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THE HISTORY OF DAVENTRY from 1851

There were 3 boot and shoe factories - Stead & Simpsons in Church Walk, Rodhouses in Oxford Street and Mountain and Daniels in Warwick Street. Women would fetch the pieces of leather from the factories, sew them together into shoe uppers at home, (mostly by machine by 1900) and return the made uppers to the factory.

There was an annual Mop Fair on the Market Place the 1st Wednesday in October, also the following Wednesday but this was much quieter and was the day for hiring people. (Kelly's Directory says "3rd Wednesday following Old Michaelmas Day".) There were 13 horse and cattle fairs a year, held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month and 27th October. There was also a Cheese Fair on the 2nd Tuesday of April and October.

The 1900 'Memories' says: The Winter Hunt met in the Market Place. Winter had the Muffin Man. A Horse drawn fire- engine was kept in the Moot Hall in the Market Place. A water cart came round on hot summer days, down Sheaf Street and up High Street spraying water on the dusty roads. There was also horse-racing on Borough Hill. Figs were eaten on Palm Sunday, warm Hot Cross Buns for breakfast on Good Friday and Easter Sunday saw coloured hard boiled eggs - pink, blue or yellow - and chocolate eggs. Oranges were a Xmas treat.

In 1925 Daventry became home to BBC Radio and one of its engineers left this recollection: "the most surprising things can cause transmitter breakdowns. Mice are especially fond of the insulation of cables. They like the taste of the wax, but when they have eaten through to the wire the result may be a sudden termination of both programme and mouse. In a case like this the tiny saboteur gives its own form of assistance to the engineer trying to spot the trouble. A strong smell of cooking mouse pervades the transmitter concerned and the searcher has only to trace the scent to its source."

Cummins have their largest UK plant at the town where they manufacture some of their largest diesel engines that are suitable for marine, railcar and generator set uses. Ford had one of its factories here, but this has since become a parts and distribution centre.

The town once had a railway station on the former London & North Western Railway branch-line from Weedon to Leamington Spa, but it was closed on 15 September 1958 and is now demolished. The local weekly newspaper, the Daventry Express, is nicknamed 'The Gusher', after the steam engine that used to serve the town.

Today the old town has a centre of about eight streets, surrounded by a large area of Victorian housing, and then ringed by dual carriageways, with a mass of post-war building for housing and commerce. A street market is held every Tuesday and Friday in High Street, although its original site was on the aptly named Market Square. There is a modern shopping mall, small and pushed through to the High Street. It is still the only town in that part of the county, and a local centre, but nowadays most of the traffic is on the M1.

The above description was compiled by Heather Cotton from "Memories of Daventry, early 1900" and "Kelly's Directories", various dates, held in the Local Studies Section of the library in Daventry.