The whole of the Hesters Way/Arle area had for hundreds of years been farming land. The soil, unlike other areas of the town, was sandy and ideal for agriculture. Orchards abounded and market gardens stretched along Arle Road and Alstone Lane right into Hesters Way and probably provided much of the produce needed by the fast growing town of Cheltenham. When, after much discussion, it was decided to build in this area, most of the original farms disappeared.Arle Farm
This farm belonged to the Gregory family who owned or leased most of the land in Arle. In the 1854 Sales Particulars, a dairy farm, known as Gregorys or Home Farm was described as 'a brick-built house with 12 rooms plus kitchen and wash-house, dairy, pantry and cellar as well as a mill room and cider store. In the grounds were a dovecote and out-buildings including a piggery, barns, stables, yard and two cottages totalling approximately 130 acres.'
In 1879 Arle House Estate was sold to James Wood for £11,000. He died in 1905 and his son, or grandson, Gershom Wood became the owner. But in 1939/40 Cheltenham Borough Council compulsorily purchased over 200 acres, but not the farmhouse. A Mr. Street lived there and he and his wife ran a riding school until February 1986. The buildings were acquired by Douglas Equipment in 1963. In February 1986 the farmhouse itself was demolished because it was unsafe, and by the end of 1996 all the outbuildings were razed to the ground.Hope Farm
Of all the farms that existed in Hesters Way prior to the development of the estate, only Hope Farm has survived as a working farm and is now owned by the Theyer family. It lies down a lane off Springbank and was occupied by the Kearsey family from 1902 to 1942. When they bought it, it was a single storey tumble-down house with about 3 to 4 acres of land for which they paid £200.
Mr. Kearsey then worked at the new Ash Destructor Place in Arle Road, earning 19/- (just under £1) per week to keep himself, wife and, at that time, four children. They later increased their farm to 10 acres and planted fruit trees and kept a donkey and pony. Mrs. Kearsey and her sons ran the farm but by 1906, it being too small for their growing family, Mr. Kearsey employed a man to help with laying the foundations for the house, as it now stands.
The greatest problem, however, was lack of mains water and not until two of the children contracted typhoid from their well did the Council relent and agree for mains water to be connected, at a cost to the Kearseys of £50.
In 1912, five more acres were added in Hesters Way Lane but when war broke out and the sons were conscripted Mr. And Mrs. Kearsey ran the farm. After the war, the sons married and set up homes elsewhere and so by 1942 the farm was sold.
This farm changed owners several times and at one time was owned by Mr. Gabb who also owned Tanners Cottages. He later sold the farmhouse to Mr. Harris of The White House (off Village Road) who had it made into two houses round about 1920. Edgar Fletcher lived in one and in the other was Mr. Greening. Mr. Fletcher worked the farm until it was purchased to become part of Hesters Way Housing Estate.
This farm is on the extreme edge of the estate and was a flourishing farm for many years but at the time of the commencement of Hesters Way Estate, it was owned by a Mr. James Bruton. The Old Farm House still stands but the land is leased to different people.