Family to be remembered in estate

PUBLISHED: 11:45 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

The laundry pictured in the seventies

The laundry pictured in the seventies

A family which played a large part in Biggleswade s 20th century business history is to be remembered on a new housing estate. The planned development is on the site of the old laundry in Potton Road, which closed down over a year ago. Biggleswade Town Co

The Star Wireless factory

A family which played a large part in Biggleswade's 20th century business history is to be remembered on a new housing estate.

The planned development is on the site of the old laundry in Potton Road, which closed down over a year ago.

Biggleswade Town Council has informed developers McCann Homes they would like it to be known as The Banes.

The field was originally owned by Thomas Race, owner of nearby Road Farm and master of the Biggleswade Hunt who, it is claimed, buried his best horse under the floor of his front room when it died.

The first business on the site was the Star Wireless Works which was opened in 1927 by Walter Banes who lived not far from the small factory.

He and his grandfather, who was also named Walter, both lived in a cottage known as the Ramblers which still exists.

Walter junior later had a bungalow built on nearby land where his late son John also lived with his first wife Gillian, sister of Biggleswade councillor Rex Skinner.

Many people still remember the Banes family as their large garden contained a wonderful orchard with the fruit being sold to townsfolk.

The laundry was opened on the wireless factory site in 1930 by local farmer and seeds and grain merchant Harold Gee.

A year later it was taken over by George Williams and his wife Gwen who encouraged people to have their laundry dried by the fresh air from the Sandy hills!

At its peak in 1972 it employed 52 people but with competition from larger companies it finally closed after Gwen died aged 98 and her sons Stuart, Graham and Ian decided to sell the site to a developer.

"The name keeps a bit of past Biggleswade history alive," said Mr Skinner.

"The Banes family is well known in Biggleswade although none of them live here any more. My sister Gillian lives in Barnsley and so do her two children Kevin and Bernice.

"It keeps an old name and a bit of Biggles-wade's past going.

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