Victorian Village businesses

By the nineteenth century West Haddon had left its wool boom behind and the advantage of its position on the turnpike had been tempered by the coming of the canals which had brought new prosperity to Long Buckby. Soon the railway was to continue this process, leaving West Haddon in something of a back water.

But the development of the previous had left their mark on the village. It would never go back to self sufficiency farming. Neither would it be dominated again by one industry like to textile trade. Throughout the nineteenth century the population of the nation was rising, but the countryside was losing people to the towns at a steady rate. Those who were left behind wanted a range of necessities available in the village, and those who were not working on the land turned their hands to providing them.

Trade directories such as Kelly’s can give us a good insight into what was going on in West Haddon from 1847 until about 1940. But they do not show everything. An entry in Kelly’s had to be bought and paid for, just as an entry today in Yellow Pages. If a person did not choose to be entered then he or she did not appear. For example, The Spread Eagle was a village pub from at least 1797 until about 1917 but it never has a mention in the trade directories.

Similarly, the census returns for 1851 list dozens and dozens of lace makers in West Haddon, though the market for hand made lace had been virtually killed by the new machine made sort. The lace makers were mainly unmarried girls in poor families who had presumably not the need or resources for advertising, but whose income, taken as a whole, was nevertheless a significant addition to the village economy. There is no mention of lace makers in the trade directories.