Dunstable Yesteryear

Lanark House, next door to Priory House in High Street South, Dunstable, is an iconic local building for numerous reasons.
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It can be seen in the background to the picture on this page, taken in September 1958, when its ground floor was occupied by the Priory Café, a recognised stopping place (in pre-M1 times) for motorists travelling along the Watling Street to London. In those days vehicles could be parked on the Square, opposite the café.

The photo was taken by Dunstable photographer Bruce Turvey when boxer Yolande Pompey stopped for breakfast at the café. Pompey was on his way back from Birmingham where he had sensationally knocked out a more-famous fighter, Randolph Turpin, in the second round of a heavyweight contest at Perry Barr stadium.

The café was run by Mr and Mrs Mead, who began the business after the retirement of Mrs Room, a dressmaker who had converted the ground floor into a ladies fashion shop in the early 1930s.

Yolande Pompey outside The Priory CafeYolande Pompey outside The Priory Cafe
Yolande Pompey outside The Priory Cafe

The picture also shows, on the left, the Herington chemist’s shop in its original location before it moved nearer the crossroads.

Lanark House was once the home of Christopher Lloyd Jones, a family doctor who was a well-known figure in the town. He had been a ship’s surgeon in his younger days and thought little of his own comforts. His one indulgence was regularly wearing a flower in his buttonhole which, as likely as not, he would give to the first admirer of it in the street.

Dr Jones lived at Lanark House with his widowed mother, a lady of great charm and dignity, from at least 1900 until his death in May 1920.

His brother. Arthur Owen Jones was a famous cricketer, playing for Nottinghamshire from 1892 to 1914 (captain 1901-1914) and being chosen for England 12 times.

Arthur Owen JonesArthur Owen Jones
Arthur Owen Jones

Arthur Jones contracted tuberculosis and was cared for at Lanark House until he died there on December 21 1914. A funeral service was held at the Priory Church and he was buried in Dunstable Cemetery, where a memorial to him has been erected by Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. A book about his career by Hugh Garrod, of Dunstable Local History Society, was published in 2002.

Lanark House was transformed into the Vantage Indian restaurant in 1992 when comedian Mike Reid, then a star of tv’s EastEnders, was invited to perform the opening ceremony.

> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society.

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