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Articles and photos by Paul Wright, 2024

Washbrook Road

Within the short space of a hundred yards, (not too sure about a metric distance? but close enough to say that), three former shops have changed, and have now become private dwellings.

A long standing Rushden stalwart is “Stuart Audio” who has been around this neck of the woods for many decades now. Although many may remember his shop being opposite Townsend Garage in High Street South, more recently he was in Washbrook Road for many years too, and was catering for disco lighting etc.

Glad to say that he still going strong, and has now opened up a new shop in Wellingborough Road, sharing the corner into Glassbrook Road.

The old shop
and the new dwelling.

Meanwhile over the road is 18-20 Washbrook Road, where the former Smith’s Convenience Store has been converted for housing. It was built in 1882 as Moor View.

Converting the former Peter Smith's grocery (left)
now a new dwelling with a garage (above)

address plaque
Moor View 1882

No 18 was a newsagents and general store run by Thomas Neville in 1910, and had a succession of owners throughout the 20th century.

Trade Directories reveal that after WWI William Dartnell had taken over the shop. He had three shops, the others being at 147 Wellingborough Road and 4 Station Road. But in 1924 Thomas Neville had returned to the shop at 18 Washbrook Road, and he also had a shop at 42 North Street. William Dartnell was still at 4 Station Road.

Bessie Neville was the shopkeeper in 1931, perhaps when her husband became ill, and she remained there at least until 1940. She died in 1946.

Thomas Neville had died and was buried on 17 Feb 1938 aged 58, in Rushden Cemetery Grave  F763:

In loving memory of a dear husband and father Thomas NEVILLE born Dec 31st 1879 died Feb 14th 1938. Rest in peace. Also of his wife Betsy who died 22nd October 1946 aged 65 years.

In 1956 Grace Dilley was trading at No.18 as a general grocer.

Baden C Groom was born at No.20 and traded at 24 Washbrook Road in 1928 and by 1940 had moved back to No.20, where he remained until at least 1969.

Perhaps he had combined 18 and 20 into the larger store?

Another shop that seemed to go after Covid was Ablehire, trading at number 11 Washbrook Road. They had supplied tools and machinery for tradesmen and homeowners on short term loan.

Ablehire 11 Washbrook Road

Fitzjohn's signage found under Ablehire's signage.
As we dipped our toe in to 2024, all three premises have now had a change of use, to housing. Have you noticed a previous business name, now that the corporate Ablehire sign has been removed?

It is telling us that “Fitzjohn’s” once were in business there.

Perhaps some readers may have some knowledge of who they were?

Meanwhile in the High Street, the owners of Crystelle Belle said they were ‘sad’ to announce that the shop would cease trading in the February, 2024. [see closures 2024]

The jewellery company announced its closure on social media on February 1, and was offering a 50 per cent off sale: Everything must go by the end of the month. Several former customers had expressed their sadness about it online.

“Occasions” card shop has now closed in the High Street, after many years of trading.

And we wait to see who, or what will be moving into the premises?

More about Washbrook Road

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