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The Lightstrung Cycle Co.

The first premises were in the Old Gas Works, which stood just behind the workshop.

Before the showroom
Before the showroom was built - just a tiny workshop where the cycles were sold,
close to the old gas works.

Skinner's Hill
c1900 Skinner's Hill - with the Lighstrung buildings in the distance
Behind the large tree is Claridge's factory
The building extreme right was a proposed swimming pool
the buses stopped in front!
Wider view of The Lightstrung - here the buses picked up and put down travellers before the Rushden depot was built in 1936

The Lightstrung company was established in the 1890s by members of the Denton family. At first they made cycles which became known for their strength and were of of lighter construction than previous manufacturers had supplied. So the trade mark was "Lightstrung" was born out of the two words, but 'strung' instead of strong as that's how it was pronounced in Rusdenese.

A receipt 1899
This receipt dated Aug 16th 1899, tells us that there were three other branches of the "Lightstrung" Cycle shops, at Bedford, Luton and Kettering.

Albert Okins was the manager at Rushden, and William Okins was at the Bedford shop. They were both born at Bolnhurst, near Bedford.

The supply was 5 old machines (cycles) for £3 and 12 chains for 16/-.

Court case Lightstrung v Blackwell 1898

A testimonial letter was given to Mr W E Abbott (known as Ted) in 1930 for 40 years of service, so he was one of their first employees.

Testimonial for 40 years service

The two buildings The "Lightstrung" junction
Looking from Skinners Hill - John White's first factory to the right
Before the showroom was added and petrol pumps installed
A postcard - part of the Lightstrung (left) and Church Street and Skinner's Hill (right)
Petrol pumps were installed in front of the two early buildings, and showroom added

Their premises were where the old gas works stood, at the bottom of Church Street, close to the junction of Duck Street and Skinner's Hill. In the early 1900s as cars were coming to Rushden they began to trade in motors and repairs to both forms of transport were undertaken by the company. They applied to the Council for a licence to sell petroleum and were granted a provisional licence for 3 months in September 1901.

Lightstrung Wheelers

Early Registrations

These invoices came from a bundle stored on a 'spike' (a traditional way to keep receipts). In 1917 they had branches at Wellingborough, Irthlingborough, Raunds & Irchester. Albert died aged 49 in 1917.

The 1920 heading proudly states 'manufacturers of The Lightstrung Bicycle' and has crests for the Motor Trade Association Repairers & Agricultural, showing the diverse skills they had. The partners of the company were George Denton junior & Thomas H Denton, and now there were only three branches, Irchester being removed.

1916 invoice 1917
In August 1916 an invoice to Mr Joseph Knight reads: "To getting Schneider Car to Garage & removing broken main bolt guide from top of Gear Box. Forging & machining out one rear brake guide with bottom plates to take bolts. Adapting top of gear box to take plate, machining, filing, drilling, & tapping same. Smoothing down brake inner & outer drums, making bolts to fit &c. To taking down all transmission parts to Car. Taking down gear box & machining out & cleaning out all gears dogs & parts from old grease & dust, & filling up gear box with best Graphite. To making new core steel ... to universal joint & fitting with lubricator. To taking down all parts in shaft from Clutch to Gear Box, taking out all turning bolts & shortening same at each end & smoothing of rough parts caused by them catching. Fitting new bolts when required & fixing properly all bolts in shaft with washers & split keys. To fitting 3 new bolts in shaft connecting end & thoroughly installing transmission system .... Greasing all parts through same."
All for the grand sum of £3.18.6.

motorcycle and wicker side-car
This motorcycle was made by the Lightstung Company.
Note the wicker side-car (left) - Registration BD 631

1918 advert

Extract from a Military Tribunal in May 1918

In the case of Frederick W. Leeson, 32, married, Grade 2, foreman in charge of the works of the Lightstrung Cycle Engineering co. a certificate was produced from the secretary of the Northants Food Production committee stating that the firm was engaged in repairing motor ploughs and other work of national importance. Exemption until July 31st. Mr. Dulley said that in this case, as there was a great deal of Sunday work to do with the tractors, he did not ask for the V.T.C. conditions, which were consequently waived.

Extract from a Military Tribunal in May 1918

Thomas Denton, 31, single, manager of the Lightstrung Engineering Co. was given six months, a letter from the secretary of the Northants Food Production Committee being produced, showing that the firm are keeping Government tractors in repair. [21 in 1908]

at Irthlingborough the shop
The shop near the Cross at Irthlingborough c1920s
The shop "Lightstrung Cycle Depot"

Cycles & Repairs - The Lightstrung Co. Ltd - Boot Stores
One window has cycles and one boots, presumably Dentons brand.
Brass plaque for
F E Preston, architect
There are two doors - one into the shop and one for F E Preston, architect. He had been
at 53 High Street but moved to 5 High Street in about 1914, and remained here until
he died in 1941. He had been a scoutmaster and a commissioner.

the staff
building a cycle
Staff c1930 and two cycles £5.15s and £5.10s
?, Frank Tassel, ?, ?, Don Ablett, Keith Abbott, ?.
building a cycle

1932 advert shop
By this 1932 Echo & Argus advert F Tassell
was in charge and they sold Raleigh Cycles
The shop c 1935 in Church Parade between J S Taylor's and Fairy Bros.

Ambulance supplied in 1935
The Lighstrung garage supplied this ambulance
Left to right: Mr Don Ablett,
Mr Frank Tassel, Mr Johnson
outside the Lightstrung Garage Circa 1935

workshop and old gas works
The workshop behind, and the old gas works buildings c1960
Adult school with the garage beyond
The junction of Duck Street and Wellingborough Road in about 1950,
looking up to Church Street. The Lightstrung is just beyond the cars.

cycle showroom and forecourt
Rachel Britten's early Lightstrung Cycle
The Lightstrung showroom and forecourt

The lay-by in front of the garage was the bus stop for many years known simply as 'The Lightstrung' by the bus companies, is still called this by older people.

In its heyday as the bus-stop

New bus companies now use the street name of Skinners Hill, and buses only stop on the south side of the road, opposite the Lightstrung.
Mrs Rachel Britten with a "Lightrung Cycle"
Mrs Rachel Britten with a "Lightstrung Cycle"
The van behind is "Wollaston Welding Co. Ltd"

In 1954 - the purchase of a Morris Van
It had just one seat "ex works", and when ready to "drive away" the price had gone up by £70.
1954 van

The car
Purchase Tax
Delivery charge, petrol, oil, insurance ex works
To extra seat fitted
To Hills Higrade number plates fitted
To Licence to 31.12.54
4½ Gals TT + Redex 5

The company closed down on the 31st July 1970.
Examples of their craftsmanship can be seen in the Rushden Railway Station Museum
and at Rushden Museum, Hall Park.

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