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46 George Street Luton

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

46 George Street was first listed in a directory of 1877 when Hucklesby, Asher and Company, straw hat and bonnet manufacturers were in occupation. By 1885 the occupants were listed as Asha [?sic] Hucklesby and Arthur Panter, and, by 1903 A. Hucklesby and Company.

A trade catalogue of about 1890, curiously, lists A. Hucklesby & Co - Straw Hat Manufacturers and Plait Merchants at 42 George Street as well as Bond Street. The entry reads: "A premier position can be unhesitatingly accorded to the old-established house of Messrs. A. Hucklesby & Co. in reviewing the straw-hat trade of Luton. The business carried on by this well-known firm embraces that of the manufacture of all varieties of straw hats and bonets, and in addition they are extensive importers of and dealers in plait. The premises utilised front to George Street, and extend a long distance to Bond Street, being three stories in height, and of by no means unattractive appearence. They are most conveniently arranged throughout to suit all requirements of the business, the showrooms for finished goods and the store rooms for plait being excellently appointed, roomy and well-lighted. The productions of this firm in all the innumerable styles, colours and varieties of straw hats and bonnets maintain a standard reputation in the trade, and are unsurpassed for beauty of finish, brightness of colour, and durability. That they keep pace with the prevailing fashions is evident from the splendid connections maintained. Messrs. Hucklesby & Co. give constant employment to a great number of hands, and they are in the most favourable position to meet the heaviest demands on the shortest notice. They hold an extensive stock of English and foreign plait, and in this branch of the business do a very large local and foreign trade. the business is certainly conducted throughout on the best lines, and under its present management it cannot fail to still further gain in value and importance. The firm have offices and sample rooms in all the principal continental cities".

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.

Valuer's sketch of 46 George Street [DV1/R7]
Valuer's sketch of 46 George Street [DV1/R7]

The valuer discovered that 46 George Street was still owned and as well as occupied by A. Hucklesby & Company Limited, which also had premises at 48 George Street and Guildford Street. The firm also had premises on the south-east side of Bond Street, behind 44 George Street. The valuer drew a sketch plan of the different buildings as shown above.

Each area comprised as follows:

  • A: two basement stores, with 10 feet 6 inches high ceilings, measured 19 feet 9 inches by 46 feet and 15 feet 6 inches by 37 feet 6 inches. A "good" showroom on the ground floor measured 20 feet by 50 feet. The first floor contained a sales office measuring 20 feet 3 inches by 48 feet 9 inches and the second floor store measured 20 feet 3 inches by 48 feet 9 inches.
  • B: the basement was shared with Block A. A ground floor store room measured 19 feet 9 inches by 19 feet 6 inches and a sale room 20 feet 6 inches by 23 feet. An office lay on the first floor measuring 21 feet by 23 feet "with Bridge to opposite Warehouse". Two offices measured 10 feet 3 inches by 11 feet 6 inches and 10 feet 3 inches by 6 feet 9 inches respectively. Second floor stores measured 20 feet 3 inches by 18 feet 9 inches and 21 feet by 23 feet respectively.
  • C: this block had a frontage to Bond Street. The basement had 9 feet 3 inches ceilings and two rooms measuring 21 feet by 22 feet and 23 feet squared. The ground floor comprised an office measuring 22 feet by 23 feet and a store room measuring 24 feet by 23 feet. The same layout prevailed on the first and second floors.
  • D: this was a corrugated iron store room with a wood and concrete floor serving as a store on the corner of Barber's Lane and Bond Street. It was "very old" and had a "leaky roof" and measured 27 feet 6 inches by 82 feet.
  • E: this building lay on Bond Street, behind 44 George Street. The ceiling of the basement store varied from 8 feet 6 inches to 10 feet high and the room measured 84 feet by 24 feet 6 inches. An export and materials room on the ground floor measured 84 feet by 24 feet 6 inches. A sales office on the first floor had the same measurements as the ground floor room.

Overall the valuer commented: "Built as Warehouse - good but not new".

Hucklesby is last listed in 1931 and by 1950 the occupier was F. W. Woolworth Limited, which had previously been at 51 George Street. This firm was listed at the address as late as 1972. The last Kelly's Directory for Luton, 1975, has no listing for the premises at all.

46 to 48 George Street June 2010
46 to 48 George Street June 2010