The earliest mention of tanneries in Buckingham are in Bridge Street in the mid-16th Century, although nothing of this early site remains above ground. Tanneries were a smelly business and bridge street was a dividing point for the town, west of this point the buildings and houses were wealthier while the east end mostly housed poorer people. In England, the prevailing wind heads towards the East and the stinky process of tanneries would have been smelt much more over the east end houses!
However, in the 18th century most of the town’s tan yards were based near Prebend End. Tannery was a profitable business, and the owners lived in large houses nearby.
The industry lasted until the 19th century when the remaining tan yard was closed following the last tanner, William Sowerby’s death. Of these tanneries, several buildings survive including worker’s cottages and outhouses. Many of these are now owned by the University of Buckingham.