53 to 57 High Street April 2010
The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for 53 to 57 High Street [HER 7507] describes the tow of shops as being 19th century in date, built of yellow brick and comprising two storeys with a slate roof behind a pierced parapet.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Sandy, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 53 to 57 High Street [DV1/C147/71-73] found them all owned by George A. Gregg of Cambridge Road.
Number 53 was occupied by jeweller Reginald Gunton, who paid £42 per annum in rent, pre-war rent having been about £28 per annum. Accommodation comprised a reception room, kitchen, scullery and shop measuring 15 feet 9 inches by 14 feet, the window being 11 feet by 2 feet 3 inches. Three bedrooms lay above. A brick and slate coal shed and w. c. lay outside. The valuer commented: “Good shop, modern building”.
Number 55 was occupied by boot and shoe manufacturers Amies Limited on a seven year lease and managed by E. W. Pentelow. Rent was £37/10/- per annum. Accommodation comprised a kitchen, scullery and a shop measuring 15 feet by 13 feet 6 inches, the window being 11 feet by 2 feet 6 inches; a fitting room measured 12 feet by 12 feet 6 inches. Three bedrooms lay above and an attic above that. A disused cellar lay beneath the ground floor. A w. c. and coal shed lay outside, as did a brick and slate lumber shed.
Number 57 was occupied by ironmongers E. D. Fisher and Sons, who paid £60 per annum in rent. Accommodation comprised a kitchen and scullery and a shop measuring 15 feet 6 inches by 26 feet 6 inches, the window being 11 feet by 2 feet 6 inches. A cellar lay beneath. Three bedrooms lay above with an attic above that. A w. c. and a brick and slate store shed with a loft over lay outside.
The valuer noted: “These 3 shops cost £1,200 to build about 30 years ago”. Every few years Kelly’s Directory for Bedfordshire was printed until the last volume which came out in 1940. These first directory to list E. D. Fisher was that of 1910, the last that of 1940. Amies Limited was first listed in 1914 but the address was given as 29 High Street in that directory and those of 1920 and 1924. Directories of 1928, 1931 and 1936 give the address as Number 55. The directory for 1940 gives Distas Sadlers at 55 High Street instead of Amies. Reginald Gunton is only listed in directories of 1920, 1924 and 1928. The directories for 1931, 1936 and 1940 list William Wilfred Wale, cycle dealer, at 53 High Street.
Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has six day books of E. D. Fisher dating from to 1926 to 1939 [Z648/2/1-6]. The books themselves do not contain the name of the firm and the identity could only be worked out by cross-referencing two entries in the books to Tempsford Parish Council with lists of cheques drawn in the parish council minutes. E. D. Fisher closed early in World War Two, for reasons made clear below and did not reopen until 1945 although by then the firm had been taken over by H. Gilby. The main branch of E.D. Fisher & Sons was in the Market Square at St. Neots [Cambridgeshire] and Cambridgeshire Archives Service has their records.
H. Gilby himself died in 1969 and the business then closed, being purchased by a man named Smart and reopening in 1971 as a limited company called H. Gilby(Sandy) Limited. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has two goods ledgers from 1946 to 1966 [Z769/1-2] and three stocktaking books for 1950, 1953 and 1955 [Z746/3-5] for H. Gilby. The shops are still occupied by Gilbys of Sandy at the time of writing .
The personal representatives of the late G. A. Gregg put a number of properties up for sale by auction in January 1944, including 53 to 57 High Street. The sale particulars [X704/139/2] read as follows:
All that VALUABLE FREEHOLD PROPERTY situate and being
Nos. 53, 55 and 57 High Street, Sandy
THREE COMMANDING BRICK BUILT AND SLATED SHOPS AND DWELLING HOUSES
Having a total frontage of 67 feet to High Street, each containing on the second floor, 1 bedroom; on the first floor, Parlour and 2 Bedrooms; on the ground floor, an excellent Shop, each 14 feet by 16 feet, with large plate glass display window, Living Room, Kitchen fitted with range, Scullery fitted with sink, together with brick and slated Coal barn and W. C. There is a good Yard to each property, No. 53 has a side entrance with double gates from the main road, No. 55 has a brick and slated barn, and No. 57 a brick and slated Stable, Harness room and loft over and with 3 feet side entrance with hand-gate. Public water supply, Gas, Electricity and Sewer are connected.
No. 53 in the occupation of Mr. Alec Punter on a yearly tenancy at a rental of £50 per annum. Tenant paying rates.
Nos 55 and 57 are in the occupation of the War Department at a total rental of £92:10:0 per annum. Tenants paying Rates and Fire Insurance premium.
Certain internal alterations have been made to Nos. 55 and 57 by the War Department, including the provision of a Bathroom and Lavatory on the first floor of No. 55 and an opening made between the two shops for the purposes of the W. V. S. Canteen.