Memories - Claude Guest (1893 - 1987)

Claude Guest

Memories of Claude Guest(1893 – 1987)

Oundle Road

I was born in Oundle Road. We had some good times there. Quite a lot of industry up there – little shops, a tailor, plant shop, blacksmith etc.

There was a little place we called Earl’s Court after a man named Earl who lived there. Then there was a general shop, tinsmith, and crockery shop. There was also a horse collar shop.

School Times

I went to school ‘up the back’. (Market Road). The headmaster was Mr Emery – he was an old beggar. I saw one boy in the class given a good leathering. The ‘old boy’ turned on the headmaster and they had a jolly good do. We used to go to school at 8 o’clock for 9. We used to get up in the morning all right.

Private Schools

There was a private, mixed, school in Chancery lane where the solicitors’ office is now. There was also a private school near the foundry, up a drive, run by the two Misses Larter.

Parish Church

Mr Kingsford was the Rector when I first started to go to Church, one of his daughters was organist. She could make the organ talk. I think he had 8 or 10 children (5 girls). He was a nice old boy. There used to be more people in Church in the morning than at night. There were 16 men in the choir.

Cycle Works

I used to work at Alfred Smith’s cycle works in Thrapston. This was next to the Smith and Grace foundry. 1 was only 13. 1 said to my dad I’m not going to leave school. He said I know jolly well you are. If you go I shall fetch you!

Anyway I started work on a Thursday and was there until the outbreak of the First World War. Mr Smith had to go and he got me a job at the foundry. I quite enjoyed the time at Alfred Smiths.

On a fine Saturday the bikes were put all along the rails on both sides of the road. He built the bikes from parts. I had a lot of trouble trueing the wheels – I could not get it right.

New bikes cost about £4 or you could hire one for 4d per hour.


I remember a fire at one of the Horse-Collar factories at Islip. Alfred Smith sent me up there to see where it was and I stopped up there so long he came and fetched me. I think the old fire engine from Thrapston went to Titchmarsh. They often used to have fires in those days. There was one at the Woolpack one night and when they had got it out and were going home there was another at Islip Mill.

Smith & Grace

At Smith and Grace I did drilling, turning etc. I don’t know much about Mr Grace. We went on a shop outing in the 80th year of their existence by train from Midland station. I retired at 60.

An old fellow in the steam engine line, named Swan, had a part of the factory partitioned off for his work.

Leisure Time

We used to go for walks on Sunday evenings to Woodford; Addington; Ringstead; and back to Thrapston. We didn’t drink. I used to go up to the Thrapston Workhouse quite often. We always finished up there after carol singing about 11pm.

The inmates stayed up on purpose. Some of the men there used to chop firewood and hawk it around the streets. Men used to come for one night (roadsters) and then go on to Kettering.

There were 11 pubs in Thrapston when I was a little old boy.


Claude Guest

This page was added on 04/12/2015.

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