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Ann Cooper, Bygone Times, Chichele History Society
Past Trades
by William Abington

Gone! - almost all the skills of yesterday!
The smith at his darkened, smoke-grime bench!
The muffin-man, full basket on his head –
Stentorian voice, his edibles to dispence.

The street gas-lighter with his rod in hand –
The envy of myself when very young.
The plopping of the mantles being lit,
Pitch darkness with its risks now overcome.

The once sought-after task, now obsolete
Of keeping clear the railway crossing-gate.
Knife-grinder, with his intricate machine,
The sharpness of our knives to elevate.

All gone! all gone! The blackened chimney-sweep,
Flue brushes and his sack both close to hand.
His ruby lips, shining ripe in obfuscated face;
Ancient black cap the sooty deluge to withstand.

The cabby with his horse and landaulette,
To drive us to the station, where awaits
The n'er forgotten steam-train and the hiss
Of fiercely spurting steam, our hearts to elevate.

(Edwin) William Abington was born in 1903 at Kimbolton, son of Edwin J and Florence E Abington. His father was a tailor there, and the family also kept a gent's outfitters in Rushden. He first traded from 5 Newton Road in about 1922, moving to 1a Queen Street about 1930. Five years later he had transferred to 27 High Street, and the business moved again about 1960 to 21 High Street, where they continued into the 1990s. William moved to Higham Ferrers when he retired and lived near the old Walnut Tree.

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