Wellingborough housing scheme’s French connection

Wellingborough Homes chairman Tim Davy

Wellingborough Homes chairman Tim Davy

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A new housing project in Wellingborough will honour a French war heroine with a historic local connection.

Work has now started on turning the former Railway Club site on Gold Street, Broad Green into a new development of 48 flats named Mitchell Court, bringing much needed affordable housing to Wellingborough.

But before it became home to the Railway Club, the site housed a Free French convalescent home for injured soldiers during the Second World War.

Known as Spring Hill, the home was run by Mrs Jeanne Mitchell, a French military nurse who moved to Wellingborough from London in 1940. The new housing scheme is named in her honour.

Spring Hill looked after 36 soldiers of all nationalities during the war years and was visited by General Charles de Gaulle and the Duchess of Gloucester.

The Mitchell family had initially housed evacuees before opening their doors to the soldiers. Mrs, or Lieutenant, Mitchell returned to France to work as an Army nurse when the Wellingborough home was closed in 1944. One of the first women to join the French army, she was later awarded the Croix de Guerre, a top French military decoration.

Two of her daughters, Pauline and Therese, married French soldiers who had been under their care at Spring Hill in a double wedding held at Our Lady’s Church, Wellingborough, in March 1942.

Wellingborough Council, Wellingborough Homes and local independent construction company Seagrave Developments have teamed up for the Mitchell Court scheme which will provide 24 one-bedroom homes and 24 two-bedroom homes, all for the rented market.

The development will be partly funded through a grant from the Homes and Communities Agency.

Wellingborough Homes chairman Tim Davy said: “We’re delighted to be bringing this historic site back into use to deliver much-needed affordable housing to Wellingborough and to help the cuncil address its housing waiting list.

“I’d like to think Jeanne Mitchell and her family would be proud of the scheme being given their family name, but also the benefits the scheme will bring to local people.”