Inside Letchworth Garden City - March 2021 - Flipbook - Page 8
History PART 1
BINDER PLACE - Mr & Mrs Binder ran a stationery shop
and newsagents on the corner of Crab Lane from 1940.
In 1943 they expanded, taking over a shop in the Market
Square and, in 1945, they opened a bookshop at Market
House but retired just three years later.
BROOKBANKS - Albert J Brookbanks set up as
gentleman’s tailor, outfitter and draper in 1898 next to
Llyods and Barclays banks - his slogan was ‘Brookbanks,
between the banks’. His son Bob, a member of the
Biggleswade Special Police Force, took over in 1947,
followed by his grandson, Rex King, in 1951. The premises
survived a major fire in 1952 and the business continued
until 1964, when the building was sold.
BRYANT’S EDGE - Bryant & Chambers was a motorcycle
dealership in Shortmead Street, set up in 1907 by Alfred
Bryant and his brother-in-law Mr Chambers and renamed
‘Bryants The Rider Agents’ in 1932. In 1938 they bought
Riverford House to use as their main showroom; during
the war its’ cellars were used as an air raid shelter,
accessed from Dark Lane. Alfred’s son George, a
renowned motorcyclist, had taken over by then, he was
followed by his wife Elsie and children, Michael and Anne.
From 1965 Triumph, Bond and Reliant cars were sold but
were later discontinued and, after the motorcycle trade
fell into decline, the business closed in 1992.
CARTER MEADOWS - In 1938 Arthur Carter opened
a sweet shop next to the Regal Cinema (now the bingo
hall). His brother Wally and his wife Vera took over in
1941, followed by sister Ethel in 1947. The shop remained
on the site until 1971 when Ethel and husband William
decided to close it, due to the imminent introduction
of decimalisation. Around 1950, a second shop was
established in Georges Hall run by Arthur, along with Joe
Bennett, who was very popular with the customers. When
Arthur died in 1959, his widow, Rita, was able to continue
the business with Joe’s help until they retired in 1978.
The roads of a new estate near Potton Road,
in Biggleswade, are named after historical
retailers from the town. Whilst many of
them will be familiar to those who’ve lived
in the area for a long time, most will be
unknown to newer residents; so who were CHEW MEADOW - Father and son, both Ebenezer Chew,
were prominent businessmen in the town. In 1830 Chew
these people and what were their trades? Senior set up his leather merchants and shoe shop at 38
Shortmead Street. When they expanded, around 1838,
‘Chew & Son’ became one of the town’s leading grocers
and moved to the Market Square. Chew Junior served the
town in many capacities including setting up a Mission,
whilst his son Henry ran a china shop, H.E. Chew, on the
Rita Carter and Joe Bennett taken on the day they retired
and Carter’s sweet shop closed for good in 1978.
COLLINGS CRESENT - The Collings family arrived in
town in 1920 and, when Lewis Collings became bankrupt
in 1922, his son Herbert ‘Alec’ Collings took over his
motor and agricultural showroom in Shortmead Street.
The business served many local farmers and market
gardeners and even converted a tractor into a roller
for Biggleswade Cricket Club. Other family interests
included a wireless factory and sports business in the
WORDS: Biggleswade resident and writing enthusiast Rachel Howlett. IMAGES: Courtesy of Bridget Gurney and Jeanne Denny