|Seventy years old to-day, Mr. Joseph Willmott has been thinking of the Rushden he knew as a boy.
Mr. Willmott now resides at 6, Brook-terrace, Irthlingborough, but lived until recently at 5, West-street, Rushden, and his birthday recollections are of his childhood here.
He remembers that his mother, Mrs. Mary Willmott, who lived in High-street, took him, when he was two years old, to a school kept by a Mrs While on the premises now occupied by Mr Seckington. It was an infant school, with twelve scholars and the fee was a penny per week.
At the age of four Mr Willmott sought the "higher" education supplied at Mrs. Wagstaff's school which stood near the Green. A year later he studied under Mr. Ebenezer Knight, who kept a school where Vestry Hall stands now.
That completed his course of education, and at the age of six he went to work for Mr. Daniel Dickens, a farmer in Newton-road, who paid him sixpence a week with the promise of a halfpenny for himself if he was a good boy and attended faithfully to the sheep and pigs. His mentor in farm craft was Fred Cox, better known as "Crookie" who, being nine years old, was quite a senior and commanded the impressive wage of ninepence.
Rushden Without Bands
When the late Canon Barker came to Rushden the National School was built, and Mr. Willmott was one of the first Sunday scholars. There was a treat at Christmas, and Rushden having no band, the Irthlingborough Band was engaged, playing "such music which had never been given in Rushden before by any brass band."
Mr. Willmott finds that the only survivor of the band still living at Irthlingborough is Mr. Groome, with whom he often has a chat about the old times. He traces, the beginning of the band movement in Rushden to the late Mr. William Skinner and his family.
The Parish Church of Mr. Willmott's boyhood had "box pews with numbers and names on." There were no hot water pipes, and "the rain came in anyhow."
Looking at the Rushden of to-day Mr. Willmott reflects "it does not seem possible."