23 George Street Luton
George Street in 1901 - to see a larger version, please click on the image
23 George Street was a butcher's shop for over seventy years. It is first listed in a directory in 1898 when it was occupied by Eastmans Limited (they had been at 33 George Street according to Kelly's Directory for 1894).
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.
This property was owned as well as occupied by Eastman Limited, butcher, in 1928 [DV1/R7/37]; they also had premises at 146 Dunstable Road. The building had a frontage of 14 feet. The basement measured 12 feet by 38 feet but was not used. The shop measured 12 feet 3 inches by 25 feet with a back room, used for cutting up meat, measuring 13 feet square. A small covered yard lay outside.
The first floor contained a sitting room measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 22 feet 6 inches and a kitchen measuring 13 feet by 12 feet 6 inches. Three bedrooms lay on the third floor. These measured 12 feet 6 inches by 14 feet, 10 feet by 8 feet 6 inches and 13 feet by 12 feet 6 inches.
Eastmans did not have long left, Kelly's Directory for 1931 lists butchers G. KIngston Limited at 23 George Street as well as butchery chain J. H. Dewhurst Limited; by the directory for 1939 only Dewhurst was listed at the address and this firm remained in the premises until at least 1972.
Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a Borough of Luton Public Health Department Shops Act 1934 Section 10 inspection book [BorL/EH/14/1]. This book reveals that in November 1936 ventilation was provided by a fanlight and a continuous grille over the window. There was no heating. A men's toilet was situated in a first floor back room "Female uses Corn Exchange Convenience". Natural lighting was good in the shop but the stairs to the first floor were dark (an amendment on 14th May 1937 noted that electric light had been provided at this spot). Artificial lighting was by electricity. All meals were taken off the premises. The shop employed three men, one woman and four boys under eighteen.
The last Kelly's for Luton, 1975, does not list the premises at all. 23 George Street is one of the few remaining 19th century premises in George Street and is currently  occupied by a recruitment firm and a Polish Centre.
23 George Street June 2010