The local economy and employment

The local economy and employment

The town’s economy was largely based on farming and rural crafts and trades, with many local men working as agricultural labourers, or in related trades such blacksmiths or horse harness makers. Other local employers included Paine and Co. brewers and millers, Jordan and Addington, corn merchants and millers, the St Neots Paper Mill and also Ibbett’s engineering works. A growing number of people worked in one of the increasing number of shops in the town centre.

Women also worked as domestic servants or at the Paper Mill or undertook seasonal work such as willow stripping for basket weaving.

Paine & Co. brewery workers, about 1910

Paine & Co. newspaper advert, St Neots Advertiser, 1914

Ibbett’s Agricultural Engineering workers and families, 1895


St Neots Paper Mill, Rag Room workers, about 1920


Harvesting wheat in Eaton Socon, about 1910

The St Neots area in 1914

North side of St Neots Market Square, about 1910

Eaton Socon Village, about 1905

St Neots was a small rural market town on the River Great Ouse at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. In 1911 the population of St Neots and Eynesbury was about 5,300, with another 7,500 people living in the surrounding rural area. The Eaton Socon area had a population of about 3,500 and was still in Bedfordshire at this time. Today the town has a population of about 38,000.
In 1914 many of the villages surrounding St Neots had very small populations, for example the village of Waresley had only 216 residents in 1901.