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By Doreen Denny
The Building of John White's Lime Street Factory

Picture of the Lime Street Factory
The Lime Street Factory

Doreen, her two sisters and their parents moved from Duck Street to Lime Street in 1937. It was the first new house in the street, No. 3. In the front was a field with some ponies which she and her sisters used feed; at the end of the street was an allotment.

They hadn’t been there long when John White decided to build a new factory and she recalls the big diggers moving in and how large the foundations were and the enormous amount of concrete which was delivered for the base.

Then the girder men came from Birmingham. The girders were bright red and the men used to shin up and down all day long and not a safety hat amongst them. Later she remembers the bricklayers coming and the glaziers. She says they were all amazed at the big windows right at the front.

When it was finished it was all painted white. She says they experimented with different colours for the name but they finally chose gold for the name in big letters – JOHN WHITE IMPREGNABLE BOOTS.

Doreen recalls that in 1939, when the war started, the factory was painted in elephant grey and it remained that colour throughout. She remembers the heavy curtains at the front and the glass roof painted pale green to keep the sun out.

There was also a large orchard at the back and John White arranged for the apples, plums and other fruit to be picked and then sold for the soldiers fund. Doreen’s father who was the factory caretaker helped to pick these. After the war the factory was painted white again.

Doreen remembers going to London on the train from Rushden Station on a John White trip to see the show ‘Belinda Fair’; they had lunch vouchers for Lyons Corner House and had a wonderful time. She also went on coach trips with John White’s Social Club and everybody was given a lunch box containing sandwiches and fruit to eat on the way.

Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 5th March 1957 , transcribed by Sue Comont

Shift working on moulded footwear began yesterday at John White's. Shifts only apply to workers engaged on actual moulding process – attaching rubber sole and heel to leather upper. Shifts from 6am – 2pm and 2pm – 10pm have been agreed with NUBSO.

Development is limited at present but firm hopes to extend it shortly, once the plant has been installed.

They are making boys and youths footwear now but will be starting men’s plant almost immediately.

This picture comes captioned "John White's Lime Street".

If you can identify anyone, or tell us the
date or event, please contact us.
The factory under floodlights
The factory under floodlights

Aerial view
Aerial view of the factory, canteen and stockroom
The first factory building at the end of the houses (right) was
H W Chapman's Oak Street shoe box factory

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