Kettering Builders and the rise of the terraced street

“This all used to be fields when I were a kid”, said every adult ever.

My dad actually said this to me the other day as we were driving through the Ise Lodge estate in Kettering, that builders started putting up in the 60s. And it got me thinking. Surely, at some point most of what is now Kettering would’ve been fields?

If we wind the clocks back to 1851, we see that the population of the town was a mere 5,198. Contrast that to the figure from the 2011 census of 67,635 and most of the town must have been fields. Over the years, then, there’s been a significant amount of house building – indeed there still is a lot of development happening as I write this. There are a few thousand new-builds planned for the new estate at the top of Deeble Road and new developments in Burton Latimer.

Going back to 1851 once more, the main bulk of the town consisted of the historic centre around the Parish church, and expanded south to The Broadway where it was mostly middle-class villas and terraces. Take a trip down these streets today and the majority of these fine houses still stand. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a soft-spot for them.

Development to the west of the town was limited for many years due to the railway line and the meadows, so builders began to look to the north and east of the town centre. By this time there was a growing need for decent housing for the working classes and the first piece of land to be developed was the piece from Alfred Street to Mill Lane, by J.T. Stockburn in 1865.

Back in these days the majority of work was carried out by local businessmen, such as Mr Stockburn and Mr Milligan (who was the builder behind Upper Field Street to Duke Street in 1869), unlike Northampton, which was developed by Land and Building Societies. Two of the Kettering builders that had the most impact were William Meadows and John Bryan, who are responsible for most of the houses north and east of Princes Street. They were able to buy this land – almost 70 acres – from the profits they earned from large shoe-making enterprises.