Memories are made of this
I came to Finedon in 1949 as my father was a Finedon man. He worked for The National Assistance Board as a Senior Executive Officer. Over the years he managed every office on the A6 between Finedon and Manchester. He often had to work away from home during the week.
My great grandfather owned Loakes factory. It had been built as a wool factory by Francis Sharp. John Hawthorne’s father, my great grandfather, was a wool comber and came to work for Francis Sharp. He lived at Obelisk House until his death in 1857 and was succeeded by his son Francis Brampton Sharp, who was to become Finedon’s first County Councillor in 1889. He lived at Obelisk House until his death in 1894.Francis owned three cottages along Burton Road, known locally as “Little Burton”
My great grandfather Mr. J .Hawthorne then became the owner of Obelisk House as well as the factory. He stopped employment at the factory during the General Strike and I think that Loakes bought the factory in 1931. The property was converted into a shoe factory employing about forty people. My great grandfather owned a lot of property here including Clifton Terrace, Oldways, and Whitlark’s.
In all he must have owned a hundred houses .He was Chairman of Finedon Gas Company; he hated the electric. He was also president of the Cricket Club, President of the Old Prize Band and also President of the Gladstone Club.
He had been in a very bad train smash at Wellingborough Station in 1897 when there were coaches all over the place. He would always try to tip train drivers after this incident and used to give them half a crown. He died in 1954 aged ninety seven.
My sister went to the Infant’s School here then the Girl’s Junior School before going to St Peter’s School in Kettering.
She married Dr Mc Gibbon in 1969. I was also educated locally before going to Cambridge University in 1961. I began by reading Natural Sciences but switched in the final year to Economics. After leaving university I got a job as a statistician for eighteen months. I then worked for I.B.M and initially had a flat in London. I tried to commute but found this to be too exhausting. I next took up employment with British Timken in Northampton and was there for twenty four years as a data base administrator. I then went to Reed books (who had a warehouse at Sander’s Lodge)
I became interested in Finedon history when I saw so many houses being pulled down and I realised that history would be lost. I decided to take photographs of these buildings. I got friendly with Reginald Underwood who had written The Pageant of Finedon. He had a large scrapbook containing photos and I decided to take any I found to him. I was interested in my own family’s history and was researching my father’s side of the Family Tree. During this research I found interesting facts that had not been written about.
As I was not married at the time I had a go at writing about what I found out, although I did not know if I would ever manage to get anything published.
I approached some printers in order to find out how much it would cost to get my book printed and was informed that it would cost two thousand five hundred pounds. Being unable to meet this I decided to approach local people who I hoped might be able to help me financially. I did this with the understanding that I would return to them a share of what was made. A thousand books were printed and within five months the money had been recouped and everyone had their money back. I managed to sleep well again.
It had taken me three years to write my first book. My second book was published in 1986 and I had a thousand printed; these went in three weeks so another thousand were printed and these lasted for six years. I started to do slide shows as people knew that I had photos; this was a fundraising effort for various charities.
I first stood for Wellingborough Urban District Council in 1967 when I was twenty five and still commuting to London. I was top of the poll the first time .I stood for the Conservatives as they were prepared to pay for election expenses and I have been a Conservative ever since. I tend not like being whipped or told what I should do. Most of the councillors were independent when I first got on. The other people who had seats at the time were Bob Paterson and Jack Wells.
Finedon Hall was up for sale following the death of St Clair Wade; it was in an awful state at the time. I arranged for the Inspector from the Ministry to view it and he stated that it was not bad enough to be demolished. Ken Bryant later purchased the property and began converting Finedon Hall into flats.
Finedon Hall 2006
I have been Chairman of the Housing Committee for twenty six years and I feel that I have had some considerable influence regarding Property Conservation. It is possible that Mackworth Green would have been demolished if it had not been for me. I got it registered as a Listed Building.
Mackworth Green May 2006
I suggested that the houses be converted to council dwellings; one or two the council do not own. The Tithe Barn would not have been there if I had not been able to persuade the council to buy it and do it up.
Looking Down Laws Lane
I also believe that the Pocket Park would have been filled in right to the gully and down Harrowden Lane as well as the Tainty. Bob Coles supported me in my fight. Regarding the development to the east of Sidegate Lane; I think that it is disastrous as we will be totally absorbed into Wellingborough.
When I was Mayor in 1976 I was faced with the dilemma of whether to attend the Remembrance Ceremony here or the one in Wellingborough. I wished to attend the one here but some pressure from Wellingborough Council forced me to attend Wellingborough which I was not comfortable with. I have been a County Councillor since 1970 representing Finedon and also other villages.
It does take a lot of time but I like to have a say in things; even if I lose the day….I do occasionally achieve something.
My father followed me into the Council. My grandfather Leonard Bailey was a County Councillor and Finedon Urban District Finedon History and I derive a great pleasure from studying it.
I would not want to live anywhere else but Finedon.Councillor as was his father. I feel that I am just carrying on a family tradition. Another one of my interests is to look after St Mary’s Church Records. I feel that we have the most interesting and complete collections of records in the county; I think that I spend three to four hours a week on this. I feel that I am the world’s expert on Finedon.