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68 George Street Luton

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

68 George Street was first listed in a directory of 1877 as in the occupation of Charles Freear, Tuscan and straw hat manufacturer. By the time of the next Bedfordshire directory, 1885, the firm had become Freear and Haye and by Kelly's Directory of 1894 Haye and Company, which later had premise at 56 George Street. By 1906 the occupier was another straw hat manufacturer, Edwin William Bartlett.

68 (closest to the camera) to 60 George Street about 1920 [Z1306/75]
68 (closest to the camera) to 60 George Street about 1920 [Z1306/75]

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 68 George Street was owned by Herbert Owen Williams and, like 64 and 70 George Street was now let to ladies' tailor and costumier Miss Charlotte Claudia Foskett. The lease was for fourteen years from 1922 and rent was £200 per annum for the first seven years, rising to £250 per annum from year eight [DV1/R7/8]. The frontage was 19 feet 9 inches.

The basement under the shop was "very poor not used". The shop itself had a "good window" and had five areas measuring 17 feet by 15 feet, 17 feet by 10 feet 9 inches, 18 feet by 23 feet 3 inches, 17 feet by 24 feet and 14 feet 6 inches by 15 feet. The first floor comprised two front stores measuring 8 ft 6 inches by 11 feet 6 inches and 9 feet by 11 feet 6 inches and a back fitting room measuring 15 feet by 12 feet 6 inches. An office measuring 7 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 6 inches and another measuring 9 feet 6 inches by 11 feet 9 inches lay over the gateway. At the rear were a workroom measuring 16 feet 9 inches by 19 feet, a packing room measuring 10 ft 6 inches by 11 feet and another room measuring 18 ft 6 inches by 22 feet 6 inches. The second floor ("not used" "no good") had rooms measuring 8 feet 6 inches by 11 feet 6 inches, 9 feet by 11 feet 6 inches, 15 feet by 12 feet 6 inches and 11 feet by 24 feet 6 inches, the latter over the gateway. The entry is annotated in another hand: "demolished".

Some of the area at the rear was let to T. Burley Limited, straw hat manufacturers of 9 Bute Street on a yearly tenancy from 1916 at £30 per annum. A brick and corrugated iron store ("poor") measured 36 feet by 18 feet and a "good" brick, tile and felt store measured 10 feet 6 inches by 42 feet. The valuer noted: "all very old" and "in very little use".

Claudia Fiskett was still in occupation in 1931 but by 1939 the property was occupied by Luton Gas Company as a showroom. This was, presumably, in the new building which survives today as Leeds House Gardens [2010]. Other tenants included the Collector of Taxes for the Inland Revenue and Mayfair Saloons. These occupiers were all still there in 1950 but by 1960 the Mayfair Salon was sharing occupation with the Eastern Gas Board showrooms. Both these concerns occupied the building into the 1970s.

68 to 72 George Street June 2010
68 to 72 George Street June 2010