51 West End Road Silsoe
51 West End Road March 2011
51 West End Road is a charming thatched cottage, listed by the former Department of Environment in March 1992 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the late 17th century "probably extended in the 18th century". A building appears on the site on a map of 1718 drawn up for a rental survey for the Duke of Kent [L33/286 folio 11]. The rental gives the occupiers as John Wheeler and George Saunders and notes "late Sellers, Bought of him". The two men paid their rent to John Allen and he passed it on to the Duke.
The property has a timber-frame on a brick or stone plinth and has been rendered in pebble-dash. It has a thatched roof with gabled and hipped ends and comprises a single storey and attics. The department considered that the northernmost of the three downstairs rooms might be an 18th century extension, if so it was, perhaps, to make accommodation for either Wheeler or Saunders
A map drawn up for the 2nd Earl de Grey in 1856 [L33/12/13] shows that 51 West End Road was then still divided into two tenements, the northern part of the building was in the occupation of Charles Wheeler, perhaps a direct descendent of John, and the southern of Joseph Squire.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting 51 West End Road found that the building was still divided into two cottages [DV1/C248/26-27].
The building was owned by the trustees of Charles Browning; it had, presumably, been sold along with West End Farm by Nan Ino, 10th Baroness Lucas of Crudwell when she was breaking up and selling off the Wrest Park Estate in 1918 and 1919. The front part of the property was occupied by W. F. Downham, who paid rent of six shillings per week for a living room and kitchen with two bedrooms in the roof. A washhouse and barn stood outside. The rear of the premises was in the occupation of Mrs. L. Pratt who paid £2/10/- per annum for a living room and kitchen, again with two bedrooms in the roof and a washhouse and barn outside.
The cottage was later bought by Bedfordshire County Council, as part of West End Farm, renamed Mander College Farm. It was subsequently leased out from at least 1959 until at least 1983.