Ahead of July’s national Independent Retailer Month, we’re taking a look at some of the unsung heroes of our high streets and this week we’re focusing on Corby.
Nestled among quaint Weldon stone buildings and refreshing green spaces is the historic heart of Corby.
The Old Village’s bustling shopping streets are dominated by locally-owned, unique shops that offer that something special that can only be found right here, hidden away in the nooks and crannies of the hamlet that had just 11 households when it was featured in the Domesday Book.
Now, lining The Jamb, High Street and its spurs, are traders offering every good and service that anyone’s heart could ever desire.
The unmistakable smell of what can only be described as the delicious rubbery odour-de-hardware shop oozes out of bike and motor shop Wilco in The Jamb, bringing back vague remnants of childhood memories of taking dinted bike wheels to the repairman.
Unique flower arrangements spill out of Flowers & Things and meat, pies and delicious delicatessen are for the taking in D&L Hadden’s - the borough’s only remaining traditional butcher’s shop.
In Dochelle, there’s Spanish-inspired clothing you won’t find anywhere else in Corby.
And on the opposite side of the road, Genevieve is a staple if you need a gift for that special someone in your life.
And if you’re sending it through the mail system, you can pop into the friendly post office also in The Jamb.
Just steps away the genteel weeping willows relax over the Willow Brook in Charter Field - named after the charter that Elizabeth I granted to Corby back in 1568.
It’s a tranquil oasis in which to sit, and wait a while, or eat a spot of lunch while taking in the pretty surroundings.
Off The Jamb and into High Street, you’ll find a host of barber shops, hairdressers’ and beauty parlours - perfect for a pampering before heading for an evening in the Malt and Bass, Corby’s only cocktail bar.
There’s The Good Bean if you fancy a coffee and some cake and a chat and Golden Eagle carpets where you can find any floor covering that you want.
Don’t forget to pop into the Old Village Chippy to pick up a traditional fish supper or, if you dare, one of the more exotic offerings which include deep friend cream eggs and Oreo cookies.
One of Corby Old Village’s most popular shops is Much Loved, eight higgledy-piggledy rooms of treasures for the home in the chocolate-box, listed building.
Owner Gaye Hood-Henry runs the enticing shop and the Annie Sloan workshop next door, which hosts popular furniture painting, sewing and upholstery classes.
She also helps run the village’s annual Christmas market.
She said: “There are still people who’ve lived in Corby for years who don’t know that the Old Village is here.
“It’s a real hidden gem.
“Pretty much every business here is independent which means you get individual service that is second-to-none.
“It’s great fun working here. People love coming in for a look and a walk around.
“All the traders get along well and help each other out when they can. It’s a wonderful place to work.”
Corby - Older than you think
Although many think Corby is a ‘new town’, there are records of a settlement as far back as Roman Times.
The village is said to be named after its founder, the Viking Kori, who arrived in the eighth century.
While you’re in the village, it’s worth paying a trip to the borough’s oldest building - St John The Baptist Church, formerly St Peter’s, which was first built in 1200.
There’s also a few hidden gems around the village, with the 16th century heritage centre believed to be the oldest surviving house in the village.
Many of the original cottages were bulldozed to make way for the redevelopment of the town during the early 20th century.
The next Corby Pole Fair, an ancient tradition held every two decades since the 13th century, takes place in 2022.