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57 and 59 High Street Leighton Buzzard

57 to 59 High Street in 1910
57 to 59 High Street in 1910 [Z50/72/119]

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 the High 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.

57 and 59 High Street were listed by the former Department of Environment in 1954 as Grade II, of special interest. They date to the 18th century and, like a number of buildings in the High Street, are constructed of bricks in a local bond of grey headers dressed with red bricks. There are three storeys and a parapet screening the roof. the shop windows are modern.

A project called Our High Street Revisited 1819-2000 by Leighton-Linslade Local History Research Group [CRT130Lei58] aimed to use directories and census records to try to establish as full a history of use of the building in the High Street as possible. The results for Number 57 were as follows:

  • 1819: owner Mr. Stone's executors; occupier W. Cutforth;
  • 1830: John Doling Bassett & Company, line and woollen drapers;
  • 1841: John Sharman, draper;
  • 1851-1861: David Tribute, tailor;
  • 1871: Richard and Levi  Ashdown, brewers;
  • 1881: Alexander Muddiman, bookseller, postmaster and stationer;
  • 1891: empty;
  • 1898-1906: Thomas James Luck, draper and outfitter [with Number 59];
  • 1910-1924: Henry Spratt, draper [with Number 59];
  • 1928-1940: Cash & Company, boot and shoe makers;
  • 2000-2008: Stead & Simpson, shoe shop

The results for Number 59 were as follows:

  • 1819: owner/occupier Mrs.Stone;
  • 1841: house of Sarah Stone;
  • 1851: house of William Stone;
  • 1861: empty;
  • 1871: house of Edward Adey, retired Baptist minister;
  • 1881: empty;
  • 1891: Robert Richmond, pharmaceutical chemist;
  • 1898-1906: Thomas James Luck, drapers and outfitters [with Number 57];
  • 1910-1924: Henry Spratt, drapers [with Number 57];
  • 1928-1940: Edith and Gertrude Cook, drapers;
  • 1965-1973: Vera Cook Limited, ladies' and children's outfitters;
  • 2000: Dee's Cards;
  • 2008: Hallmark, card shop

57-59 High Street in the 1927 valuer's notebook

57 and 59 High Street in the 1927 valuer's handbook

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 57 and 59 High Street [DV1/R56/77] noted that it was owned and occupied by Henry L. Spratt, draper. The building contained a basement store measuring 19 feet by 26 feet ("poor"). The ground floor contained no les than five shops measuring 19 feet 6 inches by 15 feet, 14 feet 3 inches by 15 feet, 19 feet 6 inches by 13 feet, 14 feet 3 inches by 7 feet 6 inches and 14 feet by 19 feet 6 inches as well as a stockroom measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 12 feet, a millinery room of 8 feet 6 inches by 20 feet, an office 9 feet by 6 feet 6 inches and a fitting room measuring 9 feet by 12 feet.

Upstairs were: a dining room measuring 16 feet 9 inches by 14 feet 6 inches; a bedroom measuring 18 feet 6 inches by 10 feet; a storeroom of 12 feet by 6 feet; a landing; a morning room measuring 13 feet 9 inches by 14 feet and a kitchen of 14 feet by 13 feet 6 inches. A bedroom of 15 feet by 11 feet 6 inches lay on the second floor along with a boxroom measuring 8 feet by 7 feet, another bedroom of 10 feet by 14 feet and attic bedrooms measuring 14 feet by 13 feet and 14 feet square. A brick and tile washhouse and W. C. with a loft over stood outside along with a weather boarded and tiles store of 13 feet by 25 feet with a loft over ("poor") and another W. C. The valuer summarised: "very good position but large area; very fair repair, old building; double fronted shop - good position; Lot of waste room in house; no Bath or W. C. inside". He also noted that it was sold by auction for £2,400 just after his visit in June 1927.

57-59 High Street June 2008
57-59 High Street June 2008