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History of Kettering

The present Kettering town was established and grew significantly in the 19th century. Alongside this, the up and coming boot and shoe industry (which the entire of Northamptonshire then became famous for) was booming and factories were built in the Headlands and Rockingham areas with the workers living in the terraced streets nearby.

The shoe industry then declined in popularity and income following the establishment of large footwear manufacturers such as Timpsons and Frank Wright. This left the shoe factories in Kettering closing down as the competition from overseas put them out of business.

In the Victorian era, Kettering was the centre of the attention in the 19th century religious non-conformism and the Christian missionary movement, and this has been preserved in many names. William Carey was born in 1761 at Paulerspury and lived his early life in Kettering before moving oversea to India, as a missionary in 1793. The streets Carey Mission House and Carey Street were named after him.

Andrew Fuller helped Carey found the Baptist Missionary Society and he is remembered to this day in the Fuller Church and Fuller Street. At a later date in 1803 William Knibb was born in Market Street and became a missionary and emancipator of slaves; he is commemorated by the Knibb Centre and Knibb Street.

Toller Chapel and Toller Place were named after father and son who served as minister for over 100 years and still to this day are named. The chapel was built in 1723 for those since 1662 had been worshipping in private. After several failed attempts Kettering station was officially opened in 1857 by the Midland Railway Company, providing a friendly economic stimulus to the local economy, suffering as it was from the loss of wayfaring business since the introduction of railways nationwide. The line was then finally linked to London in 1867.

In 1921 Wicksteed Park, Britain’s second oldest theme park, was officially opened on the southern outskirts of the town, and remains popular to this day with people attending every summer.

From the dates 1942 to 1945, the town witnessed a massive inflow of American servicemen, mainly from the US 8th Air Force at RAF Grafton Underwood, 3.7 miles away from Kettering. The airfield base got a nickname and was soon to be known as ‘Grafton Undermud’ influenced by the English weather ‘rain, rain and even more rain’.

Kettering’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country and has over 80% of full time workers in employment. It is home to a wide variety of companies including RCI Europe, Weetabix, Pegasus software, Timsons Ltd and Morrison’s Distribution as well as the United Kingdom’s oldest theme park Wicksteed park where over one million people walk through the gates every year.

Kettering General Hospital is in the home of Kettering. This provides an Accident & Emergency department services for northern Northamptonshire including surrounding towns like Corby and Wellingborough. As the campus has been built that cost over 20 million.

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