Northampton April 2012
Researched and led by Sue Constable
Just a few pictures of some of the things we saw on the City Safari to Northampton.
Barratts Footshape Works, Kingsthorpe Road. This factory was built in 1913 to the design of A.E. Anderson. Many of the larger factories had an imposing office block at the front and a more utilitarian factory building at the back. This building is particularly elaborate. The north-light factory behind has been demolished. The brick and cream terracotta frontage has a door in the centre and a vehicle entrance at each end. The pierced balustrade reads FOOTSHAPE BOOT WORKS. Barratts was founded in 1903 and made its name providing well fitting shoes by mail order. The company was taken over by Stylo in 1961 and finally closed about 1998.
Crockett and Jones have been on this site since 1889 and are still in full production. The company was founded in 1879 by Charles Jones and his brother-in-law, James Crockett. They established the business with a grant of £100 each from the Thomas White Trust ‘to encourage young men of good character in the towns of Northampton and Coventry to set up business on their own’. The first Crockett & Jones factory in 1879 was a small building in Carey Street, Northampton with 20 employees. Here they concentrated on making men’s boots. The leathers were cut at the factory before being distributed to out-workers who would take the parts home. In 1910 a 5 storey wing was built onto this factory; the first steel framed building in Northampton. It boasted a huge proportion of glass to give superb natural lighting for production. A second wing was added to the Perry Street factory in 1935, providing a new office block, showroom and an in-stock department. The original front door was moved from Magee Street to Perry Street as the main entrance and retains its impressive 1930’s Art Deco design.
This is in fact two shoe factories which later became one. Hornby and West built a factory on the corner of Overstone Road and St Michaels Road in 1876. It was extended in 1883 and 1893. G.T. Hawkins original factory was built in Overstone Road about 1886. The doorway with Walkerz Works on the lintel still survives. By 1899 they had built an extension in Dunster Street and a 4 story block in St Michaels Road. About 1912 Hawkins took over Hornsby and West and the whole block became a single factory. Hawkins became famous for making walking and climbing boots, as well as making military footwear. They closed in 2000. Planning permission has been given for conversion into apartments.
The Albion Steam Brewery was built in 1883 for Ratcliffe and Jeffery. The brewery was taken over by Phipps and Co. Ltd in 1899 and brewing ceased on the site about 1903. The building at the back of the site is the brewhouse. The cooperage building faces Kingswell Street.

This building on the corner of Foundry Street was the fermentation and cooling building. The remaining buildings have been demolished.
The White Hart, Cotton End. The present building was put up about 1900, but it may be a re-build of an older pub.
Latimer and Crick Warehouse. This warehouse, built in the 19th century was used to store grain. There are hoists and loading doors on both sides of the building. Latimer and Crick were major agricultural suppliers and had offices and stores elsewhere in the town.
Workshops, 51 Station Road, Long Buckby. When shoemaking came to the village most of those employed in the trade were outworkers. They worked in workshops attached to their houses or in ones at the bottom of the garden. This pair of houses have first floor workshops which could be accessed from the house.
Upper Mill, now Willow Mill, West Street. There has been a mill on this site since at least the 18th century. It started life as a water mill but in the 19th century a steam engine was installed as the water flow was insufficient. The remains of the chimney can be seen behind the mill.
Maltings, St James Road, Northampton. The maltings were built in 1888 for Thomas Manning & Co. who ran the Castle Brewery on the other side of the river. There are two kilns at the river end. This maltings is said to be the first to have a concrete floor. In 1994 part of it became the Frog Island Brewery.
Church’s Factory, St James Road. This factory was built in 1905 for Padmore & Barnes. Their American Indian head trademark can be seen each side of the door. Once again the office building with an imposing door is at the front and the factory behind. Church’s took over the factory in 1957 and it is still in operation. In 1999 the company became part of the Prada Group.
The Express Lift Tower is a dominant feature and visible from most of the town. It is often referred to as the "Northampton Lighthouse". It is the only such tower in the UK, and one of only two in Europe The structure was commissioned in 1978 with construction commencing in 1980, and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 12 November 1982. Designed by architect Maurice Walton of Stimpson and Walton, the tower is 127.45 m (418.1 ft) tall, 14.6m (47.9 ft) in diameter at the base and tapers to 8.5m (27.9 ft) at the top. It was granted Grade II listed building status on 30 October 1997, at the time making it the youngest listed building in the UK. In January 1997, the tower fell out of use after Express Lifts was taken over by Otis and subsequently closed. In 1999, the tower and surrounding land was sold for development.

The building is now privately owned and has been re-named the National Lift Tower. Following extensive renovation and repairs, the tower was re-opened for business in October 2009. The tower is used by lift companies for research, development, testing and marketing. As well as being a resource for the lift industry, the building is also available to companies requiring tall vertical spaces, for example companies wishing to test working-at-height safety devices.

All images Copyright © Bill Barksfield 2012