Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
From an interview with David Roberts - July 2007 - by Donna Aitken
The Gatehouse - Rushden Hall Park

The Park Keeper's cottage next to the Park Gates in High Street South From inside the park gates
The gatehouse adjoined the Coach and Horses
The gatehouse in about 1950 after the
Coach and Horses was demolished
The view from inside the park gates

The gatekeeper’s cottage was situated next to Rushden Hall Park gates that faced the A6 road.  David Roberts was born there in 1935.  His father was Thomas Roberts known to the locals as “Old Tom” who was the park keeper there for many years.  David recalls that the house was quite compact with a kitchen/diner and two bedrooms on the ground floor and just a loft only suitable for storage which was accessible via a steep wooden stair case leading from the kitchen. There was no bathroom.

Tom was responsible for the general upkeep of the park.  He mowed the grass, kept the flower beds tidy and maintained the trees.  He would put out deckchairs on sunny Sunday afternoons around the bandstand that was frequented by the local bands. Rushden Hall was used as a museum at that time. Various other events took place in the park including evening church services once a month. The park was locked at about 10pm on summer evenings and 4.30pm in the winter months.  The local lads always kept an eye out for Tom who would not stand any nonsense from them! They would not dare try to vandalise anything in those days.

As a child David used play with his school chums from South End School.  They would often walk along the stream that ran through the park. It led them as far as their school and then under the A6 road as far as Willmotts Farm the other side.  If they went in the opposite direction they could get all the way to Spencer Park.  Many adventures were played out there.

David also remembers that during the Second World War some American forces were billeted in the Hall Park.  At that time it was more heavily wooded on either side of the path that leads from the main gates on the A6 to Hall Avenue.  Nissen Huts were hidden amongst the trees on the right hand side for the men and work shops were built on the left where they worked as mechanics repairing tanks etc.  The American Officers had the use of Rushden Hall itself. 

After the war David was called up for conscription and he thinks that it was during this time that it was decided to demolish the gatekeeper’s cottage.  When he returned home his parents had been moved into one of three flats that adjoined Rushden Hall.  The Hall underwent renovation and David was employed by a Company called “Holyoaks”. He was a qualified plumber and was given the job of replacing the leaded light windows that had been damaged.  He did not have far to travel to work!

Tom Roberts retired from his job as park keeper aged 67 and the family moved out of the flat to a council house in Trafford Road, Rushden where Tom was to remain for the rest of his life.

Note: the cottage was demolished in 1964

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