52 and 54 North Street Leighton Buzzard
52-54 North Street June 2008
The Manor of Leighton Buzzard alias Grovebury was the principal landowner in the town before the 19th century. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a full run of court rolls from 1393 to 1727 [KK619-715] and another full run from 1704 to 1867 [X288/1-23]. The service also has court rolls for other manor to own land in the town, the Prebendal Manor, from 1448 to 1459, 1588 to 1591, 1611 to 1622, 1627 and 1631 [KK792-1798]. A fair number of buildings in North Street were originally copyhold and a detailed study of these court rolls would probably produce quite detailed histories for a number of properties and the sites on which they stand, though it would take many years of study.
52 and 54 North Street were listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. They were dated to the late 18th or early 19th century and are built in a local bond of brickwork common in Leighton Buzzard, of grey vitreous headers dressed with red bricks. They have a Welsh slated roof with a panelled cornice and each comprises three storeys with modern shop fronts. 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 buildings were owned and occupied by blacksmith Henry Wybrow or Whybrow.
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 the properties [DV1/R74/7-8] discovered that 52 was owned by George Payne and occupied by Harry G. and Percy D. Payne, grocers (who also had a premises at 1 Church Street) at a rent of £29 per annum. Number 52 had a number of basement rooms including stores measuring 8 feet by 27 feet and 10 feet by 27 feet and a wine cellar measuring 10 feet by 27 feet. The shops on the ground floor measured 15 feet 6 inches by 15 feet and 15 feet 6 inches by 13 feet. The first floor contained a flour store measuring 15 feet 6 inches by 12 feet and a stock room of 15 feet 6 inches by 10 feet. Two stock rooms lay on the second floor, measuring 10 feet by 9 feet; 9 feet by 12 feet. Outside were: a brick and slate lean-to store measuring 8 feet by 11 feet; a warehouse measuring 8 feet by 14 feet and a brick, wood and slate warehouse measuring 9 feet by 13 feet with loft over. The valuer commented: "brick and slate double fronted; good repair; wine, spirit and beer off-licence".
Number 54 was also owned by George Payne and occupied Henry George Payne as a private house at a rent of £20/10- per annum from 26th July 1927. The ground floor comprised a sitting room measuring 11 feet by 12 feet, a living room measuring 11 feet by 18 feet, a lean-to kitchen measuring 10 feet by 11 feet and a pantry. Two bedrooms measuring 15 feet 6 inches by 12 feet and 15 feet 6 inches by 10 feet lay on the first floor and four bedrooms measuring 10 feet by 9 feet, 10 feet square, 11 feet by 10 feet and 11 feet by 10 feet lay above. A W. C. stood outside. At the time of writing  the premises are occupied by Halfords.