[ABOVE] George William [Bill] & Harriet Thompson left photo taken c.1900 at 12 Louise Road

George William Thompson was born Jan 16th, 1848 at St. Andrews Square, Northampton his parents were William Thompson & Ann Muskett

(both originally from Olney).  His mother died when he was 8 years old but his father married again 2 years later to a widow called Sarah Smith nee Ealey.

After William & Harriet married they lived in St. Andrews Gardens during the 1870's, Althorp Street during the 1880's and 90's and were at 12 Louise Road by 1900.

Harriet died in 1934 aged 83 and George 6 months later aged 87.  Their daughter Elizabeth [Bett] continued to live in the same house until she died in 1979.

John Nicholls sent me this clipping from the Northampton Daily Chronicle, dated Nov 1st,1928.  George, or Bill as he was known was John's great grandfather.

John's email address is my email address is


An old shoe maker's memories told on Diamond Wedding day- sixty years of married life in Northampton. 

Memories of the days when boys and girls of seven years old worked in the boot factories for 14 hours a day were recalled to a

'Northampton Daily Chronicle' representative by Mr & Mrs George William Thompson of 12 Louise Rd  Northampton who today celebrated

the diamond anniversary of their wedding. 


Mr and Mrs Thompson were married at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Northampton on Nov 1st,1868, when the Rev W Butlin was vicar.

Mrs Thompson has for nearly 16 years now been an invalid and confined to the house.

Eighty years of age and hale and hearty as many a man twenty years his junior, Mr Thompson can tell many a good tale of the old days,

and especially in connection with the boot trade, for his father before him and his children after him have all had a hand in the making of Northampton's boots.

Mr Thompson worked ' in the trade' for 65 years and retired nine years ago. 'They won't have an old man like me', he said, 'though I believe I could do it now.'

When he first went to the factory before the age of seven, Mr Thompson's home was in Market St, and he had to tramp right to the other end of town to do 14 hours' work.

[Above] Market Street

One of the first of the 'sprigging boys'.

He was one of the first 'sprigging' boys in the town, and at night they worked with candles as their only light.

Before machinery came in for general use in the boot trade work was always to be had.

Mr Thompson said: ' I can remember a time when we were so busy that we worked until 12 o'clock on Saturday night,

had the Sabbath free, and came in again to work at 12 o'clock on Sunday night. But when the machinery came things altered and not so many men were needed.

That was the beginning of the really bad unemployment spells.'

When this veteran of the trade was a 'stabbing' boy, there came what Mr Thompson believes to be the first strike in Northampton.

The 'closing' machines were coming in, and the men struck against it 'But the machines got 'em,' said Mr Thompson,

' It's no use trying to go against the machines, and strikes are never any good.'

When Mr Thompson was a boy, and bred in the East End of Northampton, the town was vastly different, ' we lived more or less in the open country,'

he said, 'and one I remember making a nest for the birds in the hope that eggs would be laid there.'

That would be where Artizan road now is.'

When Bradlaugh canvassed for votes

Questioned as to the 'Bradlaugh days,' Mr Thompson admitted they were 'stirring times then.' He remembers quite vividly answering a knock at his door one

day and finding Charles Bradlaugh come to solicit a vote. Mr Thompson went occasionally to a political meeting when they sang the same song that is now

engraved at the foot of Bradlaugh's statue.'

 Our representative, having in mind the winters of the last few years, asked Mr Thompson what the weather was like then. 'Different, different,'

he said ,'the winters were always severe, and the snow generally lay a foot or so deep in the streets during the winter months.

Once as a lad I went on an errand with a shilling and I dropped it in the snow. Weeks afterwards when the snow was melting a neighbour found

a shilling in the same place I had dropped it'. One can imagine with what relief the boy hailed it. A shilling went a good long way in those days.

When he was a lad Mr Thompson went on his first trip to London with the firm Messrs Turner Bros. with whom he was then employed as a 'sprigging boy'.

They went to visit the Hyde Park Exhibition.Mr Thompson went in his young days to Horse shoe lane school, and his Sunday School

teacher was the father of Mr 'Pat' Darnell.  In '66 two years before  he married Miss Harriet Collins, who curiously enough was born in the same

street only two or three houses away from her husband to be. Mr Thompson joined the Militia. He served for 9 years and the only other of his comrades died a

 few weeks ago. Mr Thompson has not kept in touch with others, and so believes he is now the only survivor.

 The Family

 Mr and Mrs Thompson have had twelve children and seven of them are alive today. Five of his son in Laws served in the Great War.

There were two sons Mr Jack Thompson and Mr Charles Thompson, and of these the elder, Mr Jack Thompson died in Germany soon after the Armistice was signed,

and Mr Charles Thompson now lives at Kettering. There are six daughters - Mrs Annie Saddler (of Ipswich) , Mrs Rose Pettifer, Mrs Sophie Marriott,

Mrs Lily Nicholls, Mrs Kate Gardner, and  Miss Elizabeth Thompson (all of Northampton). At one period five of Mr Thompson's daughters were working in the

closing room at Messrs Randall's Ltd. Miss Thompson is the only daughter now with her parents.

 It is good to know that those old Northamptonians have taken the 'Chronicle' since it first appeared, and Mr Thompson is immensely proud of a copy of the very first

edition of the 'Chronicle' that he possesses.


[Above] Photo of George 'Bill' Thompson with a cycling club, probably taken on Northampton Racecourse.  George is on the back row (extreme left).

If you can confirm that this is the cycling club or have any other information that may help then please email John at :-