The Earl's Drive, Alton

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Date:1910 - 1920 (c.)

Description:Woodland scene on the Earl's Drive in the grounds of Alton Towers.

Known locally as The Pink Lodge, this building is situated a quarter of a mile west of Alton Towers house. Tudor Lodge, reputed to be one of Pugin's designs, stands close to the Italianate Lodge. The site of the former Oakamoor Station, of which all that remains now are the platforms, is also sited near to this building.

Alton Towers was the home of the Talbot family, Earls of Shrewsbury. It was built between about 1810 and 1852.

The 15th Earl began adapting an existing 16th or 17th century house, Alveton (Alton) Lodge, in about 1810. A number of architects were involved, including Thomas Hopper, William Hollis and Thomas Allason. The new enlarged house was known as Alton Abbey by the 1820s.

The 16th Earl succeeded in 1827, and over the next 25 years greatly expanded the house which became known as Alton Towers. His architects included Thomas Fradgley of Uttoxeter, Joseph Potter and A.W.N. Pugin. After the Earl's death in 1852 a great sale of the contents took place in 1857.

The estate also boasted excellent gardens, which the next Earl began to capitalize on in the late 1860s. He hired John Mason Cook, the son of Thomas Cook who was responsible for creating the Victorian travel industry, to promote them and was overwhelmed by their early success. The first day excursion attracted 10,000 visitors.

The Chetwynd-Talbots lived at the house and partially refurnished it until they left in 1924, and another sale followed. A group of local businessmen bought it and developed it as a tourist attraction. During the Second World War, until 1951, it was occupied by the Army as an Officer Cadet Training Unit. In 1952 all the remaining fixtures and fittings were stripped and sold, leaving the house in a semi-derelict condition.

In 1990 the Tussauds Group purchased the house and grounds and began developing it into the hugely successful Adventure Theme Park it is now. Some of the interiors are gradually being restored.

This Postcard was published by W.Shaw, Burslem.

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Donor ref:01_120r (214/36411)

Source: Mr Jake Whitehouse

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