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Shop History

Ampthill is well known as a picturesque Georgian market town, however the town is much older than it's Georgian fronts with many buildings dating back to the medieval period. The town is associated with Henry VIII who often visited Ampthill for deer hunting and archery contests. He chose to stay at the 15th century castle that stood within Ampthill Park. There has been a market held on a Thursday since 1219, originally dealing in cattle and goods. Before the market square was built the stalls spilled along the main roads including Dunstable Street. At one time this was known as Cowfair End.

In 1890 a shop was opened at 96 Dunstable Street by Herbert John Woods, he called it 'H.J. Woods'. It began as a barbers and tobacconist, and continued until his death in 1939. Mr Newby Sturbridge cut the hair and did the shaving, while Herbert Woods expanded first into bicycles and repairs, then into motor cars and repairs, and then into wireless radios and repairs. Finally he also supplied sports goods. A 1935 advert boasts "a splendid range of 1935/6 all-mains battery receivers in stock" and a 1940s advert boasts "the best selection of sports goods in the district".

After Woods' death the shop was owned by Frank Pinny for almost half a century. Mr Pinny's sentimental attachment to the name of the old firm, which he had joined on leaving the National School in Bedford Street, was kept. Frank Pinny also sold tobacco, cigarettes and snuff, repaired bicycles and radios and even topped up batteries at the back of the shop.

Next, No. 96 was taken over by Frank's son Robert Pinny who ran it as a barbers named 'Hairpins' and then 'Pinny's' before he retired in April 2011. That was when I purchased the property. As a lover of old, it was my ambition to restore the front room of the shop to a more original state. The 18th Century beams had all been covered up. In an attempt to discover the original beams it was clear why they were hidden! Woodworm infestation, dry rot, wet rot and many damp issues needed to be sorted out. Finally, I am glad to say full restoration has been achieved and I am pleased to open to the public my vintage, retro, antiques and collectables shop called 'Lawson & Lee'. Why the name you ask when I am Claire Randall? - The Answer is that they are the names of my dear departed mum and dad without whom I would not have been able to pursue my dream. When my dad was in hospital he said "soon you will be able to have your antiques shop" and as always he was right.

Claire Randall

LAWSON & LEE Established 19th November 2011

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