Large crowd watched blaze at paperware factory
Drama in High Street South, Dunstable, in July 1980 when fire broke out at Cross’s paperware factory, on the corner of Periwinkle Lane.
It was one of a series of blazes at the firm, which made paper doilies and other disposable tableware – all highly inflammable.
A large crowd gathered as police closed the Watling Street near the Greyhound pub and diverted traffic down Great Northern Road.
Seventy firemen fought the blaze.
Henry Cross had built his Dunstable factory in 1909 on a site previously partly occupied by the town’s cattle pound.
He called his new building “The Bigthan Works”, meaning “gift of God” – he was a devout Christian.
Eventually his firm employed hundreds of people. The Willoughby Close development, named after the original field name for the area, was built on the land after the factory closed in October 1996.
And there are now business premises on the Evans garage site.
> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society.