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24 And 26 High Street Shefford

24 and 26 High Street January 2012
24 and 26 High Street January 2012

24 and 26 High Street are on the north side of the High Street. They do not look particularly old at first glance, but the roofline is undulating which is usually the sign of some antiquity. The properties were listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1952 as Grade II, of special interest and the department dated them to the 17th century. They are timber-framed and were encased in brick in the 18th century which was itself reworked in the 19th and 20th centuries giving the properties their superficially modern appearance.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. Shefford, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927.

The valuer visiting 24 High Street [DV1/C290/99] found that it was owned and occupied by W. Boswell who had private accommodation comprising a sitting room, a scullery, three bedrooms. He also had a shop measuring 15 feet by 20 feet and a store measuring 12 feet 6 inches square. There was also an attic ("poor") and three brick and tiled stores, with lofts over outside as well as an open hovel.

This is a slightly puzzling reference. Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years. Kelly's Directory for 1931 lists 24 High Street as being M. Hepher & Company, grocers, as does the directory of 1936. The directory of 1928 (like its predecessors) does not give street numbers but does list Hepher & Company as grocers in the High Street. No W. Boswell is listed in any directory. One can only conclude that Boswell had bought the firm.

Previous directories list Hepher & Company in 1914 and 1920. The directory for 1910 lists Dunton & Hepher, that of 1906 Marshall Hepher and that of 1903 Dunton & Hepher. Neither Dunton nor Hepher are mentioned before this.

Number 1926 [DV1/C290/97] was owned and occupied by Elisha Pike in 1927. He was a draper and also sold glass and china. His private accommodation comprised a living room, a kitchen, and no less than seven bedrooms. There were also two attics. A barn stood outside. The main shop areas measured 14 feet by 15 feet and 14 feet by 22 feet with a rear shop having areas measuring 12 feet square and 13 feet 6 inches by 20 feet. There was also a store measuring 13 feet by 9 feet and another measuring 17 feet by 12 feet. A show room measured 20 feet by 18 feet 6 inches and had an attic over it, used as stock room ("poor"). The valuer commented:  "shop bad house much better". Directories list Pike in 1924 and 1928. In 1931 the business is listed as E. & F. C. Pike and just as a draper, with shops at 16, 26 and 28 High Street. By the time of the directory for 1936 26 High Street was in the occupation of Harold Thomas Whitworth, a cycle agent who was still there in the last directory for the county, that of 1940. Elisha Pike had obviously been in partnership as Soundy & Pike is listed in a directory of 1920. A directory of 1914 lists Soundy & Son 1914 and in directories of 1894, 1898, 1903, 1906 and 1910 Caleb Soundy, draper and clothier is listed; he was presumably also based at 26 High Street.