Nostalgia: Triumph of a business

PUBLISHED: 12:53 02 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:32 06 May 2010

Riverford House

Riverford House

RIVERFORD HOUSE, SHORTMEAD STREET, BIGGLESWADE THIS week we continue our look at the history of Riverford House in Shortmead Street. In 1937 the house was sold to Alfred Bryant. There was already a Bryant s shop and motorcycle showroom opposite, at 72-7

RIVERFORD HOUSE, SHORTMEAD STREET, BIGGLESWADE

THIS week we continue our look at the history of Riverford House in Shortmead Street.

In 1937 the house was sold to Alfred Bryant.

There was already a Bryant's shop and motorcycle showroom opposite, at 72-74 Shortmead Street, started by Alfred Bryant and his brother-in-law Mr Chambers in 1907.

The frontage of Riverford House was converted into the main showroom in May 1938.

During the war, the cellars were used for an air raid shelter with an entrance in Dark Lane.

By now, Alfred Bryant had retired and Alfred's son George Bryant, a champion motorcyclist, was head of the firm.

George Bryant died suddenly in 1955 on holiday at Frinton-on-Sea.

His widow Elsie carried on with the help of willing staff, her father-in-law Alfred, and her son and daughter.

Alfred Bryant died in 1962.

In 1965 internal walls at Riverford House were removed when the showroom was enlarged.

Two years later, the cottages nearby were demolished for a new modern showroom, opened as Bryant's expanded into Triumph, Bond and Reliant cars.

Cars were later discontinued and Sid Skinner opened a new showroom for caravans.

Elsie Bryant retired in 1973 and a partnership of her son Michael, daughter Ann and her husband Roger Sharpe took over the business.

Elsie died in February 1992.

Later that year there was a downturn in the motorcycle trade and the partners reluctantly decided to close the business in October.

Mantles Garages used the new showroom for a short time, when they first took over their Ford dealership in addition to Rover.

There was a planning application in 1996 to use the land for a supermarket, with Riverford House restored as part of the frontage to Shortmead Street. But this fell through and a planning application to build a housing estate on the site was approved and completed in 2003.

Riverford House was demolished.

Now there are new houses blending in with the Shortmead Street frontage, including Wharf Mews, which leads towards the river.

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