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John Collins, 2009
Fred Collins - Shopkeeper and Dairyman
Wellingborough Road, Rushden

Fred Collins in his van The shop at 196
Fred Collins in his van
The shop at 196 - the dairy was behind this shop

Frederick Collins was born in 1877 and baptised on the sixth of May. He was the second son of William and Elizabeth (formerly Yoxen, nee Joy) of Cotton End, Cardington, Bedford. When he left school he became an agricultural labourer as did his brothers William and Joseph Thomas; their sister, Elizabeth was a servant. By 1901 Fred was a boarder at 10 Moor-road, Rushden with Elizabeth Perkins, laundress (widow of Henry Perkins, horsekeeper) and her daughter Florrie. His occupation was a drayman. The other boarder at this house was Francis W. Collins, 23, bootmaker, born Chesham, BKM. We have no idea if he was related to Fred but it seems too great a coincidence.

Kate c1905 with her son les 1910 Kate Collins in 1920
Kate Collins c1905
with her first son Leslie c1910
and in 1920

On the 27th August 1902, Fred married Kate Bailey, daughter of Joseph and Evangeline Bailey (nee Warren) of 102 Harborough-road, at Park-road Baptist Church. In 1903 Fred was a dairyman at 182 Wellingborough-road and was still there in 1920 and he was also then a grocer at 196 Wellingborough-road, (having taken over the butcher's shop of G H Skinner, formerly W H Skinner who had traded there from about 1895). In 1931 he was the tenant of “more than 150 acres” at Rectory Farm in Newton-road. Fred's son Leslie and his family lived in Rectory Farm. He had previously (1910) rented a field below Rectory Farm, which is now Knight's Farm, to keep his cows. The original building is still in this field and is now surrounded by Knight's Farm.

Rushden Argus, 16th October, 1914, transcribed by John Collins

Sad Accident—A sad accident happened to Mrs. Smith, of Irchester, on Wednesday. Whilst cycling home from Rushden. It appears that the lady was proceeding along the Wellingborough-road, Rushden, about 6.30 p.m., when Mr. Collins was turning his horse and dairy float in the road outside his shop. The cyclist was apparently afraid that she would run into the vehicle, and either had a fit or fainted and fell off her machine. In doing so, the handle of the cycle struck her a violent blow in the chest, and bruised her extensively. Many willing helpers soon picked the unconscious woman up, and took her to Mr. Collins’ shop, where Mrs. Collins and Mrs Banks attended to her. She remained unconscious until 8.30 p.m. Dr Davis was sent for, and subsequently the injured woman’s husband procured a conveyance and removed his wife to their home.

Extract from Blizzard 1916
We understand that Mr. Collins, dairyman, Rushden, whose field and cowsheds are in Newton-road, got stuck up there with his milk-float until the Rushden Council employees arrived with the snowplough and managed to extricate him from his unenviable position.

Rushden Echo, 4th May 1923, transcribed by Kay Collins

Spilt Milk—A horse harnessed to a milk float belonging to Mr. Collins, Wellingborough-road, Rushden, bolted this morning down Wellingborough-road towards Church-street, the cans being thrown out and the contents lost. The horse was stopped near Duck-street.

Rushden Echo, 3rd June 1927, transcribed by Kay Collins

A Collision, which fortunately was not serious, occurred in Newton-road, near the Council Buildings, on Thursday, when Mr Collins, dairyman, of Wellingborough-road, and the Rev P E Robson (Rector of St Mary’s), both riding bicycles, ran into each other. Neither was hurt beyond bruises, though the front wheel of Mr Collins’s cycle was buckled.


Court Cases

By 1940 Fred is listed as being a grocer at 196 Wellingborough-road, and we think his two sons, Les and Eric did the milk round. During the War Les Collins did the milk round and Eric went on to War work. When Les and his family left Rectory Farm, about 1942, the milk was still kept at Wellingborough-road but delivered by handcart and car. The bulk milk was delivered in churns from Ware in Hertfordshire by Allen and Hanburys Ltd and bottled by hand in Wellingborough-road. Later, Leslie Collins worked as a taxi driver, and then as a van driver for Townsend's Garage.

The only picture we have of Fred Collins’ Ford model A van is a poor copy of a photograph taken in Pemberton-street, sometime before the War. We are still looking for a “Fred Collins” printed milk bottle!


In the 1950s -  Fred Hales proprietor
The shop at 196 when Fred Hales was the proprietor in the 1950s


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