After 1916 embroidery, needlework and metal work continued to be carried on in Ickleford for a while under the direction of Mr. Witter’s personal assistant, Madeleine Warren, but in 1923 the forging and metalwork side was handed over to Francis Olney and Tom Newbury, two of the earliest pupils at “The Ickleford Industries of Applied Arts”. They renamed the firm “Olney and Newbury Ltd” with a trademark ‘Hand Beaten, Olbury, English Made’ Olbury being a contraction of Olney and Newbury.
Francis Reuben Olney was an Ickleford miller’s son born in 1889, he married Winifred Emma Izzard in 1913 and their son Leslie was born the following year. He died in 1956 having already been succeeded by his son Leslie who continued to trade until 1979.
Tom Newbury was born in Arlesey in 1886 he married Ethel Northup in 1915, she sadly died the following year and their baby son Ernest died in 1917. After 16 years of widowhood he married May Burrows who was another Ickleford Applied Arts employee. His nephew Harry Dudley also worked at Olney and Newbury.
Finding employment was difficult for girls and women in rural communities. The straw plaiting heyday of the 1860s had waned; dressmaking and going into service were the only options for most girls. Walter and Marie Witter’s Applied Arts business was a great boon to the local economy. The working conditions seemed good and the pay reasonable. Sisters and friends worked together within walking distance of home.
The 1911 census listed 29 local women and three men employed in Applied Arts. The surnames will be familiar today as they recall old Ickleford families.
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