High Street Property Details

No.23 Voytek – computer services and photographic business

This timber-framed, Grade II listed building was erected in the 16th Century.  The building has an 18th century frontage, gable and chimney, and box shop windows added in the 19th/20th century.  It was listed (i) on 15th June 1971 and has had many uses over the years.  Since 1840, it has had strong connections with cordwainers (shoe makers) and has long housed people making and selling shoes.

During the last 100 years, the shop has given life to an assortment of businesses. During the 1890s, it was a Coffee House run by a widow, Eliza Howard.  Her daughter, Louisa Maria Howard, with her sister, took charge shortly after their mother's death.  Louisa went on to marry George Westwood, a blacksmith, in 1903 and raise a family in Marford Road.

This property was then inhabited by John McCulloch, born in Wheathampstead (along with his six siblings) to a Scottish father (the local baker and coal merchant). John, whose nickname was Pup, was a builder, painter and decorator.  He lived at No 23 with his wife, Eliza (nee Young), a local Kimpton girl, together with their children.  The two met at Kimpton fair, on a fine day: when they were enveloped in a sudden heavy shower, John offered Eliza the use of his umbrella ... they were married in Kimpton church.

John specialised in timber-framed houses and he built many houses in the local area including The Nook in Rose Lane in 1922, where his great grandson, Dennis Toyer (ii) was born and still lives (Note: Dennis died in 2018). During the 1920s, John's sons, Harry and Malcolm, joined the business and they continued this trade until the early 1930s. Malcolm was known locally as Malky and, after his father died of bronchitis at the age of 82 years, took over the business. Unfortunately Malky died shortly after of cancer.   Tom Westwood, another painter  and decorator in the village, took over all the customers from their business after Malky died. As you look at the house, the internal arrangements were that the room on the left was the parlour, kept for use only on high days and holidays. The room on the right was the family room where everything and everyone existed, including John's business meetings. The yard at the back of the house was where John kept all his builder's equipment.

From 1951 until 1975 George Amos ran a shoe shop on the premises with his wife Joyce,.  George was a well known character in the village with a notable shock of white hair and a stutter. In a change of usage in George's time he used the room on the left as his workshop and the room on the right was the shop. No 23 became Watty's Shoe Shop in 1975, Keenprint Studio in 1976, and then a shoe and craft shop, run by Sally Whittaker, in 1977.

After 1981, No 23 housed a property management business, followed by a health food shop run by Judy Wrigley, a local lady, during the late 1990s. Since 2010, No 23 has housed the computer services business 'Voytek'. During November 2013, a photographic business started up, trading alongside Voytek, called 'Through the Lens'.


April 2020 update. The premises are currently occupied by Nonpareil, bespoke kitchen and bathroom designers, heating and plumbing.


Researcher: Jacky Edwards


Sources consulted           

·      English Heritage Grade 2 Listings Site  (i)

·      Dennis Toyer, Rose Lane, Wheathampstead (ii)

·      Census 1841, 1891, 1901, 1911

·      Ancestry.co.uk

·      Electoral Registers

·      Susan Tattersall



Property Images

past & present images for this property

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