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Based on a 1994 article by Douglas Ashby , transcribed by Sally Crane

Harold Taylor OBE
1886 - 1983

Harold Taylor, aged 50, when Manager
of Kettering Co-Operative Clothing Society

Douglas Ashby mentions that he met with Harold Taylor's nephew, also named Harold Taylor, aged 87 years and living at 63 Station Road, Burton Latimer. Douglas was able to borrow from him the printed life story of his uncle which he used for this article. The following, in turn, is based on Douglas' article.

Harold Taylor was born in Burton Latimer on Jan 4th 1886. His father, Eben, was a cobbler of the area. His mother was confined indoors with chronic asthma for 25 years, but she loved her window flowers and read poetry, although she was self taught, because in her early days there was no school available.

The family home was in the High Street opposite the present day Pioneer Avenue with his father's workshop facing The Cross. The premises were demolished in about 1913 to make way for the Co-op buildings, which in turn were demolished in the late 1980’s. The water supply to many of the homes in the large area of The Cross was obtained from a pump, located on the opposite side of the High Street at the end of Rock Terrace, and was fed by a spring in the Feast Field, which was situated where Pioneer Avenue now stands, as there was no water or sewage system.

This photograph shows Harold's father standing in the doorway at the side of the family premises in the High Street, 1900.
The Taylor family home in the High Street, 1900.
Harold's father, Eben, is pictured wearing
an apron, standing in the doorway to his workshop
at the side of his premises.
Another view of the High Street with the family home in the right foreground and the communal pump shown opposite.
This photograph shows the front of the family home
(right foreground) with the communal pump opposite
(indicated by arrow).

Harold had five sisters, Phoebe Ann, Mary Jane, Lucy, Rose Hannah, Winifred Ann, and two brothers, Percy William and John Edwin. All of them attended the Burton Latimer Baptist Chapel and his father was the bass singer in the Choir for over 40 years.

The education of Harold began in the small infants’ school in Church Street, and continued in the school opposite, both of which were under Church governors, as that was before the large school in the High Street was built. When Harold was eleven years of age, the headmaster of the school visited his father and begged him to allow Harold to sit for an examination for either Kettering or Wellingborough Grammar Schools, but the suggestion was dismissed because the family could not afford it.

Therefore Harold left school when he was 12 years old, and at 13 applied to the Postmaster at Burton for a position.  As a result Harold took the oath from a Magistrate in Kettering, because in 1899 there was no Magistrate in Burton Latimer. His duties were those of taking telegrams in the district and above all, to take out daily papers and journals; this he did and it entailed visiting farm lodges in all weathers, and the Hall at Barton Seagrave; but he left his work in July and he worked part-time in a butcher’s shop until the end of the year. 

It was the practice for Harold to stay with his mother on Sunday evening, and the remainder of the family at home went to the service at the Baptist Chapel.

Harold was engaged at the Hart & Levy Clothiers Factory at the age of 14.
The Hart & Levy Clothiers Factory, built in 1884,
where Harold was engaged at the age of 14.
When he was 14 he was engaged by the clothiers Hart & Levy at Burton Latimer as a seam presser. Harold possessed a talent for sketching portraits of celebrities from photographs (including the Royal Family) which was spotted by Mr Lowe, the chief mechanic; he showed Harold’s sketchbook to Mr Maurice Levy, who requested Harold to work at the Leicester main factory, and learn the cutting trade on condition that he attended the Technical and Arts School in the Newarkes.  Harold left home for Leicester in 1902, at the age of 16 years, and took up lodgings situated in Chatsworth Street, now demolished.  His wage was ten shillings per week and his board and lodgings nine shillings, which left him with one shilling for everything.

On one occasion, Harold received a message from Burton Latimer that his mother might not survive the night, and after he had finished work at 6 o’clock he cycled over from Leicester to Burton Latimer, a distance of 30 miles each way, and returned the following morning, getting to Wimbledon Street, Leicester by 8.15 am as his mother was a little better.

Harold Taylor spent his working life in the Co-op Movement, particularly the clothing trade. He was active in the Labour Party. He held high office in the Co-op and travelled widely, was very eloquent and spoke at meetings for MPs and parliamentary candidates. He was very religious and a life-long Baptist.  He served as a County Councillor and sat on Kettering Urban District Council. Harold was awarded the OBE in 1955.  He was married for 69 years to Eveline who died in January 1980, aged 92. There were no children.

Harold died at Northam House on 14 June 1983 aged 97.

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