59 George Street Luton
George Street in 1901 - to see a larger version, please click on the image
59 George Street was first listed in a directory of 1869 when it was occupied by Blundell Brothers, "linen drapers, shawl, mantle and silk warehousemen, funeral furnishers and undertakers, upholsterers and house furnishers". This firm dominated George Street, with shops at various times at 8 and 10, 12 to 16, 30 and 52.
By the time of Kelly's Directory for the county of 1894 the property was occupied by Walter Webb and Taylor, straw and felt hat manufacturer. This firm is listed as late as 1914. From 1920 the occupier is listed as National Provincial Bank Limited. Directories from 1898 to 1920 list a 59a George Street. The various occupiers were:
Eustace Seymour, straw hat manufacturer: 1898;
J. L. Frenay-Pirotte, straw hat merchant: 1903;
Wallarert Freres, cottom manufacturers: 1910;
Newbold and Martell, coal merchants: 1914 and 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.
59 George Street was owned by the National Provincial Bank Limited in 1928 and let to Benjamin Bennett Limited, straw hat manufacturer, who also had premises at 15 Upper George Street. The lease ran for seven years from 1924 and rent was £325 per annum.
The basement measured 18 feet by 30 feet. The ground floor front office measured 17 feet 6 inches by 30 feet and the back offices 18 feet by 9 feet 6 inches and 8 feet 6 inches by 5 feet. A small office at the rear measured 11 feet by 6 feet 6 inches and another room at the rear 19 feet by 12 feet. A lavatory completed the ground floor accommodation.
The first floor show room extended over the back of the premises and measured 30 feet by 31 feet with another area measuring 19 feet by 22 feet 3 inches. A lift for goods and a lavatory were also on that floor. The second floor comprised a front store room measuring 10 feet by 12 feet 3 inches and a lobby measuring 14 feet by 11 feet 6 inches.
The valuer commented: "Warehouse". He also noted: "Good offices ground floor and very fine showroom first floor".
Bennett was listed as occupier as late as Kelly's Directory for 1931, sharing the site with the National Provincial Bank in that year. The bank then remains sole occupier until at least 1972. The bank merged with the Westminster Bank (which had premises at 29 to 33 George Street) in 1968 and the new firm was named National Westminster Bank. The last Kelly's Directory for Luton, 1975, does not list the premises at all.
57 to 59 George Street June 2010