A look at Dunstable

CROWDS line the pavements around Dunstable crossroads in this very early (and now rather creased) photograph.

It shows the shops which once stood at the end of Middle Row, on the corner of High Street South and West Street.

These included the jeweller and silversmith business started by Walter Lester in around 1876 and the general store owned by John Andrews, a Kensworth man who had moved to Dunstable after running a village store in Houghton Regis.

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Advertisements for Herington the chemist (indigestion and constipation pills) and Harry Rixson (antique and modern furniture) dominate the Lester building but, in fact, those other, famous, Dunstable businesses were based elsewhere in the town.

The shops at the end of Middle Row were demolished in around February 1911 to allow West Street to be widened.

That left what is now the Taylor’s estate agent’s shop on the corner.

But for many years the building was a newsagent’s run by Mr Keep – which is why it is still known as Keep’s Corner.

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It’s fascinating to see that the photo shows the raised area around the gas lamp which once stood at the centre of the crossroads. This was the focal point for numerous gatherings, including the very first Salvation Army meeting in the town.

Here, a group of grammar school boys in Eton collars are among the crowds awaiting some kind of procession.

So far, we have not been able to discover what was happening.

Earlier thoughts that this was one of the hunger marches of the 1930s is clearly incorrect – the photo, which belongs to Miss Christina Scott, is of a much earlier date.

> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society

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