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34 George Street Luton

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

34 George Street was an ironmonger's business for about a century. It was first listed in a directory in 1869 when it was occupied by George Frederick Gibbs, "general furnishing ironmonger, gas fitter, bell hanger and agents for all kinds if agricultural implements". By 1898 the business had become Gibbs and Dandy, wholesale and retail ironmongers.

A commercial catalogue of about 1890 lists the business thus: "A business that calls for special remark in reviewing the commercial enterprises of Luton is that udner the proprietorship of Mr. G. F. Gibbs, Wholesale and Retail Ironmonger, Bar Iron, Oil and Colour Merchant, carried on in spacious premises eligibly situated in George Street. It may be stated that this concern dates its founding back upwards of half a century, and that the present proprietor succeeded the firm of Brown & Green, just about twenty-three years ago. It has grown and prospered at a substantial pace right from the start; and at the present tiome Mr. Gibbs is regarded as one of the chief representatives in this line of business. His trade is of an extensive character, extending for a distance of twenty-five miles round Luton. The premises occupied possess a three-storied shop frontage, and run a long distance to the rear, being conveniently divided into shop, show and stockrooms and warehouses. The shop has two windows, in which an effective display is always made; and in fact, the establishment is arranged throughout in the best manner, to suit the many requirements of the business. Mr. Gibbs always keeps a large stock, including open and close fire ranges, stoves, marble and other chimneypieces, fenders and fireirons, baths, furnaces, boilers, builders' and joiners' tools, all kinds of builders' ironmongery, grindstones, wire netting, farm and garden tools and implements, kitchen and dairy utensils, every description of iron, tin and galvanised hollow-ware, cutlery, electro-plate, etc., etc. Bar, hoop, and sheet iron, as well as oils, paints, colours, red and white lead, brushes, etc., are also to be found in large quantities at this establishment. For all these goods Mr. Gibbs is certainly intimate with the chief and best sources of supply, and to both wholesale and retail customers he offers maximum value at minimum prices".

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.

34 (nearest the camera) to 48 George Street about 1910 [Z1306/75]
34 (nearest the camera) to 48 George Street about 1910 [Z1306/75]

The valuer discovered that 34 George Street was owned as well as occupied by Gibbs & Dandy Limited [DV1/R7/21]. The premises had a frontage of 27 feet 9 inches.

The basement store areas measured 25 feet 6 inches by 17 feet 6 inches and 22 feet by 5 feet. The ground floor shop measured 25 feet square, with another area measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 16 feet, a rear shop with a glass roof measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 25 feet and a store ("part shop really") measuring 11 feet 9 inches by 32 feet. Rear stores measured 15 feet by 14 feet and 15 feet by 36 feet. "Old stores on left of covered yard" measured 15 feet by 14 feet, 8 feet 3 inches by 14 feet, 7 feet by 14 feet and 6 feet 3 inches by 14 feet respectively, all "very poor and small". The covered yard itself, leading off Cheapside, measured 30 feet by 36 feet and had a further storage building measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 29 feet on three floors.

The first floor of the main building had front office, measuring 9 feet 3 inches by 17 feet 6 inches and 15 feet 6 inches by 20 feet as well as a back store measuring 14 feet 9 inches by 15 feet. A rear warehouse had two rooms measuring 14 feet 9 inches by 78 feet and 17 feet 6 inches by 37 feet. Two second floor front stores measured 13 feet 6 inches b y12 feet 6 inches and 10 feet by 10 feet 6 inches with a back office measuring 12 feet by 17 feet 6 inches. 

The valuer commented: "Very poor old premises and badly arranged"; "Old fashioned front"; "Not modernized" and "Very old fashioned all corners". Judging by today's property this older building must have been demolished and replaced by the current building quite soon after this.

The last directory to list Gibbs and Dandy is Kelly's Directory for Luton of 1960, the directory of 1965 shows the premises as vacant. From 1968 until the last Kelly's for Luton, 1975, the property was occupied by Meakers, Brook Street Bureau of Mayfair Limited Still occupiers in 2010) and the Beneficial Finance Company.

34 George Street June 2010
34 George Street June 2010