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A D Muscutt, 1995
Little Street
1924 - 1936
Recollections of Denis Muscutt

During the years 1924 to 1936 I lived with my Family in Little Street and a large number of relatives also lived there, the Head of the 'Clan' being Charles Dickens, my Grandfather, and his Wife Selena who belonged to the Church Family of Wymington.

I have listed here, to the best of my ability, other Families who also lived in the street at the same time.

A. D. Muscutt

Little Street

I have started on the left-hand side of the street from its junction with High Street South. You will notice that some of the houses were occupied by several families in turn during those years, owing to the fact that Rushden Council were re-housing people on new housing estates. Those remaining in the street moved into one of the vacant houses if they considered it better than the one they were occupying.

No. 1.
Mr. Dawson, his Wife
and Son Peter.
Mr. Dawson's Mother lived with them.

Mr. Dawson was a van driver for Seddon and Arlidge Box Factory. His Wife worked in a Shoe Factory.

No. 3.
Mr. and Mrs. (Alice and Syd) Smith.
One Daughter—Doris.
Alice's Mother, Mrs. Johnson, lived with them.

Syd lost a leg in the First World War. He and his Wife worked at the Tecnic Shoe Factory. Syd also ran a Sick Club at The Compass Inn in High Street South.

No. 5.
Mr. Walt Maple and his Wife (another daughter of Mrs. Johnson).
One Daughter—Doreen.

Mr. and Mrs. Maple were both shoe Operatives.
Doreen later married George Willmott of Manor Farm.

No. 7.
Mr. George Gray and his Wife.
Two Sons—Jeffrey and Allan.
Mrs. Gray's Mother lived with them.

Mrs. Gray worked in a Shoe factory. Mr. Gray was an Electrician and started his own business which was still being run by Jeff and Alan in 1986.

The Old Vicarage—a large house.
Fred Knight J.P., a Boot and Shoe Manufacturer.
One Son and one Daughter.

The Daughter married a Mr. Hyde and lived on Rose Hill, High St. South.
Mr. Knight served as a J.P. on the Bench at Wellingborough. [also Fire Brigade captain for many years]
The Grounds to the Old Vicarage reached up to Park Road and the Factory stood at the top of the grounds, the front of it in Park Road.

When the Old Vicarage became vacant it was taken over by: Nurse Mather, a local Midwife. Two Sons—Peter and Bob and One Daughter—Peggy.

Nurse Mather turned the house into a Nursing Home for expectant Mothers.

No. 17.
Mr. and Mrs. Sargent.
One Son—Arthur and one Daughter—Gladys.

Mr. Sargent was known as 'Tricky'. He was a very smart man who had been a Sergeant Major in the First World War. He bred Canaries as a hobby.
Both he and his Wife were Shoe Operatives.
Arthur, his son, used to organise us younger lads of the street He used to take us fishing at Felmersham and Radwell in Bedfordshire and sometimes to Melcbbourne Hall, where it cost a shilling a day to fish in the lake. (Never caught anything there).

No. 19.
Mrs. Stapleton.
Two Daughters—Ethel and Maud.

Ethel was a Forewoman at the Tecnic and Maud was a Forewoman in one of the factories in town.

No. 21.
This was a small General Store occupied by several families during these years.

(1) Mr. and Mrs. Marlowe.
One Son—Ernest and one Grand-daughter—Mary.

(2) Mr. Headland, who also had a shop in Oval Road. (3).   Mr. and Mrs. Freeman.

My younger brother went there one afternoon when was about three years old. He wanted to buy some 'Spanish' (Liquorice), but he could not make the shopkeeper understand what it was, other than it was black, so Mr Freeman sold him a tin of black boot polish. On the way home he got the lid off and tried to eat it. My Mother went down to the shop and explained to Mr. Freeman exactly what 'Spanish' was.

(4) Mr. and Mrs. Jim Robinson.
Two Sons—Eric and Stan and one Daughter Audrey.

Jim Robinson was an ex Navy Boxer and he made a boxing ring in the cellar under the shop where he used to have the lads in the street boxing several nights a week. He also made home-made ice-ceam.

No. 23.
Mr. and Mrs. W. Robinson.

They were the Parents of Jim at the shop. Mr. Robinson was a Boot and Shoe repairer.

No. 25
Mr. and Mrs. Bettles.
Three Sons—Walter, Corrie and Cyril.

All were Shoe Operatives.

The Manse.
This was a large house set back from the front of Little street. It had an Orchard and Garden going back to Park Road. It was the residence of the Baptist Minister.

No. 27.
Mr. and Mrs. Bland (Horace and Laura).
One Son—Jack and two Daughters—Winifred and Marjorie.

Saturday mornings Jack used to take all the boys and girls from the street to the Swimming Bathshe was the oldest and in charge.

Then Mr. and Mrs. Parker.
Two Daughters.

Mr. Parker was known as 'Blacky'.

No. 29.
Mr. and Mrs. Britton.
One Son—Richard (Dick).

Mr. and Mrs. Britton were Shoe Operatives.

They were followed by:

Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Meadows.
One Son—Leslie and one Daughter—Marjorie.
There was also a lodger, known by everyone as Bill Baron, but his real name was Ronald Childs.

Leslie was the only boy in the street who belonged to the Baptist Boys Brigade. According to Les, the Parson told them, at the Chapel Service, that he was going on holiday and when he came back he would take the Boys Brigade round his orchard to pick the fruit. When he came back there wasn't any fruit but there had been a lot of fruit eaten in Little Street that week.

No. 31
Mr. and Mrs. Dickens. (Fred and Millie).
One Son—Jack.

Fred was known as 'Striker'. He was a wonderful gardener and a first-class shot, shooting for the Rushden Athletic Club Airgun team.
He taught us how grow vegetables and on Sunday afternoons would take the boys up the fields and teach us how to light a wood fire, catch a rabbit and boil eggs in an old can. He taught us a lot about survival.

They were followed by:

Mr. and Mrs. Reg Drage.
Twin Daughters—Phylis and Kathleen.

Most of his life Reg worked as driver for The United Counties Bus Company.

Then Mr. and Mrs. Wilf Robinson.

Wilf was brother to Jim at the shop. He worked for the Rushden Council as well as assisting Bill Elliot in the running of the Swimming Baths during the Summer. Mrs. Robinson was a Shoe Operative.

No. 33.
Mr. and Mrs. Litchfield (a retired couple)
One Son—Jack and three
Daughters—Hilda, Alice and Gladys.

Jack was a carpenter and the others were Shoe Operatives. Gladys, the youngest, used to take the lads to the Palace Cinema Saturday after­noonsId. seat in the 'Flea Pit'.

No. 35.
Mr. and Mrs. Helsdown.

Mr. Helsdown, known locally as 'Wowkes', was a man who liked his beer.

No. 37.
Mr. and Mrs. W. Knight.
Two Sons—Bill and Ellis and
Two Daughters—Wyn and Mabel.

They were considered to be well off—not only had they got a wireless they also owned a Piano.

Followed by:

Mr. and Mrs. Sharp.
One Daughter—Rita and a
Stepson and Stepdaughter—Vernon and Edna M'gee.

They had moved from the top house in Bayes Yard. They all worked at the Tecnic Shoe factory.
Mr. Sharp was a real Beer drinker and the other men in the street were envious because he had £1 a week to spend. This was one third of his weekly wages. He could buy sixty pints for £1
no wonder he was quite often drunk.
I was going home rather late one night and there's Mr. Sharp, key in band, going along the house wall. He spotted me. "Where's the keyhole, boy?" he said. I replied, "In the door, Mr. Sharp". "Alright, clever bugger, where's the door?" I led him to the door and let him in.
He was known as 'Khaki', a name he apparently won in the First World War. He was in the Field Artillery and was late back off leave, so he was punished by being tied for so many hours to the cannon wheel, exposed to enemy fire, but he survived.

Bayes Yard

Bayes Yard ran back from Little Street towards Park Road. The only entrance to it being between 37 and 51 Little Street.

House No. 1. was occupied in turn by various  families Mr. Harvey Munday and his Widowed Mother.

They were staunch Salvation Army Members. They both worked at the Tecnic.

Mr. and Mrs. Hollis.
Three Sons—Eddie, Rex and Ken.

Mr. and Mrs. Childs.
One Son—Peter, who died when he was three years old.

Mr. and Mrs. Ben Letts.

They had no family. Were keen motor cyclists and belonged to the Query Club.

House No. 2.
Mr. and Mrs. David Donaldson.
One Son—Percy.

David was an Irishman, a farm labourer who worked for Jack Beatty of Hall Park Farm. Every year, when the potato crop was dug, David used to bring the 'pig potatoes' home. His Wife used to boil them in their jackets in a large iron stewpot and at supper time all the kids top end of the street used to queue up with a dish, a bit of salt and a bit of marge and she would provide us with the potatoes boiled in their jackets.

David was bald and in the evening, at home, he wore a wig. When it has crossed my mind over the years I thought it must have been home-made. It was a red square, reminding me of coconut matting and it was fixed to his head at each corner with a little metal clip.

The next occupants were:

Mr. and Mrs. Willmott.
Two Sons—Jack and Ron and
Three Daughters—Stella, Betty and Marjory.
Another boy lived with them named Howard Kent.

Mr. Willmott was known as 'Bumpit'.

House No. 3.
Mrs. Pendered, a Widow.
One Daughter—Rose.
She also had two other daughters, one named Amy and a son, who didn't live there.
Another lady, Lottie, (possibly a relative) also lived there.

Rose was the first Disc Jockey Little Street knew. She had a large Gramophone and a good selection of recordsBrass Bands, Hyms, Gracie Fieldsyou name it, Rose had got itand the folks at the top end of Little Street knew it.

House No. 4.
Mr. and Mrs. Cumberpatch.
Three Daughters—Edna, Brenda and Joan and
three Sons—Don, Eric and Owen.

They were followed by

Mrs. Ingram, her Daughter and Grandson.

House No. 5.
Mr. and Mrs. Sharp and family who later moved to No. 37.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Dickens who later moved to No. 31.

Followed by

Mr. and Mrs. Dodds.
One Son and one Daughter.


Mr. and Mrs. Brudenell

Back to Little Street.

No. 51.
Mr. and Mrs. Collins. (George and Eva)

There were no children. He was a retired ex-service man, a keen fisherman. They possessed a rare lot of antiques and pictures. There was a picture of General Gordon's Escape from Khartoum and one artistic painting of The Thin Red Line. Another was a Bird's Eye View of the Battle at Omdurman. All these possessions disappeared when they passed on.

The next occupants were:

Mr. and Mrs. Dickens. (Eric and Elizabeth)

Eric was a Grandson of Charles Dickens and his Wife was a Daughter of Gret Smith who lived in one of the 'Eight Houses' in Bedford Road.

No. 53.
Mr. and Mrs. Muscutt. (Arthur and Sarah). Two Sons—Denis (myself) and Bob and one daughter—Joan.

My Father worked for Robert Marriot for most of his life. He was an ex-service man from the First World War and originated from Daventry. My Mother was one of Charles Dickens' Daughters.
My Father had a thing about spiders, he used to say; 'If you wished to live and thrive, let a spider stay alive'. We had just finished our tea one evening, still all sitting around the table, when Em Scroxton, a woman from further down the street, paid my Mother a visit. At the same time there was a big black spider climbing up the wall. She whipped her slipper off and splashed it all over the wall. My Father went mad, not because of the wall paper but because she had killed a spider in our house.

No. 55.
Mr. Ted Bird, his Daughter Emily and her Husband Fred Farrington who had Three Sons—Ron, Fred and Cliff and one Daughter—Joy.

The Father, Fred, was a Mechanical Engineer and helped to install the first talking equipment in the Palace Cinema in Rushden. He acquired a number of complimentary tickets for the 'First House' which he gave to the Kids in the street. Ron was badly wounded during the Second World War and Cliff was lost at sea whilst serving in the Navy.

No. 57. The largest house in the street.
Charles Dickens and his
Son—George, three Daughters—Louise, Mabel
and her Son Hugh, and Nellie and her Husband George Richards with their
two Sons—Derrick (Deny) and Geoff.

Louise looked after her Father until his death, His Wife having died in the early 1920s. Mabel married W. Keller Jnr., a Fruit and Vegatable Salesman. There were two other Daughters, my Mother Sarah and Emily who had married and moved out. There were also two other Sons, Jack who had married and Tom, a regular in the Army. He died during one of the battles on the Somme. George bad also been a Regular in the Army and worked in a Shoe Factory after leaving the Army. Nellie's husband, George Richards, served in the Artillery during the first world War and was awarded the Military Medal.
Charles was known as 'Pudney'. When he was five years old he lost three fingers off his right hand on a chaff cutting machine. They were put in a matchbox and buried in the garden of No. 3 Little Street.

No. 59.
Next door to No. 57, on the corner of Harborough Road, was a lock-up shop used by Mr. Richards, a Bespoke Tailor and Outfitter. He lived in Park Road with his Wife and two childrenEric and Megan.

It was later occupied by a Butcher, Mr. Reg Bayes who was a member of the Bayes family who owned the property.

No. 61.
Mrs. Clayton, several Daughters
and two Sons.

This house is on the opposite corner of Harborough Road and was also a shop, with living quarters. It is one of the oldest houses in Rushden.
It was a 'sweet' shop owned by Mrs. Clayton, who was affectionately known as 'Waddy',
One son, Bert, served in the Police force.

No. 63.
Mr. and Mrs Jack Warburton.
Four Sons—Arthur, Jack, Hugh and Dennis
and four Daughters—Joyce, Eadie, Margaret and Patricia.

Mr. Warburton was in the Canadian Army during the First World War and stayed in England after it finished. He was a big man and was always referred to as Canadian Jack. He was Foreman at the Electric Co.

No. 65.
Mrs. and Mrs. Bob Glydle
and his Niece—Myrtle.

Bob Glydle lost an eye in the First World War. He was a well known local footballer, a veiy popular and well-liked man.

Later occupied by:

Mr. and Mrs. Beeby.
Two sons—Jack and Sidney and
two Daughters—Doreen and Kathleen.

The Parents died whilst the children were still young. They were cared for by their Grandmother and Aunts.

No. 67. (This was the last house on that side of the street, at the junction of Mannings Lane and Bedford Road).

Mr. and Mrs. Glydle and
Joe Glydle.

Mr. Glydle was known as 'Darkie' and was a well known pigeon fancier although he didn't mix a lot with the neighbours. Joe was his brother as was Bob at No. 63. Joe was a bit of a puzzle, I can't remember him doing a day's work in the 10 or 12 years that I knew him. In fact I don't remember any of the old folks saying he ever worked.

Opposite the last houses in the street were the stables of Abbotts, the Funeral Directors and next to that Baye's Bakehouse, run by Charles and Arthur Bayes, which occupied all the ground between Bedford Road and the corner of the bottom end of Harborough road. On the opposite corner, going back down the street was;

No. 44.
Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, (William and Minnie).
Four Sons—Dennis, Jack, Bob and Reg and
three Daughters—Marge, Joan and Betty. Another Daughter, Gladys, had married and left home.

William Dickens, nephew to my Grandfather, was known as 'Muzzy', a big man, 15 or 16 stone. He was a Foreman at Coxton's Shoe Factory.
Jack died in a Jap P.O.W. Camp.

No. 42.
Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, (Fred and Elizabeth).
Their son, Sidney and Daughter-in-Law Millie.
They had Daughters who had married and left home

Fred Dickens was known as 'Pikey'.

They were followed by; Mr. and Mrs. Broadbent.
Three Daughters.

The Parents were both Deaf and Dumb. They had moved to Rushden from Hull.

After them came;

Mr. and Mrs. Ellis.
Two Sons—John and Eric.

No. 40. Mrs. Storey.
One Son—Bill.

Mrs. Storey was a Scotswoman and although not afraid of her, the kids in the street always treated her with more respect than perhaps they they did other adults. It was a normal thing for us to sit or walk on the wall in front of these houses but not on Mrs. Storey's.
One day I was playing 'Cat and Stick' in the street when the 'Cat' landed in her front garden. Just in case she was watching I decided not to dash in and get it and knocked on her door, asking if I could get my cat which was in her garden. She looked rather surprised and said that surely the cat would walk out on its own if I waited. When I explained that this cat had no legs she laughed and allowed me to get it.
After this she always spoke to me when we met in the street and occasionally gave me a sweet.

There was then an open space, giving access to the rear of the Compass Inn which had it's frontage in High Street South. Then there was a row of houses at right angles to Little Street running towards High Street South. This was known as;

Club Yard.

There were five houses in the yard, the top one fronting onto High Street South but with the outbuildings in the Yard. The occupiers did all their living in Little Street. There were various families in the Yard over the years including;

Mr. and Mrs. Mackness, (Ralph and Mabel). Two Daughters—Ada and Audrey.

Ralph worked for Pecks the Carriers. If he ever worked on a Sunday I was paid 1d. to take his dinner to him in Washbrook Road.

Mr. and Mrs. Lines.
Two Sons—Dick and Alan.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen.
One Son—Tom.

Mr. Allen, known as 'Shady', was an agricultural worker and was awarded a medal for fifty years service with the same firm.
Tom was a few years older than the rest of us, he used to take us bird nesting and taught us how to blow eggs. When the Violets and Primroses were out he would take us into the fields to pick them. Everybody had to take a saucer, lay the flowers round the rim with the stems to the centre and a drop of ditch water in the centre.
He was never called Tommy Allen, it was always Tommy Tucker.

Mr. and Mrs. Savage.
Two Sons—Eddie and Harold
and one Daughter—Violet.

Mr. and Mrs. used to have a row regular. They used to tear down Little Street into High Street South, round the top back to Club Yard. She could run, he never did catch her, but what we could never understand she always carried the tea pot in front of her.

Mr. and Mrs. Penn.

Mr. and Mrs. George Allen.
One Daughter—Betty.

Mr. and Mrs. Quint George.

Quint was a small man with a big beard and worked at Islip Furnaces near Thrapston. He used to walk to work and back every day, possibly seven miles each way.

Mr. and Mrs. Scroxton. (Ben and Emily).
Two Daughters—Marjorie and Dorothy.

Ben was an Engineer at Strong and Fisher's Tannery.

No. 32. (Little Street). This house stood on its own in quite a large garden.

Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, (Edgar and Martha).
Two Sons—Stan and Albert and
three Daughters—Marjorie, Muriel and Josephine.
There was also a Step-daughter—Mary.

Edgar Snr. worked at Ingles Leathers.
Albert worked at the Co-op Shoe Factory and was killed in accident at work when he was about sixteen.

They were followed by;
Mr. and Mrs. Harbour.
wo Sons—Ken and Gordon.

Mr. Harbour, like all the Harbours in Rushden, was known as 'Budge.’

Mr. Bob Chettle.

Mrs. Merton and her Son—Eddie.

The next houses ran at right angles to Little Street through to High Street South with a right-of-way between the streets and was called;

The Jitty.

Again, various families lived here over the years.

Mr. and Mrs. Ellis.
One Son—Stan and
Several Daughters.

Mr. Ellis was a chimney sweep and was always referred to as 'Sweep', as was his son.

Mr. and Mrs. Stan Clayton.
One Daughter—Bonney.

Mr. Clayton worked at Pecks the Carriers along with Mr. Mackness from No. 2. He also paid me 1d. for taking his dinner when he worked on a Sunday.

Mr. and Mrs. Ager.
Two Sons—Eric and Jack and
one Daughter—Violet.

Mr. and Mrs. Jim Frost.

They were an elderly couple. Mr. Frost sold matches and shoe laces door-to-door in the town.

One of the houses was occupied by two shady Characters;
Mr. Westley and Bill Baron.

Mr. Westley was a weird character known as 'Old Seata'. Whatever us kids were doing we kept our eyes on him. We knew what was going to happen. He would sidle up to us, look at each of us in turn and say "I don't know which of you buggers I'm going to shoot to-day, but by the time I get my gun out I suppose I'll know". As he slid his hand inside his jacket we would scatter. We never did call his bluff, for one thing we knew he had an old revolver from the First World War.

Mr. and Mrs. Daniels.
One Son—Jack and
two Daughters—May and Gladys.

Mr. Daniels was known far and wide as 'Sos'. He was a cattle drover and often had to run or walk twenty miles or more a day driving the cattle.
They were possibly the poorest family in Rushden at that time. It was said that when his Wife died he hadn't got any ink to sign the death certificate so he cut himself and signed it in blood.
Jack was killed at the bottom of Griffith Street when was twelve years old. The Bedford Bus swerved to miss a car and hit a lamp-post which fell on him.
I was one of the bearers at his funeral. I was eleven years old and it was the first time I wore long trousers. Jack Dickens lent them to me for the occasion.

The Old Bakehouse
was occupied by Emmy Chettle

Emmy lived alone. She was a Boot and Shoe Operative.

Their was another Mr. and Mrs. Ager who lived in The Jitty. Two Sons—Len and Cyril.

Mr. Ager was known as 'Crunny' and worked for Wall's Ice-cream'Stop me and buy one'selling them from a tricycle.

Mr. and Mrs. Felce.

Others were Harry Binder, Dot Smith and Bruce and Roma Mortimer.

The next and last houses in the street were set in a yard known as;

Corkers Yard.

Mr. and Mrs. Chettle.

Mr. Chettle was known as 'Corker' and repaired Boots and Shoes for a living. He was a very big man who loved his beer and was highly respected in the area.

Mr. and Mrs. Brudnell.
Mr. Burgess and his Son—Bill.

They owned a Grey Parrot and when I used to deliver papers to the house it would shout "The bugger's late again". I used to think "I'll give him late if I can get hold of him."

There was one other person who spent a lot of time in Little Street, a tramp, a little old man named Joe Allen. He used to sleep in one of the outside toilets. It was always possible to tell when he was 'in residence', his old pushbike was propped up nearby. The folk in the street put up with him and made sure he didn't starve. Things were different then—people cared more for each other.

Between 1924 and 1935 there were 28 people belonging to the Dickens Clan living in Little Street.

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