A Very Brief Village History

The Early Years

Long Buckby as a village is probably at least 1000 years old. The name is of Scandinavian origin, the "by" meant farmstead and the first part comes from a personal name such as "Bucca". By the time of the Domesday Book (1086 A.D.) the manor of "Buchebi" had been given to Norman nobles and in the mid 12th century one of these, Sahir de Quincy, built a castle here. The castle mound has survived and is signposted off Station Road.

In 1281 the lord of the manor, Henry de Lacy, applied to the King for a charter to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs. This was granted and a new market place was laid out where it is to-day. At this time the villagers must have begun to move their homes from the original site by the stream in the area now known as Salem, up to the new market place. The parish church was also built about this time and parts of the modern church are original.

For much of the Middle Ages the manor was held by important noblemen such as the Earls of Winchester and Lincoln. They owned a lot of property in other places and were not resident here. As a result Long Buckby became an ?open? village and over time families were able to move into the village. Initially they may have come as squatters but eventually set up permanent homes. This probably explains how the road from the main village to the nearby hamlet of ?Coten? became settled. It also explains how Buckby became known as Long Buckby and Coten became Coten End. These changes of name occurred during the Tudor period. The change of Coten End to Cotton End came later but had nothing directly to do with textiles.

The Coming of Industry

The presence of large numbers of people in the village eking out a living with little or no land made it an ideal place for industry to take hold. In the late 17th Century the East Anglian woollen industry spread into Northamptonshire and Long Buckby became a centre of weaving and, particularly, of woolcombing. For nearly a century the industry flourished although with occasional periods of depression, but by 1800 it had begun a decline from which it was never to recover. Industrialisation was bringing changes and the woollen trade was becoming concentrated in the north and the west country.

After a period of real poverty, the boot and shoe trade, strong in Northampton and growing in Daventry, came to the village. A number of entrepreneurs tried their luck here and for 150 years Long Buckby was to be an important footwear manufacturing village. It also became a busy canal wharf after the Grand Junction Canal and the Leicester arm were opened during the first 15 years of the 19th century.

The Radical Village

The tradition of absorbing incomers, the periods of serious poverty and the presence of many people working in industry and not on the land, gave rise to a village very radical in its politics and favouring the non-conformist churches. The Chartist movement was strong here in the 1830s and 1840s. A few years later (1858) the first co-operative society in Northamptonshire was set up and was to become a major influence in the village. In the mid 19th century there were three chapels which, between them, attracted more than four times as many in their congregations as attended the Church of England.

The gradual decline of the footwear industry in the village and of canal traffic saw Long Buckby stand still during much of the 20th century. However, it still continued to produce high class handsewn footwear. Although all the shoe factories had closed by the year 2000, there were still men in the village who could make a pair of shoes in their own homes.

A really big change in the village was brought about by the building of the M1 and M6 motorways, and the enormous growth in car ownership. Between 1971 and 2001 the population grew from about 2,500 to over 4,000. At the same time the village changed from being a largely self-contained industrial community into a residential area with large numbers of people commuting to their work.

Tracing Your Ancestors

As early as 1630 William Wadsworth, born in Long Buckby in 1595, sailed to Boston, America on ?The Lion? with his wife and four children. His name was carried by one of his more illustrious descendants, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In the 1830s the elders of the village ran a scheme of assisted passage, mostly to America, of which a number of families took advantage. These are only two examples of the Long Buckby diaspora which also involved people emigrating to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other parts of the world.

At the present time the Local History Society does not have the resources to continue to offer help to people who are researching their ancestors. However such information is increasingly available on the internet on sites such as www.ancestry.co.uk. Another site which has a lot of Long Buckby information and which does not currently charge for access is www.freereg.org.uk. You might also like to try FreeBMD and FamilySearch

The main local source for family research is the Northamptonshire Record Office. Members of the public are welcome to visit to carry out their research in person. Alternatively, the Record Office offers a Research Service for those who are unable to visit, or who require specialist assistance with their project. More details about all of the services that are offered can be found on the Record Office website; or at archivist@northamptonshire.gov.uk

The History Society does, however, hold copies of a booklet prepared by the Northamptonshire Family History Society which lists and maps all the gravestones and other memorials which are in the church and chapel graveyards. These were surveyed in 2006. The booklet is available for £6 plus £1.50 p & p through the Museum website

Long Buckby Local History Society

If you would like to know more about the local history society, the museum and our programme of events please go to their website by the link below:




Memories of Anne Owen

We recently heard from Anne V. Owen-Smith who provided us with the photograph of her feeding the ducks at the pond off the Brington Road and Anne asked if the little bridge is still there? The photo was taken in 1940.



I've asked Anne if she could let us have some of her memories of her time in Long Buckby. Here is her reply. 

My childhood name was Anne Owen; I left Buckby in 1958 to live and work and go to the Tech. in Northampton but of course I went back to Buckby almost every weekend so that my family could load me up with enough food to get through the next week!  I came to the U.S. in 1964. 

I have attached a selection of assorted memories from my childhood in Buckby; you can use whatever you want. I still get quite homesick for those days and places, and if not for my children, would probably have returned to the area years ago.

I've been away "across the pond" since 1964, but I've visited home a number of times, and on every visit I was pleased to meet a few old classmates from the Long Buckby schools and the former Daventry Grammar.  Some of us keep in regular touch via e-mail; and on my last visit in 2008 my friends organized a reunion during which I was delighted to meet many former and present Buckbyites and classmates for the first time in over fifty years. We all had the best time reuniting, though sadly we have lost some friends since.

I often check with "flashearth" and other satellite maps, and note the growth of the village since I left.  Some of the newer residents may be interested in how things used to be.  For instance, every street and house built between The Banks and The Leys are standing on what used to be our prime location for winter sledding.  Back in the 'forties and 'fiftys, a good covering of snow brought out children and adults for some seasonal fun. Even after dark, candles were set up in jars to mark the slides, and off we went down the hill, screaming and laughing.

In the field near The Leys, the village also held Guy Fawkes Night. For days before November the Fifth, everyone was encouraged to bring out their old wooden furniture, tree trimmings, and other suitable items, which were stacked up in a huge pile.  Someone would make a "Guy" that was set up on top of the heap.  On Guy Fawkes Night, families would gather to watch the display as the men lit the bonfire and fired off the fireworks that we all contributed. There were also sparklers for the children to run around with, and you could roast potatoes in the embers around the fire.  The annual circus used that same field to set up their shows in summer, before moving to the sportsfield down Station Road.

Among the photos on this site, you will see a very old one - circa 1940 - of me as a toddler feeding ducks at the Brington Road fishpond, as we called it then.  I am happy to see that the little pond, instead of being ploughed under, has been adapted as a nice feature for the nearby homes.  That little pond has seen a lot of action.  In spring and summer it was the place to go for tadpoles and fishing for sticklebacks.  In a really cold winter it froze over, and became a mecca for skaters. It was never very deep, so there was little danger.  The ducks were always there, always pretending to be hungry.

Did you know that all milk deliveries in Long Buckby used to be made by horses and carts? And until long after WWII, there was no bottled milk. It came loose, as it were, in enormous metal canisters, and was carefully measured by the milk man into jugs and other containers left on the doorsteps by housewives. In summer, the jugs were covered by a circle of muslin cloth edged by glass beads that weighed down the muslin in case of breezes or invading insects.  I remember at least three milk suppliers:  The Co-op,  Mr. and Mrs. Hales, and the Ewart family.  The Co-op had a huge dray horse named Ginger to pull their cart, and Ginger was not to be messed with. He was quite ill-tempered.

Everyone of my age will remember Mrs Elsie Cross and the newsagent shop on High Street.  Most of us once worked a newspaper delivery route for Mrs Cross, and she called us all "My Ducks" and treated us very kindly.  I hope that the Cross family are still supplying the printed news around Long Buckby.  I remember on many very early frosty mornings waiting outside the shop for the bus from Northampton to go past, dropping off the bundles of papers.  All the kids would dive in and sort the papers in the order they were to be delivered on their routes. Then off we went on our bikes, the huge canvas bags draped across our chests. I had the longest morning route (West Street to Murcott) and the shortest evening route (The Banks and Church Street).  I remember many times when the mill stream flooded the lowest area below Mill Hill, and I had to leave my bike and walk along the top of the old stone wall and the five-barred gate to reach my furthest customers.  I used to collect some good tips at Christmas for my efforts.

Down Station Road, across from The Mounts, there used to be an open field.  During WWII the field was fenced all around and contained a number of prefabricated buildings where German prisoners of war were held. These were not famous war criminals - they were just young men who had been conscripted, just as many of our lads were, who when captured by allied forces declared their wish to leave Nazi service and their willingness to be employed doing British farm work. They were delivered to local farms every day to do the essential work that was normally done by our men who now wore uniforms.  As far as I know, they never caused any problems, and in fact, they used to carve little toys to give to local children. After the war, a number of them wanted to stay, and some even married local girls.

Someone wrote to longbuckby.net recently asking about a cinema on High Street.  Yes, we had one there - the entrance was through a door and up some stairs right next to the co-op grocery shop; the cinema was above the Co-op shops.  It was a real cinema, with tilting seats and sales of ice cream and sweets.  The show always started with Pathe News, followed by a segment of a serial, usually a Western with Roy Rogers or Hoppalong Cassidy.  The main films were always a few years old, having already been screened at major theatres like the Savoy in Northampton, but it was a pretty good show for sixpence on a Saturday morning.

I hope that some Buckbyites will remember these and many more "old time" facts about our lives growing up in Long Buckby, and share their memories with us all.


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