Coopers Crescent: The Story of a Thatcham Street
Rewind to the eighteenth century, the age of the stagecoach! This mode of transport reduced travel times between London and Bath from three days to two. The opening of the Theale to Speen turnpike road in West Berkshire in 1728 ensured that many passenger and mail coaches passed through Thatcham and Newbury to change their horses and seek passenger refreshment. A development that helped put the old market towns on the map.
Coaches frequented the White Hart and King’s Head pubs located on Thatcham Broadway almost as much as I do. In 1784, the first-ever Royal Mail coach changed its horses at the King's Head with fresh ones provided by its innkeeper, Edward Fromont. Both pubs remain open today, though the latter's premises have been considerably downsized.
A third major stagecoach inn, no longer around today, also operated out of Thatcham. The renowned coach proprietor, Thomas Cooper, set up shop in Thatcham after moving from Marlborough in 1827. He established large and luxurious premises here called Cooper's Cottage. Cooper organized journeys between London and Bristol and Thatcham became a transit point on this route.
Cooper faced bankruptcy in 1832 and was forced to sell most of his coaches. The advent of the Great Western Railway and the completion of the London to Bristol line in 1841 further sealed the fate of the stagecoach. Railways presented a faster, cheaper, and safer alternative to canal and coach travel. Thatcham welcomed its own station in 1847, part of the Berks and Hants Line to Hungerford.
These developments led Cooper to finally sell up and move to Richmond in 1840. Ever the entrepreneur, he found work here as a railway stationmaster, because if you can't beat them...
In 1901, new occupants inhabited the former coaching inn and changed its name to Beverly House. Today, the space where this property once stood is occupied by Coopers Crescent. A loop road located off Beverly Close along the London to Bath Road. It was named in honour of its former patron by the local Parish Council in 1960.