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Bill Keller - fruit salesman
The shop at 118 High Street
The shop at 118a High Street

William Henry Keller was born in 1874 at Wellingborough. He married Blanche Drage (born 1870 Bozeat) in 1894. Blanche was living at 26 Church Street, Rushden, in 1901, with her parents, James and Maria Drage, and her daughter Sarah, aged 6. James' trade was shoemaking, and Maria was a greengrocer, with Blanche as her assistant. In Kelly's Directory of 1898 the shop in Church Street is listed as William Henry Keller's. In 1903 he had another shop at 2 Spencer Road, but in 1901 another William Keller and his wife Susan (nee Perkins - married in Rushden in 1888), were living there. [perhaps a cousin?]

By 1908 William Henry had closed the Church Street shop and opened at 7 High Street, and in 1911 William and Blanche were living there with their 3 children — Sarah Ellen, age 16 born Bozeat, William James, age 7 born Birmingham, Hebert Frederick, age 2 born Rushden (and baptised at St Mary's Church), and Blanche's father James Drage, widower age 73. In the mid 1920s he bought 118a High Street.

Rushden Echo, 1st December 1911

Extract from a wedding report 1915:

Mr. and Mrs. Maddock will reside at the Church Parade shop of Mr. Keller, fruiterer, and will manage the business for him.

In 1935 he took over 21 Newton Road, formerly Jeremiah Litchfield's, and opened a third shop at 32 Grove Road.

William James Keller was known as Bill, and he married Mabel Dickens in 1928. When Bill took over the business from his father, he renamed it B Keller & Sons, and his step-son Hugh Keller ran the shop at 21 Newton Road.

William Henry and Blanche celebrated their golden wedding in 1944. Blanche died in 1946, and William in 1949.

In the mid 1920s he bought 118a High Street.
Billie keller outside the shop
Bill outside the shop at 118 High Street
The label (left) and the wrapper (below) were found in 1989 during alterations to the shop.
A 1953 advert when freezers were quite
a new feature for kitchens!
The Rushden Echo, 16th April 1965, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Greengrocer has retired: sells shop

Mr. William James Keller, who took over his father’s fruit and vegetable business in Rushden High Street in 1946, retired from the end of March at the age of 61.

Mr. Keller has sold his premises to Mr. Jim Osborne, owner of the adjoining sports and toy shop, and so the name of Keller will be missing from the High Street for the first time in fifty years.

Bill aged 61
Bill aged 61
It was in 1906 that Mr. William Henry Keller opened a fruit and vegetable business in Church Parade. Nine years later he moved into the High Street shop.

The present Mr. Keller, 268 Wellingborough Road, started working at his father’s shop in 1920, when he was 16. In 1946, after coming out of the RAF, he took over the business.

Mr. Keller emphasised that he could have carried on, but he felt the time had come to retire.

He did mention that since Rushden High Street had become one-way, trade had slackened at the north end of the town.

A widower, Mr. Keller married again in 1949.

He has no special plans for the future but will be taking a well-earned rest for the time being.

Rushden Echo, 20th July 1917

Private H J Blackwell, 15th London (Civil Service) Rifles, who has been in France for 18 months, and has been wounded three times, is now at home with a view to taking up a commission. He is the son of Mrs. Blackwell, of North London, and the late Mr. H. Blackwell, formerly a highly-respected grocer at Rushden, occupying the shop now in the occupation of Mr. Keller, fruiterer. At the time of enlisting, Pte. Blackwell was a teacher in a school at Hampstead, under the London County Council.

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