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The Rushden Echo, 31st May 1963, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Progress at Rushden’s expense
Overspill Opposition

The chairman of a Rushden Shoe machinery firm is strongly opposed to the setting up of engineering firms in Wellingborough’s overspill plans, for, he claims, it will jeopardise similar firms at Rushden chances of maintaining an adequate labour force.

Mr. George Wright, chairman of the directors of Cox and Wright (Shoe Machinery Services), Ltd, Wellingborough Road, told the “Echo” this week that he had written a letter of complaint to Rushden’s MP, Mr. Michael Hamilton, and the Board of Trade.

“I am opposing this scheme tooth and nail,” he said “If these firms come to Wellingborough; it will make things far more difficult at Rushden.

“Rushden is a more progressive town. Lots of people are trying to put Wellingborough on the map at our expense.”

He felt that Mr. Hamilton was acting unwisely by trying to promote overspill at Wellingborough. By attracting outside firms to the town, young people would seek employment there – and leave Rushden firms short-staffed.


Mr. Wright explained that he had raised the matter recently at a Northampton Chamber of Commerce meeting (he represents Rushden on the committee) and had received support from other engineering firms, including one at Northampton, which also claimed it would be affected.

“As the footwear industry contracts,” he pointed out, “it is the engineering firms which will employ the youngsters who become redundant. We want to train them so they are available locally.”

No Facilities

At present, the majority of Cox and Wright’s employees came from Wellingborough and if other firms transferred their business to that town, Rushden (it has a number of light engineering companies) would be hit.

His own firm, he said, planned a 7,000 square foot expansion because of increased orders. This would mean that the labour force could be doubled, but competition would mean that this would be very difficult to achieve.

Mr. Wright said he thought that as there were no facilities at Rushden for training engineers – most attend courses at Wellingborough Technical College - apprentices would prefer to work in the neighbouring town.

“They can be absorbed at Rushden provided we have the opportunity to train them properly,” he commented.

Some form of technical training was necessary in the town if local firms hoped to take on those who were gradually losing their jobs in the footwear industry.


“I am encouraging day-release schemes, but it is hard to get youngsters to go even to night classes at Wellingborough.

“I feel most strongly about the whole question. It has been raised and discussed by the Northampton Chamber of Commerce where others have opposed Wellingborough over-spill.

“Our MP seems to be taking a very narrow view of things. If firms coming to Wellingborough and pinch our labour it will certainly jeopardise the position at Rushden.”

The Rushden Echo, 8th May 1964, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Super town or super mess…
Extra 30,000 People for Rushden?

Rushden – super town! Or super mess? This week’s news of a possible 30,000 overspill for the town came as a sugar-coated bitter pill in certain quarters, raising first elation, and then a feeling of almost complete panic.

Overspill is still a long way away. It has to have County Council backing, and then the Government must be persuaded to enlarge its south-east plan to include Rushden.

Seeing the news in Saturday’s “Evening Telegraph” was the first inkling many people, including the Urban Council, had of the plan. It will almost certainly mean some drastic re-thinking on the council’s future development ideas.

The town’s population at present is under 18,000 and the proposed increase would nearly quadruple its size. No indication has yet been given as to when this would occur, or how long it would take to absorb the extra population.

But if Wellingborough has ten years to absorb only 10,000 extra people under its present overspill plan, then Rushden needs at least that length of time to absorb its own share.

A town of nearly 50,000 people is going to need its own grammar and high schools, which at present Rushden just does not have.

The nearest is Wellingborough, which itself is going to increase its population by another proposed 30,000. Here the Rushden councillors need to put their serious thinking caps on, and put the pressure on the County Education Committee like never before.

If they do not, at least the bus company would make a profit, with an estimated 2,000 schoolchildren travelling between Wellingborough and Rushden homes.

One of the basic problems is where the newcomers are going to live.

New Town

Thirty thousand people mean a whole new town, and where around Rushden is there enough land to build that many homes? And, remember, they will have to bring their own industry with them.

Rushden Urban Council Housing Assistant, Mr. T. Horsley, told the “Echo” that the council had 49 dwellings on its housing programme at the moment. These were mainly for old people and should be ready at the beginning of next year.

Beyond that is the prospect of two dozen flats in Newton Road, when the council has – if it can – acquire the necessary land; and the possible redevelopment of Cromwell Road.

And beyond that – NOTHING.Prospect of obtaining extra land?Almost nil.

Rushden’s Town Map leaves enough land – just – to accommodate the extra people and their industry. But, said chartered auctioneer and estate agent Mr. J. C. H. Cantey, J. Pendered and Son, the land is not allocated for that purpose.

“It will be a problem to find land at present, in the Town Map. But if this comes to pass then the council will have to schedule more land for housing and industry,” he said.

Provided the land can be found then all will be well. But if it cannot, then the planners have a nightmare on their hands.

The Rushden and Higham by-pass prevents land to the east of the town being used, but if the proposed trunk road is built on the west, then land on the other side will have to be opened up. This could mean that Rushden’s boundaries will have to be pushed out making one big built-up area.

It could also mean skyscraper blocks of flats, the only way of getting so many people into such a small area. It could also mean compulsory purchase of land and higher land prices.

Such a town will obviously need more shops, and will also mean more spending power.

Mrs. A. M. Draper, president of Rushden and Higham Ferrers Chamber of Trade, welcomes such an overspill plan.

“I certainly hope it comes to pass. It would mean more people to shop in the town.”

She hoped it would mean an alternative industry to the boot and shoe trade, avoiding such a depression of last year.

More Shops

More shops may mean redeveloping the shopping centre – and an end to the infernal one-way street system.

“We might even get a Civic Centre and Civic Hall,” added Mrs. Draper. “It would certainly mean better amenities for the town all round.”

It will mean headaches, heartaches and sleepless nights for planners. It can also mean borough status for Rushden. It could spell certain amalgamation with Higham.

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