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34 High Street Shefford

34 High Street February 2012
34 High Street February 2012

Shops do not necessarily look as old as they are because of their modern shop fronts. 34 High Street is a case in point. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1985 as Grade II, of special interest, and the department dated it to the 17th century, though noting that it was re-fronted in the 19th century with colourwashed stucco.

The heart of the building is a timber framed structure. It has a clay tiled roof and two storeys. The parapet at the front is simply the 19th century stucco moulding and not original.

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 and the valuer visiting 34 High Street [DV1/C290/92] found it owned and occupied by Edward W. Watts, a boot maker.

Private accommodation comprised a reception room, a kitchen, a scullery, a pantry and five bedrooms ("2 small"). The shop measured 14 feet 6 inches square ("very good") and Watts' workshop measured 29 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 6 inches. In the garden stood four wood and tiled pigsties, of which the valuer noted: "neglect". He also noted:  "other hovels".

Trade directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years. Edward Watts is listed in Kelly's Directory for 1914, 1920, 1924, 1928 and 1931.