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67 George Street Luton

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

67 George Street was first listed in Kelly's Directory 1890 when Garrard and Staddon, straw and felt hat manufacturers, were in occupation. An illustrated commercial catalogue for Bedfordshire of about the same date has an entry for the firm, which was also in King Street: "In reviewing the staple industry of Luton - viz., the manufacture of straw and felt hats and bonnets - prominent mention must be made of that old-established and widely known business of Messrs. Garrard & Staddon, whose numerous productions bear a standard reputation in the best hoem and foreign markets for durability and excellent finish. This firm occupy spacious, two-storied premises in King Street, which are utilised as factory, warehouse, and showrooms, and, in addition, they have commodious and capitally appointed showrooms in George Street. In the various manufacturing departments, for both straw and felt goods, they possess all the requisite labour-saving appliances of modern type, and are in a position to compete with any house in the town as regards rapid, accurate and economical production. Messrs. Garrard & Staddon study the changing fashions with scrupulous care and as a consequence send out none but the most saleable goods. they make every variety of straw and felt hats and bonnets, and by employing a large staff of hands are prepared to execute the heaviest orders in the promptest manner. There is no question that the long-continued success of the firm has been fully merited, and at the present time it is evident that no effort is being spared in the management of the business calculated to stil lfurther enhance its value and importance". By 1910 Garrard and Staddon had become J. W. Garrard and Company.

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.

77 (nearest camera) to 61 George Street about 1910 [Z1306/75]
77 (nearest camera) to 61 George Street about 1910 [Z1306/75]

67 George Street was owned by Charles Mares in 1928 and let to J. W. Garrard & Company on a seven year lease from 1922 at a rent of £300 per annum. The window of Charles Mares' shop next door at 65 George Street ran over into Number 67 and so that premises just had a front door.

The basement consisted of two rooms measuring 12 feet by 45 feet and 19 feet by 40 feet respectively, however it was "not used - front blocked by window - lumber only". The front office on the ground floor measured 18 feet 6 inches by 31 feet. The show room measured 13 feet by 31 feet and had "good light". The back office measured 9 feet 6 inches by 10 feet. There was a lavatory. The hat production rooms comprised: a polishing room ("idle") measuring 15 feet by 27 feet with 20 feet of 1½ inch shafting and a four horsepower motor; the steeping room measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 6 inches; the store ("dark") measuring 15 feet 6 inches by 18 feet; the dyeing room measuring 15 feet by 35 feet. A boiler house stood at the rear to provide heat. Part of the rear of 65 George Street, 15 feet by 45 feet, was used for packing.

A room measuring 16 feet by 39 feet at the rear of the first floor was used for blocking and had 24 feet of 1½ inches shafting and a two horsepower motor. A workroom measured 9 feet 6 inches square, a packing room 11 feet 6 inches by 37 feet and two other rooms 10 feet 6 inches by 49 feet and 19 feet by 37 feet respectively.

The second floor ("good light") had a workroom measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 9 feet, a steam room measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 28 feet, a lavatory and rooms measuring 11 feet by 30 feet and 12 feet by 26 feet. There was also 50 feet of 1½ inch shafting and a four horsepower motor. The valuer commented: "Old factory. Mares' shop takes light from Front area of ground floor. But Tenant has improved".

Part of the rear of the building was let to Richard Harris Marks, wine and spirit merchant (whose business was at 69 George Street) on a five year lease from 1926 at a rent of £150 per annum. A block on the ground floor measured 18 feet 6 inches by 35 feet with a similarly sized first floor. The valuer commented: "Lofty rooms and good light up" and "These rooms at rear could only be used in connection with Garrards".

Garrard was last listed in 1936. From 1931 Charles Mares was listed at 67 George Street in addition to 65 and continued to be so until the last Kelly's Directory for Luton of 1975. In addition, the Harlequin Coffee Car, also listed under 65, was listed at the premises from at least 1960 until at least 1975, though it appears to have been called V. Mimambo between at least 1965 and at least 1972.

65 to 67 George Street June 2010
65 to 67 George Street June 2010