I’ve been working today on a drawing of those houses at the south end of Creed Street opposite the Church and the former Science and Art Institute. I should be able to finish it tomorrow.
The company built five cottages here, probably in late 1841. Four of them appear to have been shops from the outset. They were numbered from 612 to 616 and were likely the last houses to be built in this phase of Wolverton’s development.
The corner building, detached from the rest of the terrace, was a bakery and I imagine it was purpose-built as such. It was much larger than the Bury Street bakery built a few years earlier. For most of the 19th century it was operated by the Walker family. John Walker and his father William were the first occupants and after the bakery in Bury Street was pulled down may have been the only commercial bakers in the town for a few years until the new bakery opened on the corner of Radcliffe Street and Church Street in the 1860s. I assume that many housewives still baked their own bread but a trend for commercially produced bread would have grown throughout the 19th century. As the town expanded a new bakery started at the corner of Church Street and Radcliffe Street (now demolished) and a later one at the start of Church Street, known as the “Brighton Bakery”. The coop also built a large bakery on Aylesbury street at the back of its premises on the Market Square. But for a time John Walker’s family met the demand. After the Bury Street shops were demolished in 1857, the Co-op bakery moved. John Walker soldiered on until 1892 when he died at the advanced age of 84. Thereafter it was taken over by Hannah Smith, a 40 year-old widow, who employed a baker but ran the shop as a more generalized grocery.
The next four units were separated by a back lane. William Lacey, ran a butcher’s shop. He was 42 at the time of the 1851 Census and probably established in his trade. He came from Bedfordshire. After his relatively early death before 1861 his widow, Lucy, carried on the trade for a while and then was succeeded by various butchers who ran this shop throughout the nineteenth century – none lasting too long. George Gilling. already described, had a shop at the south end of Bury Street, but he retired after 1857. As new lots in Church Street and Stratford Road expanded the town in the 1860s new butcher’s businesses opened in Church Street and the Stratford Road.
The next unit was residential and later in the century became the house for the church sexton. At the south end of Creed Street two buildings were always counted as one. 612 and 613. One side was used as a grocery store and the other kept for residential purposes. The street appearance was that of a single story building but as the land sloped back towards Ledsam Street the buildings were in fact split level. In my boyhood the former grocer’s shop was used as a fish and chip shop, open evenings and weekends and operated by Lloyd Billingham. In the photo you can see the exposed beams for the second floor and where the staircase used to be there is also an internal door surviving between the two units. The end house was quite large according to mid-twentieth century photographs. It is my surmise that the building was extended while it was a prosperous grocery store in the nineteenth century.
There were various occupants during the century: Richard and Charlotte West in 1851, James and Mary Harrison in 1861, William Culverhouse in 1871, Daniel and Sarah Russell in 1881, Herbert and Sarah Chipperfield in 1891, Daniel and Sarah Russell in 1901. James Harrison is clearly designated as Manager of the Cooperative Stores during his tenure here but he is also to be found in later censuses as a grocer on Church Street. If he was still working for the Co-op then the Co-op grocery must have moved. However, subsequent occupants are obviously managers rather than independent grocers, so the Co-op may have retained an interest until Daniel Russell , who ran the shop in 1881, returned in 1901 from his period of work in Harpenden to take over this shop as an independent grocer.