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3 and 5 North Street Leighton Buzzard

3-5 North Street June 2008
3-5 North Street June 2008

3 and 5 North Street were listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. The properties are 19th century with stucco fronts and Welsh slated roofs. Each has two storeys and two bay windows to each floor with round headed lights. Benjamin Bevan published a map of Leighton Buzzard in 1819; two years later a reference book was published giving owners and occupiers of every property shown on his map. At that date the site was occupied by a property owned by Nathaniel Stonhill [see below] and occupied by E. Wright and J. Tebby.

In 1992 the archives of T. Brantom and Company, forage and seed merchants, were deposited with Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service [X807]. These included the deeds to 3 and 5 and 7 North Street. 3 and 5 North Street were conveyed to the firm in 1904 by Joseph Henry Brantom [X807/1/37]. The Brantom family had acquired the property in 1869 when it was conveyed by Thomas Price and Richard Turney (trustees under will of Susanna Cotchin, the mortgagee) and John Flemons (the owner) to William Brantom, upholsterer. The building was then described as "many years since built by Nathaniel Stonhill" [X807/1/31]. Included in the sale was a copyhold segment lying on the north-east boundary of the property, including an oven and bakehouse adjoining the property immediately to the north [X807/1/31. A sketch plan shown looks nothing like today's premises. This leads to speculation either that the property was demolished by Brantom and today's 3-5 North Street shortly after his purchase, about 1870, or that Brantom significantly altered the existing premises.

Nathaniel Stonhill, maltster and victualler, who appears as owner in the reference book accompanying Bevan's map, had acquired the site, including the copyhold oven and bakehouse in 1807, from Thomas Lane Wood, maltster, for £500 [X807/1/13-16] and so the premises bought by Brantom in 1869 was presumably built in 1807 or 1808. Stonhill died in 1834, his widow in 1855 or 1856 and was purchased by John Flemons in 1859. Before 1807 the cottage had been owned by John Fox, maltster, who had purchased it from James Gregory in 1774 for £150 [X807/1/6]. The first known owner was John Gregory in 1704 [X807/1/1].

Under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on them. Leighton Buzzard was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 3 and 5 North Street [DV1/R74/26] found it owned and occupied by Thomas Brantom and Company Limited, coal merchants. The commercial part of the building comprised were two shops measuring 13 feet by 15 feet and 12 feet by 25 feet, a store measuring 6 feet by 5 feet and five warehouses measuring 17 feet by 56 feet, 36 feet by 16 feet, 30 feet by 13 feet, 36 feet by 44 feet, 30 feet by 13 feet used as "furniture stores". There was a wooden garage for one car, a loose box with a loft over and a yard. The valuer noted: "buildings are very old - fair repair and larger than necessary";

The domestic arrangements comprised a sitting room measuring 13 feet by 10 feet and a kitchen of 15 feet by 10 feet on the ground floor. The first floor comprised a bedroom measuring 13 feet by 10 feet, a sitting room and bedroom over the shop, a W. C., a play room measuring 17 feet by 25 feet, a bathroom and a bedroom measuring 10 feet by 21 feet "over gateway" and another W. C. There was also a basement coal cellar. The valuer commented: "large old fashioned roomy place"