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Newspaper article from June 1959, transcribed by Sally Crane

The Ise Valley

The local paper of June 1959 contained the following summary, and gives an insight into how the area was viewed locally and nationally in middle of the last century.

New Booklet tells story of Ise Valley’s rise in importance

Just to show how much can happen during 138 years, in 1821 Kettering housed 4,000 people – half of whom were paupers.

Wellingborough was in fact the larger town. Rushden was little more than a village, Burton Latimer just about to decline with its falling silk industry and Corby of course had hardly been dreamed of. 

The rise of the Ise Valley to its present importance now occupies nine pages of facts, figures and maps in a new booklet published by Nottingham University.  The rising population of the towns in the valley and of the county town have dominated the population pattern of the county for 150 years.

While the rural areas have remained static or have declined, Northampton’s share of the county population has risen in that period from six per cent to 29 per cent and the towns in the Isle Valley from six per cent to 26 per cent.

The story divides itself into four sections – the first sixty years dominated by growth of Northampton; the next forty years when the growth of the Ise towns was the main feature;  the thirty years from 1901 to 1931 when both stagnated; and the last twenty in which there has been a gradual growth in both.  Northampton’s rise was very rapid – a not unfamiliar pattern of the county town acting as a magnet to the rural area around.  In 1831 for example one in three of Northampton’s population had lived there for less than ten years.

Although the bypassing of the town by the railway helped to reduce its attraction, it was not until the 1880’s that there was any real decline it its growth.  Meantime the Ise valley towns were not yet enjoying the boom.  True, the boot and shoe industry was developing but it was largely on a domestic basis not requiring a big influx of population.

In 1821 a census note records that “Wellingborough's increase in population due to a large number of journey-men, shoemakers, and their families who reside here”

But in 1857 the Midland Railway was opened, and running through the Ise Valley it was the cause of the rapid growth in its population.

Then the shoe trade drew 9,000 into Rushden and Kettering in the ten years 1881-1891, and then began a see-saw of rise and fall, boom and stagnation in the population due to a wide variety of causes.

Today? The rural population is static at about eight per cent of the total population (13,000) and the towns of the Ise and Nene valleys are increasing only very slowly.

“It may be that greater mechanisation in local industries is reducing the need for expansion of the total occupied population and although the towns are maintaining their numbers no rapid increase is to be expected” says the article.

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