12 and 14 Duck End Lane Biddenham
12 and 14 Duck End Lane March 2012
Numbers 12 and 14 Duck End Lane are called Ouse Valley Cottage and Ouse Valley Farm respectively. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county's historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for the cottages states that they were formerly a group of farm cottages and have origins in the 18th century. They are mostly built of brick, partly plastered and partly fish-scaled. The timber framing was applied later for show. They have tiled roofs.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the properties found them both owned, like many of the older properties in the village, by the Wingfield family, Lords of the Manor of Biddenham.
Number 12 [DV1/C123/120] was occupied by Mrs. West who had paid rent of £2/4/9 per annum since 1915. Her accommodation comprised a living room, a kitchen and one bedroom downstairs with one large bedroom upstairs. A barn and earth closet stood outside and water came from a well. The valuer commented: "Very good cottage. Hanging Tiles".
Number 14 [DV1/C123/121] was a shop, tenanted by Ethelbert Edwards at a rent of £20 per annum from 1916. He had a living room, a front room, a kitchen and a scullery downstairs, with two bedrooms and one boxroom upstairs. Again, a barn and an earth closet stood outside and water from a well. His general shop measured 15 feet square, with two store rooms (one 15 feet square and one 8 feet by 20 feet). There was also a porch. He also rented a wood and tiled cow shed for fourteen beasts and a barn, a mixing shed, a stone, wood and tiled cart shed and wood and tiled three bay open hovel. These farm buildings were characterised by the valuer as: "Useful". A later hand has written: "Electrical Assistance" and categorised the farm buildings as a cooling house, four cow houses and a meal house ("all Buildings used").
Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years. Ethelbert Edwards first appears as a poultry farmer but in Kelly's Directory of 1920 he is called a shopkeeper and poultry farmer. He is also listed in Kelly's in 1924, 1928 and 1931 purely as a shopkeeper. The next Kelly's, in 1936, does not include his name.