Knight and Abbott
Knight and Lawrence
Boot and Shoe Manufacturers
In 1889 William C. Knight had a short partnership with Joseph Abbott in a small workshop in Alfred Street which belonged to William. H. Darnell. After a few years the partnership broke up and Abbott took on a Dairy Farm in Wymington.
Mr. Knight was joined by Mr. Charles Lawrence in 1893. The partnership's first workshop was situated in Ebenezer Terrace. The business prospered and they bought some land in Manton Road and employed Mr. Samuel Knight to build their new factory.
This was spacious but in these early years much of the work was contracted out to individuals or families working at home. Many of the local houses had their own work shops, either attached or at the bottom of the garden, especially for boot manufacturing, particularly for closing and hand sewing. The initial cutting of the leather was done in the factory.
In 1896 a new bay was added to the factory. In 1906 Mr. Lawrence retired from the business and went to South Africa but the Company retained the name of 'Knight and Lawrence'. Further extensions were built in 1913 and 1917.
The founder, William C. Knight, died suddenly of pneumonia aged 61, in February 1915, leaving a wife and three sons and a daughter to carry on the business. His obituary in the local paper, shows Mr. Knight to have been a member of "Rushden Temperance Band" and the "Temperance Society".
The sons, Horace Charles Cumberland Knight and Harry Ewart Knight, were both directors of the company, (the third son emigrated to Australia) but they worked on the shop floor. Horace working in the making and finishing room and Harry in the clicking and closing room. Horace took over as chairman.
They employed a man named Howell as their Agent in the London Area and Mr. Albert E. Bates (father of H. E. Bates, Rushden's famous author) was the company secretary. The Bates family lived very close to the works at, 51 Grove Road.
Horace Knight had two sons, Arthur William Cumberland (Will) and John Ibbett (John).
Harry Knight also had two sons, William Cumberland Kenneth Knight (Bill) and Ewart Cumberland Knight (Peter).
John joined the company, learning the trade of clicker. In 1949-50 he won First Prize, Silver Medal Honors stage, at the Boot and Shoe College, Victoria Road, Rushden. His role was clicker and pattern cutter and traveller. During the War he served in the R.A.F. and became a pilot. He married in 1959 but sadly passed away in 1961.
Ewart worked in the Closing Room.
After the 1939-45 War, Bill and Will joined the business. Bill in administration and Will in the finishing and making department along with his father. Will then took on some of the travelling together with L. T. Maynard (Dick) and was also involved with S.A.T.R.A.
Will Knight lived in Higham Ferrers where he became Mayor in 1961, not bad for a Rushden born lad!
The 'Manton Boot' trademark - a Bull Rush on a scroll 'Den - K. & L.'
I would like to thank the family for the information, especially Celia Knight and her late mother, Betty Knight (nee Lack). Article by Ann Cooper.