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16 to 22 High Street Shefford

16 to 22 High Street January 2012
16 to 22 High Street January 2012

16 to 22 High Street is clearly an old set of buildings as one can see by looking above the shop fronts. The property was listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1985 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the row to the 18th century though speculating: "possibly encasing an earlier building". The structure is built of red brick with a clay tiled roof and comprises storeys and attics.

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. Shefford, like most of the county was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting 16 to 22 High Street found the whole row owned by Mrs. J. Caton.

Number 16 [DV1/C290/102] was occupied by Charles Cecil Harwood who paid rent of £7/20/- per annum. The valuer commented: "been here 20 years" and noted: "Not used for living in at all". Harwood was a watchmaker.  The property comprised a scullery, a shop measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 11 feet, and a workshop over it measuring the same. The valuer noted: "Tenant put in shop front and shop floor and does all repairs". Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years. Harwood is listed in Kelly's Directory for Bedfordshire for 1903, 1906, 1910, 1914, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1931, 1936 and in 1940 which was the last county directory to be published.

18/20 High Street [DV1/C290/101] was occupied by W. A. Harwood in 1927 at a rent of £12 per annum, which had been set in 1917 and  which the valuer described as "absurd", meaning absurdly low. Domestic accommodation comprised a kitchen and four bedrooms. There was no barn but there was a space over the passage measuring 3 feet by 28 feet. Harwood was the postmaster and the post office measured 10 feet by 18 feet, the valuer noting: "sells stationery as well". The building also housed a telephone exchange which measured 11 feet square. The valuer also noted a "brick and tiled old cottage in rear (condemned) now used by Harwood as Barn and Bath Room". He felt that the store was "fairly good". Directories suggest that the building had been a post office for some time. Postmasters and postmistresses noted in directories include the following:

  • 1853: Francis Lewington, also a stationer in Bridge Street;
  • 1854: Mrs. Frances Lewington in Bridge Street;
  • 1862: Charles Clarkson;
  • 1864: Henry Steel in Bridge Street;
  • 1869-1877: William Stapleton in Bridge Street
  • 1885: Charles Maurice Clarke, a grocer and ironmonger;
  • 1890: Harry Lane;
  • 1894-1910: Amos Odell, a shoemaker;
  • 1914-1924: W. A. Harwood.

Directories for 1928, 1931, 1936 and 1940 simply note that the Post Office was in the High Street, not who ran it. It looks as if the post office moved from Bridge Street to the High Street between 1877 and 1885. The previous post office was probably at 11 Northbridge Street. Certainly in 1871 the Shefford Feoffees noted that the occupier of that property, which they owned, was William Stapleton.

11 Northbridge Street January 2008
11 Northbridge Street January 2008

22 High Street [DV1/C290/100] was in the occupation of Mrs. Minnie Lightfoot in 1927, paying rent of £12 per annum, the same as before the Great War. Her accommodation comprised a parlour, a scullery, two bedrooms, a barn, an attic ("no use (condemned)") and a shop measuring 11 feet by 20 feet. The valuer commented that the house was "not so good" as 24 and 26 High Street. Mrs. Lightfoot was a confectioner and is listed in directories of 1914, 1920, 1924, 1928 and 1931. In 1936 the property was occupied by another confectioner Herbert Cole and in 1940 a third confectioner, Thomas Scales, was in residence.