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Employment Exchange

old labour exchange new Job Centre
The first exchange was in Brookfield Road. Later this building (the old telephone exchange)
became the Employment Exchange in East Grove
The new Labour Exchange, now called the
Job Centre also deals with Dole Payments,
is in Rectory Road opposite the Cloisters

The first exchange was in Brookfield Road. During WWI a recruiting office was opened in the "old labour exchange" at 87 High Street.
M Tomalin & Son (left) were dyers at 85 High Street from about 1914
into the 1940s, next is Currys (1927) Ltd, cycle makers at 87 High Street, opened in 1927. The largest blind on the right is on Liptons Grocers.
Rushden Echo, 29th January 1915

New Recruiting Station-Colour-Sergt. F. Draper has taken over, as a recruiting station, No. 87, High-street, Rushden, formerly the Labour Exchange (near the Post Office), in place of the Drill Hall, which was formerly used. It will be utilised for recruiting for all branches of His Majesty’s service.

The Rushden Echo, 29th March 1963, transcribed by Jim Hollis

More Jobs in Rushden and Higham

The return to work of building trade employees has caused a forty per cent fall in the number of unemployed at Rushden and Higham Ferrers. For those still out of work the future is a little brighter than before, because there also appears to be an improvement in the local footwear industry.

There are now 290 people out of work – 224 men and 66 women. A month ago there were almost 500 people without jobs.

The Employment Exchange is having little difficulty in finding workers to fill vacancies that occur, said Mr. D. Stratton, the manager, this week.

Displaced shoe trade workers were naturally anxious to return to the industry, but he pointed out that they did not hesitate to accept a good job in another trade if the opportunity arose.

London Firm

About fifty men and women have been found new jobs by the employment exchange in the past month. Something like 60 per cent wereredundant footwear operatives.

Mr. Stratton said that none of the unemployed workers had shown any willingness to take jobs outside the district.

The situation is gradually being eased by the London firm, Combined-Rubber Ltd, which has taken over a factory in Higham. Already 20 people have been found jobs there through the exchange, and more will probably be available.

The company proposes to engage a labour force of about 150, including workers from London, when the factory is running to capacity.

Mr. J. Kirk, secretary of Rushden and District Footwear Manufacturers’ Federation, confirmed that unemployment in the shoe trade was decreasing.

This, he explained had become apparent during his visits to local factories.

The footwear trade, he felt, would not really make any spectacular headway until we had still better and more settled weather.

The Rushden Echo, 24th January 1964, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Remember the 500 Rushden job queue? now…... All at Work Except For 61

Employment wise, things could not be rosier at Rushden.

The latest unemployment figures issued this week by the manager of the Rushden Ministry of Labour, Mr. D. G. Stratton,and show that only 61 people are out of work – compared with 130 notified vacancies.

The unemployed total of 61 – 47 males and 14 females – works out at .4 per cent of the insured population. This is the lowest figure on record since December 1961.

There is little likelihood of this employment bubble being pricked, particularly as there is no sign of the boom in the boot and shoe trade slackening off.

This time last year, of course, the reverse was true. The unemployment queue was over 300 deep, increasing to a peak in February of almost 500 people out of work.


The artic weather conditions played a major part in this situation, particularly in the building trade. But at that time the boot and shoe trade was also experiencing a recession.

However, the possible closure of the Chelveston USAF base has raised the question of redundancy for civilian workers.

“Quite frankly, a considerable number of redundancies are expected,” Mr. Stratton said. He will be going to the base next Tuesday to discuss this question.

“The prospects of alternative work for these people are very good. As I said, all types of labour is required. Things are better in this area than they were.”

Mr. Stratton said there was a big demand for all types of labour in the area – skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled.

“At the last count there was a total of eighty notified vacancies for men and fifty for women,” he said.

The Rushden Echo, 17th April 1964, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Jobs Setback But It’s Not So Bad

Although the shock news that A. J. G. Potter and Sons, Ltd, the Stanwick building Contractors, had dismissed over 200 employees last week meant a big setback to the Rushden employment figures, the situation is still considerably brighter than this time last year.

Of those who lost their jobs with the firm and its subsidiary, Potters (Wellingborough) Ltd, only twenty have so far registered at the Rushden Ministry of Labour Exchange, the manager, Mr. D. Stratton, reported this week.

Overall, however, the picture is a vast improvement over the same period 12 months ago, when the footwear industry was at its lowest ebb for over twenty years.

Latest figures available show that only 67 are out of work in the district (54 of them men) compared with 290 in March, 1963 (224 men) when the recession in the boot and shoe trade meant longer dole queues.


Commenting on the current numbers, Mr. Stratton said: “They probably won’t go much lower than this. Most of those who lost their jobs last year have been absorbed since then in other factories.”

The 1964 figure is equivalent to 0.4 per cent of the insured population being out of work, whereas last year the 290 jobless had raised the percentage to 1.7.

“This is a drastic reduction,” Mr. Stratton said, and added: “The position at present is quite favourable, but we have a number of building operatives on our books as a direct result of the closure of Potter’s.”

The footwear manufacturers are still demanding women closers – although in most cases are faced with the problem of being unable to get the additional workers in this department.

Skilled men are also wanted by most firms, but the demand for unskilled labour is not currently high.

There is no short-time being operated in Rushden factories at the moment, the majority having full order books, which promise full employment and plenty of work for months to come.

There is good news for some of those affected by the sackings at Potter’s too. Carpenters and bricklayers, in particular, are needed by other contractors for site work. Labourers, however, are not so urgently required.

Trainees for the ironstone industry are also wanted, as are skilled engineers.

The Rushden Echo, 26th June 1964, transcribed by Jim Hollis

It’s Boom Time Again

Rushden – the town where there are more than two jobs for every man on the dole, and five for every woman. Sounds like Utopia? It is the nearest the town has got to it for three years, and most people reckon it cannot get much closer to this idyllic state.

Most of the town’s large employers of labour have vacancies and the Employment Exchange manager, Mr. D. G. Stratton, is very happy. In cold figures the unemployment in the town is 0.3 per cent or, in terms of people, 39 men and 11 women.

The men have the choice of 89 notified vacancies, and the women can choose between 54. Not only is the position better than the regional figures, it is only about a quarter of the national unemployment figure.

More men and women are employed at John White Footwear Ltd. than any other place in the area. According to a firm’s executive, there has always been a shortage of women for their operations and to combat this the company built two extra units, one at Corby and one at Ammanford.

This step is especially valuable now. “If we did not have those units we would be very worried,” he told the “Echo.”

They were also short of men and if there was any spare labour about they would take it and be very glad of it.

This is the boom time. Although one of the leather and shoe trade magazines continues to mutter ominous warnings that the good times will stop rolling soon, local people are not so pessimistic.

They look back to October, 1961, when there were only 11 men out of work and 15 women, and to the years after the war when unemployment was virtually unheard of.

People out of work today are made up mostly of those changing from one job to another and taking a week to do it, or elderly or disabled people who can undertake light work only.

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