|FIRSDOWN - A BRIEF HISTORY|
The civil Parish of Firsdown, created in 1986 covers an area of housing mostly built since World War Two along with the road called Firs Road which joins the village of Winterslow to the main road (A30) to Salisbury. From the start it was known as Firs Road. Winterslow and residents had strong links with Winterslow. However, the land had for centuries been part of the Winterbourne parishes which extend along the Bourne Valley well to the north and west of the A30. The area was known as Winterbourne Down and this name is still to be seen on some maps. The name Firsdown was chosen to link Firs Road with Winterbourne Down.
Although Firsdown is a modern creation, it lies in a very ancient landscape. There are important archaeological sites of prehistoric settlements, notably the Bronze Age farmstead at Thorny Down. However,. This and other sites are inaccessible because they are north of the A30 and as such are on land surrounding the research establishment at Porton Down. The boundaries of the new parish were drawn to include the important Iron Age fort of Figsbury Rings within Firsdown and this site is accessible. The Roman Road from Old Sarum to Winchester runs along the southern boundary of the parish and much of the area was part of the hunting grounds around Clarendon, a favourite country residence of the Plantagenets. However, for many centuries the whole of modern Firsdown was almost uninhabited, an area of ancient downland dotted with junipers and thought useless for agriculture.
The first dwellings along Firs Road were erected in the years between the two world wars. Development was very slow and by 1940 there were about a dozen well scattered dwellings, all simple bungalows on very large plots in an open landscape. With no main services, the early settlers needed to be hardy and self-sufficient. There was no main water supply and residents had to rely on rainwater and water pumped from boreholes, initially by wind pumps. There were strong links with Winterslow; the children attended Winterslow School, the bus service from Winterslow to Salisbury passed along Firs Road and the post was delivered from Winterslow. The nearest church was at Winterslow and Firsdown is still part of the ecclesiastical Parish of Winterslow.
During 1939-1945 and the post war years very little new building took place but the 1950s saw a vast increase in new bungalows. Soon there was a continuous row of housing on both sides of Firs Road, whereupon developers opened up side roads. Firs Close was created in the early 1950s, Ilynton Avenue in 1962-63, Great Croft in 1963-66, Juniper Road in 1968 and Maple Drive in 1976. Thus the majority of dwellings were built within a quarter of a century from 1950 onwards. Since then there has been a little infilling but building activity has been limited to alterations and extensions. Some of the original bungalows have been converted to houses and the original open landscape has been extensively covered with trees planted by residents.
During the rapid expansion the residents of Firs Road lived in the civil Parish of Winterbourne with very few real links to that area. Eventually the Winterbourne Parish Council reserved some places for Firsdown representatives but the system was clearly unsatisfactory and in 1974 the Firs Road Ratepayers Association was formed as an informal group representing local residents. A strong feeling then began to emerge that a new independent civil parish should be created. Eventually in 1984 the Boundary Commission agreed and on 1st April 1986 Firsdown came into existence as a new Parish with its own Council which first met on April 17th 1986.