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21 George Street Luton

George Street in 1901
George Street in 1901 - to see a larger version, please click on the image

21 George Street faces south-east onto Market Hill. It is first recorded in a directory in 1885 when it was occupied by John William Maltby's boot warehouse. By 1894 Charles William Long, basker maker, was in occupation. The next directory to list the property is not until 1903 when Anscombe and Franklin, architects and surveyors were in possession. By 1906 the occupier was Pearks Limited, grocer. Arthur Anscombe shared the property in 1910, as did Benjamin Belgrove Franklin, architect and surveyor. By 1914 Franklin and Deacon, architects, Luton Land Company Limited and Luton Suburban Estates shared the property with Pearks. The Land Company and Suburban Estates continued to share the property with Pearks until at least 1920.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Most of Bedfordshire was valued in 1927. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is lucky in having the valuer's notebook covering most of George Street. Evidence in the book shows that the survey of George Street took place in 1928.

21 George Street June 2010
21 George Street June 2010

21 George Street in 1928 was owned by F. A. Neve and occupied by Meadow Dairy Company Limited, whose head office was at 5-11 Bethnal Green Road in London [DV1/R7/37]. Directories refer to Pearks Stores (Meadow Dairy Company) as late as 1939. The frontage was 17 feet 3 inches and the company had a 21 year lease from 1925 for which they paid £170 per annum in rent. The basement had two rooms - one measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 33 feet 6 inches and another 9 feet 6 inches by 15 feet which was a vault under the road.

The first floor contained a shop measuring 15 feet 9 inches by 20 feet with a store to the rear measuring 15 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 6 inches. The building was a lock up shop with a green tiled front. The valuer commented: "Shop a little out of date, corner site, position good".

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a Borough of Luton Public Health Department Shops Act 1934 Section 10 inspection book [BorL/EH/14/1]. This book reveals that in 1936 Pearks Limited were, indeed, still occupiers. Ventilation of the premises was via a fanlight over the door and a continuous grille over the window. There was no heating in November 1936 but by March 1937 a gas radiator had been installed in the shop. A men's box toilet stood at cellar level in the yard, there was no provision for women. Natural lighting was very good and electric lighting was installed. A stone sink was provided. Staff comprised two men and two boys under eighteen. All meals were eaten off the premises.

By 1950 the shop was occupied by Brighter Homes, wallpaper merchants who continued in occupation until at lease 1972. In 1960 the premises was shared with Griffiths Kingsley, surveyor and chartered accountant and Stuart Farmborough, chartered surveyor and land agent. The last Kelly's Directory for Luton in 1975 lists the property as vacant.

It is one of the few remaining 19th century buildings left in George Street. In fact it was listed by the former Department of Environment in February 1981 as Grade II, of special interest. The description is as follows: Mid 19th century in a simple neo-classical style. Stucco with a shallow-pitched hipped roof. Broad eaves cornice. Plan one bay deep, three bays long. Three storeys. Second floor has small sash windows with glazing bars in architrave surrounds and cill band. First floor has taller double-hung sashes with glazing bars: side elevation window has bracketed pediment, as has central window of front elevation, outer ones having cornices on brackets. Modern ground floor shop front. Curved and slightly recessed corner feature.