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Mr G B Abbott, 2008
Geoff Abbott
Queen Street in the 1920s
The lamp post where the children gathered - Geoff's house behind the bush
Being born on April 7th 1925 in the front bedroom of 41 Midland Road has meant that I have lived through 75 yrs of probably the most memorable century in recorded history.

So many things have changed and with such speed that I feel that today’s generations have missed out, as nothing that happens now seems "new". For example, I can remember being taken out of bed by my mother, wrapped in a blanket, and taken out into the street to see an aeroplane fly over in the dark. The street was full of people that had turned out to see its lights go over head. A plane actually flying in the dark! Now there’s a wonderful thing, since it has not been all that long since Kittyhawk.

By now I had moved to my present home on the corner of Queen Street & Rectory Road and the gang of local children, myself included, would gather by the lamp post waiting for the lamp lighter to come along. He was always known as Doodles, why I do not know, but he would come along from the station end of Rectory Road and had two lamps to light before he got to "ours" which stood on the corner of what is now Albert Road but was then an unmade road inches deep in mud during the winter, and we would watch as he pulled down the gas chain and the mantles would light up, then we could begin playing.

Marriott's Farm House fronting High Street.
The farmyard was accessed from Rectory Road.
That gas lamp was always a problem! Where the Hamblin Court flats now stand, was then Marriott’s farmyard. Mr Robert, and Mr Alan Marriott were very good to us children, and we were allowed to play in the farm yard so long as we did not get in the way, or do damage, which we respected, however, when the cattle had been milked and released to graze in the fields that are now the Upper Queen street estate, they often stampeded round the corner in their haste to get to the fields leaving the unfortunate lamp post leaning over at about 30 degrees. The Rushden & Higham Ferrers Gas Company would come along and fix it, and fix it, and fix it, until finally it was put onto the Denbros factory wall, where it remained until the new fangled electricity came along. The cattle also left the road quite slippery, but once into "the lane" that didn't matter.

Whilst on the subject of cattle, it was not unusual for a number of cattle to be delivered by rail and driven to, I presume, the farms on the Bedford Road. These also were usually in a state of high excitement, and were all that the herdsman could do to control them. If they saw an open gate they would go into it, very often my own included. Turning them round and getting them out again was often to the detriment of the garden, but compensation was not an option in those days.

Two interesting old gentlemen that deserve a mention were Bill & Fred Dickens. They never married and lived with their elderly mother. If there were any old jobs that needed doing, either Fred or Bill would be called upon. One such job was guarding holes in the road! If road works could not be completed on the day, a night watchman’s hut would be set up and a nice brazier coke fire would be lit, and the watchman’s job was to keep the fire going to warn any passing traffic that there was a hole in the road! That was a good enough lure to us children at the time and we would gather round the brazier and bake potatoes if we could scrounge some from somewhere. This was only a few years after the General Strike and many of the poorer families were still suffering. Come tea time they would be offered bread and jam or bread and butter, if they chose jam then they did not get butter, and if they chose butter it was "bread & scrat" the butter was put on and then scrat off again! Fred was often called upon by my father (who owned the dairy) to help make the butter when we were busy. I can remember my father calling out to him FRED! as he had dozed off at the churn, and was just turning the handle round, which is not the way to make butter.

It was alleged that Fred, whilst pumping the Wesleyan chapel organ during Sunday service on one occasion fell asleep on the pump handle as the Christian soldiers marched slowly in to silence as the music wound down.

Another wonderful thing happened at about that time was the coming of electricity! As a small child I used to go to bed with my candle, fearful of the shadows on the wall, until my father had electricity put in. Neighbours would come round to see how it worked, and were amazed when the switch in the hall also switched on the light upstairs so that you could see the way to bed. One dear old lady was persuaded by her family to have electricity installed to make her life easier and safer. She finally gave in provided the plugs were put in at night, in case any of it got out!

The story of the Hoover salesman was a classic. His delight was to spread sand onto the carpet to demonstrate how quickly it could be picked up. Having done so for this interested client, he asked where is your plug? What plug, came the reply!

Miss Asenath Joyce was my grandfathers elder sister, which makes my mother her neice. What that makes me I know not!!

Miss Asenath Joyce (b.1860 lrchester) married Mr John Cox (b.1859 Higham Ferrers) in 1880.

Their son, Herbert H Cox (b.1880-Leicester) married
Fanny Bailey of Rushden in 1906.
[a sister of Kate Bailey, wife of Fred Collins]

Their daughter Marjorie Helen Cox (b.1909) married Herbert Ernest Bates (b.16 May 1905-Rushden) in 1931.

More about the Dairy

click here to read about Geoff Abbott - Milkman

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