High Street Factory

Thomas Goode Messenger set-up his business on a relatively small site located behind No. 24, High Street, Loughborough. The site ran on a NNE-SSW alignment back from behind the ‘backyards’ of the High Street properties reaching as far as the Police Court on Town Hall Passage. This elongated plot, with access off High Street, essentially ran parallel with Wood Gate and property was bounded on all four sides. On the NNE side by backyards of the High Street properties, on the WNW side by Mr. Edward Chatterton Middleton’s[1] property, on the SSW side by the Police Court and on the ESE side by Mr. Greenwood of the King’s Head Hotel.

Messenger & Co.’s High Street Factory, Loughborough, 1883-4 Town Plan

The new Company took on a 21-year lease on the site for an annual rent of £150 per annum[2]; payable half-yearly in advance on 1st January and 1st July.

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The partnership was responsible for keeping the premises under good repair, with Thomas Messenger being allowed to examine them twice a year, with the partnership having to make good within three months. The new partnership was responsible for insuring the site, which was valued £1,870. The lease specified several approved insures, namely, The Sun Fire Office, The Norwich Equitable, The Queens’ Insurance and Staffordshire Fire Insurance Company or any other of Thomas Messenger’s choosing. Money received from any subsequent claim was to be used only for rectifying the damage and not enhancing any of the facilities.

 

Layout of Thomas Messenger’s High Street Factory, Loughborough, 1874

At the time of the sale in 1875, the site appears self-contained, with the possible exception of an iron foundry. Along the WNW side, was a continuous one and/or two storey range that included a brass store, offices, sheds, pain store and a boilermaker’s shop. Towards the boundary with the King’s Head Hotel was a stable, cottage, engine house, a men’s mess room, smith’s shop with painter’s shop above and an open shed with joiner’s shop above. There were also two gangways, one between the engine house and smith’s shop and the other between one of the sheds and the smith’s shop. The whole site was gated on the High Street side, with Thomas Messenger’s valve shop and Messenger and Perkin’s works, which included a stable, closest to High Street. Although not specifically mentioned in the lease, access must have been included from the High Street to the horticultural works.

The firm kept the lease on the site for the full 21-years; only releasing it after they had built their Cumberland Road works and transferred the complete business out of the High Street factory.

1877 combined diagram showing the High Street Works and Sparrow Hill Site as if they were a single site

 

Subsequent History

It appears that Thomas Messenger retained ownership of the old factory site in High Street and following the removal of Messenger’s to their Cumberland Road factory, he rented out the High Street site. In June 1894[3], he advertised two front shops, facing onto the High Street together with two large and two small warehouses or workshops. He was probably experiencing problems letting them as was offering them for sale or rent, with the rent described as “very low”.

To be Sold or Let, at Loughborough (central situation), Two Front Shops; also with these, or separately, Two Large and Two Small Warehouses or Workshops; very low rents.– Apply Messenger, Loughborough.

At the time of his death, he still owned one front shop along with a warehouse and workshops[4] at the rear.

Into the twentieth century, the old factory site was known as Messenger’s Yard. In 1913[5], it was occupied by J. Willett, a cab proprietor; Mr. Page, a General Smith; John T. Godfrey a mechanical engineer; the warehouse of Clemerson’s, who at the time were house furnishers, ironmongers, china dealers and furniture removers[6]. By 1921[7], only Mr. Page and Clemerson’s were in occupation.

The High Street was widened around the late 1920s and both the original buildings fronting High Street and the access way were lost. However, the covered access between the current Ramada Hotel and No. 21-23, High Street (occupied in 2009 by JR Personnel), aligns with the original access way. Most of Messenger’s original factory site is now occupied by the modern raised extension of the Ramada Hotel.

 

References:

  1. He lived in The Grove, Ashby Road, Loughborough; High Sheriff of Leicestershire in 1857; partner in the banking firm of Middleton, Cradock and Middleton, Market Place, Loughborough
  2. Leicestershire Record Office ref: DE2121/256.
  3. The Nottinghamshire Guardian, 16th June 1894.
  4. Thomas Messenger’s Will.
  5. Wills’ Loughborough Almanac & Street Directory, 1913.
  6. Kelly’s Directory of Leicestershire and Rutland, 1912.
  7. Wills’ Loughborough Almanac & Street Directory, 1913.