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Shefford Laundry Company

Site of Shefford Laundry Company in 1927
Site of Shefford Laundry Company - coloured blue - in 1927

In the early 20th century the presence of rivers meant that Shefford was the home to a number of laundries. The first directory to list a laundry in the town is Kelly's of 1910 which records a Florence Lodge running a laundry in Campton Road with a receiving office at 15 Gwyn Street, Bedford; in other words dirty washing was taken from Bedford to Shefford to be laundered and then returned. By 1914 Florence has been replaced by John C.Lodge and the address is now given as Ampthill Road, the receiving office in Gwyn Street is unchanged. This laundry was still operating in 1920 but by 1924 the proprietor was the aptly named Louis Blanc. This is the last directory to list this particular operation.

Monsieur Blanc may have been put out of business by the Shefford Laundry Company, which is first listed in a directory in 1920. At that date it was run by Harry Edward Webb in the High Street (the premises numbered 58 on the annotated Ordnance Survey Map at the top of the page) and had receiving offices at 4 High Street, Biggleswade and 8 Cauldwell Street, Bedford. This company, or a successor named Spring Grove Laundries Limited, was still in operation as late as 1954. By 1936 its receiving offices were 19 Cauldwell Street and 15 Gwyn Street (Monsieur Blanc's former premises), Bedford and 24 Palace Street, Biggleswade.

In 1927 the town of Shefford was valued under the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building in the country was assessed for the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Shefford Laundry Company Limited in the High Street [DV1/C289/58-59] noted that it was owned by E. H. Taylor & Son; the valuer noted, somewhat cryptically: "Taylor is on Assistance Committee. Calls this a rabbit hutch". The premises comprised a number of buildings. There was a brick and corrugated iron boiler shed with a 20hp horizontal boiler, a Hindley 10 hp steam engine and 46 feet of 1½ inch shafting. There was also: a brick and tile sorting room measuring 38½ feet by 15 feet; and a brick, wood and corrugated iron washing and ironing room under a three span roof measuring 77 feet x 42½ feet, of which the valuer noted: "The above is a very poor Building and is to be given up and plant &c taken into new Building".

The new building was of brick with a glass roof ["only finished August 1927"] and accommodated the ironing and washing room in a space measuring 58 feet by 28 feet. The rest of the premises comprised an open garage for two vans and an adjoining house used as offices measuring 11½ feet by 13 feet and 10 feet by 13½ feet.

For a number of years the Shefford Laundry Company had competition from an operation in Northbridge Street.

site of Shefford Laundry Company premises February 2008
Site of Shefford Laundry Company premises February 2008