Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Kay Collins, 2008
Florence Simpson

In the 1940s In 2007
In 1940's before demolitiion of the Park wall and Gate House cottage
This picture was taken in 2007 when the property was sold.

In the summer of 1901 Florence Elizabeth Emily Simpson was born; the daughter of Arthur Simpson, a gas fitter who was born in 1866 at Clophill in Bedfordshire, and Emily his wife from Castor near Peterborough. The family at first lived at The Pightles, but by 1908 they had moved to 14 Upper Queen Street, and had another daughter, Ruby Agnes.

Around the end of WWI they moved to no 22 High Street South, where Arthur ran a small cafe, and this is where Florence set up her millinery business about 1920.

This cigarette case is inscribed inside:-

Presented to
A. Simpson
by his fellow workers
on the occasion of his retirement
April 15. 1937


Photographed - courtesy of Rushden Museum

Emily Simpson outside the Tea Room

1920 invoice Gradually Florence built up the business to include dresses and coats, handbags, scarves, furs and all other accessories, and was known for the fine quality of all she sold.

Some of her clients were wives of local shoemanufacturers.


Left: An invoice dated March 1920 receipted by her intials


Above: Clothing Coupons - below: embossed stamp
Above - labels for the clothes Florence made

The clothing coupons from the war are in an old cigar box.

The embroidered clothing labels (above) are a satin finish ribbon. Black for dark clothing, white for lighter clothes.


All photographed courtesy of Rushden Museum

A stamp for embossing the name onto paper.


On the 31st of January 1944 Articles of Association for a Limited company were set up between Florence and her sister Ruby:-

The main objects for which the Company was established were :—

To carry on all or any of the businesses of Milliners, Costumiers, Dressmakers, Coat, Skirt, Blouse, Mantle, Robe, Gown and Sports Wear Makers, Silk Mercers, Furriers, Corset Makers, General and Fancy Drapers, Hosiers, Hatters, Haberdashers, Glovers, Manufacturers, Merchants and Factors of and Dealers in Clothing and Wearing Apparel of all kinds, and of and in Underclothing, Lingerie, Lace, and all other Articles of Personal Wear, Ladies', Gentlemen's, and Children's Tailors and Outfitters, Factors of and Dealers in Boots and Shoes and all other Leather Goods, Bed and other Linen. Household Furniture, Fittings and Utensils, Ironmongery, Hardware, Ornaments, Oriental and Foreign Fabrics and Wares, Carpets, Rugs, China, Glass. Cutlery, Jewellery, and Picture Goods and Articles of all kinds, Complete House, Shop and Oince Furnishers and Decorators, Furniture Removers, Owners of Depositories, Furnishing and General Warehousemen, Store Keepers and Warehouse Proprietors, Cafe and Restaurant Proprietors, Caterers and Refreshment Contractors, Toilet Saloon Proprietors, Ladies' and Gentlemen s Hairdressers, and Manufacturers of and Dealers in Perfumery, Soaps, Shampoos, Dyes, Hair Tonics, Toilet Creams, Powders, and Fancy Foods and Articles of every description; and to manufacture, buy, sell, and deal in all such articles and things as the Company may consider capable of being conveniently dealt with in connection with the above-mentioned businesses, or any of them, or which may be required by customers of or persons having dealings with the Company. [This document went on for another four pages!]

The family in 1915
Arthur Simpson (left) with Ruby, Emily, ?, and Florence. Two visiting soldiers stand behind.
Florence c1950

1920s
The shop in the 1920s
thatching in 1953 Rushden Echo and Argus, 4th September 1953

Thatchers from Three Counties

A new feature of this year’s competitions at the County Show will be the staging of a house thatching competition for the first time in the Midlands. By the entries received this will work out almost as an inter-county competition, as the neighbouring counties of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire are sending thatchers to compete against Northamptonshire men. A competition such as this is complicated and tricky to arrange, but the organisers feel confident they have overcome the difficulties, and in this section alone the public will find a contest well worth seeing. Our picture shows thatching in progress at Rushden last week.

Rushden Echo and Argus, 28th August 1953 - An old-age craft is being carried out above the noise and roar of modern vehicles in busy High Street South, Rushden. High on his ladder, Mr Henry Horn, of Odell, Bedfordshire, carries out a neat job of thatching with care and efficiency. He has been a thatcher from his youth.

The shop continued to sell the best quality clothes and accessories.

The business continued and eventually was taken over by Ruby's son Julian Keats. When Ruby died in 1985, her son continued to trade and live in the property. After he ceased trading in 2001 he remained a familiar sight in around Rushden as he used to drive a horse and carriage, and was always immaculately turned out with top hat and a rug over his knees. He moved to Wales, and the shop stood empty for several years and was finally sold in 2007. It is now a family home.


Florence died on Christmas Day 1965 and is commemorated on the Memorial Walls in Rushden Cemetery.

Florence's shop
c1970s when the ridge had been repaired
Photo by Vic Childs - courtesy of Rushden Museum

Earlier the shop was kept Mr Robert Butcher - grocer, brick and tile maker.

The building in 2019

Shop to Let 1830

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the History index
Click here to e-mail us