Nostalgia with Margaret Watson: Daisy Hill and Wellington Road in Dewsbury were once hives of activity

How sad it is to walk along streets and roads which once were hives of activity like Daisy Hill and Wellington Road and now find them almost deserted.

By Jane Chippindale
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 7:30 am

Margaret Watson writes: I remember walking down Daisy Hill when the pavements were so crowded you had to step into the road to get past them.

Sadly, this part of Dewsbury has declined over the years with shops closing down and the library and swimming baths moving into the town centre.

No-one knew this area in its heyday more than the late George Carrigill, who grew up in its midst.

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DEWSBURY: A rare picture of Wellington Road on a quiet day. You will need a magnifying glass to see the Turks Head pub on the right at the top of the picture on the corner of Nelson Street, once a busy thoroughfare. The library and swimming baths are clearly seen on the right.

He was born in 1932 in the Turks Head public house (still there) situated on Wellington Road, a stone’s throw from Daisy Hill.

Some years before George died he wrote a remarkable account of his memories of this particular part of Dewsbury.

I had persuaded him to do it because I knew the changes taking place in Dewsbury in our lifetime would one day be an important part of social history.

Here is what George wrote:

“The area surrounding our pub was filled with shops and businesses which flourished, and opposite us was the Co-op bakery and next door the dairy.

“There was never a shortage of milk or bread. In fact the dairy dray-horse was stabled at our pub.

“At the side we had Bobby Glenn the barber; Milburn’s the newspaper shop, whose owner was the uncle of the jockeys Joe and Manny Mercy.

“Tragically, Manny was killed in a racecourse accident.

“Next to the barbers, during the war, was an army recruitment office where my father worked for a short time.

“Continuing down Wellington Road was a shoe shop, the public library, the swimming baths, where Mr Grimes must have taught half of Dewsbury to swim, and the Victoria School, now a medical centre.

“Over the road was the Methodist chapel, in front of which was a most delightful cake shop, and at the side was the cobbler/saddlers, which could have survived just on the repairs they made to school satchels.

“Going the other way towards the Reporter building (now apartments) was the Co-op Youth Group in which former councillor Alf Ramsden played a prominent part. He later went on to be one of the early Mayors of Kirklees.

“In the same building was a school of dancing and before you reached the Reporter there was the Spiritualist church, now closed.

“Just down Nelson Street was Stanley Whitworth, who was the wholesale distributor for newspapers and periodicals for the district.

“There was also a bespoke tailor called Sadler and Vollans, and the offices for the Electricity Board.

“At the bottom left was the army cadet club with table tennis, snooker and the never to be forgotten canteen run by Mrs Grace, family and friends.

“Just a short way up Ashworth Road and over the flyover was Coupland’s post office, Tattersfield butchers, Henry Mann’s grocer’s shop and Cross’s pork butchers.

“Behind was a terrace of large Victorian houses, one of which was owned by Tillie Reid, who for many years provided accommodation and meals for the theatricals who came to Dewsbury Empire.

“Some of these were relatively unknown at the time but some went on to much greater fame.

“My mother and father came to Dewsbury from Tyneside in 1928, and in their first and only venture into the pub trade became licensees of the Turks Head as it was then called.

“My father died when I was 15 and special permission was sought from the Chief Constable, Mr Iveson, for me to help my mother behind the bar.

“Things were different in those days and permission was readily given, and although I was terrified at first, I just had to get on with it.

“I lived there until National Service, marriage and then a little later my own venture into becoming a bookmaker in 1954.

“Some of my early memories were of the knocker-upper tapping on the upstairs windows and the lamplighter with a similar long pole.

“Also Cloggy Dick, clip clopping on his way to work, and cheerful Norman Ives delivering his sacks of coal, and, of course, the ten o’clock gun at Wormalds and Walker’s Mill by which time all children had to be in bed.

“It was very much a sports oriented pub with a strong leaning towards horse racing, reflected in the customers.

“Bookmakers such as Ken Winterbottom and his staff of Geordie Jack Ingham and Charlie Brook were regulars.

“Ken had his betting office above the “We Buy ‘Owt emporium owned by Charlie Stringer on Tythe Barn Street.

“Charlie himself was a customer, as were bookmakers Frank Lodge, who also owned the Carlisle Printing business, and Frank Barrett, whose other business interest was winning a contract painting gasometers.

“Another link with racing came from Dewsbury’s famous Derby winning jockey, Tommy Weston, who invariably called in following Sunday mass.

“Other names springing to mind were George Richmond, Ernest Bradbury, Arthur Stafford, Horace Green, Captain Mee and May Gaunt, who would take her two pints of bitter home in a large pot jug.

“The pub was built in 1838 when it was known as the Traveller’s Rest, and the first landlord was called Timothy Parker who traded as a beer seller.

“Timothy ran the pub until 1864.

“Those days are long gone for the close-knit and caring community covering just a small area of Vulcan Road, Eightlands and the Flatts.

“But they can always look back with pride and tell their grandchildren we were Yorkshire people who had standards, whatever our circumstances, who really did reflect the warm heart of Dewsbury.”

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