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John Meads 2009
The Meads Family

William & Ann Meads with their family circa 1913.
William & Ann Meads with their family circa 1913. Standing L-R: Alma,
Harold, Fred, Ivy, Tom, Jim and Sally. Seated: Wilf, William, little Alf
between him and Ann with Walter at the end.

The Meads family connection with Burton Latimer started in the late 1870s/early 1880s when William Meads moved here. He had started life as an agricultural labourer in Gawcott, near Buckingham but as a teenager he moved to Northamptonshire to take up work at Cransley Furnaces and lodged with his Aunt Sarah and her husband William Harris, who were themselves from Buckinghamshire. By 1884 they had all moved from Cransley to Burton Latimer, where they became involved, firstly in the ironstone industry and then shoemaking.

In 1884 William married Ann Stokes, daughter of Thomas Stokes and they went on to have eleven children, ten of them surviving. In 1893 he was listed as an inaugural shareholder of the Burton Latimer Gas Company and his uncle, William Harris, was by now manager at the Cranford Ironstone and Limestone pits and had done well enough by about 1895 to build a shoe factory in Alexandra Street and make William Meads its manager. Click here to read about the first employees’ dinner. The factory, which was opposite what was then the Band Room, later the Ambulance Room but now (2009) the Guiding Centre, was almost destroyed by fire in 1898 and he then moved with his young family to Meeting Lane and then to a new house at 105 High Street where he worked at home as a shoemaker. Click here to read about the fire.

The 1901 Census describes his occupation as: 'Shoemaker' and employment status as: 'Worker working at home'. A few years later he was appointed school caretaker at the Council School next door but was subsequently obliged to look for other work because stoking the coke-fired school boiler began to affect his chest. In 1915 he took over the tenancy of the Burton Dairy, a dairy business with premises on the other side of the school at 111 High Street and in 1920 he bought the premises from its owner, Charles Barlow.

Amongst his other interests was the Britannia Prize Band, in which he played with his brother Jesse and eldest son James. He was its secretary and helped to organise the popular annual band competitions which drew competitors from other local towns and villages. In 1915 he was appointed a Parish constable by the Parish Council and at about the same time his wife Ann was on the committee and helping to run the Old Persons Treat, while his son Tom was its secretary.

His dairy business and its milk rounds prospered and Ann ran the shop which sold dairy products and ice cream until 1935 when he retired and his son Walter and his wife Phyllis took over.

William died in 1935 and Ann in 1945.

William and Ann’s family.

James – born 1885 – married Alice Tailby 1911- died 1962

Bandsman. Served as AB in Royal Naval Division in WWI. Worked at Coles Boot Co. For several years was secretary of the Britannia Club

Sarah Ann – born 1887 – married Raymond Hastings 1915 – died 1981

A teacher who began as a student teacher at the Council School. Moved to Spalding where her husband was a solicitor.

Alma – born 1890 – married Ezra Coles 1913 – died 1976.

Moved to Raunds where her husband was a Co-op butcher

Thomas William – born 1892 – married Mabel Jepson 1922 – died 1948.

Trained as a school teacher. Served in WWI as 2nd Lieut. Royal Garrison Artillery. Moved away – thought to have been a civil servant

Frederick George – born 1895 – married Louisa May Wildman 1915

Served as Private in Northants Regt. in WWI. Motor engineer. Moved to Hanwell, Ealing and died there in 1971

Harold Herbert – born 1898 – married Myra Hanson – died 1958

Wounded in WWI with the West Surrey Regt. Was an engineer in Port Talbot Dry Docks

Ivy Annie – born 1901 – married Fred Gardener 1925.

Moved to Kettering

Arthur John – Ivy’s twin died in infancy

Walter Charles – born 1904 – married Phyllis E. S. Smith 1930 – died 1970

Took over the dairy business – see below

Wilfred Jesse – born 1907 – unmarried – died 1948

Took part in D-Day landings with the Honourable Artillery Company and then worked in market gardening at Spalding.

Alfred Victor – born 1910 – married Eva Moore 1936 – died 1943

Foreman at Hart & Levy until called up. Died over Berlin when a Sergeant in 61 Squadron RAFVR.

The Dairy before it was bought by William Meads Meads Dairy in the 1970s.
The Dairy a few years
before it was bought by
William Meads
The Dairy in the 1970s. The original distinctive window
was replaced in the 1980s

Walter Charles Meads worked with his father in the dairy business, W. Meads & Son, as soon as he left school and when William retired in 1935 he moved into the dairy and shop with his three children, John, Noel and Cynthia. Walter ran the milk rounds and his wife Phyllis looked after the shop, which gradually changed from selling only dairy produce to general groceries.

He saw the business grow from churns and buckets on a hand cart through cardboard topped bottles on a horse drawn float to aluminum capped bottles from petrol vehicles. Before the war milk was delivered twice daily but this was reduced to once a day because milk was rationed during the war. First to  sell milk in cardboard cartons in Burton Latimer, obtained from a farm at Geddington and first to introduce aluminum capped bottles in Burton Latimer. Milk was first supplied by local farms e.g. Dixon, Finedon Road and  Hilly Farm, which was bottled on the premises then from the Kettering Dairy, Dalkeith Place. When regulations became more strict, milk was delivered ready bottled by Summerfield’s of Rushden (later Irthlingborough). He introduced Channel Island milk to Burton Latimer from W.D. Evans' Hilly Farm, High Street, until its herd was sold and then from the Duke of Gloucester's Farm at Barnwell.

Apart from one term, he was a member of the Burton Latimer Urban District Council from 1939 until his death in 1970. He declined the chairmanship because of the extra work it would involve with his seven-days-a-week work commitments.

He served in the Home Guard during W.W II and helped to run the Pig Club, which raised pigs in back yards to supplement the meat ration.

Walt and John Meads in Eady Road with milk float in the '50s Walt Meads delivering at Isham
Walt and John Meads in Eady Road with
their horse drawn milk float in the '50s
Walt Meads with Meads Dairy's first petrol milk float
delivering milk at Isham in the 1960s

Walter and Phyllis’s family

John – born 1931 – married Janet Sharman 1956

Noel – born 1933 – married Margaret Anne Smither 1957

Cynthia – born 1935 – unmarried - died 1997 

After Walter died in 1970, the dairy, by now re-named Meads Dairy, was run by his son John and the shop by Walter’s widow Phyllis and later by his daughter Cynthia. By this time, in addition to traditional dairy goods, the shop was selling a much wider range of foodstuffs including bread, cakes and confectionery, cooked meats, soft drinks and general provisions. At various times the milk rounds covered Burton Latimer, Isham and Barton Seagrave using petrol and electric vehicles. The business closed in 1995 and the premises became a private residence until Phyllis died aged 101 in 2006. It is currently offices and stores of Griffith Air Conditioning.

John continued in his father’s footsteps by becoming a councillor. He served on Burton Latimer Urban District Council 1970-75 and Burton Latimer Town Council from 1975 until retiring in 1995. He was a member of Kettering Borough Council from 1974 until stepping down in 1999. He and his wife Janet were inaugural members of Burton Latimer Heritage Society and John has been its secretary since it was formed in 2000.

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