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63 George Street Luton

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

63 George Street was first listed in a directory of 1877 when it was in the occupation of Lane and Lambie, straw hat and bonnet manufacturers. It stands at the junction with King Street. The firm was listed at an undisclosed number in George Street in the Post Office Directory for Bedfordshire of 1869. By 1894 the firm had become Lambie and Cain and was last listed in Kelly's Directory for the county of 1906.By 1910 the London City and Midland Bank was in occupation, as it remained until the last Kelly's Directory for Luton of 1975.

Other businesses sharing the building were listed as:

  • Lempriere and Hunter, solicitors: 1910;
  • Cumberland-Brown and Shearman, solicitors: 1924;
  • Norwich Union Life Assurance Company: 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 Midland Bank Limited owned 63 George Street [DV1/R7/54]. The basement strong room measured 21 feet by 35 feet, a back store 14 feet by 6 feet and there was also a coal cellar. The ground floor combined a public office with a manager's room for a total of 20 feet 6 inches by 33 feet 9 inches. The manager was Ernest T. Broadbent. The second floor contained a back store room measuring 7 feet 6 inches by 12 feet and a front store room at 10 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 6 inches.

The first floor was still let to Cumberland-Brown & Shearman, solicitors (on a seven year lease from 1921 at £66 per annum). Two front offices measured 10 feet 6 inches by 16 feet and 8 feet 9 inches by 13 feet respectively. A waiting room measured 10 feet square, a back office 10 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 6 inches and a store 12 feet 6 inches by 11 feet.

Part of the second floor was also still let to Norwich Union Life Assurance Company (on a seven year lease from 1921 at £18 per annum). The front office measured 10 feet 6 inches by 14 feet and the back office 10 feet 6 inches by 10 feet 3 inches. The valuer commented: "Modern Building" and "Stone and granite columns on ground floor". This fine building (similar in style to another bank, Lloyds, at 60 George Street almost opposite) has not much changed its appearance and is not occupied by HSBC, the former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Banking Corporation, which bought out Midland Bank in 1992.

63 George Street June 2010
63 George Street June 2010

63 George Street was listed by the former Department of Environment in February 1981 as Grade II, of special interest. It is described thus: Late 19th century office building in the Queen Anne style. Red brick with stucco and stone dressings. Welsh slate roof. Two window bay facade to George Street, with single bay angled corner and eleven bays to King Street elevation. Three storeys. Rendered parapet with capped pillars at bay divisions, moulded cornice. Second floor has double hung sashes in architrave surrounds. Keystone to window on angled corner elevation. Continuous bracketed cill string. First floor has taller sash windows in similar surrounds but with cornice. Entrance elevation window on corner has keystone and heavy bracketed pediment. Continuous cill string with modillions except to last six bays of King Street elevation. Stucco quoins to angles of first and second floors. Ground floor remodelled in the 20th century and given rusticated pilasters, polished marble columns and plinth. The entrance has heavy keystone, carved swags and bracketed curved canopy.