Woodford Northamptonshire


Prior to the 1850s it is likely that the vast majority of worked worked the land around Woodford either tending their own small holdings or working for the larger landowners. This all changed in the 1850s when ironstone was discovered. Samples were even exhibeted at the Great Exhibition. As a result many quarries were opened in the area for the mining of iron ore and limestone resulting in a population increase. When the Islip Ironworks opened (whilst situated in the Islip Parish they were much closer to Woodford) the number of people moving to Woodford increased greatly and it was at this time that Newtown (1859 onwards) was built to accommodate the ironworkers who worked both in the local quarries and also the works. 30 families moved to the village from Wiltshire. A terrace of houses (known as Mill Terrace (adjacent to the windmill)) was also built for workers at the western end of Mill Road (and the 12 houses were occupied by 91 people in 1881). In 1881 almost a third of the village male population were employed in the industry. The furnaces opened on 20 April 1873 and finally closed on 16 October 1942. The majority of the site was cleared and lay derelict until the 1990's when it was used for storing vehicles. In late 2013 preparation began for the construction of a 1 million squarefoot warehouse for Primark which is due for completion towards the middle of 2016, becoming operational soon after.

During the latter half of the 1800s shoemaking, shoe finishing and boot making became a significant source of employment for villagers. A small number of these tradesmaen were skilled shoe boot makers, carrying out the whole process with the remainder of persons within this trade working as outworkers for some of the local factories based in Raunds, Rushden, Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough and Kettering. Generally the remainder of the male population worked on the land.

During Victorian times most women stayed at home occasionally working carrying out lacemaking, dressmaking etc. But during the latter part of the 19th century two clothing factories opened; Wallace and Linnell (Newtown) and the Ideal (Whittlesea Terrace). Both factories closed in the 1970’s. A mail order company used the Newtown factory for a short time in the early 1980s, but this was remodelled at the turn of the 21st century to form the present apartments. In the late 1990s the Ideal factory in Whittlesea Terrace was demolished to make way for three executive style properties.

Following the closure in 1974 of the Victorian infant school near the village green, the school was re-employed as a shoe factory. The shoe factory, part of the Griggs Group (of Doc Martins fame), closed at Christmas 1999. The property is now a private dwelling.

There is no large scale industry within the village now.

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