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Trade and Industry

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 28th November 1958, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Rushden has need of light industry

Supporting an application for the development for industrial purposes of a site on the Sanders Lodge Estate at Rushden, Mr. A. G. Crowdy said at a local inquiry on Tuesday that the Urban Council was concerned at the complete dependence on the boot and shoe industry.

As clerk to the council, he said the council had adopted a policy of endeavouring to encourage additional light industry to come to the town, and was impressed by the need to create a greater diversity of employment in the interest of the economic wellbeing of the town.

He was putting the council’s views before Mr. V. H. Loney, an inspector of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.


The inquiry was into an application to develop 31.7 acres by Robert Marriott, Ltd., Midland Works, Rushden.

The case for the applicants was introduced by Mr. C. Featherstone, who emphasised the site’s suitability for industrial development.

Mr. John L. Wilson, senior partner of a Rushden firm of estate agents, said that many new light industries could be attracted to Rushden, and pointed out: “At the moment Rushden depends entirely on boot and shoes and the allied trades.”

Col. J. R. Marriott, for the applicants, said that the land had been bought in 1945 for industrial development, but could not be disposed of until the future was known.

Mr. O. M. Jones, deputy clerk to Northamptonshire County Council, said his council was not unduly worried about the eventual development of the site, but present plans were for that part of Rushden to be developed in three phases.

Following Mr. Jones and agreeing with all speakers that the site was a good one for industrial development, Mr. Crowdy referred to the rapid expansion of Rushden in the latter part of the last century, which resulted in most of the existing factories being scattered throughout the residential areas. Now, he said, the council wished to do everything possible to secure the re-siting of the factories.

The report of the inspector will be made to the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who will give the final decision on the matter.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 4th September 1959, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Shortage of bricks hits development

Wellingborough and Rushden builders say they have never before experienced such a “phenomenal” shortage of bricks. The reasons for the scarcity spring from two main causes.

They are:- an unusually mild winter which allowed building to continue throughout the year without any time lag to give brickyards a chance to stockpile and the tremendous increase of building development since the Government’s decision to lift the “credit squeeze.”

Consequently bricks have become almost “precious.” A waiting period of anything from three to six months – depending on the type of brick – confronts the would-be builder today.

This however does not necessarily mean a complete hold-up on building work. Builders often have anticipated the scarcity, and ordered well in advance.

Local builders’ merchants have almost turned “detectives” in locating new supplies so that customers’ needs can be met.

Fortunately, to a large extent, builders have been able to continue operations through using their ingenuity. Facing bricks have had to be used in place of “commons” for inside work.


The development of breeze blocks, thermo insulation type building materials for inside walls, have all helped to ease the shortage so that building has not come to a standstill.

A spokesman for Wellingborough Rural Council said: “We have been very lucky. We haven’t had a site held up at all. We were held up for about three weeks earlier in the summer, but our brick supplies for our next lot of houses were ordered some weeks ago – we are ordering well in advance.”

Mr. George Potter, of A. J. Potter, told us that there had been a shortage for about six months. “It’s been very serious but the position is easing now. Contracts for the Wellingborough Police Station and Air Ministry projects were among those which had been affected. Mr. Potter said a shortage of all types of brick had been experienced.

Darker nights and wintery weather will curtail building activities even more, so that the shortage should soon resolve itself.

Not that the premier brick making concerns have been idle.

A statement from the premier brick making concern in the world the London Brick Company Ltd., has been issued to dispel “mistaken impressions.”


In the late autumn of last year we foresaw an increase in demand for bricks this year, and we began taking the necessary steps to augment production. Work is now well advanced on new extensions which will raise our output by 100 million bricks in a full year. This additional production, which will be flowing on to the sites before the end of the year, will be in both common and facing bricks.

Even with this substantial increase, however the present demands being made upon us are far in excess of our production. Our experience is that the tempo of building activity has increased due both to the normal seasonal uplift noticeable at this time of the year and to favourable economic outlook.

Work postponed by the government’s monetary policy is now going forward and in addition, the present increased rate of house building particularly affects brick supplies.

The Rushden Echo, 11th October 1962, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Business Booming: A Stimulant for Rushden

Light industry at Rushden is booming and several firms are working to capacity, with enough orders and projects in hand to keep them fully occupied for some time. In addition there has been a general improvement in the employment situation in the boot and shoe industry.

Recently, when the staple industry of the town was going through a slight depression, other manufacturers – builders, light engineers, coachworks – were securing large contracts worth many thousands of pounds.

One of these substantial orders went last week to Nene Valley Coachworks, Wellingborough Road, who are now working on 400 caravans for the British market and for export to the Continent.

As reported last week, Arthur Sanders, the building firm, was recently awarded two major contracts.

£2m. Contracts

Another firm of builders, Robert Marriott Ltd. are currently undertaking contracts throughout Northamptonshire and surrounding counties totalling well over £2 million. The contracts include the building of Wellingborough’s Borstal Institution and schools, as well as work for the Air Ministry.

Cox and Wright, Ltd. the light engineering firm, is also contributing to the boom and has recently added another feather to its cap with orders from several European countries – including Denmark and Holland – for shoe machinery.

A spokesman told us: “Our export trade has been very successful recently. At home we have just installed what is believed to be one of the largest conveyors in the country at Dunlop’s Liverpool factory.”

Latest indications are that the boot and shoe industry is recouping some of its lost trade after manufacturers had to employ short time measures, which affected a large number of workers.

Last week’s London shoe fair resulted in big orders for most of the Rushden firms who exhibited. One of them, Bignells Ltd., reported that it was the best show from the point of view of orders they had been at for many years.

In spite of this welcome stimulant for local industry, the employment position at Rushden has not been eased.

Mr. D. Stratton, manager of Rushden Labour Exchange, said: “It has been rather difficult for us to fit in unskilled or semi-skilled labour, although there have been vacancies for skilled men.”


In the boot and shoe industry, he added, things seem to be improving, but the general situation had been aggravated when Rubber Improvement Ltd. at Wellingborough laid off a number of employees.

Mr. Stratton forecast that the closure of the steelworks at Wellingborough would also affect the number of jobless at Rushden.

Mr. R. Bazeley, president of Rushden NUBSO branch, told the “Echo” that indications were that there was an all-round improvement in the boot and shoe industry and several firms had resumed full-time working. He said: “The people of 65 and over who got the axe from some firms seem to have got other jobs, but 16 are still out of work.”


The town’s boot and shoe manufacturers are now compensating for the recent slump in the demand for footwear – some are on overtime – and are making attempts to eliminate its effects.

Other concerns, outside the staple industry, are playing an important part in keeping on the map – and proving that the town’s major and light industries can work side by side for the benefit of Rushden.

The Rushden Echo, 1st February 1963, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Shopkeepers Fear Cuts In Trade

Short-time and redundancy in the shoe trade means less money to spend at Rushden – except on essentials; food, clothing and fuel. Mr. Don Gibson, president of the Chamber of Trade, thinks that traders are bound to be affected and 1963 could be a very difficult year if the unemployment situation does not improve.

He told us: “It will affect trade in general, admittedly, but it is a little early yet to assess the situation as a whole. If there is any more unemployment it will make a vast difference.”

A general meeting of the Rushden and Higham Ferrers Chamber of Trade is due to be held next week and Mr. Gibson said that the question of local unemployment would almost certainly be on the agenda.


“Echo” reporters asked some shopkeepers who deal in luxury goods and less essential commodities how recent developments in the footwear industry would affect their trade.

Mr. Bernard Gramshaw, who owns a High Street furniture shop and is a Rushden urban councillor, viewed the situation with optimism. But he felt it was too early to judge what would happen.

He said that a clear indication of how other furniture trades in the country were affected could only be gained after the Earls Court Furniture Exhibition which is now being held in London.

Mr. Gramshaw could not foresee the present situation turning into a second depression. Trade, he agreed, would be hit to a certain extent.

Mr. Bernard Palmer, a florist and fruiter, found it impossible to predict what the result of so many local people being without jobs would be. The difference between wages people have earned and the money they have coming in now was bound to have an effect in the town.

He added: “But how much and on whom is anyone’s guess.”

A shopper, Mrs. May Yorkson, the mother of two, felt things were now dreadful. She thought that the uncertainty about the Common Market had caused some buyers to withhold orders, causing a trade depression.

Mr. Percy W. House, who owns a watchmaker’s and jeweller’s shop in High Street, said: “Unemployment has been coming to the shoe trade for some time with the introduction of new machinery. Our trade will certainly be affected, with people’s spending money gone.”

His was a luxury trade, but he thought customers would always find enough money to buy wedding or christening presents.

Mr. House recalled the depression in Rushden during the twenties, when his father was in the shoe industry. “Most of the workers in the shoe industry suffered, and even those employed were working a four-day week,” he said.

Mrs. Elizabeth Cox, High Street, milliner, found it difficult to predict what would result from the present situation.

“A hat is completely unnecessary, though it does help to keep your morale,” she commented.

HP Slow-Down

She felt that Rushden should encourage smaller industries. “The shoe trade has deteriorated in Rushden. The larger multiples are extracting too much money from the town without replacing it,” said Mrs. Cox.

At his electrical shop in High Street Mr. R. Clark said that payment on electrical appliances would be a great deal slower. The sales side of his trade would suffer, he thought.

The Rushden Echo, 28th June 1963, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Delays in Delivery of Goods

A Rushden sales manager has written a strongly-worded letter to his firm’s shipping agents complaining about delays which he says reflect badly on British industry abroad.

Mr. L. Bentley, of Nene Valley Coachworks, Wellingborough Road, has asked the London agents to do something about the disconcerting situations which he claims has existed for a number of years.

He told the “Echo” this week that caravans from Rushden for export to the continent had been held up at Newhaven Docks many times before being shipped across the Channel to France.

And because British Railways’ ferries have not been able to meet delivery dates on several occasions, the firm has often failed to deliver in time to France and Belgium.

On Monday, Mr. Bentley had a letter from the coachworks’ shipping agents telling him that it would not be possible for BR to ship the firm’s latest export consignment – eight caravans – from Newhaven to Dieppe.

Instead, they said, they would have to go by an alternative route: Folkestone to Boulogne.

He commented: “Again this has completely upset all our schedules – and this other route will cost us £18 extra for each caravan.”

This meant that because British Railways could not accommodate the caravans there would be more delays at the docks, where they could be easily damaged.


Mr. Bentley added that further difficulties arose when this happened as insurance companies regard coverage in these circumstances as a bad risk.

He pointed out that it only seemed to be export caravans – they can be anything up to forty feet long – which were affected in this way.

The letter from the coach works to their agents says: “I find these delays very disconcerting. They sadly reflect on British industry abroad. This position arises every yearand it is time something was done about it if we are expected to export.”

Mr. Ken Smith, a director of Kenley Caravans, Graveley Street, Rushden, which also make about 25 per cent of its models for the foreign market, said that apart from some minor problems, the firm did not have much difficulty transporting caravans abroad.

From experience, Mr. Smith added, Kenley did not use British Railways because of the “fantastic charges.” Like Nene Valley Coachworks, their caravans are taken to the docks by road.

Mr. Malcolm Wright, of Cox and Wright, which exports a large number of shoe machines annually, felt that the main trouble lay with BR, although they did not use them.

A spokesman for Fred Hawkes (NV Engineers) said that the firm rarely had any trouble with dock delays.

Closing NoticeThe Rushden Echo, 31st January 1964, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Change in Shops’Closing Bid Fails

Would the traders of Rushden, and the town in general, benefit from a change in the Thursday early closing order?

With shops at Northampton, Kettering and Wellingborough also closing early on Thursdays there would seem to be a good opportunity for Rushden traders to increase their business if the order was altered.

On Wednesday, however, the Urban Council rejected a proposal by the National Association of multiple grocers on behalf of grocers and provisions merchants, for a change in the early closing-day.

The council considered that, as there were advantages to the trade, the shop assistants and the social life of the town in having a set early closing day, it did not feel justified in agreeing to the request for one class of shops.


Among traders, though, opinion seems to be divided.

Rushden Co-operative Society, the town’s largest retailer, believes that there is some merit in allowing retail traders to choose their own early closing day, while Rushden, Higham Ferrers and District Chamber of Trade is against the proposal in the form put before the council.

The secretary/manager of the Co-operative Society, Mr. R. R. Griffiths, said he thought that a change might make it possible for food shop workers to benefit from a whole day off each week.

“I would not mind seeing Thursday changed; it would help shop staff. I don’t think the town would lose, it would have a lot to gain,” he said.

The Chamber of Trade is not exactly against a change, said Mr. John Coleman, president, but many traders had established a pattern of takings and some of them prefer things as they were. “I think it is wise to let things ride at the moment. It is not a simple matter to change to another day. Tremendous difficulties would exist in changing the half-day.”

Mr. Coleman admitted that difficulties did sometimes arise from the shops in the area being closed on Thursday afternoons.

‘Got To Come’

About a change in the future, he said, they might suggest the matter to the chamber’s national liaison committee. “It is one of the things which have got to come,” he said.

An individual grocer, Mr. E. C. Eady, said: “It has been Thursday early closing for as long as I can remember, and I do not see that anything can be gained from a change.”

The Rushden Echo, 8th April 1966, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Business is Ruined by New Rent

Mr. Reginald Skinner has been a newsagent and confectioner in Rushden High Street for 29 years. Now he has to give up his business and look for a job – because the rent on his premises has been trebled.

“The rent has gone up gradually over the years, or course, but this is the biggest jump of the lot,” he said. Mr. Skinner has been told that the rent will go up to £600 from almost £200 in September this year.

He explained that under the terms of the lease he should have paid the new rent from last September, but he had been allowed to carry on at the old rent until September, when he had given notice to quit. This would enable him to sell off most of his stock, which he was now running down.

“I had not been thinking of giving up the business and cannot see where I could start up again,” he said.

On top of his rents, Mr. Skinner pays £200 rates per year to the council.

However, Mr. Skinner says he understands the position of the owner, who has kept the rents at a very low rate for at least the last seven years.

Even the £600 rents asked for a new lease would be low compared with others in High Street, and the rent being asked for each of a new block of small shops next to the Wheatsheaf Inn, off the High Street, comes to about £12 a week.

Mr. Skinner’s premises have two stockrooms and eight others at first floor level, which makes a quite extensive property.

A spokesman for Wilson and Partners, the estate agents dealing with Mr. Skinner’s shop, said the premises would be offered for sale, and it was likely this would take place by auction in June. He emphasised that if an acceptable offer was made for the premises before this date the auction sale would not be held.

He said: “The rent Mr. Skinner has been asked is what we would consider a very fair market rent. It is, in fact, low.”

The Rushden Echo, 26th May 1967, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Industry and Recreation – By New Chairman

Mr. R. H. S. Greenwood was elected chairman of Rushden Urban Council at the annual meeting on Monday and immediately he made his feelings known on two issues which, in many cases, go hand in hand – industry and recreation.

Mr. Greenwood, a member of the council for 15 years, said that one of Rushden’s problems was that it was a one-industry town.

As a council they could do little to influence that, but he was sure he was speaking for everybody when he said they would give all possible assistance to new industries wanting to come to Rushden.


He also commented on the gravel workings on the banks of the Nene. He said that when they were worked out he would like to see them turned into recreation centres for the town – with facilities for sailing and fishing. He added that he also thought there should be an access to the pits from the Nene.

Mr. Greenwood was presented with his chain of office by the retiring chairman. Mrs. Audrey Perkins. Mrs. Greenwood was also presented with a chain of office.

Mr. Greenwood was proposed for the office of chairman by Mr. H. W. Catlin, and seconded by Mr. C. G. Faulkner.

The new vice-chairman is Mr. E. E. Newell, who has been a member of the council since 1949. He was proposed by Mrs. D. E. Shrive and seconded by Mr. C. Freeman.

It is traditional that the vice-chairman should take on the office of chairman the following year. If this custom is repeated next year. Mr. Newell will be serving his second term as chairman of the council. He was chairman in 1956-57.

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