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Walter Sargent and Co.
College Street factory

Grave B 643 in Rushden Cemetery:
In loving memory of Walter SARGENT who died
October 17th 1896 aged 44 years. "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and
I will give you rest".
College Street factory
Notes: The first factory at the corner of College Street and Duck Street was probably built around 1880, with house adjoining. By 1887 Walter Sargent needed larger premises and moved to Crabb Street. The little factory he left behind was used by:
George Warner from about 1903 - 1908 (moved to Harborough Rd)
Thomas Robinson 1908 - 1914
Perkins Brothers
Horace Wills & Cyril Johnson - Sound Engineering Co. (moved to Hove Road by 1939)
Reliable Tap Washer Manufacturing Co. - Reg Norman well-known locally as the creator of "Air Ada". Demolished 1980

Rushden Echo, 19th August 1921

A Private limited liability company, under the title of Walter Sargent and Co. Ltd., (176 216), has been registered with a capital of £15,000 in £1 shares, to carry on the business of boot and shoe manufacturers, hide and leather merchants, leather manufacturers and factors, etc. The first directors are: Mrs. E. Bradfield, Rushden; Mr. W. E. Sargent, Rushden, boot manufacturer. (Qualification £100.) Mr. G. S. Mason was the solicitor.

Boot making in Podington by Ann Cooper, 2006

Messrs W Sargent & Co of Rushden started a workroom in the 1880s in premises (now the site of The United Services Club) in Gold Street, Podington. Later two other workrooms were opened; one at Gray's Farm and the other at the bottom of Church Hill. One of these belonged to Messrs E Claridge & Sons.

Mr John Wykes was the manager of Sargent's and when the scheme started he had to train for six months so that he could teach the others, having previously been a farm worker. He had to start out early in the morning, walk to Rushden and often not arrive home until midnight.

When the workroom started production, he had a horse and trap and each Friday drove to Rushden to deliver the finished shoes and collect the fresh materials.

The men bought their own grindery and heel ball, which Mr Wykes supplied. He died in 1912 and the work was, I believe, all transferred to the Rushden factory and the employees made their own way there daily.

In my lifetime, I remember several Podington men coming home from Rushden on the 'dinner-time bus' run by United Counties. They'd jump off as it passed their homes, run in and have their dinner and be outside again in time to catch the same bus when it came back from Bozeat to return to Rushden.

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