's Workhouse craft centre is a reminder that the original Dunstable Workhouse was in a vanished street called Mondyke Lane, which was somewhere at the back, in today's car park. That workhouse closed in 1780 when more suitable premises were found in High Street South, in an old pub called The Star.

A large pub called The Eight Bells stood on what is now Ashton Square until the 1950s and there was a busy fish and chip shop and some primitive toilets facing the rear of Middle Row.

Old documents dating back to the 14th century mention a pathway called Ponchon Lane which connected the old Holliwick Street to the high street. Perhaps the narrow passage way between the shops is a relic of that old route.

An outing for Eight Bells customers in Ashton Street during the September of 1928, West Street is in the background
Cottages in Ashton Street, behind Middle Row, being demolished in 1933.
The Eight Bells pub in Ashton Street. The Methodist Church is in the background.

Text: John Buckledee of Dunstable and District Local History Society. ©
Design: David Turner.
Narration: Trish Evison of Dunstable Repertory Company.
Recording: David Hornsey.
Website developer: Joshua Buckledee.