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Local Products in Northampton

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About Northampton

Located on the River Nene, Northampton, originally began life as a Roman settlement and a Saxon village called Hammtun in what is now the Marefair area of the modern day market town. After the Civil War, the focus of the town moved to the All Saints area and The Market Square. The town suffered greatly in the Great Fire of 1675 but Welsh House in the square survived. Nevertheless, following more recent threats to its existence only a replica building remains, with the stairs and arms being the only original features, its appearance belies its historical importance to the town.

The Great Fire broke out in St Mary’s Street and many people fled to the perceived safety of the Market Square but were soon to be surrounded by flames. Their only escape route was to make their way through the Welsh House to the orchards and open fields beyond.

The Market Square is believed to be the oldest in England and its architectural character stems from the gentle slope of the square from north to south, the variety and style of the facades which now prevail including the modern frontages of Peacock Place Shopping Arcade and the Grosvenor Centre.

Also many fine examples from the Georgian period can be found throughout the town. The Market Square has recently been resurfaced using traditional materials, York Stone and Mid Grey Granite Blocks rather than the planned resin bonded gravel. Gold Street is another shopping street with many fine facades, notably the ornate stucco fronts of numbers 37 to 39 and the upper floors of numbers 47 to 49. An extension to the north over the existing Grey Friars Bus Station is now planned for the Grosvenor Centre which would ensure that this area remains a vibrant and important part of the town.

In terms of industry, Northampton is famous for the manufacture of shoes and leather goods. Up until 1850 the shoemakers were nearly all home workers, making shoes in their cellars or garden sheds. The urban landscape began to change with the appearance of small footwear factories amongst the rows of terraced houses.

These small factories were all very similar in plan and typically had three storeys and thick opaque glass windows. Each had a heavy timber front door, a wide timber staircase and a small matchwood office on the first floor. Although this industry has declined, some of these small buildings have survived , together with the grander premises of Northampton’s world renowned shoe manufacturers such as Trickers, Sanders, Alfred Sargent and Crockett and Jones who still produce the finest quality shoes.