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Church Parade Road Widening 1959
In the c1910

The churchyard wall viewed from High Street when the large trees known as the "12 Apostles" were still standing c1910.
The top of Church Street is just visible and the premises of Orrell the chemist beyond the thatched property of Arthur Robinson.
The second picture c1914 shows Orrell's and other shops towards the Green.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 8th February 1957, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Graves on A6 Land
After the granting of a faculty under which it is proposed to surrender a portion of the land so that the A6 can be widened, two further graves, which had been hidden by undergrowth, have been found in the churchyard of St. Mary’s, Rushden.

These graves date back to the late nineteenth century.

Notice of the discovery has been published by the church authorities, and if no complications arise, the land will be handed over to the road authorities as a gift. The widening may take place within the next financial year.

Church and wall
The Church and wall - steps on the left close to the vestry hall

Celebrations - Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee - June 1897
Note the steps (left) before the wall was moved back in 1959
Gone - steps next to the Wheatsheaf
at the other end of the wall

 The Rushden Echo and Argus, 1956
churchyard wall Dearlove tomb Churchyard gateway
Pictures taken from the upper windows of J S Taylor’s in Church Parade. They show how it is proposed to slice off a portion of Rushden
St Mary’s Church graveyard and effect an important road widening at the narrow and curving approach to the crossroads, where
High Street joins Church Street and Newton Road. Left is the junction with Newton Road, where the proposed new line begins
near the Vestry Hall. Centre picture shows the deepest point of penetration in front of the Dearlove Tomb, and right is the section
ending at the Wheatsheaf Inn and leading into High Street South. Dotted lines show the intended course of the new churchyard wall.

old gate gate set back
Before a new gate was set back
The new gate set back
east end of the wall Post and rail on the path edge
The wall before it was set back in 1959 - Post and rail on the path edge

Mr. Roly Windsor - some of his recollections of the project.

In 1958/9 the A6, at Church Parade, was widened and the wall of St. Mary's Church rebuilt. The contract was awarded to a local company F. & R. Windsor.

The A6 - Church Parade road widening scheme 1959

Contractors : F. & R. Windsor Accepted Tender: £6,850 Final Settlement: £7,150

Joint Supervision : Northamptonshire C.C. ( Engineering Department)

Diocesan Architects

The early stages of the contract was marked by a dispute as to the type of stonework to be used. The council had specified a new quarried stone from the Pitsford area. The church however insisted on a mature stone to suit used material.

As about 100 cubic yards were required all from the same source and and quality this proved to be most difficult and led to an impasse.

Just when it appeared that the council's view would prevail a source of supply was found in Finedon.

In the meantime, the excavation to the graveyard continued. Extra supervision was supplied by about 80 unpaid Clerks of the Works. They were positioned on the pavement opposite and appeared to operate on a 2 hours on and 6 hours off rota leaving around 20 on site at any one time.

The contract stipulated that all the skeletons would be collected, boxed and stored securely on site. This proved impossible to achieve. Over the years many reburials must have taken place and bones were found from ground level to burial depth.

It was agreed by all concerned that when the mechanical face shovel exposed an undisturbed burial site it would move away. A portable screen would be erected and the bones removed.

This took place 50 - 60 times and about 4 cubic yards of bones were collected and reburied in the church yard with due solemnity in the presence of the then Rector.

Alas, there must have been an equal amount inadvertently loaded on the tipping lorries which were then taken to the Bedford Road tipping area.

Regrettably, a few years later when Manor Park was developed 2 skulls were found on this site, in conjunction with the police I had to satisfy the coroner's office that they had come from the Church Parade site and duly signed a form to that effect.

When excavating the foundation for the wall a sheet of dense limestone was exposed. The incline of this was tilted towards the church. It is most likely that the presence of this could have determined the siting of our church.

The stone proved too hard to move to the required levels and on the central and northern ends of the structure it was left to form part of the foundation.

A footnote to this, and a constant personal reminder of the contract, was supplied by the aforementioned quantities of bones found in the entire depth of the excavations.

About 5 cubic yards of turf was removed from the surface of the excavations. I had just occupied 1, Griffith Street and had this material placed in a compost heap at the rear for future use. A couple of years later this was spread and forked into some newly created raised beds.

For the next 17 years until I moved house much to my wife's horror and my wry amusement any work on these areas exposed appreciable quantities of phalange (finger and toe) bones.

Roly Windsor January 1998

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 6th June, 1958, transcribed by Gill Hollis

the two men removing the wall
‘Gentle’ start to big road widening job
The long-awaited road widening scheme for the A6 trunk road where it passes St. Mary’s Church, Rushden, has started quietly – with two men, a crowbar, mallet and chisel. The stone blocks on the main gateway to the church were carefully prised away and moved further back from the boundary wall before the men started to pull down the brick sections of the wall.

“At this rate it would take years before the road was widened and finished,” said one of the men as he laid down his mallet for a moment. “But,” he added, “just wait until this wall is down and then things will really start moving.”

Initial work in the scheme has to be done slowly and by hand so as not to cause a lot of damage. The wall stones will all be used again, in a new wall about 12 feet further back from the existing wall’s position.

Following the removal of the wall will be the excavation of the old graves in the churchyard. The remains of those lying there will be brought up by hand and re-interred elsewhere. Once this is done, continued the man on the spot, operations will continue at a fast pace and it should not be long before the busy road is made much safer.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 13th June 1958

Roadmen Looking Out for Bones
Work on widening the A6 trunk road where it passes St. Mary’s Church, Rushden, is progressing at a rapid pace after having started slowly with two men removing the old wall stones with hand tools.

Mechanical excavators are on the scene this week, busily scooping up the 12 feet of ground from the churchyard.

Digging continues to go carefully in case any remains of bones from old graves are found. If disturbed, they will be reinterred elsewhere.

New Look
The quick work of the road wideners has brought about a sudden new and strange look to a familiar spot. When the work is completed, many motorists will feel much happier at the removal of an obstruction to vision.

In Higham Ferrers, another road widening scheme is in operation, also involving Church property.

Part of the wall around the vicarage garden has been knocked down and the corner is to be sliced off the garden to allow greater freedom for motorists turning from Wood Street into Midland Road.

Blind Corner
The high stone wall at this corner has obscured vision of the road ahead and cars have had to turn the corner at slow speeds to be on the safe side. As in Rushden, this work has been discussed for a long time and eagerly looked forward to by road users. First indications of the road widening at this spot were given several months ago when the Gas Board went through the walls and across the end of the garden when laying pipes instead of following the road. Few people realised the significance at the time but it can be seen now that where the gas board did its work is where the new corner will be set back.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 11th July 1958, transcribed by Gill Hollis

burying the bones
Bones’ Final Resting Place
Human remains which were disturbed during recent excavations in the churchyard of St. Mary’s, Rushden, were committed to a new resting place on Tuesday afternoon.

Filling a large wooden box, which had been made especially for the purpose, the bones – among them four skulls – had been dislodged from several graves.

They were now resting in a shallow square grave near the wall on the Park Place side of the churchyard, and when the box had been nailed down by the people’s warden (Mr. G. E. V. Fleeman), a short committal service was conducted by the Rev. I. E. Douglas-Jones, who asked for a blessing on the grave as “the final resting place of these Thy Servants.”

The only onlookers were the Rev. A. J. Tomblin (curate), Mr. Fleeman, Mr. W. Clayton (verger), and two representatives of the Press.

Afterwards the Rector said that he did not think the bones would be disturbed again. He thought the workmen who removed them did the work very respectfully.

churchyard wall Church Parade
The churchyard wall, shortly before demoilition began,
shows just how narrow Church Parade was.

Starting the work in 1958

the wall almost gone!
The churchyard boundary wall being set back for widening the main road in 1959

  Rushden Echo & Argus, 8th May 1959
Before and after
Expensive — But Welcome
These two pictures, taken at an interval of 16 months, show the effect of the expensive A6 widening scheme in Church Parade, Rushden. The first shows the old parish churchyard wall, which had to be removed. The second presents a new wall, a rebuilt western gateway, a wider road and a better view toward the traffic light controlled cross roads. There is also a footpath beneath the church wall, where none existed before.

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