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Rushden Echo & Argus 1924

Rushden’s Oldest Resident

Mr David Darnell’s Ninety-fourth Birthday

Honoured and Loved

We join with his many friends in extending our hearty congratulations to Mr. David Darnell, of Rushden, on attaining on Tuesday the 94th anniversary of his birthday. The physical attainment alone would be of itself wonderful, but Mr. Darnell is happily in full possession of good mental powers, including a memory of his earlier days. His eyesight and hearing might easily be the envy of many people tens of years younger. He has withstood in a remarkable manner the unusual severity of the past long winter and actually got out of doors for a short time in the warm sunshine of Easter Monday. With the aid of a stick he can walk about, and is almost as physically upright as he was many years ago.

Mr. Darnell came to Rushden from Finedon, where trade was bad about half-a-century ago. He was a skilled boot operative, able to make handsewn boots throughout, and consequently, Rushden being then a fast growing town with an even more rapidly developing industry. Mr. Darnell easily obtained work, being employed at various times by the well-known firms of Messrs. Colson (Duck-street), Wm. Claridge, and John Cave. An advance in methods to produce faster than by hand sewing was introduced, and Mr. Darnell claims to be the first to make boots in the town by hand riveting. He was also the pioneer worker in Rushden with "blakeys". Both "new" ideas have come into general use but have not entirely replaced the method of hand sewing.

Mr. Darnell was one of the founders, being the first manager, of the Rushden Co-operative Society. He and one or two other old Rushdenites, with a capital of about £30 went to a neighbouring town and bought the first supply of groceries. These goods were retailed in their house at the bottom of Wymington-road by Mr. and Mrs Darnell, meantime Mr. Darnell keeping on at his shoe work, as most of the boot and shoe making in those pre-mechanical days were made "outside", large factories being non-existant and not needed. The Co-operative Society flourished from its infancy, and it soon became impossible for Mr. Darnell to do all the secretarial work in the evenings. Eventually, so remarkable had been the growth of the Society, Mr. Darnell found the management more than he could do, and, although the committee pressed him to retain his position, he felt compelled to resign on account of his health. He returned to the boot trade, and kept at that work for a good number of years. In religious life Mr. Darnell is known and much respected by very many friends through­out a wide district. He has always been associated with the Baptist cause from his earliest memories. As a young man, and for very many years, he was a lay preacher, and in that, capacity he many times visited Chelveston and Higham Ferrers; also Oundle, Wymington, Podington, Riseley, Finedon, Wollaston, Bozeat, Irchester, Sharnbrook, Stevington, and Waddesdon, near Aylesbury. Mr. Darnell is senior deacon of the Park-road Baptist Church, has held the office deacon for many years. He has been a total abstainer and a non-smoker for the greater part of his long and useful life, but he does not attribute his long life, health and, strength entirely to those factors. Rather, he says it is due to regular habits and moderation in all things, and especially to constantly taking great care of himself. Mr. Darnell received a number of kind messages and gifts on Tuesday, and he looks forward to getting out into the town again when the warmer weather returns to thank his many friends for their good wishes.

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