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Photos by Sanchia Redston.
Fred Knight Ltd

Fred Knight, son of Edwin Knight, built this splendid factory in Park Road in 1889, perhaps on the site of an earlier, smaller factory. It was demolished in 2005.
Mr F Knight
At the age of 21, in 1870, Mr. Fred. Knight founded his own boot and shoe manufacturing business in Rushden.

It was originally carried on in the High-street, but in 1879, to meet the increasing demands of the business, a larger factory was built in Park-road, and in 1889 this again was superseded by a still larger one.

He built this factory in 1889 and also bought the Old Rectory, in Little Street, which adjoined the land. He was also a Justice of the Peace and Captain of the Fire Brigade.

The blocks of flats built in 2006 on the site of the
old factory, is called Knights Mews.

Wellingborough News, 27th January 1883

TO CLOSERS—WANTED, a thoroughly competent person (female) to take the management of Machine-room, fitter preferred.—Apply personally to Mr. F. KNIGHT, Shoe Manufacturer, Rushden.

The Wellingborough News, 17th June 1887, transcribed by Jim Hollis

An Honourable Man
In the month of May, 1874, through an exceptionally heavy loss, Mr. F. Knight, shoe manufacturer, Rushden, found himself unable to meet all the claims upon his estate, and at a private meeting of creditors called on the 26th of that month, an offer of 10s in the £ was made and accepted. The claims were paid in two instalments, and there the matter was thought to have ended. It must have been a matter of surprise, and gratification, to the creditors to receive a communication from Mr. Knight last week informing them that by applying at the office of Mr. Thomas Dyer, Ladies’-lane, Northampton, they would receive the balance of the original account. The gentlemen who assembled in Mr. Dyer’s office on Saturday afternoon were warm in their congratulations. Mr. Knight drew attention to the exceptional circumstance connected with the failure, and said the thought that he had only paid 10s in the £ had been a skeleton in his cupboard for the last 13 years. He assured those present that it would give him even more pleasure to pay it away than for those present to receive it. He thought it would not be a bad way to celebrate the jubilee. The representative of a large leather merchant mentioned that in all his experience he had not met with a similar instance. The sum of money paid amounted to between £400 and £500, and the estate of a deceased leather merchant, Mr. T. P. Stroulger, Northampton has unexpectedly come in for the handsome sum of £215. Amongst other creditors reimbursed were Messrs. Samuel Barrow Bros., London; Messrs. J. C. Robinson, Wellingborough; Messrs. Phipps and Son, Northampton; the Executors of the Late Mr. T. P. Stroulger, Northampton; Mr. T. Dyer, Northampton; and the Northamptonshire Union Bank.

The Wellingborough News, 9th September, 1887, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Rushden—A pleasing acknowledgment
A few weeks since we announced that Mr. Fred Knight, of Rushden, had paid 20s. in the £ to his creditors on the composition paid in 1874. We are pleased now to state that this somewhat unusual act of business integrity has been acknowledged in tangible shape by the presentation to Mr. Knight of a beautifully engraved silver salver, bearing the following inscription – “Presented to Mr. Fred Knight, of Rushden, by his creditors of 1874, as a token of their appreciation of the inherent honesty which prompted him to discharge his liabilities in full, when under no legal obligation to do so, in June, 1887.” An engrossed address had been drawn up by Messrs. Waterlow and Sons, of London, for presentation with the salver, and is worded as follows:- “August, 1887. To Mr. Fred Knight, Rushden. Dear Sir, - We, your creditors of 1874, cannot permit the recent interesting occasion when you called us together to pay the balance of 20s. in the £ on the composition of 1874, to pass without some recognition of our high appreciation of your conduct, and we respectfully beg your acceptance of a piece of plate suitably inscribed, which we trust will remain a memento in your family for generations to come. Yours faithfully, for the Northamptonshire Union Bank (Limited), Alfred Page (manager), Samuel Barrow and Bros., Phipps and Son, Thomas Dyer, T. P. Stroulger, J. and C. Robinson, and W. Coulson and Co.”

In 1888 he was Captain of the Fire Brigade.

In 1889 he bought the Old Rectory in Little Street,
and built a new factory behind off Park Road.

In 1890 he purchased the factory of William Colson.

In 1898-1902 and 1910-11 he was chairman of the Urban District Council.

In 1913 he was one of 7 councillors and members of the Liberal Party, writing a letter to the electorate, setting out their pre-election targets for the town, education and trade.

Fred Knight
Fred Knight
Clickers - 1891

closing room 1898

Photo c1898 Rushden Argus - republished by the Evening Telegraph c1968

How times have changed. This picture of Fred Knight’s closing room in Park Road, was taken over 70 years ago in 1898. We know the names of some of the women but not all. If you know anything about the factory or the people drop us a line. [but no names were included]

Rushden Echo, 18th August 1916, transcribed by Kay Collins

The Employees of Mr Fred Knight, Park-road, had an outing on Saturday to Turvey and Bedford. The party, numbering about 80, started from the factory at 9.30, and arrived at Turvey, where light refreshments were handed round. The toast of “The health of the firm,” coupled with the name of Mr C L Bradfield, was proposed by Mr H Underwood, and seconded by Mr C Betts, who is the oldest employee. Mr A Miller proposed, and Mr A Osborne seconded, “The health of Mr R F Knight,” who is now serving with the colours, and this was honoured by a telegram being sent. Mr A Clark proposed, and Mr C Clarke seconded, “The health of the organisers of the outing, especially the ladies.” The party then split up, some visiting the fine old church, others playing games in the grounds of the “Three Fishes.” At 2 o’clock a move was made to Bedford, the party arriving there at tea-time. The party again broke up into smaller parties and took full advantage of the river and other amusements until 9.30, then the return journey was made.

17 July 1875 - Northampton Mercury

Wellingborough Petty Sessions
Frederick Knight was summoned for an offence against the Excise by carrying gun without a licence.

Extract from a Military Tribunal in May 1918

Charles Clarke, 32, married, foreman in the boot finishing department for Mr. F. Knight, was given until July 31st, final.

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