Long Buckby

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More than meets the eye

The village of Long Buckby is large and impressive with very diverse buildings dating from different eras. With a population of nearly 4000 by the time of the 2011 census the term ‘village’ is used loosely. Long Buckby is growing with new developments currently being built close to the popular railway station, with its direct links to London and Birmingham, to encourage a new generation of villagers. It has almost doubled in size since the 1970s, yet there are still plenty of buildings which retain their historic character and charm – 37 buildings within the village are ‘listed’ in recognition of their architectural and historic significance. These buildings provide throwbacks to the history of a village where wool-making then later shoe-making once flourished. The history of the village dates back much further than that though with the castle mound dating from 1150AD, although it is now almost hidden within a residential area. Long Buckby is indeed a place of hidden gems, which are certainly worth sharing.

Stuff of nonsense

The joy of exploring villages often comes when we understand who lived there and how they lived, particularly when discovering famous people and their associations with the village. Perhaps you have guessed whom I am referring to? Stanley Unwin – the wry comedian who is famous for inventing his own language, “Unwinese”. This revelation bought a smile to my face and gives the village added appeal. Mr Unwin lived in Long Buckby from 1940 until his death in 2002. His “nonsense” language delighted people for generations and he is now buried in the local churchyard at Long Buckby.

A tale of two villages

Sharing its name with the larger village is Long Buckby Wharf, a small hamlet full of character and well worth a visit, with its charming church and village hall. It also has the Grand Union Canal (and wharf) running right through it. The canal was once bustling with trade before the coming of the railways and motorways, including the busy and relentless M1 motorway nearby. Watford Gap is also a significant ‘landmark’, just two miles west of Long Buckby, as it is home to the first motorway service station in the United Kingdom. Long Buckby has always been accessible and well connected – there is a regular bus route travelling to/from Rugby, through Long Buckby, Daventry, and Northampton.

New boots and shoes

The shoe making industry thrived throughout Northamptonshire in Victorian times. In fact the towns and villages in Northamptonshire each had a slightly different area of ‘shoe expertise’ – Long Buckby was famous for the high quality of their equestrian boots. The countryside surrounding the village is beautiful and it is easy to see why horse lovers enjoy hacks in the local area. There were shoemakers in Long Buckby who worked in small cottage industries making and mending footwear, continuing the family trade well into the late twentieth century. Some of these highly skilled craftsmen and women still live in the village today.

Long Buckby today

It’s on your doorstep and a must see if you like buildings steeped in history, dreaming of Norman castles, and remnants of the industrial past, including a glimpse of our inland waterway heritage. Long Buckby today is vibrant and busy, with facilities to rival those of larger towns. Come and see it for yourself – it may well surprise you.

Rachel Twomey
rftwomey@hotmail.com

 

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