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143 and 145 Bedford Road Wootton

143 and 145 Bedford Road March 2012
143 and 145 Bedford Road March 2012

Despite being private houses these two dwellings do not look quite right, almost as if they were once used as a barn. In fact they were industrial premises. 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. Like most of the county, Wootton was largely assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the property [DV1/C51/147] found that it was a lace factory, owned by Black Brothers.

The building stood in just over a third of an acre and had fourteen inch thick walls. The factory measured 73 feet 6 inches by 32 feet 9 inches with an additional 9 feet 6 inches by 5 feet 9 inches in front on the right hand side, including a porch. There was also a separate boiler room standing outside to the rear measuring 10 feet by 9 feet 6 inches. The valuer commented: “1 Large room. Concrete Floor”. There were four brick and slate W. C.’s for the workers and a wood and slate cycle shed for twenty bicycles. The factory was heated and water was laid on. The valuer commented: “Bad Position. Make Lace and mend Fishing nets”.

It is surprising that this factory is not named in any of the directories for Bedfordshire. The first and second edition Ordnance Survey 25 inches to the mile maps of 1883 and 1901 show no building on the site of 142 and 145 Bedford Road so they must postdate 1901.