Memories From Friends

Memories of “Rushden” from the locals and Tales of old, from some of our friends.

These pages..  are for stories, recent ones,  or just memories.. of things that you could  have a laugh [or a cry] over  if you were at the  Waverly, or Roly Cox’s,   evin a cuppa! or, at the Feathers or West end,   evin a pint!

Places and people not forgotten  by a lot of us.

Remember the two bus company’s that we all used to get around,Birch Bros.,

to go to Bedford or London, with stops in Luton and Welwyn Garden City


United Counties for the local jaunts and to Wellingborough, Raunds, Chelveston, Kettering and Northampton.

Jesse and Peggy Bird, Pearly King and Queen back in 1906Pearlies1906

and in later years, some of you may remember seeing them. Grandparents of Eileen [ Wood ] Bailey.

    The pictures, by Joyce [ Warner ] Wade
Many of us local folks spent a lot of Sat’dy mornings in The Ritz,
Palace, or Royal Theatre, when we were little
Remember.  “Old mother Riley”  and “P.C. 49” pictures?
Stella and I both worked at The Ritz, in later years, [ we were usherettes ]
flashing the old torch. at you probably!!!  sitting in the back row,  watching the movie??


The “Ups  and Downs  of Rushden”  by Graham Joyce.

Isn’t it strange how most of the things that were important to us when growing up
in Rushden in the middle of the twentieth century.involved ‘ up’ or ‘ down ‘
So, we went ‘ down street ‘ ‘up the park’ ‘down Spencer park’
‘up the Jube ‘ ‘down the baths ”down the feast”up Newton road’
and ‘down Church street ‘
but!! ‘ along the back way’
I suppose that the two most important activities involved
were ‘ going down street ‘and ‘ going up the park ‘
The former activity initially took place on a Saturday, often in the morning,
and was much more than just a shopping trip.
At that time, groceries were likely to have been obtained locally,
from the Co – op or a corner shop.
Milk and bread were normally delivered, as were newspapers, and often meat too.
So ‘ going down street ‘ involved the purchase of other foodstuffs,
such as fresh fruit and vegetables, although many grew their own.
and treats,  such as sweets cakes and pastries.
Of course some of the items were hard to come by during the war years.
and for several years thereafter.
On some trips, a clothes purchase was important and boys were taken off to the
Co – op outfitters, or across the road to Webb’s to get suited.
If it was a school uniform that was needed then you headed for ‘ Hall’s ‘ upstairs
showroom. I’m sure a lot of other significant items were purchased from the shops ‘
down street ‘ but, as a small boy these largely passed me by.
Possibly the most important reason for a trip ‘down street ‘ on a Saturday morning
was the matter of seeing and being seen by friends and acquaintances. It was obligatory
for families to stop and exchange pleasantries with people they knew, even when they
worked alongside them all week. News and scandal were passed around, so everyone
could keep up to date on the things that were happening across the town.
Strange customs could be observed, such as the placing of a coin in the pram of a
newborn baby, when it was making the inaugural trip ‘ down street’..
As we grew older ‘ down street ‘ was somewhere we passed through on the way to ‘
the pictures ‘..
at the Palace, Ritz or Theatre, or somewhere we walked up and down in the evening,
with our friends, in a sort of Rushden form of the Italian ‘ passeggiata ‘
where the need was to see and be seen, especially by members of the opposite sex.
The Waverley provided a sort of pit stop on the endless march and there were
also opportunities to pass the time playing snooker in various locations,
particularly the YMCA and the Adult school. The ambience of the snooker hall
at the back of the Waverley..
was a little intimidating in those days… Thus were our youths misspent!.
‘ Up the park ‘ was another important place to go, especially on a Sunday,
It was usual to get dressed up in your Sunday best and set off ‘ up the park ‘
often on Sunday afternoon, after coming out of Sunday school
Again it was a question of being seen about, meeting your friends,
catching up on the news and checking out members of the opposite sex.
There was a certain amount of walking involved in making at least one,
and possibly more, circumnavigations of the park, often entering and leaving
by different gates to widen the potential for social interaction….
In summer, when the nights were light, it was a popular activity to go for
another stroll round the park, or else stroll further afield.
Life was pretty simple really in those days.

Several people have written in reply to Angie’s question below.. about “old maps” of the Rushden area Graham Joyce says maybe

would be useful to you He also has the following information. The order in which the 1881 census is published suggests that the lanes, yards and cottages Angie is interested in lay between High street and Backway Denton’s Lane became George Street and left High Street dead opposite the Palace next to Horace Wills’ gramophone and radio shop.

Eileen writes,
She attended a meeting of the Rushden Historical Society.
which included a map show… including slides of ancient local maps.
and that in those days local landowners had their own maps made of their property.
which makes it hard to keep up with them.. many may be hidden in family records somewhere.
She asks if anyone does come across a map of old Rushden. would they please pass on a copy to the Local council map people.. [ she will find out the correct title ]…
as the cartographers office has no old maps of Rushden in their records.

Joyce note, Succoth Baptist? church.I believe was on High street,
the yard was probably close to that.
a site that may be helpful for war records is The Commonwealth War Commission.
can anyone help Angie with more info.

Angie has a question for anyone that remembers

Hi gang, what a resource this site is, I am looking for an old street map of Rushden that lists the old areas, streets etc., that don’t seem to be there anymore. Example, Succoth yard. Dentin’s lane. Manny’s farm. Orchard cottage. Mendip cottage. Does anyone know where I could find an old map that would show these places  That would be great. Also am trying to find the war record of my grandpa any help on that would be appreciated. Thanks for the great site, Angie.

“Old Ramey” by  Laurie Steel
Just visited the site again, after some time. and spotted the bit about the old Rushden tramp. [ Stella’s chat ]
His name was Raymond Denton, known as Ramey.
He used to go around the streets picking up old cigarette ends [ dog ends ]
He could be seen on a summer afternoon, in the first field
at the end of the path, up by the cricket field, sleeping under the hedge,
He was always rooting through the pig bins [ anyone else remember those round the town ?]
especially the one near the Rectory field gates,
opposite Roly Henman’s barber shop on Robinson road.
next door to the St., Mary’s Church Institute, at the back of the Athletic club,
on Newton road.
We used to get into the Rectory Field and scrump apples  from the tree…
at the bottom of the field.. until the Vicar caught us all up the tree one day.
We used to get into the field over the wall at the back of Richard Smiths
house on Kings road.  oh!  ” happy days”.
Having moved from Rushden in the 70’s, I have enjoyed trips to your site.
particularly the old B & W photo’s from the past.
Regarding things from the past, I’ve never seen any mention of Maxie’s Taxi..
Old Max lived behind the wheel of his cab, many nights he took me home from a date. He was a great old guy, always gave a fair price. I swear he never slept.

“A young bride’s story”   by,   Lynda [Peck] Marshall
I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your Rushden website.I arrived in England a couple of days after graduation from High school in June 1955 I was almost 18 years old. My husband was already there, we were both from Michigan. His base was actually R. A. F. Cranage, up near Holmes Chapel in Cheshire, but when I got there he was on a tdy at Chelveston. He was with the 7523rd Support Sqdn.,
We lived in Kettering,Northant’s was my initiation to England and I was enchanted. [ at least until pregnancy and a terrible case of homesickness set in in July, ha, ]
But that’s where I saw my first thatched roof cottage, somewhere on the road. between Kettering and Wellingborough. My first real double decker bus.
I remember asking my husband what was he [the conductor] saying. It sounded like “One tuppy, one tuppy” Cliff laughed, “he’s saying On top please”.
It was also great having milk and fresh bread delivered right to the house, those imperial pints sure looked like QUARTS to me. It’s funny, you know, sometimes now, I can’t remember what happened last week, but I remember every address that I lived at while I was in England and that was nearly 50 years ago!
We were in Cranage from the fall of “55 ’til around May ’57. Lived in Holmes Chapel, my two oldest children were both born at the base hospital at R. A. F. station Burtonwood, near Warrington… Then they moved us down to Manston, near Margate, in Kent… We lived in Burchington, then rotated back stateside in May 1958… I got home and had such a British accent, my family couldn’t even understand me, ha..
.Anyway I have some fond memories from England, sad to say, I never got to go back,
a number of our guys married girls from that area.
Cliff and I separated in 1962 and divorced in 1964, I learned a couple of years ago, that Cliff died in Florida in 1988. I didn’t see or hear from him in all those years he opted not to help me raise the children in any way we had two more, born in Nebraska .
I’m attaching the only picture I have, taken at Chelveston,
it was taken in 1955. Cliff is on the right, he was a clerk typist in personnel.
Again congrats, on a job well done on the website.
Oh!, one more thing, too bad I was not “into” genealogy back then.
I’ve learned that my ancestors came from Bedford, Luton and Cardington.
They were right there on my back doorstep and I didn’t know it, cheers.

“The Cabbage Patch Man”…     by..   Jill S Wagner.

My boyfriend and I had enjoyed the evening at the Three Feathers pub in Rushden, he had drank one too many and felt ill. So we went into the parking lot and sat on the wall and he promptly heaved up the evenings suds over the side. There was about an eight foot drop on the other side and a cabbage patch had been planted from there, to the back of the West End club. It had rained so the air was quite smelly, anyway,  all of a sudden my boy friend screams, “God, what is that down there,” and he started to shake like a wet dog ! I looked and there. trying to get up from the wet cabbage was this huge man about six feet six inches tall, [ who had just been thrown up on] trying to get to his feet. I tried to pull him up over the wall, but it was too high, so he fell back into the cabbage, while I returned to the pub to enlist some help, ‘Help’, was coming only after they finished their pints, so again, I tried to help the man over the wall. With spiked heels and a skin tight skirt really hampering my efforts, I finally managed to do the job, the man just staggered off into the darkness of night. Then my assistants showed up, but of course it was too late !! Six years later, I had married and was living in Utah, U.S.A., I had joined a British wives club and was making friends. One day, I invited several of the girls over with their families for a barbeque. The men were swapping stories, the women were cooking. My husband brought over one of the men to see if I recognized him, “No”, I said “I don’t know him” It turned out to be the cabbage patch man, his wife, who was from Wellingborough, had pushed him over the wall and left him there. Funnily enough he had also lived in the house behind me as a child. What a small world an ocean and several thousand miles away, I had learned the identity of the cabbage patch man !!!

“More Newton road memories” by Margaret [ Hulatt ] Sampson.
I went to Newton road school also. and agree with everything Stella and Graham said.
It was the best school. and the best teachers.
but, you all forgot our caretaker who used to unlock the gates.
so we could play skate hockey. and slide in the ice down the drain.
in the middle of the playground.
He would let us in.. as long as we didn’t mess with the school or the air raid shelter
my dad was forever mending my shoes.. from the sliding.
Mr Dodge asked me the first time I met him.
“And which Hulatt do you belong too”. I said ” Ernest”. “Oh yes,I remember the Hulatt boys. and your grandma.
she made some good thick pants for those boys”.
I told my dad and he laughed… he said when they knew they would get the slipper they put caps down their pants.
Well folks. right now we are getting ready for another hurricane
so I guess my son is going to kidnap me again.
Any one else here in Florida, be safe. ok, love to all Margaret.

“State “wise”    by  Jill Romsburg

When I first came to the States in 1963  and we were driving from the east  coast to Montana. In Pennsylvania.  [ I think] There were all these signs by the side of the road saying “Quaker State” and me in my ignorance thought it meant that all the people in the State were Quakers!!! How was I to know it was an ad,  for “Motor oil??

“The Airport”.   by  Margaret Sampson.
Sam was in Viet Nam and I was here in the U.S. with four little boys, very scared so I decided to go back to Rushden. where my family and friends were.
I bought a child harness for each of the boys,
determined that I was not going to lose any of them.
So there I was, in N.Y. airport, struggling with kids and luggage, etc.,
and being frowned on by some people, especially one woman…
“Poor kids, such abuse”,[ I don’t think they’d ever seen a child harness before]
I got settled on a bench and the kids were contented watching everyone passing by.
Suddenly a woman screamed that she had lost her two kids
she was the one with the frown.
A few minutes later here comes a man with a bunch of kids.
tied together with clothesline about two feet between each one.
He smiled at me, ha, We knew where our children were!
We arrived safely in Rushden, no one lost, just cold!!
there’s a big difference between Rushden and Florida weather.

“My Newton Road school memories”  by,  Stella [ Cooper ] Wagner
Thought Graham Joyce would like the blanks filled in on Newton Road School.
That’s where my education began,
Yes. Miss Childs was the first teacher of the infants school…
forgot my knickers one day.. but I probably wasn’t the first 4 year old.
to show up there.. bare bummed…
Next class was Miss Strudwick. a mean woman.
she made me stand in the corner.. because I was bawling.
I had been knocked into a mud puddle and me knees were bleeding!
Then there was Miss Drage. she was real sweet.
made Michael Spaul, give me back my celluloid dwarf, that he had swiped.
After that came Miss Bailey.. a stern old stick, if ever there was one
wouldn’t crack a smile if her life depended on it.
The last class was Fannie Baker’s.. she moved into the big school. before I reached her class.
Unfortunately. I had her a few years later [ and the cane ] wasn’t my fault.
I wasn’t about to form lines after school for talking.. it wasn’t me honest !
Miss Furness. was the headmistress of the infants school.
and.. Mr Sherwood.. the headmaster of the big school.
many a time he had me chasing up Newton road.. after me brother.
who was too scared to come into the school.. when he was late.
I had to go, fetch, thing is.. that boy could run like the wind and my efforts were in vain…
Loved that school… glorious days!.

“Some recollections of Newton Road School” in the 1940’s.” 

by Graham Joyce

It was a widely held view, especially by those who went the that Newton Road school was the best school in the Town.
Not that we were arrogant or anything, simply aware that our school was so much better,
in all ways than all the others. And we were very modest too!!
I have clearer memories of the junior school than I do the infant’s school..
although I do recall that the first class in the infants was with Miss Childs.
I was there towards the end of the war.. and the air raid shelter remained in the playground  for several years after it’s end.
I recall a day when some US airmen turned up with a huge box of candies.
and we each received a bar.. something we had not seen much of..
We also collected rose hips from the hedgerows and got some income from them
There was also a time when you were given a paper bagcontaining something akin to drinking chocolate Eventually, I made my way to Junior school and the care of Miss Ruff.
a small, dynamic, very inspiring teacher, who hailed from the London area.
but settled eventually in Higham, I believe.
I also remember her as a supporter of the Labour Party
She was a stickler for her spelling tests every week..
and mental arithmetic was also high on her list of things to be mastered..
I also recall that she was strong on arts and crafts too
From that class I moved on to Miss Winter, and I recall her as being quite an old lady..
but a very good teacher especially on the mathematical side
I don’t think we had her for a full year and my memory thinks that Miss Baker may have become involved during the year
I sensed that Miss Winter was rather fragile and often seemed sad so perhaps she retired during the year
Finally I ended up in the scholarship class with Mrs Edge, another very fine teacher.
dedicated to ensuring that as many of her class as possible made it to Wellingborough.
She was a thorough all rounder, whose teaching of all aspects of the syllabus was first class.
I remember getting her worried by my new found interest in roller skating..
I used to skate to school and keep my skates in a sprig bag under my desk.
Anyway, word was passed to my mother one Saturday morning during a trip ‘ down street ‘and my roller skating activities were curtailed for a while.
There were other teachers at Newton road with whom we had occasional lessons.
Gaffer Bates used to take us for art lessons.. He came from a family of butchers in Brixworth.. whose shop remained at the cross roads in the centre of the village until quite recently.
Bill Dodge was a good technical man and used to talk a lot..about the Wellingborough to Higham railway and it’s proposed extension towards Raunds.
Mr Cleaver was an extremely enthusiastic music teacherwho had us all singing traditional British airs with gusto..
The Head was Bill Sherwood a kindly, efficient man, who stood no slippage on   standards.
If you did not get in line as soon as the bell went, you were deemed late.
for which, you would receive a stroke of the cane across the palm of your hand.
I recall my time at Newton road with great pleasure..
School was enjoyable.. and much of what we were taught stays with me still.
I know that my memories of it are incomplete and faulty in some respects.
For example. I cannot fit Mrs Britten into the picture. nor can I recall any more teachers from the Infants’
This is surprising since, later on I had a Saturday job at the Britten bakehouse at the top of York road.

” Brass Bands in Rushden in the 1950s ” by Graham Joyce.
One of my grandsons has recently started to learn to play the euphonium.
In order to encourage him. I sent him a brass band CD.
and, as usual when I send him something. I also enclosed ‘Grandad’s notes on Brass Bands’.
in which I told him of all the bands in Rushden.. when I was a youngster.
As I recall it. there were bands performing in The Hall Park Bandstand every Sunday.and I can think of several of them.
There was the Town Band. Mission Band, Salvation Army Band
Temperance Band. and later on. The John White Footwear Band.
I explained that the last two bands performed with distinction at national championship level.
When I had finished my piece. I was left wondering.Who taught all these bandsmen and women?
Were they taught within their band?. Were there specialist teachers working in Rushden?. Can anyone shed any light on the matter?.

“Pork Spare -ribs”   by, Jill S Wagner.

Stella says.My husband had brought home pork spare-ribs, I thought they looked like something  you would feed the dog.!!!!     Well, I had never cooked any before, anyway, when my husband came home I said,  “Don’t you buy anymore of them spare – ribs they are bloomin awful”. He said “How’d you cook em ?,  “Getting shirty”, I replied, “Fried em what else?, even the dog turned his nose up”  I have since learned to boil them for about an hour, take them out of the water,  smother them with barbecue sauce and sizzle them under the broiler or plonk them  on the grill, they’re delicious !!!

I had a friend who invited her parents over for dinner, she had a barbecue,  her mother took her aside and asked if she needed a few quid, “No, why,” she said. Her mum replied, “Well you’re eating dog bones”, ha ha!.

“Gravy”” by. Joyce Wade

Joyce says, When I first came over here it was an ordeal to get used to thickening up the gravy with the old flour and water.You wouldn’t believe the lumps, it was awful.!!  That was what we used for glueing things together and putting pictures in the album. I had to ask mum to “please send some Oxo’s and Bisto as soon as possible”   [still can’t do without ’em] and now I can buy them here,  I bet a lot of you girls had the same problem.