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Bedford Estates Cottages in London Road

Bedford Estate cottages in London Road February 2012
Bedford Estate cottages in London Road February 2012

The Dukes of Bedford built numerous estate cottages in the various parishes in which they owned land from the mid 19th century into the 20th century. There were a number of different types but all are instantly recognisable as Bedford Estates properties. Fittingly the highest number was built in Woburn.

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. Woburn, like much of the county was valued in 1927. The three blocks of Bedford Estate housing in London Road are known as Speedwell Cottages and, today, are numbered 1 to 15 going north south. In 1927 the northern block was numbered to 47-52 Speedwell, a pair (since demolished) was numbered 33 and 34 the centre block was 35-39 and the southern block was 53 to 58.

The valuer visiting the northern block [DV1/C1142/6-11] found that they were as follows:

  • Number 1 (then 51 Speedwell): occupied by William Surr who worked for the duke as his rent was “in wages”. His accommodation comprised a living room, a kitchen and a pantry downstairs with three bedrooms above. A barn and earth closet stood outside;
  • Number 2 (then 52 Speedwell): occupied by Henry Sibley whose rent was 2/6 per week for identical accommodation to Number 1 and the pair shared a washhouse;
  • Number 3 (then 47 Speedwell): occupied by J. Kinna whose rent was “in wages”; his accommodation was as Number 1;
  • Number 4 (then 48 Speedwell): occupied by A. H. Lambert whose rent was 2/6 per week for accommodation identical to Number 1. Numbers 3 and 4 shared a washhouse;
  • Number 5 (then 49 Speedwell) was in the occupation of Alfred Hunt whose rent was “in wages”; his accommodation was identical to Number 1;
  • Number 6: (then 50 Speedwell) was occupied by George Burgess whose rent was “in wages”; accommodation was identical to Number 1. Numbers 5 and 6 shared a washhouse.

The valuer visiting the second block from the north [DV1/C142/4-5] found them to be numbered 33 (north) and 34 (south). Both these cottages have subsequently been demolished. Number 33 was occupied by Arthur Warner at a rent of 1/3 per week. His accommodation comprised a living room and kitchen with two bedrooms above. A barn and earth closet stood outside. Number 34 was in the occupation of Arthur George Poate whose rent was 1/4 per week for identical accommodation. One washhouse served both properties.

The valuer visiting the third block from the north [DV1/C137/151-152 and DV1/C142/1-3] found the following:

  • Number 7 was then 35 Speedwell and 36 Speedwell. Number 35 was in the occupation of a man named Woodcraft whose rent was £1/0/7 per annum and Number 36 was occupied by Harold A. Williams whose rent was “in wages”. Both had a living room, a kitchen and two bedrooms with a washhouse and earth closet outside.
  • Number 8 was then 37 Speedwell occupied by Mrs Margaret Wilson whose rent was 19/6 per annum. Her accommodation comprised a living room and a kitchen with two bedrooms above and a washhouse and earth closet outside.
  • Number 9 was then 38 and 39 Speedwell. Number 38 was rented by Robert Albert Franklin who paid rent of £1/0/7 per annum and Number 39 was in the occupation of John Hyde at an identical rent. Both cottages comprised a living room, a kitchen and two bedrooms with a washhouse and earth closet outside. A pump house served all five properties.

The southernmost block, today’s 10 to 15 Speedwell, was the newest and comprised six cottages.

  • Number 10 (then 53 Speedwell) was occupied by H. Cox at a rent of £1/12/6 per annum. His accommodation comprised a living room, kitchen, larder and washhouse with three bedrooms upstairs. A barn and earth closet stood outside.
  • Number 11 (54 Speedwell) was in the occupation of H. Pickering with identical details to Number 11;
  • Number 12 (55 Speedwell) was leased by H. B. Warner with identical details to Number 11;
  • Number 13 (56 Speedwell) was occupied by J. Robinson and was, again, identical to Number 11;
  • Number 14 (57 Speedwell) was in the occupation of Mrs. E. Stevens with identical details to Number 11;
  • Number 15 (58 Speedwell) was leased by Harry Woollard whose rent was “in wages” otherwise his accommodation was identical to Number 11.