A look at the past: 138 years of ironmongery in Biggleswade

PUBLISHED: 11:38 01 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:37 06 May 2010

The shop in the 1930s

The shop in the 1930s

GOLDTHORPE S Ironmongers shop at 38 High Street dates back to at least 1869 when William Goldthorpe, coppersmith, was trading here. Outwardly the shop has not changed markedly in appearance and inside it is reminiscent of bygone days when ironmongers stoc

James Goldthorpe outside the shop in the 1890s

GOLDTHORPE'S Ironmongers shop at 38 High Street dates back to at least 1869 when William Goldthorpe, coppersmith, was trading here.

Outwardly the shop has not changed markedly in appearance and inside it is reminiscent of bygone days when ironmongers stocked almost everything.

The town hall adjoining was built in 1844 in the vicarage garden.

The vicarage stood behind the shop until 1890 when a new vicarage was built in Shortmead Street, next to St Andrew's Church.

In 1881 the vicarage yard was described as uninhabited and eventually the Goldthorpe family acquired the site.

The last remnants of the old buildings behind the shop were demolished in 1982.

William Goldthorpe, who was born in Hitchin, was living in Newtown (Potton Road) and in the 1851 census was described as a brazier.

He was still in Newtown 10 years later but now a brazier and gas fitter.

In 1871 he was at the shop in Stratton Street (later High Street) and was described as a coppersmith employing one man.

His eldest son James was a gas fitter and second son William a wheelwright.

William junior continued his trade as wheelwright also becoming licensee of The White Hart (only a stone's throw away from the shop) from 1874 to 1923.

By 1890 James was trading as an ironmonger, gas fitter and metalworker in Shortmead Street.

Shortly afterwards he took over his father's business.

James died in 1929 and his widow Marion lived until 1943.

During her last few months, aged 92, she was wheeled around the town in a bath chair.

James' son Herbert (Bert) Goldthorpe, the third generation, carried on with the business and when he died in 1938 his sister Miss Goldthorpe continued trading.

Stanley (Dick) Sims who lived in Orchard Road, Beeston, worked for Miss Goldthorpe from 1950 until her retirement in 1962.

Then he ably managed the shop until 1970, when in partnership with his son David, he purchased the business.

David Sims is still trading at the oldest shop in Biggleswade and carrying on the tradition of stocking almost anything in the hardware line in the shop.


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