6. Church Street
Stony Stratford - Church Street 1900s Stony Stratford - Church Street 2003

An early 20th century view of Church Street, looking towards the High Street, with the modern equivalent view. It is difficult to imagine that behind the ordinary facade of houses on the left lay a factory which was a nationally-recognised leader in leather work.

Stony Stratford - Sharp & Woollard WorksIn about 1600, the Penn family established a tannery in this part of Stony Stratford. The business passed through various hands over the next 250 years until in about 1850 Messrs Sharp & Woollard established a leather-dressing business which was one of the most celebrated in the Midlands.

The old engraving (right) gives some indication of the extent of the factory.

Stony Stratford - Sharp & Woollard awardIn an era when the horse was the main mode of transport and all shoes were made of leather, it can readily be imagined how important the business was, especially with footwear being the dominant industry of the neighbouring county of Northamptonshire.

The company flourished, though it remained relatively small for several generations. The 1970s saw growth, with additional building on the site.

Stony Stratford - Sharp & Woollard business cardEventually, when further development was needed in 1984, no further growth was possible on the Stony Stratford site, and the company moved to the nearby village of Cosgrove.

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