Walk 75: Kettering’s Industrial Trail..plus a couple of other bits!

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: Probably just over a couple of miles (3.22kms)

Time to walk: A couple of hours. We lived in Kettering in 1983 & were astonished how much it had changed – not sure that most of it’s for the best, but we’ll leave you to make your own minds up

Difficulty: Easy, all on hard paths

Parking: We parked in the public car park in Commercial Road – not particularly cheap

Public toilets: Pubs, cafes etc

Map of the route: None, but our notes are easy to follow. The Industrial part of this walk is credited to NIAG’s Ron Hanson

We decided that maybe we’d been too hard on Kettering so thought we’d give it another chance. On our visit there last year to enquire about a tourist trail map etc, both the Council Offices & Library basically told us there was nothing available. So…after much research we’ve found a walk covering Kettering’s Industrial Heritage & have combined this with our own research into the town

Would our first impressions change?

Let’s Walk!

1. There’s several places to park in Kettering &, as our walk starts at the top of the Commercial Road Car Park, that’s where we’ll park, although it ends at the London Road one near the swimming pool


2. Head to the top of the car park into the semi circular street known as Wadcroft, which now forms a service street for local businesses…


In the 1700’s this area was thriving & was known as a place where woad was grown for dyeing wool. Weaving was expanded from a domestic basis to an industry around 1655 & grew to its heights after 1700. Weavers were supplied with yarn by the merchants’ middle men. This was then made into cloth & taken back to the merchants for sale in the larger towns & cities. Trade died off during the Napoleonic wars when the export market dried up

3. Head to the right side of Wadcroft & on the right’s Bellfoundry Lane which is a clue to what went on here…


Thomas Eayers, who was also a renowned map maker, was a bell founder here between 1710 & 1762…


Roughly 200 bells were made here during that time

4. Having had a look at the street sign turn left & head up to the High Street…


…then turning left – you can see how miserable the weather was today


5. At the end of this stretch’s the town centre clock &….well it’s different


The 27ft clock tower celebrates 100 years of the Rotary Club worldwide. The tower’s a tall metal cone topped by a colourfully-lit clock face. It was designed to reflect Kettering’s landmark parish church spire by urban designer Terry Eaton, of Eaton Waygood Associates (no website available), who is originally from Kettering

6. Bear left into Lower Street…


Confession time…at 7pm on 30th June 1983, the pub on the left, The Peacock was where our Stag Night started…& we survived!


7. Right…the most important establishment along here out the way continue along Lower Street…


On the left’s Kettering’s Post Office


8. Continue straight on & on the right’s the remnants of the former malt house…


This was part of the Crown Brewery used by John Elworthy. The stone on the front dates it back to 1904…it’s just a shame it can’t be part of today’s micro brewery revival


9. Just over the next set of traffic lights on the left’s Chesham House…



Thomas Gotch started his shoe & boot business in Kettering in 1778, but it didn’t grow in the town until 1810. The wall to the left’s probably one of the original factory ones & all that’s left of it

10. There’s a plaque on the wall that records the events here…


The information on the web gives us more of an insight… “Factories as we know them today did appear until about 1860 & even then a lot of outwork was carried out in the home or in the workshop at the end of th garden. William Carey, the Baptist Minister & missionary at one time worked for Thomas Gotch & would walk from Moulton every two weeks to bring made-up boots to Gotch’s warehouse where he would obtain fresh leather for his next batch.”

The Gotch’s went bankrupt in 1857. Today though the name is one of the most common around the Kettering area

11. Turn around & have a look at the building over the road… the Mission House



John Turner Stockburn (1825 – 19220 lived here. With his brother-in-law, Robert Wallis he started a linen business around Northall Street & were the first people to use a sewing machine in Kettering around 1856

The sewing machine changed the face of industry in Kettering & many people from the failed Gotch businesses could now use the new technology to start making shoes…

12. Head back towards the town centre past the brewery building & then left up Tanners Lane…



You can have a peep in the old brewery yard on the left…


13. Pass Beech Cottage on the left & look for the entrance into the Newlands Centre (unfortunately if you read the official walk we’ve based this on they call it the Newborough Centre). We should know we held our wedding reception above it!



14. Head straight through the shopping centre to emerge on the other side in Gold Street…




Here we are…


15. Turn left up Gold Street, looking for a small alley on the right…



At the end of this alley are the remains of Ebenezer Chapel…



There’s not much known about this old building, but apparently , after the decline of the Gotch’s business, a former apprentice John Bryan started a partnership here with two others making boots. They made 237,000 boots between 1869 & 1874

16. Head left up the passage towards Silver Street…


There’s an interesting bar on the right that wasn’t there when we lived in the town!



It appears to be a bit of everything!


17. At the top turn right into Silver Street which, in the 1970’s & 80’s was a major bustling thoroughfare in the town with banks & major shops


Then along came the A14 & the traffic simply passed by Kettering. At least some businesses appear to still be flourishing along here…


18. Cross over the road & into School Lane…


About 50 yards on the left’s Tordoff Place & the flats on the corner stand on the site of where the Wallis & Linnell factory once was…


This company made clothes using sewing machines in the 1860’s. It worked closely with another business in Dalkeith Place owned by Owen Robinson who serviced & repaired the machines. Given the amount of work put his way, Robinson produced a better method for sewing leather & this engineering business expanded into premises in nearby Victoria Street, producing a range of boot & shoe machinery. Owen Robinson’s grandson developed & built three motor cars, one of which can be seen in the Manor House Museum

19. Carry on up School Lane past the Central Methodist Church…


…plus an old school which is now more of a work centre



20. Turn left into Victoria Street…the building on the corner was also another boot & shoe factory


Over the road’s Bonkers Playhouse


Bonkers is Kettering’s first & only dedicated Playhouse Theatre offering a range of entertainment including: Straight Plays, Small Scale Musicals, Live Music, Craft & Gift Fair’s, Themed Evenings & much more. With a licensed bar the venue is also available for hire for Birthday’s, corporate events & other celebrations.


21. Continue along Victoria Street towards the junction with Montagu Street


At the crossroads turn left…



Stop opposite Newman’s hardware shop…


Here in 1898 three engineers, Arthur Richardson Timson, Charles Bullock (both ex employees of Owen Robinson) & Charles Barber started building pedal cycles. By 1903 they’d developed one with an engine – the ‘Ketterina’ motor cycle, which they produced up  to World War 1. The company later became Timson Perfecta which we’ll come across again shortly

22. Head back to the crossroads & continue straight over…



…passing on the right the old Stamford Road School


23. Continue down the road to the junction with Bath Street on the left…


There’s some ‘interesting’ businesses along here…



…especially one who’s ideas may be above their station…


24. Turn left down Bath Street…


The large building with the large ‘T’ is the Timson Perfecta Works, one of Kettering’s most famous companies. Timsons, Ltd. was formed in 1896 by Arthur Richardson Timson, who initially repaired shoe machinery in the cellar of his parents’ house. Soon afterwards, his family moved & the business continued in a workshop in the new home’s garden


After repairing shoe machinery, Arthur Timson started to manufacture to his own designs. He also began to sell, repair & produce bicycles – which had become very popular in the 1890s – remember the Newman’s shop. By 1907 the Company was also moving into the printing machinery market. Ernest, the only son of Arthur Timson, joined him in 1920 & together they ran the Company until Arthur died in 1954. During this period, Timsons established its reputation as a leading manufacturer of web fed rotary presses, printing letterpress & gravure

During World War 1 they made 4.5″ shells & Stokes mortar bombs


Over the years Timson’s has continued to develop & produce fantastic machinery & the company still sticks to Arthur’s basic principles…

“I will give you all the assistance, that you might in time take a leading position, but the ladder wants climbing a rung at a time, but this will only come by experience and time”

25. At the junction of Bath Street & Digby Street is the former three storey boot factory of Thomas Bird, which dates back to 1891. Output in 1911 was 4000 pairs a week


Today it’s good to see the building being used in the same industry…


E.A Tailby are a traditional heel maker, establishes in 1902 who continue to supply to the leading fashion names around the world

26. Turn right down Digby Street where there’s some competition for house sales…



At the bottom of the hill take a few steps down Catesby Street & peep over the wall into the back yards on the right…


These were the small workshops at the ends of the gardens where boot & shoe outwork was carried out prior to the mid 1890s when most of the tasks moved into factories

27. Back into Digby Street & head up the hill to where another of Kettering’s institutions has its engineering works…Charles Wicksteed


Built in 1876 to make tools for boiler repairs, this was both an iron & brass foundry. They later moved into mechanical hacksaws, bread & butter slicing & spreading machines. They’re probably more famous for Wicksteed Park (which we’ll save for another day) on the outskirts of the town – they also make the playground equipment. During World War 1 they also made 4.5″ shells

28. About turn & head back to Bath Road & turn right along it…


…before turning left into Nelson Street


On the right’s the old Baptist School


29. Continue straight over the crossroads…


Come inside if you think you're hard enough!

Come inside if you think you’re hard enough!

…& then straight over the next one as well. Frank’s Pizzeria‘s on the corner


Frank’s has been going years & always gets fantastic write ups (see Tripadvisor). When you have a wood-fired oven you’re always going to get great pizza

30. At the T-junction turn right passing the school…



…before turning left into Park Road


Got my eye on you!

Got my eye on you!

31. At the end turn left along Park Avenue…



The trees are in their late autumn show in the park. On the left’s another famous shoe firm…Loakes



Loake’s has been making traditional English shoes for longer than anyone can remember. John opened the first Loake factory with his brothers, Thomas & William, back in 1880. Today, five generations & more than 130 years later, Loake’s association with fine, handmade shoes lives on

Only the very highest quality materials are used & each pair takes eight weeks to make

It’s estimated Loake has made over 50 million pairs of Goodyear welted shoes since it began. They now export to more than 50 countries

32. At the end of Park Avenue turn right keeping the park on the right


…entering Rockingham Road Park at the end


The next couple of hundred yards at this time of the year really is a treat..




33. Exit the gates at the end & turn left…


…heading straight down Charles Street


On the right we get a glimpse of Kettering Town Football Club‘s old ground – shame they still aren’t there


34. At the T-junction turn left along Rockingham Road heading back towards the town centre


Past another institution, Kettering Athletic WMC…


There’s always plenty of entertainment on at this place



35. We’ve always liked Rockingham Road. Every town has its own little eclectic street. In Northampton we have the wonderful Wellingborough Road &, whilst Rockingham Road isn’t on the same scale, it’s a great street to walk along


Over the road’s the old Rockingham Road School for Girls (now a business centre)…


36. This street’s always had some fab little restaurants. The Royal Bengal’s been there for years




Mu Mu‘s a new one & pretty good it is too – go try! It will also shortly be in Northampton


37. Carry on to the crossroads…


…passing straight over



38. At the crossroads turn right back down Gold Street…


Passing on the right Fuller Baptist Church


The origins of the Fuller Baptist church stretch back as far as 1666, when the first Nonconformist meetings commenced in Kettering following the Act of Uniformity 1662. That was when Mr Maydwell, the Rector of Kettering, left the Parish Church to establish the Independent Meeting

The first entry, in the Old Church Book, which is undated, lists amongst its members a Mr William Wallis who, with six other members, was dismissed from membership for being an Anabaptist. In October 1696 these men set up their own fellowship in a house in Bayley’s Yard, Newland Street, with William Wallis as their pastor & this formed the first Baptist Church in Kettering from which the Fuller Church ultimately grew

At about the same time a second Baptist fellowship was established in Goosepasture Lane (now Meadow Road) under the leadership of Mr Wills, formerly pastor of the Independent Meeting, but who also had been dismissed from membership. Around 1729 the two separate Baptist meetings merged, meeting together for worship on the common basis of believers baptism & open communion

The church soon was in need of its own burial ground, but the buildings in Goosepasture Lane had little or no land attached. Mr Beeby Wallis (the great-grandson of William Wallis the pastor), made available to the church his house, warehouse, barn, stable yard & gardens situated in Gold Street. This property was worth a total of £350, but was bought by the church for £139 14s 9d

By 1775 under the leadership of George Moreton of Arnesby, the membership had risen to 75. However, not long after Mr Moreton was forced to give his resignation due to ill health & a young minister named Andrew Fuller was approached. Fuller was minister at Soham at the time & was reluctant to leave his small flock, but after consulting with nine of his fellow ministers, he eventually & reluctantly accepted the call &, together with his family, moved to Kettering in October 1782

Andrew Fuller brought life & vigour to the church. He was a prolific writer & a powerful preacher. By 1786 it was considered necessary to enlarge the Chapel at a cost of £133. In the same year a daughter church, Gretton Chapel, became independent of the Kettering church

In 1792 Fuller helped in the creation of what was to become the Baptist Missionary Society, but it was also the year Beeby Wallis and Fuller’s own wife died

By 1805 a further rebuilding of the chapel was required, & the building was lengthened by 18 feet & the walls raised by 4 feet – it could now contain 900 people. Fuller died on Sunday, 7 May 1815. It was estimated that 2000 people attended his funeral. Fuller was succeeded by his assistant, John Keen Hall, who died in 1829 at the age of 43

In 1851 the Sunday School had 534 children attending on Sunday mornings & 625 in the afternoon. Gas lighting was introduced into the Chapel in 1846. Revd James Mursell, whose ministry began in March 1853, had an “exciting & innovative” ministry. It was during his time that the new chapel was built. The Fuller Chapel, as it was named, opened for worship on 24 September 1861

James Mursell served until January 1870. By 1884 the membership had risen to 410. In July 1891 the foundation stone of a mission hall in Nelson Street was laid, which become what is now known as Carey Memorial Chapel. By 1896 membership of Fuller stood at 720 with a Sunday School of around 2000 children

40. Carry on past where we came out of the Newlands Centre earlier passing the Toller Church on the left..


Toller United Reformed Church has been part of the history of Non-Conformity in Kettering for over 345 years

The first non-conformists in Kettering railed round the then Rector of Kettering, the Revd John Maidwell when he resigned his living on the enforcement of the Act of Uniformity in August 1662. Although no worship or preaching was allowed, these early non-conformist Christian believers met secretly in members’ & relatives houses, mainly at a cottage in Hazelwood Lane


Around 1685 when more freedom was allowed a converted barn behind High Street was opened for services. Called “The Independent Meeting” & founded on “Congregational” principles the building could hold 400 people. When Revd John Maidwell died in 1693 he was buried in the chancel of Kettering Parish Church. Among the worshippers were Baptists, Congregationalists & Presbyterians, but in 1696, because of their views on baptisms, the Baptists formed their own church (The Little Meeting).


The meetings flourished & congregations grew rapidly & in 1723 a new church was build on Bakehouse Hill, now Gold Street. Seating nearly 800 & at a cost of £543, it was then the next in size in Kettering to the Parish Church. In its long history the church has had a great variety of names starting with the “Christian Church of Kettering”, “The Independent Meeting House” & “The Great Meeting”

In 1776 a century of ministry under the name of Toller began with the induction of Revd Thomas Northcote Toller, succeeded in 1821 by his son Revd Thomas Toller. The church then became known as “Toller’s Chapel” later “Toller Congregational Church” & now “Toller United Reformed Church”

The first Sunday School in Kettering was built in a corner of the churchyard in 1810, its most famous scholar being William Knibb. He later became a missionary & worked hard for the abolition of slavery, as commemorated in the Kettering Coat of Arms

With the growing number of pupils attending, a new building was erected adjoining the church in 1849. In 1883 the church felt the need for even better facilities & built a new Sunday School in Meeting Lane. In 2006 this building was refurbished & renamed “Toller Meeting Rooms”

In 1898 the structure of the church was drastically altered from a Puritan Meeting House to a Victorian Church, with the addition of towers & vestries. A major step was taken in 1979 when pews were removed & a multi-purpose Church evolved, but the main structure of the first building is still the main part of the Church

In 1972 the amalgamation of the Congregational Church of England & Wales with the English Presbyterian Church brought into being the United Reformed Church. The Church is now known as Toller United Reformed Church

The present Church is often used by various groups & organisations of the town for music, drama & exhibitions. It’s also a focal point for services & processions of the Churches Together in Kettering

41. Carry on left back along High Street…


On the right’s the old cinema…


..keep going into the revamped Market Square (not sure you’ve got this one right Kettering)


42. On the right’s one of the town’s oldest hotels, The Royal


Unfortunately it appears a shadow of its past in line with the rest of the town. The Market Place was once, like many towns, the thriving heart of the community. Today..well…



Kettering what have you done to your marketplace??

43. Let’s carry straight on – at least The Old Market Inn still looks in good nick…



The Cherry Tree wasn’t bad either



…but the other Hotel on the right now in Sheep Street, called The Naseby (previously The George) has been on tv before


44. Over the road’s Kettering’s most prominent church…St Peter’s & Pauls



Let’s go & have a look inside…



45. Further down Sheep Street’s Kettering’s Library…


…& then just past it is a statue of Alfred East…



East was born in Kettering & studied at the Glasgow School of Art. His romantic landscapes show the influence of the Barbizon school & in April 1888 he had shared an exhibition at the galleries of the Fine Art Society with T.C. Gotch & W. Ayerst Ingram & was commissioned the following year by Marcus Huish, Managing Director of the Society, to spend six months in Japan to paint the landscape & the people of the country. When the exhibition of 104 paintings from this tour was held at the Fine Art Society in 1890 it was a spectacular success


East visited Spain after 1892 when he visited Algecirasin Spain & in 1906 he was elected President of the Royal Society of British Artists, a position he held until his death. In that year, he published “The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour”. He was awarded a Knighthood in 1910 by King Edward VII & his portrait was painted by Philip de Laszlo. The Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering, designed by John Alfred Gotch opened on 31 July 1913. It’s Northamptonshire’s oldest purpose-built art gallery.



East was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1899, having been a regular exhibitor since 1883 & elected to full membership in 1913

On Sunday, 28 September 1913, Alfred East died at his London residence in Belsize Park. His body was taken back to Kettering & lay in state in the Art Gallery, where it was surrounded by the pictures he had presented to the town & attracted crowds of several thousands

46. Pass over the traffic lights & on the right’s the old Hospital…



47. Turn back along Sheep Street past a row of shops on the left known as Piccadilly Buildings…



48. On the pavement’s an indication of a little gem…




The Manor Museum‘s up the alley on the right as is a fab little tea room



Think we might need this guy now…


49. At the Market Place turn right past the old Corn Exchange…



…up the alley with the church on the right to finish the walk at the Corn Market Hall


So….Kettering that’s the end of our walk around your town. As we said, we lived there 1983 – 1985 & boy has it changed

Is it for the better? Well, we’ll keep our opinions to ourselves & let you make your minds up so…

Go Walk!