56 George Street Luton
George Street in 1901 - to see a larger version, please click on the image
56 George Street was first listed in Kelly's Directory for Bedfordshire of 1894 when in was in the occupation of the World's Tea Company. By the time of Kelly's Directory of 1903 the occupier was Haye and Company, straw hat manufacturers. This firm was last listed in 1924.
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.
The valuer discovered that 56 George Street was still owned by James J. Haye and was leased to Ardons Limited, tailors, the head office of which was at 53 The Strand, London [DV1/R7/12]. The ground floor and basement was let for twenty one years from 1924 at £400 per annum and the two floors above for nineteen years from 1926 at £100 per annum. The frontage was 14 feet 9 inches to George Street.
The basement ("not used") measured 13 feet 9 inches by 76 feet ("too big for shop"). The ground floor shop consisted of two areas measuring 9 feet 9 inches by 26 feet and 13 feet by 15 feet 6 inches with a fitting room measuring 12 feet 3 inches by 12 feet 6 inches and a back room measuring 10 feet by 23 feet. There was also a lavatory. The valuer commented: "good window".
The first and second floors were vacant at the time of the survey, both measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 73 feet 6 inches. The first floor had a window at each end and the third floor had a sky light. The valuer commented: "Not suitable for offices. Two very large rooms. First floor dark in centre".
By 1931 the occupant was The Packhard (Tailors) Limited and by 1939 tailor Nathaniel Berg. 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 on 3rd May 1938 an electric fire heated the shop and no toilets were available. Natural light was poor but electric light was provided. Dinner was taken off the premises by the two men and one boy under eighteen employed there but they had tea at the rear of the shop.
By 1950 the business had become N. Berg (Tailors) Limited and was last listed at the address in 1968. In 1972 the occupier was L. Davies, jewellers and this firm was still in occupation at the time of the last Kelly's for Luton, in 1975. Though now owned by Spanish bank Santander the upper storeys still look much as they would have done in earlier years.
54 and 56 George Street June 2010