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Text by Deryck H. Martin – July 1993, photographs 2008-2010 by members of Hearts & Soles team
Harborough Road Survey - 1993

"Up the Arbour"

A young lad in the late 1920's would often be confused by the conversation of his elders. For example "along the Rock!", "Up the Arbour" etc. etc.

Now he discovered that "the Rock" was Cromwell Road, Rushden, named or at least nick-named after the company that developed part of that street. But "the Arbour" took a little longer! This young lad knew that a harbour was associated with the sea, ports and ships, but there was no such place in Rushden, to the best of his knowledge. He was certainly confused. But on enquiry of his elders, he was informed that "the Arbour" was in fact Harborough Road. Wasn't he ignorant? He should have known that!

Harborough Road has, during the early months of 1993 received the attention of the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Street Survey Group of the Rushden and District History Society.

The group hope that this report will be of interest to the members and friends of the Society and future generations. We would like to thank the residents, and other friends who have contributed information. At the same time we would like to point out, that this is not a conclusive report, and that further information that may come to light may be added, and mistakes and errors rectified. If you have any information or comments, please send them to the Society's chairperson.

Of course, we presume you know where Harborough Road is situated! Well, if you are a newcomer or stranger; Harborough Road is situated at the South end of Rushden, or as some say, at the "best end", but then I'm biased, I live there.

As you travel along the A6 road from Bedford, Harborough Road is a turning on the right hand side, where the Bedford Road joins High Street South.

Where does it lead to? The "dead centre" of Rushden -The Cemetery!

According to the Ordnance Survey map of 1884, there was no Harborough Road at that time, beyond Back Road, now known as Park Road, but there were dwellings between South High Street, now known as High Street South, and Park Road.

Extract from an obituary: In 1885 Mr Carrington built one of the first houses in the Harborough-road district.

It is believed that Harborough was a corruption of Narberry, an 18th Century family, who lived and owned land in this area and may have resided at number 61 Little Street, one of the oldest houses in Rushden, This house is situated on the corner of Harborough Road, and during the late 1960's and 1970's, the part which is in Harborough Road was used as a general shop and sub-post office.

Harborough Park later to become Harborough Road was, in the 19th Century, owned and farmed by the Manning farmily, and the last of this family was Alfred, who sold the 107 acre farm and moved from the Farm House, 61 Litt1e Street, in 1887 to Olney, and it was about this time that Harborough Road commenced to be developed, as it is today. Mr Manning had been the sole Superintendent of the Park Road Baptist Sunday School.

Harborough Road is a rather narrow street with the odd numbers on the north-west side, and the even numbers on the opposite side, the houses are built of red bricks, believed to have been manufactured at Raunds, and some are decorated with cream bricks and enquiries made of their places of manufacture, vary from Cambridge, Nottingham, Leicester, and even York.

Number 1 (a), is a modern detached red brick house decorated with cream bricks and built in 1992. Below is a stone built farm building.

Number 1, was originally number 1 (a), which is situated on the corner of Park Road, was built for Mrs Bayes, and was later occupied by Mr. Herbert Gates, who was a wholesale fruiterer and supplied most Bananas to shops in town and was succeeded by his son, who also carried on with the business from Wellingborough Road.

The original number 1, is the present 59 Little Street, an Antique Shop owned now by Mr. Sherwood. This house and shop was built in 1888 by Mr. Bayes and was originally a General Shop. It is built of Raunds red brick, decorated with York stone, the rear of the house is built in stone. It has servant quarters, four staircases and two wells. It has the coat of arms of a bastard over the door in Harborough Road. At one time it was known as "Bradford House", and sold textiles from Bradford.

Number 3 is on the corner of Park Road opposite number 1. Prior to the Second World War it was a general shop, owned by Mrs. Spriggs. It has 1885 over the corner window and on the wall is a street sign: "Harboro Rd". Part of the garden in the 1930's was used by Mr. Tommy Cannel of Park Road, where he had a work shop and carried out a shoe repair business. Number three was also a Ladies hairdressers in recent years.

The next building is a red brick factory, at present used by Mr. Ken Woodward as a carpenter’s workshop. It was previously occupied by Mr. Smart, a leather components manufacturer, who now has premises in Park Road.

Numbers 9 and 11 are large semi-detached with stained glass in the tops of windows and around the doors. Both have large front porches and carved scrolling on the windows lintels. Both houses were built William Packwood of Rushden. Number 9 was once occupied by an architect, who was concerned with the building of the new Baptist Chapel; it was later occupied by a Mr. Fountain, house decorator, and more recently by Mr. Mead. Number 11 was occupied by Mr, Berry, a tailor.

Numbers 15 and 17 are two terraced houses.

Number 19 was, at the beginning of the Century, a small greengrocery owned by a Mr. Coulson.

Situated between number 19 and 23, is a two storey brick factory, with an old hoist on the first floor. This was a Shoe Factory owned by George Selwood and Company and on the re-siting to a new factory at the top of the street, the factory was taken over by Horace Wright, also a shoe manufacturer. In more recent times it was used by Mr. Tully for the leather trade, and also by other occupiers in connection with the motor trade.

Other interesting houses on the "odd numbered" side of the road are: -

Numbers 25/27: "Primrose Cottages 1887" in terrace with

Numbers 29/31: "Woodbine Cottages 1887"; 

Number 33: "Myrtle Cottage" over the door, and 1887 over the window;

Numbers 37/39: "Gladstone Cottages 1893";

Number 4l, which was the home of Mr. Tom Richardson J. P. and Councillor;                   

Numbers 45/47: "Collingwood 1893 Cottages", of which number 47 was a sweet shop in the 1930's and 1940's owned by Mrs. Cauldwell;

Numbers 49/51: the date figures on the door and entry arch shoulders. "1888";

Number 53: "Rose Cottage" over entry and "1889" over window.

When one approaches the top of Harborough Road, the street is joined by Harborough Way, which leads to The Pyghtle.

Above Harborough Way, was the site of the new George Selwood's shoe factory, which more recently was occupied by the Rockwell Insulation Manufacturers. It has now been demolished and on the site are numbers 85 - 101, nine modern semi-detached houses, completed earlier this year. (1993)

Date stone Spinney Cottage
Spinney Cottage 1887
No 2 Harborough Road
On the even numbered side of the road is Number 2, a large red brick fronted house with cream brick decorations, stone built at the rear, butts directly onto the pavement. "Spinney Cottage H.1887W." tiled roof. These premises have been used for many purposes in the last 100 odd years, for example, a dairy, bakers, butchers, general shop, French Polishers etc. etc.

Numbers 4-18 are stone built terraced houses with red brick around the windows and are very old, but their date of origin is unknown. Numbers 6, 16 and 18 still have wooden scrolls above the front door porches. All the roofs have been tiled, originals are believed to have been slated or even thatched. They have small gardens at the front with low brick walls. There is access to the rear via an alley from Park Road.

Number 20 used to Garfirth's the butchers
Number 20
Number 20 is a corner end of a terrace house and has been converted to a butchers shop, but now vacant. It was once occupied by Mr. Frank Jones who had seven sons, and later by Mr. Garfirth and his son. Both families were very popular family butchers.

The house on the opposite corner above number 20, is in Park Road, but between there and number 24 in the 1930's, were the premises of Mr. Ralph Parker, who was well-known for his sales and repair of pedal cycles and charging of accumulators for the early radio sets.

Numbers 24 - 32 are typical Rushden terraced houses with small front gardens.

Numbers 34- 36: Number 36 has "JD" on the, lintel over the door and "Dale" on the window lintel.

Number 34 has "Cottages" on the window and "1886" on lintel over the door.          

Number 38: "Box Cottage" is a terraced house with a small front garden.

Arbury Cottage 1885Number 40: "Gladstone Cottage" and number 42 "Arbury Cottage 1885" are also terraced houses with small front gardens.

Number 46: a terraced house once owned by Eli Wright and his family. His son-in-law, Mr. Fred Robinson also lived there and was a holder of the Military Medal received during the first World War, for saving the life of a comrade whilst wounded, in the face of the enemy. He was also known in Rushden as a cricketer and umpire for Rushden Baptist Cricket Club. He was also a member of the Northampton Referees Association.

Number 48: "Fanciers Cottage" on lintel, which would tend to indicate that at some time in the past the occupier may have kept pigeons. In 1891, a Mr. Thomas Lack lived there with his wife and twelve children. According to Kelly's Directory of 1898, he was a Boot and Shoe Manufacturer and in 1902 he was described as a Brewer's Agent. There always has, until more recent years, been a shop on these premises. The occupiers have included Messrs. Chapman, Richardson and May, and the shops could be described as General Stores. It may well be that Thomas Lack was an agent of the Rushden Mineral Water Company Limited, which according to an extract in the Rushden Argus, dated September 1898, had premises in Harboro Park Road and from where a large variety of non­alcoholic drinks were delivered to the Town and surrounding district.

Jubilee Cottage Fern Villas
Clifton Villas
Harboro Park Villas
Number 50: "Jubilee Cottage" a terraced house.

Number 52: "1882" a terraced house.

Numbers 54 and 56: "Fern Villas" - "1894" terraced houses.

Numbers 60 and 62: "Clifton Villas 1887" terraced houses.

Numbers 64 and 66: "Harboro Park Villas 1886" terraced houses now used as offices.

Number 68: was a factory now used as a leather manufacturer’s, Clifford Collins Limited. This has a name plate, white on blue reading "Harboro Rd".

Number 70: Is now a dwelling house with a wooden porch, now occupied by Anita Daniels - Riding Supplies Limited.

Woodland View
Pightles View
Numbers 72 and 74: are two attached houses with an entry between and stone above, "Woodland View 1889".

Number 80: is an end of terraced house with bay window down stairs bearing stone above the upstairs window, "Pightles View 1901", and at the side of the front door, "Winchmore House".

Number 86: is a modern bungalow, named "Hillcrest".

Numbers 88 – 106 are terraced houses in red brick, built at the beginning of this century.

Numbers 108 - 118 are three pairs of semi-detached houses also built at the beginning of this century.

Numbers 120 - 122 are semi-detached modern houses.

Number 124 is a modern detached house with a large front garden.

Most of the houses in Harborough Road have brick workshops adjoining the kitchens at the rear of the premises, these being used or designed to be used for the cottage industries connected with the Boot and Shoe trade.

In the present day (1993), most of the houses accommodate an average of three or four persons at the most. [In 1891, when there were 49 houses, the population of Harborough Road was 281, an average of almost six per house]. The population figure for Rushden was 7,443 with 1493 families living in 1461 houses, so five or six to each house. See census statistics

Many local builders were concerned in the building of the various houses, and these included Messrs. Packwood, Marriott and Bayes.

Over the years in addition to Shoe Manufacturers, workers and tradesmen living in Harborough Road, many other occupations have been represented and it is believed that Joe Page a well-known Rushden Tailor once lived there. It also had a good representation of Church and Chapel people living there, including a Sunday School Superintendent, Mr Charles Maddams of the Independent Wesleyan Chapel in the High Street.

It appears to be a very hard working and sober community, the nearest Public House being "The Compasses" in High Street South, and "The Unicorn" in Grove Road. There were a few outdoor beer houses in the vicinity.

Most families who have lived in Rushden all their lives have, relatives or connections in Harborough Road.

In August 1942 three large bombs were dropped by a German Bomber at the rear of number 60 Harborough Road, on land of Manor Farm. There were no injuries or damage to property but the craters were described by a local resident as "large enough to get a double-decker bus in".

In conclusion, we hope you know a little more of Harborough Road, and next time you go for a stroll it might even be "Up the Arbour!"


Deryck H. Martin –July 1993
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