The 1816 Mayor of Doncaster, John Pearson Esq. owned what was referred to as ‘garden ground’ situated behind Spring Gardens in the town. The large tract of land, surrounded by a high wall, would have looked much the same as an oversized Victorian kitchen garden. Mr Pearson decided to sell off the land so that by 1825-26, William Hirst Esq., an architect, began to design the layout of a street.
Some of the land was purchased by Mr Benjamin Hammond, a Doncaster pawnbroker. A section of the land that he bought was later sold off to a Mrs Miles. She kept the land as ‘garden ground’. It was situated close to Cleveland Street, and opposite the new Civic Quarter, multi-storey car park. It remained in this natural state until her death. The land was then purchased by a Mr Wood who decided to build on it, firstly by constructing 2 cottages on the frontage to Cleveland Street, followed by 4 tenements (or apartments) in Portland Place itself. Mr Hammond, on his land, built ‘country-like’ housing which became very sought after by a better class of society, raising the tone of the area in general, however, his increased wealth led enabled him to construct more ‘affordable housing’ there which attracted a lower class of tenant. This influx of lower-class individuals had the effect of driving out the well-to-do and lowering the general tone. Opposite Mr Hammond’s dwellings, yet another landlord, one Mr Tummond, built 4 cottages, one of which was turned into a shop. The above named individuals now owned the majority of the area and so were legally entitled to rename it. Previously it had been known as Bird-in-hand-yard and latterly, Elbow Street due to its crookedness, but now it was to be known as Portland Place.
In 1832, Mr Tummond sold an allotment to a Mr Charles Siddall, a builder, who then erected six cottages on the site, 2 at the front and 4 behind. At the death of Mr Tummond, Mr Edward Burton, Tailor and Draper, father of Mr W. T. Burton of ‘Plant & Burton Drapers, Baxter Gate, came into possession along with the six other cottages.
Over time, the properties changed hands and other building were erected on the site until, by 1868, Portland Place was made up of about 40 separate dwellings, the majority of them being owned by the Hammond family. Mr Benjamin Hammond had died in the Horse Fair (now Waterdale) was buried in the Parish Churchyard (The Minster) May 11th, 1853, has a tablet near to the south wall of St. Georges Church which reads, “Here lie interred the remains of Wm James, son of Wm and Elizabeth Hammond, who departed this life Aug 19th, 1787, in the fourth year of his age. Also, the remains of the above named Wm Hammond, who departed this life the 28th day of June, 1795, in the 49th year of his age, and of the said Elizabeth Hammond, who departed this life the 28th July, 1822, in the 58th year of her age, testifying their dependence on Jesus Christ, the foundation of their life. Also, near this place are interred Josias and Henry Hammond, children of the above, who died in infancy”.
Mr Hammond was for many years an extensive tea dealer, and according to the announcement, his death took place on, “Sunday, after a tedious indisposition (long illness). Deservedly respected”. He had lived at number 18, Hall Gate.
Portland Place as we know it today is a large block-paved courtyard cum car park bordered by Spring Gardens, Cleveland Street, St. Sepulchre Gate, and Trafford Way. Not the pleasant ‘Garden Ground’ or a quaint cluster of country-style cottages. Click on the following picture to enlarge it and see the area that Portland Place covers.