6 and 8 High Street February 2012
6 and 8 High Street are both quite old buildings, though Number 8 is older than Number 6. Both were owned by the Shefford Feoffees, that is, the trustees of the Robert Lucas Feoffment Charity. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has two surveys of charity property carried out in 1834 and 1871.
The survey of 1834 [X465/322] shows 6 and 8 High Street sharing the same frontage. Both were subdivided into two tenements because the entry reads: "Four tenements, Barns, Yards and appurtenances situate on the north side of the High Street in Shefford now in the occupation of Mrs. Barber, James Chapman, George Bushby and Widow Bland containing in the whole Fifteen poles. Bounded on the north by a yard belonging to Mr. William Barker, on the east by Duck Lane in Shefford aforesaid, on the south by the said High Street and on the west by an estate of the said William Barker". This has been annotated: "The above is now one tenement occupied by William Barber. The Publick Rooms. Tinker Shop".
6 and 8 High Street in 1834 [X465/322]
The second survey, of 1871 [X465/323] shows the present arrangement with 6 High Street set much further back from the road. The description reads: "One tenement, Public Rooms, Barns, yards and Appurtenances situate on the North side of the High Street in Shefford now in the occupation of Mr. William Barber containing in the whole Fifteen poles. Bounded on the north by a yard belonging to W. A. Haddow, on the East by Duck Lane in Shefford aforesaid, on the South by the said High Street and on the west by an estate of the said W. A. Haddow. N. B. the above includes tenement let to Mr. William Barber on Lease – Public Rooms in the lands of The Trustees. Tinker's Shop let to Charles Bushby".
6 and 8 High Street in 1871 [X465/323]
Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years. William Barber is described as a saddler and is listed in directories of 1847, 1853, 1854, 1862, 1864, 1871 and 1877. A directory of 1839 lists Sarah Barber as a saddler in the High Street and this is, presumably, the Mrs. Barber of the 1834 survey. The tinkers mentioned would be the Bushbys or, as directories more politely refer to them, tinmen and braziers. They would have mended pots and pans. George Bushby is listed in the High Street in directories of 1839, 1847, 1853, 1854, 1862 and 1864. Charles is listed in 1869, 1871 and 1877. They may have operated from the small wooden building immediately behind 6 High Street.
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 8 High Street [DV1/C290/105] found it occupied by Frederick Brown who paid rent of £25 or £26 per annum. His private accommodation comprised a sitting room and a kitchen with another sitting room and three bedrooms upstairs. Outside stood a wood and tiled washhouse and stable with a loft over. Brown's shop measured 10 feet by 17 feet and a workshop measured 10 feet by 17 feet. The valuer commented "Two attics not used". Brown was a harness maker and is listed in directories from 1894 to 1940, the last county directory for Bedfordshire. He is preceded by Samuel Brown who is listed in directories of 1885, 1890 and 1894.
6 High Street was described as a public room and the valuer noted: "Lobby with lavatory" (in the sense of a place to wash). The main room was used for billiards and measured 38 feet by 20 feet. There was storage at the rear.