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Prepared by Margaret Craddock following an interview with Mabel Dainty 4 June 2007

Mabel Dainty (née Allen)

Mabel Dainty (nee Allen) was born 25 March 1914, at 5 Finedon Road, Burton Latimer, and has lived in that house all her life.

An Allen family wedding photograph
This wedding photograph was taken after the marriage of one of the Allen family,
probably at the rear of the corner shop mentioned below, owned by Joseph 'Clock'
Allen. He was a grocer and threshing machine proprietor. He can be seen standing right
of centre with sideburns and wearing a bowler hat

Great Grandad's properties

This row of houses, 5 Finedon Road belonged to granddad, next door was Aunt Ada, she married twice, I’m not sure about his name, whether it was Fred Allen, and next door was Aunt Lizzie, she was a sister and she married Mr Mason.  Then next to her was Tom Allen, Ethel Allen, that was her dad, Tom.  Then next one, the last one, we called her Aunt Polly and she married one of the brothers, Alf Allen, he was.  So they were all relations.  Aunt Emm lived the other side, that was one of the sisters and she married Bradshaw.  They all lived in the row, all the brothers and sisters.  They all came from grandfather and he had all these houses built.  They all had one each.  The shop on the corner of Finedon Street, that was great grandad’s as well.  I can’t remember whether he ran that shop, but I know at the back they had some lovely big stables and they used to have horses there when I was a kid in those stables.  The ground where they built the houses that was grandad’s ground as well – great grandad’s.  I reckon our great granddad used to be a Quaker.  I have heard my brother say about it.  My brother tried to look into it.  He went up to London to try and find out about it. 

Shops and Businesses

You had the bakehouse on the corner and you went up Finedon Street, you got Blakeslys.  At the bakehouse we used to take our dinners there to be cooked on a Sunday – roast meat and potatoes and they used to cook them for you.  We used to go and fetch them about one o’clock.  Used to nip along and fetch them.  Then when you went up the street you got Blakeslys butchers shop.  You know where all that row of little houses used to be on the different side to the factory, you used to get your meat all from there.  You’d go up there and you used to get all your stuff, liver and everything and in them days they didn’t have them all frozen, they’d have the meat all hanging up and when you went in they’d cut you what you wanted.  And then when you went higher up there were that club, that’s still there, and then when you got to Alexandra Street there were Brown’s shop.  There were a little fish and chip shop on the other side.

Then there were all the shops in the High Street, Turners had a shop and she used to do hairdressing upstairs.  On the side where the Duke is that used to be a whatsit shop – a grocery shop and then Turners had it later on and she did hairdressing upstairs.  Mrs Turner used to live along here, hadn’t she?  Vera Turner and then she had a hairdressers upstairs.  Across the other side you’d got the Cross and the doctor’s surgery.  You used to get up there early so that you got a sit down.  Then you got the Co-op, and you got furniture and everything there, didn’t you.  And next to the furniture shop, I don’t know what that one was, then next to that was a man who done shaving and that – a barber.  Then next to the barbers, I’m not sure.  Then there was Witterings on the corner, opposite Bakehouse Lane, you used to get everything from there – tools and everything, bowls.   Then where they’ve got the baby shop (children’s nursery – opposite Brit) that used to be a china shop there, lovely cups and saucers.   You could walk round there and pick your cups out.  They used to have cups and everything in there, it was lovely in there when you walked round there and one day a cow got in and knocked some of the stuff down.  Then you’d got the orphanage next .  There used to be two of the girls come along here when I went to school, I forget their names.  There were two girls and a brother and they used to come along here and our mum used to give them a bit of bread and jam.  When you went on the other side there were a row of cottages where Witterings is on that corner of Bakehouse Lane, when you crossed to the other side there were some houses there.  There was a fish and chip shop there then when you walked up on the same side there was another fish and chip shop and there were Pownalls bakehouse and there was a fish and chip shop just higher up a bit.  So Burton to me ent like it were it ent so nice.  You could get everything in Burton.  Everything is so different.  Like the kids today they’re all looking at television.  Years ago when we went up to school we used to play marbles in the gutter going up to school.  Skipping, whip and top.  To me it ent the same, it ent really.  Spazzer Mason used to mend your bikes at the bottom of Budgens.   I used to take my bike along there.  Charlie Charles was on the corner up Duke Street.  All them are gone. 


There was somebody named Mr Harris – he used to teach at the school – at the Council School cos I went to the Council School.  I went to the Finedon Road School to start with.  I wasn’t very old really, I forget how old I was (4 June 1917).  I can’t remember any of the pupils that were there with me.

Photograph of the Finedon Road Infant School Pupils in 1919 when Mabel Dainty (Allen) was a pupil
Finedon Road Infant School Pupils 1919

When I went up the top school. I can only think of one who went there and that was old Teddy Ambler.  He used to sit behind me in the class.  And I can’t remember any more.  Mr Dawes was the teacher up there.  He was at the Council School, Mr Dawes were and Bernie Harris.  He was ever such a strict teacher he were.  There was a lady teacher but I can’t think of her name now.  On the other side where they made it into another bit of the school now there used to be where the boys always used to go and do the woodwork.  My brother made that when he went school – that little whatsit.   I used to go upstairs to the cookery class.   It’s all changed. 

High Street and Duke Street

Next to them you see were what were Congreve’s shop.  Old man Congreve he used to have like an antique shop, he had, all antique furniture.  The shop near to where Roger lived that used to be an antique shop there.  His old granddad used to have that.  Old Congreve used to have that but then next to it there were two sisters, Mrs Congreve and I don’t know what the other ones name was.  They are all gone now, Congreves, there’s only Vivienne left now, cos Dick died and then Roger died didn’t he.  Mary, she died.  Mary would have been the same age as me.  Mary was the teacher.  I don’t know what Vivienne does.  I don’t know where she lives.  So she’d be the only one left out of them.  Years ago that used to be a toy shop and sweet shop.  We used to go in there and have a few sweets.  We used to go to the Picture Palace for 4d.  Saturday evening, early.  Used to have so much to spend and used to have a bath before I went and used to go pictures then and there’d be the man on the piano playing the piano and when the cowboys came on he used to play a bit quicker.  Before you went in there you’d go and get a pennyworth of sweets or something like that and then from what was Yeomans shop.  I can’t think who used to keep that but it was a sweet shop and fruit shop then.  Cos I used to go in and get a tacked orange for a hapenny.  A tacked orange that was just going off.  Used to get one of them for about a hapenny or a penny.  Then we’d come out the pictures and go in the fish shop and have a few batter bits.  The other shops just along from there would be Mary Wrights, then next to that was a grocery shop and then when you went up Duke Street there was the butchers up there, Then there was the bakehouse up there, Co-op bakehouse.  Easter it was all so different, they’d come early in the morning and leave your hotcross buns on the windowsill for you. 


Mrs Carvell, she used to come round with a truck with her icecream.   Used to come round and we used to run up the entry and take a cup and get a bit of icecream.  There used to be a man come and stand up the entry and do your scissors for you, a grinder.  There’s nothing in Burton now – it’s all gone.  It were all garden fields down the Finedon Road you see it were all garden fields, allotments and that.  You used to walk through them fields to go to Isham.  At the top of Finedon Street you could walk all through them fields, and I mean like along by the Scout Hut now that were lovely down there.  At the bottom of there was that brook – Hollands Field there was a lovely big bank and you’d all go down there and take your sandwiches and sit down there and paddle in that brook.  I can’t remember in the winter – I stopped in the warm.  There used to be two farms in BurtonChurchill Way – that was a farm there – Dentons.  Then there was a butchers shop, where Countdown is.  The men used to get their hair cut on the corner of what we called Piggotts Lane.  That’s where the doctor’s surgery is.  I forget the name of the man that had that but he used to cut your hair then.  And then up there, there were all at the back there were all the lovely little cottages.  They’ve knocked it about.  Them flats what they put up – eyesore aren’t they.  I think Burton has changed, Burton ent the same any more. 


I was born in this house and lived here all my life.  I’m 93.  I can’t remember any of the teachers’ names at the Finedon Road School.  I think it was the lady teacher what we had there.  I’m sure we had a lady teacher but I can’t think of her name now.  I can’t remember none of them kids.  I can’t remember the group of children coming from London. I remember during the war we had a lot of children staying here.  We had evacuees we had two little girls we had come, we had three little girls and then we had three boys, different times, you know.  There’s still one now what we had when he was 11 years old.  He still rings me up after all these years.  He went back to London.  Now of course he’d be in his sixties now.  He’d be 73, 4 or 5.  Yes, we had him for a long time, Jimmy.  His name was Jimmy, I forget his other name.  He generally rings me up.  How nice, Mabel, he says, after all these years we’re still friends.  We used to have these little kids come down.  There were two little sisters come and we had one she were a little devil she were and used to say to our mam “Don’t you and Mr Coleman fight?” she used to say.  She said “ My mum and dad are always fighting”. 


I had one brother, Philip, he died.  He did well for himself.  The other brother (Philip’s son) he died.  He used to come a lot, our Barry.  I do miss our Barry cos he used to ring me up every Sunday morning and he’d take it in his head and come and he’d ring me up to see if I was alright.  Our Pete’s (Philip’s son) ever so good to me though.  Our Pete comes every three weeks.  Comes to take me shopping.  He does part of the garden.  Takes me shopping. 

Working Life

When I first left school I was 14 and I went to Hart and Levys.  I worked there then Hart and Levys packed up.  I don’t know what made them pack up but they packed up Hart and Levys did and then I went into Kettering and I went into a box factory making boxes I did.  And then I stayed there a long time and then I came back to Whitney & Westleys.  Bert Dunmore got me the job there because he used to work in Kettering and I used to go on the bus and sometimes I’d see Bert, you know, and he knew I wanted a job and he said come up and I got a job up Whitneys.  I went in the Closing Room.  I liked it up there.  A lot of my friends are gone from up there.  The friends I had are gone.  I’m the oldest one left.  I stayed at Whitneys until I retired.  I didn’t retire until I was 62.  I did it all of a sudden.  Bill used to say to me, I used to do some of the samples, and Bill used to say about packing up.  Bill was 62 when he died.  He had his fingers with arthritis so he couldn’t do his job so they gave him retirement early.  So I made my mind up all of a sudden.  I went work on the Friday morning and give me notice in and they were all spellbound.  They said, “ You ent” .  I said to the gal in front of me “ Write my notice out for me will you”.  She said “Mabel you ent retiring are you”.  I said “Yes I am”.  The boss were ever so nice though.  He said now you’re going to get bored.   I can’t think of his name, neither.  Then he used to say “If you get bored Mabel you’re welcome to come back.  You’ll be coming back.  You won’t know what to do with yourself.”  I used to sit behind Kath Craddock.  Me and Kath arranged it between us that perhaps we’d like to get Friday afternoon off and Kath would perhaps work in the morning and then we’d do it like that so that we had, like, time off.  Perhaps I’d be working and she’d be got the morning off or the afternoon and we worked it between us like that.  She sat in front of me.  . . .


We used to go up to the main Kettering Road, about four of us, I can’t remember who they were, and we used to try to do dancing, learn to dance in the road.  You’d got no traffic then.  There weren’t no traffic like there is today. 

Open-back Car

Next door, old Mr Bradshaw, he had a car and it were open back so if you went in the back of it you’d have to sit with your umbrella up.  He’d bring it down there and he used to have a little garage where Ensleigh Close is on his garden.  I used to run out the back and out the front and I used to say “Charlie or Brad, give us a ride in your car”.  And he’d ride round there. 

Cows in the Garden

We used to have the cows come up here before they put the fence up at the bottom.  They used to come up the garden and go up the entry.  Our mum used to shout “Stay there, there’s one coming up the path”.

Leisure Pastimes

We all played together, we used to play Tallyho, One, Two, Three, and we used to go and hide in people’s toilets and then we’d shout Tallyho, One, Two, Three, then the others what were playing with us had got to find us.  Come and look in Newmans Row looking for us.  We used to hear them go by.  Skipping and all that.  Two of you, three, you’d be turning it and skipping in it.  We used to play marbles.  I used to love playing marbles.  Used to stand on the road and you’d do your marbles into the gutter and then you could catch them back.  I don’t know, the kids today they don’t do things like that.  We used to do a lot of drawing at nights, and knitting.  I used to love knitting.  I knitted all our boys little clothes when they were younger.  Barry’s old boys - used to make them lovely little suits.   I used to go down there for holidays you see.  Down to Chelmsford.  Used to love it down there it’s a lovely part.  Always went down with them.  Used to go with mum and dad.  We used to get the train then.  You know where the Diamonds is, we used to get on the train there.  Used to go to Great Yarmouth there.  Always used to go to Great Yarmouth.  When I was a kid it was always Great Yarmouth with our Mum and Dad and Philip.  There was all the funfair.  I love Scarborough you know.  Used to love Scarborough


There were three things I always wanted to do.  I knew I could never go in an airplane but I did go.  I went to Sywell and I went up in one of them little planes.  I took Christine with me from next door.  I used to go and visit an old lady down the Finedon Road, I forget her name now.  Her son used to come visiting and I used to take one of my dogs along there for a walk and she always used to be standing on the gate and she always used to talk to me.  One day she said next time you come down come and visit me and I used to go down on Sunday afternoon and I used to perhaps make some cakes and take them down to her.  Her son came in and she happened to say to her son that Mrs Dainty said she’d love to go in an airplane.  He said “You leave it to me, I’ll sort that out”.  He picked me up and took me and her and we went to Sywell and went up in an airplane and that was one thing I wanted to do.  And I said I should like to go on a speedboat.  So when we went to Southend, our Barry said, “ Come on its only a pound we’ll go on this speedboat”.  It were beautiful.  I’ve never tasted anything so nice with the waves on your mouth.    Then I wanted another one to do and we went underground down the caves.  I loved that.  It was Matlock, out that way.  It were beautiful under there.  Stalactites and Stalagmites, it were lovely under there but I were a bit nervous, right down there.  And there were like a pool of water under there and they were charging a penny a cup.  And he said, “Now you have a drink of this water”, he said,  “You’ll never taste water like it before” and I never had done.  We had a cup for a penny, that’s all, little cup of water.   Cos Bill liked to do all them things, Bill did, and if I didn’t go I’d have to be left sitting on the top.  So I done the three things I wanted to do anyhow.  I’ve got nothing left to do.  I loved my bowls didn’t I? . . . I used to do a lot of walking with my dogs.  I used to love walking round the fields.  I used to do a lot of biking when I was young.  We used to do a lot of biking, me and Bill had.  Used to love biking.  I had a scooter when I was a child.  I used to bike to work into Kettering.  Used to bike to work.  Look at the buses we had then.  There were Johnny Meadows, Timpsons at the top of Finedon Street they had a bus service and then there used to be the county buses with the open tops you sat up there with the open top.  Look at the hours we used to have to work.  Seven o’clock we used to have to be along to the bus stop near the Brit and there would be crowds and crowds of us waiting to get on the buses to Kettering to get your bus to work.  I used to go to Bedford for outings.  We hadn’t used to get home some nights from Kettering while about eight o’clock.  We used to have to stop working, overtime.  Worked Saturday mornings.  Today some of them don’t know what it is working. 


Photograph and posters of drama group at Wesleyan Chapel showing Mabel Dainty (Allen) starring in the play "Aunt Jemima's Visit"
"Aunt Jemima's Visit" starring Mabel Dainty
Always went to chapel, Baptist chapel, and I went there.  I used to go Tuesday afternoons, I used to like going there and then I packed up all of a sudden.  Our mum went there as well.  I used to take a scripture exam up there at the chapel when I was younger.  I went to Sunday School, used to go in the mornings.  Today they don’t go Sunday School, do they?   I used to go to the Mission Room church on Sunday night.  Used to be lovely there.  I used to love to go there Sunday night.  I remember your brother used to be there. . . .  I remember them boys there.  Mason, that married whatsit down Finedon Road.  Phil.  I used to love it there, the Mission Room.  It was a nice church.  . . .  Then I went to the Wesleyan a bit.  I used to like the Wesleyan and all.  Up Duke Street.  The Methodist now.  I went up there.  They used to put on little plays and I was in them.  I’ve got some photos somewhere where I was in a play.  Ron Coleman was in them and Evelyn Webb, Violet Webb’s niece.  I forget what the plays were but I know we put a play on.  I wasn’t much on it really. 

Used to have a good old walk round then.  Sunday night, our dad and that, sometimes in the summer, we walked down Isham when we were kids over the Hurdy Gurdy have a bottle of spruce and some crisps and sit outside on the form and then walk back home.  I don’t know whether they do that today, the kids.  Its cars today, its terrible the parking along here now.  Big lorries that are coming along here now.  I don’t know where they are all going. . . .


I can’t remember who was at the Police Station before your dad.  That wasn’t the one who went up to Church Street?  No I can’t remember them.  Your dad had me for riding a bike.  I’d been to Kettering and I used to meet one of my friends at Kettering and it was Kettering Feast and I was coming along the road.   It was a beautiful moonlight night, it were really, I was coming along the road and your dad popped out and stopped me he did.  So anyhow, he was all right about it but I had to go to court.  I went to court and I said to your dad. “Would you have pushed a bike on a night like this?”  So anyhow when I come up into the court you were supposed to have a hat and I hadn’t got a hat so a lady stood next to me and she said, ”You’re supposed to have a hat”.  So in the court you were supposed to have a hat on.  When I was in the court the judge said, “And when the defendant was summoned she said, “Well would you push a bike on a night like this?” " She said to the policeman, “Would you push a bike on a night like this?”  “Fine the defendant fifteen shillings.”  I bet your dad would remember that if he was alive.  Yes, your dad popped out and got me for riding me bike.  I was right where the Harpers live.  I was nearly into Burton and I’d come all that way on my bike from Kettering and then he stopped me, popped out and stopped me.  “Hey’ he said “What are you up to?”  He put me into court, your dad did, in the end.  It were a lovely night.  It was daylight really.  It was late at night but it was daylight.  There wasn’t any traffic coming along the road.  No traffic.  It was mean of your dad wasn’t it.  Then I was friendly with him.  Now its all cars today.  It isn’t safe really on a bike today is it?  Wicksteed Park used to do me riding up there.  When I went to work I used to get off my bike and push it up Barton Hill.  I used to love my old bike.  It used to be hard work. . . .  I think I had a second-hand bike when I was a kid.  That was what our dad got me.  . . .


No Burton isn’t the same.  I think they spoilt Burton, they built all them old flats.  The windfarm looks nice.  I haven’t got anything against that.  I can see them all right when I’m upstairs.  . . . 

In the war we used to grow our own vegetables and when Bill died I always used to do my own tomatoes in that little greenhouse.   I never see any homegrown tomatoes in any of the shops.  They’re all foreign tomatoes if you look but I’ve never seen any cos I’ve looked out for them in the shops.  . . .We got three sticks of rhubarb for a pound.  I love a bit of rhubarb.  I used to grow my own.  It’s all under weeds now....  The Farmers Market is one improvement to Burton when we get that.  I look forward to going there.

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