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From an undated newsclip
Pleasant Memories from 1895
Recollections of Old Rushden – A Glimpse of the Past From U.S.A.

We have received the following account of recollections of Rushden many years ago from a former resident, who, while he does not disclose his name, will probably quickly be recognised by many who read his account. The gentleman in question has resided in America for some years now, but as will be seen, his recollections of his home will be seen, his recollections of his home country are as vivid as ever. He entitles his account “Pleasant Memories of 1895” and continues:

“From the front garden I sit and watch the Midland Railway drays pass the house called Smith’s farm on the Irchester-road. I can almost see Charlie Neal driving past with those two roan horses with the big load of boots and shoes, this being of course before the railway came to Rushden. My big excitement at that time was to run away as far as the Irchester station and look through the fence to watch the trains rush north and south, then getting tired, I’d wander home and perhaps call at the entrance leading to Austin’s farm to pick up a few beech nuts, at the same time hoping that the stick would be spared me for running away.

“I can remember walking to school with my sisters and brother, coming down the road a way and then going over the stile and through the allotments to come out in Skinner’s field on to the Wellingborough-road, then on up by the Green to the National School. It was quite a walk for my little legs each morning, but I had to do it. Perhaps I might have an old horse-shoe to take into the blacksmith’s shop, and Mr Lewis would give me a penny which I would quickly spend at Meadow’s shop on lickerish which Miss Strachan would take away from me until I came home. We would listen to Mr Vann reading prayers and another school day would begin. During playtime, we watched the man building the high causeway, which was a marvel at that time, and which we used to play on after school.

Some Old Scholars

“I can remember how we used to run up the tunnel that covered the old brook and get our feet wet through. In my class were Rose Jolley, Laura Brudenall, Maud Freeman, Olive Ette, Florrie Bird, Alice Burgess, Ethel Brown, Frank Stokes, John Cobley, Dick Britchford, Herbert Burton, Frank Maddams, Frank Whiting, Herbert Warren, Sid Newell, Jim Darnell, and several others.

“I remember going down to the meadows down by Saunders’ farm and watching what we called the American Devil, building the railway from Wellingborough to Rushden. I was there the day they put the bridge across the road, and it was wonderful to see the way they lifted it into place. This was the first bit of engineering I’d ever seen.

“I remember the new shops they built at the corner of Irchester and Washbrook-roads, and Mr Bye would be standing at the door as we passed by. I have since met his two sons in Canada, Willie and Jack and what a chat we had of old times. We used to go to the Congregational Church, where Mr Parkin was the Minister, but after we moved to Rushden we went to St. Mary’s Church.

“About this time there was a big building boon, and shoe factories went up almost overnight. I remember going into one factory and watching the new lasting machine which made such a racket that the people living round made complaints and I can almost hear the old cough of the big gas engine in Denton’s factory, and seeing the first electric lights in the shops under Cave’s factory in High-street.

Night Adventures

“Later we moved to the old Wyldes farm on the Bedford-road, built in 1806. We were on the main road, and I can almost see Lord George Sanger’s circus coming down the road from Bedford in the early morning. We would get up in the morning about 5.30 and go up as far as the old brick-yard to meet them.

“I remember one well-known character, at this time, old Buck Turner, who would sit up on the bank under the big tree just above Robinson’s house, near the old brook, all day long mending shoes, and at night he and his pal would roam the fields, and come back in the wee sma’ hours of the morning, loaded with rabbits. Buck was one of the most interesting men for a small boy to talk to; he would thrill you with his tales of hunting game, he said the reason why he took the rabbits was, because the man who owned the farm could never eat them all himself.

“I remember the Abbots, who let out the horses and traps; they were a wonderful family, for they all worked hard and their horses always looked so clean no matter if they were at a wedding or funeral.

“About this time Rushden had a new Post Office, and we were indeed proud of this wonderful building, and we also had the new waterworks laid, and people though Rushden mad, but it has proved a big success, and Rushden should be proud of this investment.

First Black Eye

“About this time we moved to New Estate, Wymington, and I went to the village school. The lady teachers Miss Rutter and Miss Avary did not seem in accord with my ideas of school, they even objected to me taking a half day off once in a while to go bird nesting, so I told them I had better leave, and I did and went to work in a butcher’s shop, the biggest in Rushden at that time. I remember he sent me to Raunds station one foggy night to get 300 sheep that had come in from St Ives market. It was a foggy night but I got along fine until I got to Higham Ferrers, when some boys about my own age started to chase my sheep, and I chased them, and they set upon me and gave me a beating, and one fellow gave me my first black eye. I never knew who did it. He certainly was a wonderful workman in that line, an artist.

“It was while I was working for this same gentleman that i found out that it was not possible to hold two gallon cans of milk and jump backwards out of a milk float going at ten miles an hour. This happened to me outside Mr Tom Knight’s shop.

“About now we had the awful Cave’s fire. I was going from Wymington to Rushden, and was crossing the field at the back of the Rushden Hall, when I saw the smoke. It was a very hot day, and water was scarce, but that fire was kept under control in a most wonderful manner. The whole town came forward as usual and helped those in need who were thrown out of work by this awful fire.

“I had a letter from the past the other day. It was from Mr W H Brown, the schoolmaster of the old National school. But the most welcome thing I received this festive season was a large tin containing a plum pudding from my mother and I could smell the beautiful aroma of port wine, which escaped the noses of the alert prohibition agents.

“I will say goodbye, Rushden, and I wish everyone the best of luck for the coming year. I wish to remain as any married man should.

Just a Silent Partner.”

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