17 George Street Luton
George Street in 1901 - to see a larger version, please click on the image
17 George Street is first listed in a directory of 1885 as occupied by David Thompson, "surgeon, medical officer and public vaccinator". By 1890 J. R. Brown and Son, architects are listed at the address and by 1894 they shared it with J. C. Conder and Company, auctioneers, valuers and estate agents, "agents for Northern Insurance". By 1898 Browns were sharing with Thomas Thorne, "acountant, certified bailiff, rent and debt collector and house agent".
By 1903 17 George Street was occupied by Stepgen Sapwell, straw hat manufacturer. By 1906 he was sharing the premises with other straw hat manufacturers, Read and Horn. By 1910 Read and Horn were sole occupiers.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Most of Bedfordshire was valued in 1927. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is lucky in having the valuer's notebook covering most of George Street. Evidence in the book shows that the survey of George Streettook place in 1928.
The valuer discovered that 17 George Street was owned as well as occupied by Read & Horn [DV1/R7/35-36]. The front of the building comprised a basement room measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 36 feet with a small strong room. On the ground floor was an entry measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 35 feet, a showroom measuring 18 feet by 32 feet 6 inches, with a small room off measuring 7 feet by 5 feet 6 inches and an office measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 10 feet 6 inches. A covered yard measuring 16 feet by 12 feet 6 inches lay outside. The first floor contained a store room measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 17 feet, a store over the entry measuring 11 feet by 39 feet and a further store measuring 46 feet 6 inches by 18 feet 6 inches. The second floor contained two rooms measuring 27 feet 6 inches by 41 feet 6 inches and 14 feet by 7 feet. The third floor contained a millinery room and the fourth floor a store measuring 26 feet by 40 feet and containing a 2/3 horsepower motor.
A block house stood to the rear measuring 19 feet 6 inches by 46 feet with a main room measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 33 feet. The building contained 90 feet of 1½ inches shafting, two 12 horsepower motors and a 5 horsepower motor as well as a boiler house. On the second floor lay rooms measuring 20 feet 6 inches by 48 feet 6 inches and 14 feet 6 inches by 18 feet 6 inches. The third floor contained a millinery room measuring 20 feet 6 inches by 48 feet 6 inches.
Another block house lay behind this measuring 28 feet 9 inches by 19 feet 6 inches and containing first floor store rooms measuring 14 feet by 11 feet and 15 feet by 22 feet and a polishing room measuring 20 feet 6 inches by 39 feet 6 inches with a 2 horsepower motor in it. A millinery room measuring 29 feet by 20 feet lay on the first floor with a similarly sized steaming room on the floor above.
The valuer commented: "Fine modern factory but out of the way". Read and Horn continued to occupy the building until at least 1950. Kelly's Directory for Luton of 1960 implies that the premises was vacant and not even the number is listed in 1965. However, from 1972 until the last Kelly's for Luton, 1975, the occupier is Crimplene, a fabric seller. Today  the new office block on the site is occupied by Royal bank of Scotland.
15 to 17 George Street June 2010