Bonds Lane, Palace Street and Foundry Lane

Looking back at the history of
Bonds Lane, Palace Street and Foundry Lane, Biggleswade
by Ken Page

(with some additional material from work and research by the late Harold Smith and Mike Strange)

This article concerns itself with the group of roads called Bond’s Lane, Palace Street and Foundry Lane. These roadways connect to Hitchin Street in the East as well as Station Road and Saffron Road in the West.

This 1924 map shows all of the area of interest, note that Bond’s Lane once ended at the northern end of Palace Street which continued round to Station Road; this is explained in the article. We have not fully established what the boundaries were but this area had the vicinity name of Holmeside; clearly relating to it being part of the ancient Manor of Holme which, in medieval times, (relating to modern roads) was on the west side of the Great North Road from Toplers Hill along London Road and Back Street along Station Road and Saffron Road down to the River including Holme Mills and Scroupts (Scrope’s 1368) Farm on Langford Road. To ensure there is no confusion it is worth pointing out that you will find a reference on this page to a small property that was known as ‘Holmeside’ in Palace Street and on the page discussing Station Road you will mention of ‘Holmeside House’, these are not the same property and are shown at 1 and 2 on the map.

Bonds Lane
The original Bonds Lane (earlier Flanders Lane) extended from 15 Hitchin Street to The New Inn yard took its name from John Bond who had his bakery and premises on the corner of Hitchin Street for many years.

John Bond lived at Aspidistra House 15 Hitchin Street; an imposing three storey Georgian building originally containing 24 rooms with a deep cellar below being the servants quarters. There were gardens and stables right back to Palace Street and a coach house where horse drawn carriages entered between 15 and 17 where Spectre carpets now trade.

John Bond’s advertisement in 1897 Bonds Lane from Hitchin Street and old band room in the distance in 2009

He moved from Potton in 1839 as a baker and confectioner. His son John junior took over the business until it was sold to Maurice Bennett in 1915. The next owner was Fred Nott, a baker

from Eastcheap Letchworth in 1915. Mr Nott owned several bakery shops in the district and by 1940 the business was Notts Caterers Ltd. The Granary Café and tearoom opened in January 1969 changing to Café Sanders in 2000. It is now Lucy Mays Café.

Proceeding along Bonds Lane we pass the empty building where Biggleswade Silver Prize band practiced for many years before greengrocers F Dellar & Sons rented the premises.

Dellars store, this was where the  Biggleswade Silver Prize band practiced. Taken in a parlous state in 2007. Looking from the old Drill Hall towards Hitching Street in 2007

Frank Powell, jeweller, opened at 15a Hitchin Street in 1935 followed Mr W P May in 1966. Mr and Mrs May eventually purchased the building and land right back to the dilapidated Old Drill Hall built in 1893. People going under the New Inn arch would have heard the sound of marching feet and shouted words of command coming from the Drill Hall at the corner of Flanders (Bonds) Lane. Men of Biggleswade were preparing to defend Queen and Country if needs be. They were members of the 3rd Volunteer Battery, Bedfordshire Yeomanry. Capt. Arthur John Hills was their commanding officer and Charles Gray the sergeant instructor.

The Drill Hall closed in 1921 relocating to Ivel Bury in Shortmead Street.  Later Brittain’s of St Neots house furnishers and removal contractors rented in 1931 until 1940, when manager Ken Daniels was called up for military service. All this land is now ripe for redevelopment.

A tea for the elderly residents was held in the Drill Hall for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1891 Britains Furnishers at the old Drill Hall in 1935 The old Drill Hall, Bonds Lane, in a dilapidated state in 2008

The other side consists of back entrances to Market Square shops leading up to The New Inn Yard.

Rear of Market Square shops. The New Inn yard is on the far right above.
Mr Loveridge Rag & Bone merchant is seen passing along Bonds Lane below.

Bonds Lane & New Inn Yard towards the Market Square in 2008

Palace Street
Was there a bishop’s palace in Biggleswade?
In 1075 the Parish of Biggleswade was part of the vast Diocese of Lincoln stretching from the Humber to the Thames. The bishops of Lincoln, as Lords of the Manor, frequently visited the site and folk memory has it that they resided in Palace Street just off the lane; they had to stay somewhere. Bishop Dalderly probably came in 1302 when he built the first Biggleswade Bridge and Bishop Beaufort came in 1399 when he found the vicar brewing and selling beer from his mother’s house and the chaplains taking no part in the services. Bishop Sutton came about 30 times in 1294 in connection with the Biggleswade Burgees enquiry.  During these visits, the town would come alive with the bishop’s attendant priests and acolytes, his servants and his horses. Tenants were under obligation to provide hay for 4 of the bishop’s horses for each virgate (30 acres) they held.  They must have  wished that his lordship would visit somewhere else!

We were firstly transferred to the Diocese of Ely in 1837 and thence to St Albans in 1877. Travelling in the early days was very difficult and it is almost certain that although the bishop had a fine moated palace at Buckden he stopped at Biggleswade during his travels.

In Lincoln Cathedral 1976

22 Palace Street was once the Grapes pub and reputed to be part of the property where the Bishop used to stay. The site stretched to The New Inn, so named in 1777. King Henry I granted the manor of Biggleswade to Bishop Alexander in 1132, and in about 1250 the Bishops of Lincoln, acquired a manse with buildings and land, then in 1262, a dwelling with buildings and meadowland called Le Parc. In his travels the bishop was entitled to claim hospitality for “Himself and a train of 30 horsemen” Bishop Oliver Sutton has been traced in detail and between 1280 and 1289 he was “at Biggleswade 30 times, sometimes staying for several days”.

The front of 22 Palace Street, the former Grapes public house in 1957.
Palace Street lane is just visible on the left.
Station Road is to the left beyond the Maythorn building.
1987 – The derelict rear of 22 Palace Street from the lane.
The edge of Taylor’s building (below) is just visible on the left.
This is now the site Aldi car park.

Palace Street was changed to Bonds Lane in 1957. The name Palace Street is retained just for the narrow lane leading to Station Road and Saffron Road.

When the area was redeveloped in 1990, the old timber framed buildings were knocked down, Bonds Lane was extended to Station Road and Palace Street retained from Aldi car park to Saffron Road. There were five cottages and a well in Palace yard, demolished to extend the Maythorn motor works nearby. The site has been used by several businesses since the demise of Maythorn.

27 Palace Street 2008
Originally part of the Maythorn complex.
Here it was Fairfield Care Products at
27 Palace Street 2009
Colin Ross Glass & Glazing

The Present Palace Street, now just a lane
This narrow roadway formed part of an ancient cattle trail leading from The Common along Sun Street and Chapel Fields through the Crown yard across the Market Square through the New Inn yard along Palace Street originally to Holme and later to the Railway.

Palace Street provides the rear entrance to Station Road properties including the original Police Station which remains today. Starting on the west side where there was once the side of The Grapes, Taylor’s Canine Repository and numerous other buildings for various trades and humble dwellings there are now just the Aldi store car park, six Victorian cottages and a modern bungalow,


Taylor Brothers Canine Repository; also now part of the Aldi store car park.
It was situated just into the top end of Palace Street behind The Grapes pub.
Apart from the saddlers business,Taylors were breeders of pointers and setter gun dogs.

The Railway Tavern probably started as a beer shop around 1846 when the licence was first granted. Wells & Co the Biggleswade Brewers were shown as owners in the 1876 Licensing Return but most likely had leased it from James Taylor who died in 1855 leaving it to his brother Samuel (possibly in trust) as his daughter Sarah Taylor owned it when she married Alexander Donald Frazer a clerk in the Bank of England in March 1880. They sold it to Charles Samuel Lindsell a partner in Wells & Co in 1884. The Biggleswade Brewery of Wells & Co and 109 public houses was sold to George Winch of Chatham in 1899 who set-up Wells & Winch Ltd until they sold it in 1936 to the sitting tenant Samuel Endersby. Licensees were William Smith 1871-1881, John Gale 1890, Joseph Webster was also a brewers drayman 1894-1897, F W Collins 1898-1901, William Bull, 1901-1910 John Fairburn, 1912-1913, Frank Ferguson, 1913-1928 William Davis, 1928-1936, Samuel Endersby

It was described in the 1898 Wells & Co sale particulars as: ”A small brick and slated house containing four upper and four lower rooms Yard, washhouse wc &c.” The 1899 conveyance to Wells & Winch Ltd description: “All that piece of land known as the Railway Tavern having a frontage to Palace Street on the east and bounded on the south by property then or late of J Huckle on the west by property late of James Crouch and then of E. Chew on the north by property of Henry Franklin in the occupation of F W Collins. In 1936 more capital was required to bring it up to public house standard and it closed. The property was conveyed to “Samuel William Endersby 17 Palace Street retired publican” on 30 Nov 1936 for £180. Samuel Endersby also worked at the brewery

The Railway Tavern with Mr & Mrs Endersby about 1936 This run of houses is numbered 11 to 17.
The site of number 17 was where the Railway Tavern stood.

On the east side is the rear entrance to the extended old police station that is in use by the Sea Cadets.

Here in 2009 is the rear entrance to the old Police Station
which was extended in 1931.

Next is the small building behind 6 Station Road known as ‘Holmeside’ which was originally used by the owner Charles John Squire Bartlett as his office for collecting council rates and insurance policies, he died in 1947. Barbara Kendall purchased the house and let the rooms behind to various organisations. It then served as the Toc H Meeting House and a Kingdom Hall but is now converted into small, but attractive, private house. The location may be found in the very centre of this satellite view Google Map.

‘Holmeside’ in 1957 used as a meeting place for Toc H. ‘Holmeside’ in 1960 used as the Kingdom Hall by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
‘Holmeside’ in 2010 – private residence

Back to Bonds Lane (formerly Palace Street)
During considerable redevelopment in 1990 Budgens Supermarket was built with car parks taking up all the available space just leaving one of the original Maythorn buildings latterly occupied by Fairfield Care Products. Here are some photographs as a slide show which demonstrates the massive extent of the redevelopment that took place. The quality of these is not good but is probably a unique record of what took place

Budgens store with 15,000 square feet of space later included The Post Office removed from their main site in 1992. Budgens sold the building to the Co-op in 2004 and it was quickly revamped into a Rainbow Foodstore. Following ASDA opening; trade decreased to an unacceptable level and Rainbow closed in 2006, still retaining the Post Office. Aldi acquired the site and over the past few months whilst retaining the basic shell have completely altered the store, which opened on 29th November 2007.

Co-op Palace Street in 2004. Now Aldi store Aldi 2007

The remaining two ancient cottages were used by J.S. Turf Accountants before being converted into a restaurant formerly ‘Rocco’s’ later Il Carafino then Croft Kitchen.

Palace Street JS Turf Accountant 1957.
The old Drill Hall is on the right of this row.
Il Carafino 2003 Croft Kitchen Restaurant 2013

Moving on from the New Inn Yard was Alpha House 30 Palace Street housing the Garner family.

At the sale of John Malden’s properties in 1892 Alfred Garner bought the last lot consisting of a large open gravelled yard, onion loft trade and agricultural buildings for £110. I presume he had Alpha House built soon afterwards.

Alfred Garner born in Broom was a self-employed carpenter and in 1881 he was living in Foundry Lane aged 32 with his wife Mary Ann straw plaiter son Eli aged 4 and daughters Miriam 3 and Fanny 1.

Kelly’s 1890 describe him as a china dealer and carpenter in The Market Place but from 1889 onwards he was a carpenter and joiner off The Market Place. In 1891 he was behind the Market Square now with seven children and son Eli apprenticed.

In 1901 it was now Palace Street Eli appears to have moved on, but Dan 17, Edwin 16 Frank 11 and Lear 8 were living at home.

Alfred who had not enjoyed good health for some years died in 1922 and his son Frank continued the business that he had managed for many years.

Frank married Amelia Webb and they had 11 children before his death in 1946.

Mr Felts from Bedford came to Biggleswade Market in 1911 when there were only three stalls, 2 butchers and a confectioner. He was a tinsmith making kettles, coke hoods etc and he supplied what he called ‘odds and ends’ He travelled by bus storing his stock at Alpha House conveniently located near to the market. He finally retired 1n 1962 aged 87. Alpha House was sold to Delaney Gallay Ltd who were on the former Maythorn site and they sold it on to Madge Bennett who lived in London Road and she sold it to Mid Beds District Council for the new development. It was demolished in 1989 to make way for the new Market Square shops.

Alpha House, Palace Street about 1957
Site of Alpha House Palace Street in 2007

The original factory of Maythorn & Son Ltd overshadowed the area. They gradually expended to take in all the area from Brook House (Somerfield) along Station Road and Palace Street to Alpha House.

Bonds Lane continues to Station Road with a large car park.

Foundry Lane

Foundry Lane is one of the oldest lanes in Biggleswade; it now leads from Bonds Lane to Saffron Road past the Aldi store and Health Centre. It was cul-de-sac leading to The Vulcan Iron Foundry.

The 1889 map shows the Foundry marked By 1901 a great deal more detail is available
making it easy to mark special places of interest.

Maythorn had their large timber warehouse here for keeping their motor works supplied with wood for making the excellent car bodies that they were famous for.

In this 1929 aerial photograph Maythorn’s timber store is clearly visible. The building line is just behind the cottages which are now a restaurant. The buildings at the front of the picture are now the Aldi store car park while those on the right are the secondary Aldi car park.
The Maythorn timber store site is now the car wash seen in the two photographs  from 2008 above.
This is much further forward than the Maythorn warehouse was.

It was a warm summer’s morning on 16th June 1785. There was a slight breeze and the people of Foundry Lane were about their usual occupations, when a cry went up from the other side of the Square FIRE!  The Crown coaching inn was on fire and people rushed out to help, but soon a large part of the town with its wooden buildings and thatched roofs was ablaze.  Then word came that the Dissenters (Baptist) Meeting place nearby was on fire, caused by burning thatch carried by the breeze. (the Great Fire of Biggleswade).

It had only been in use for about 14 years and the people rushed back to try and save it, but it was soon destroyed.  As soon as possible after the fire, work was started on a new building and the area would have resounded to horses and carts bringing timber and bricks for a new Chapel. In an incredibly short time (just five months), the building was finished and opened by Mr Bowes the minister on 6th November 1785.

This aerial view of 1929 clearly shows the foundry site and its environs
although this was taken after it had ceased that role and was now a scrap yard.


Old Meeting Sunday School in 1974 Baptist Chapel


Foundry Lane 2007 looking over the site of the Baptist church at the telephone exchange yard.
The last house of Foundry Row can be seen.
Foundry Lane through to Hitchin Street 2008
at the site of the Baptist Chapel, it is now the telephone exchange and yard.
Aldi delivery yard in 2009.
This occupies the site of the foundry buildings.

Of the original seven cottages in Foundry Row only the one remains although this is much altered.

Last house in Foundry Row in 1957 on the left and 2007 on the right. Foundry Lane 2007

A hundred or so years ago, people going into Foundry Lane under the New Inn Arch (not so new pre 1776) would have heard the sound of hammer striking iron, seen the flames and possibly felt the heat from Messrs Morton and Kinman’s foundry which gave its name to the lane.  The necessary coals for the furnace came by sea from Newcastle, then via the Ouse and Ivel to Pope’s wharf in Shortmead Street, then transported by horse and cart.  Morton and Kinman built the iron bridge by the mill-since replaced in 1823 and 6,000 tons of goods passed under it and through the lock each year at a profit of 3d a vessel to the miller. Morton & Kinman also had an ironmongers shop on the Square, later E. D. Fisher, then Bradford & Bingley. In all probability there was an earlier forge or foundry on the site.  There must have been somewhere in the town where horses could be shod and implements mended.

Morton and Kinman had their foundry there, hence the name. They built the iron bridge by Franklin’s Mill, Mill Lane in 1823; it was replaced by a concrete structure during alterations to the lock in 1973.

They also had a shop on the Square, later E.D. Fisher, now Bradford and Bingley.

Iron bridge at Franklin’s Mill, Mill Lane over the Ivel River.
It had been built by Morton and Kinman in 1823
Vulcan Foundry – Morton and Kinman
invoice and memo dated 1889 and 1890

The origins of The Vulcan Foundry go back the 18th century built on the site of a cottage and malting in Langford End adjoining Back Lane leading from Holme.

Thomas Morton is shown as owning the site on the 1838 tithe award plan. He was described in Pigots directory of 1839 as an ironmonger, white & black smith, iron founder and bell hanger. So he had already converted the building into an iron foundry. The cul-de-sac later became Foundry Lane, but the road is now extended to Saffron Road.

The foundry was operated as part of the ironmongers and iron founders business based in the shop situated on Biggleswade Market Square.

Amongst various receipted bills and accounts from 1898 that were mainly addressed to the executors of the late Mrs Harvey was reference to Morton and Kinman, ironmongers, Vulcan Foundry, Biggleswade. (Ref Bedfordshire Archives Service Catalogue Reference CD902)

Thomas Morton had a series of partnerships starting with Thomas Hagger, then James McMinnies and finally Thomas Kinman from 1864. The business of Morton & Kinman was sold to E D Fisher in 1904.

Seen here in 1980, adjacent to the former Dolphin at 45 Hitchin Street,
was the northerly entrance to the scrapyard.
This small block of flats at 49-55 Hitchin Street seen here in 2007
was the southerly entrance to the former scrapyard.

The old foundry was pulled down in 1912 and later replaced by the warehouse complex

In 1912 there was a sale of building materials on the “site of old foundry just pulled down”. This was replaced circa 1930 by an iron and steel warehouse on part of the site facing Saffron Road. The building by now much altered, still remains occupied by small units. It has had varied uses ranging from Biggleswade Frozen Foods, Abacus Office Supplies and The Learning Centre, now Let’s Party.

Morton & Kinman are credited with manufacturing iron bridges designed by Francis Giles the county surveyor in 1823 for the Ivel Navigation at the time it was extended from Holme Mills to Shefford.

Iron drain covers bearing the name Morton & Kinman still exist in some old roads in the town centre. One of possibly two bridges surviving is the bridge at Holme Mills restored in 1990 at a cost of £130,000 and still carrying the date 1823.

This was the scrapyard in 1978; the stack was demolished and the yard is empty – looks like the end.

The £700,000 Health Centre between Hitchin Street and Foundry Lane was completed in 1987 on the site where Joseph Larkinson started as a marine store dealer, metal merchant, wholesale, and dealer in china toys etc. He also owned a shop were next to the Hitchin Street entrance to Baptist Chapel that fronted Foundry Lane with the Sunday School opposite. His eldest son Frederick Charles Larkinson had inherited the growing business. By 1920 his son Harry Larkinson became a partner and they acquired a considerable part of the old foundry site between Saffron Road and Hitchin Street. The shop moved to High Street in 1938 as Larkinson’s Fancy Goods department store. Tragically, Harry Larkinson died on 30th March 1941 at the early age of 43 years predeceasing his father by one month.

The extensive scrap yard was sold to R. J Coley & Sons Ltd. They sold it in 1947 to The Ingot Metal Company later becoming part of Mountstar Metals Ltd. The prestige name of F C Larkinson Ltd was maintained right up to 1987 when Mountstar Metals relocated to the railway sidings.

Foundry Lane was extended through to Saffron Road when the Health Centre was completed.

Biggleswade Health Centre and Ballard & Tucker Dental Surgery between Hitchin Street and Foundry Lane in 2007

Today (2016) the old Drill Hall is still there, but is a derelict mess; the Baptists moved to a new site in London Road; the Vulcan Foundry is no more and the Bishop’s Palace (if ever there was one is but a folk memory). Instead, we have a new medical centre, a dentist surgery, a car park and a superstore whose self-opening doors would have been deemed magical to our forefathers. You can drive though what was the foundry to Saffron Road and then to Hitchin Street and beyond.