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Article and photos by Paul Wright, 2021
Barclays Closure
building logos
Left: Waiting to get in. Above: Corporate signage.
The former Post Office and Barclays Bank in College Street - facing the former Ritz Cinema
Barclays Bank opened in College Street in 1940,
when Leslie A Miller was the manager.
Former opening hours.
ATM not working!
The question that gets asked so many times, what next is going to close in Rushden?

Well we know that in the summer of 2021 we have lost Barclays bank branch in town after many years. Friday 2nd July was the sad farewell date.

So the nearest branch is now going to be some five or six miles away, at number 8 Market Street, Wellingborough.

But did all this decline start back as far as the 1990s when the shock  was hearing of a major shoe factory shutting in our town?

In 1991 manufacturing ended at the last John White factory in Lime Street.  The company continued trading for another three years as wholesalers before closing for good in 1994. And then, of course, many more would be just a memory for the former workers at such names as: the CWS (Co-op), Jaques and Clark’s, Eaton’s, Totectors, Tecnic, Tarry’s, Cave’s, Allebone’s, Bignell’s, Claridge’s, Fox Shoes, Knight Bros, Rushden Heel Company. The list would be long, and maybe many of your family and friends who have had the comradeship of working in the “Boot and Shoe trade” were affected too?

And also the many support and service companies that kept the boots and shoes rolling out of the warehouse doors.

In fact, if you go to the pages here about the “Shoe firms and Allied trades” you can see for yourself, just how many were along just about every road, street, and alleyway in Rushden and Higham.

I’d lay a small wager that every shoe worker would have had a weekly pay packet, that was normally brought around on a Friday. The cash for the wages were collected from a bank in Rushden High Street, normally by two employees, this was before security companies were allotted the task.

Then the wages would be made up in the factory wages office by a group of wages clerks. Some factories carried the wages around on a tray, some in a box, and the supervisor would hand them out as they walked around the shop floor,

It would contain notes and coinage, with your deductions written on it. You would look at the difference between gross earnings and the net figure, and say “how much? I’ve been robbed!” But whatever the figure you were left with, it was in cash.

No doubt the closure of Barclays had been exacerbated by Covid 19, making shops and businesses tell us “this branch is now closed and you can find us on line!”

The former jewel in the crown of Rushden shops was without doubt “Peter Crisps.” He took over a little old ironmongers store called “Fairey Bros” that was back in 1959. Peter and his family built that into an empire that was the envy of many other towns. Peter died in 1996, and the firm carried on until its closure in 2009, with the loss of 35 jobs.

Another big store that went next, was Wills department store. That was just 12 months after the closure of Peter Crisp’s, the major attractions for the High street were gone, and were not replaced.

Fast forward in to 2021, and a generation who click on mobile devices constantly, are shopping in their preferred way, which may be all well and good, but not everyone can, or wants to live in the ‘dot com world’!

Banks and Building Societies say that this has been the main driver of closures. Customers' banking habits have changed, and branches are needed by fewer and fewer customers. However, there are still plenty of people, and small businesses, that rely on local banks, who either don't want to, or cannot engage with the digital revolution.  This is particularly challenging in rural areas, where people suffer with poor broadband and mobile coverage, and higher populations of elderly customers.

Finally, one Rushden branch user did say "Sadly I use my bank often and Wellingborough would not be an option for me, as I don’t drive. The taxi ride would cost the best part of £20 return, and a bus would take three hours for a round trip."

Sadly, Covid 19 lockdown has not helped that. Their reduced hours haven’t helped and when you do go the queue is very long.

The Covid 19 pandemic even affected the University boat race between Oxford and Cambridge, for the first time since the Second World War. Then it was moved out of London when the bombings took place, but then in post-war peace time, it returned.

In 2021 it was won on the river Great Ouse at Ely, by both the ladies and men’s Cambridge crews, on Easter Sunday, in glorious sunny conditions.

It was back in 1999 that Barclays launched online banking, and by 2008 it had introduced the first contact-less payment system, using both debit and credit cards.

Currently in 2021 Barclays have less than 1600 branches in our towns and villages.

I did approach the branch, seeking permission to record some interior shots before closure, but this was declined.

Obviously, there is now one less branch, since Barclays have closed in Rushden, on Friday, July 2nd, 2021.

What will disappear next?

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