People and Places of Geddington – Lee’s Way Part 2

It is  November 1951. We left Pip Barlow admiring the cottage in Lee’s Way and the adjoining derelict plot owned by the Duke.

How could this neglected building and the neighbouring plot become a family home? Pip could see all the possibilities and was meticulous in putting the detailed plans together as he, and Cynthia, the lady he hoped would agree to be his wife, discussed their dreams for the future.

It would be no small task to revive the existing building and would take time and money, patience and expertise too, to re-build the derelict structure and incorporate it into their new home.

Not everything went quite to plan…..

‘Twelve or fifteen years ago, No 41 was sold for £45. In June last it was put up for sale; 120 applicants immediately wished to purchase same for £400. The owner for some unknown reason cancelled the sale order and retained the cottage. It has stood empty for a year.

The derelict cottages looking down Lee’s Way towards West Street

I can purchase same for £350, owing to the friendship of Donald Bates at Wilson’s estate agents of Dalkeith Place.  I have contacted the Duke’s agent with regard to purchasing the 2 adjoining derelict cottages; I can buy those for £25.’

Pip then set out his key alterations to make his purchase a cosy home:

  1. To knock down the wall to the left of the fireplace and to build in a glass-type door to allow as much light in as possible. (Mrs Chapman who lives at the rear will not allow a window to be put in overlooking her garden.)
  2. To knock out part of the end wall to the left of the chimney in the small bedroom and to build in a window.
  3. To dig away the earth from the lawn of Mrs Chapman’s house, which is about 4ft up my back wall and to form a gulley of cement.
  4. To block up the hole in the wall to Mrs Chapman’s garden…

The list continued and included provision for the necessary facilities of water and sewage to be laid on.

As mentioned in the introductory article Pip was a practical and determined man. He decided to consult about the cost and any permissions needed and on Boxing Day 1951 noted the following in his diary:

‘I have contacted young Jessop with regard to my proposed alterations and he estimates that if done in brick the cost would be roughly £120 – £200. Later I took Ray Ollerenshaw over and he put it down at nearly £300. I intend to ask advice from other quarters.

Two men from Kettering Urban Council have looked over it and have given me their opinions; apparently they have a right to insist upon certain conditions of lighting and sewage etc which must conform to their regulations.’

By January 24th 1952 the big decision to purchase had been made and builders were sought.

‘Today is my 35th birthday. I have paid by cheque to Peter Wilson the sum of £315 (having previously paid a deposit of £35) for 41 West Street, henceforward to be known as ‘The Den’.

The derelict cottages looking up Lee’s Way towards Back Way or Queen Eleanor Road

By previous appointment I met a Mr Suckling of Lindsay Street, builder, recommended to me by George Thompson. He seems a most honourable and conscientious man and we discussed necessary improvements…’

There was some debate about building the cottage in stone or brick; stone would certainly be too expensive for Pip, but before a final decision could be made national events distracted Pip from his task.  


George VI

The King is dead, long live the Queen!   

‘George VI passed away in his sleep -all UK and the world mourn a great and loved monarch.’

Will Pip be able to find a builder able to do the job within his budget and the requirements of those gentlemen from Kettering Urban Council?

It will certainly be a challenge!

‘February 17th 1952

I ran Roy round to Bill Wilde’s today, to see about getting him a job. Later we dashed over to The Den to light a fire. Paul Jessop has already taken doors and window frames over – also a wheel barrow and cement.

Last Monday, at Cynthia’s request, I took her over to Geddington after an excellent dinner at The Royal. Whilst we were looking over the cot a knock came at the door – I looked out, no-one in sight. Waited just inside and when another knock came dashed out and saw Eddy disappearing up the alley. He and Jint were invited to inspect and were agreeably surprised at the possibilities.’

Eddy wasn’t the only one to be curious about what was happening at the cottage…

‘March 1st   Paul tells me he has felled the chimney- and that the whole village turned out to watch. He has also moved 14 tons of rubble to be scattered in various gateways of mud….the plans are to go before the Council this Wednesday.

Paul laughed and said that the dust and muck caused by the chimney falling hid the whole village for 6 hours and everyone lost everybody’ !!

So far so good….. but our next installment reveals some serious difficulties to be overcome.

**************************************************************************************************************************A  Author’s note; we believe Jint or Jinty was Eddy’s girlfriend and Eddy, one of Pip’s best friends, may have lived in the cottage by the ford and kept canaries as a hobby.  Do you remember them?