Century-old market stall to have final sale

GOOD TEAM Kathleen Colan-Ainsworth and Stephen Early. (d553c444)
GOOD TEAM Kathleen Colan-Ainsworth and Stephen Early. (d553c444)

A brother and sister will bid a final farewell to Batley Market this week, ending a family tradition dating back more than 100 years.

For 55 years, siblings Kathleen Colan-Ainsworth and Stephen Early have manned their clothes stall Rotherys – but will trade for the last time tomorrow (Friday).

Founded by their great-grandfather Tom Rothery, the stall has been a standard of open markets in Batley and Heckmondwike for more than 100 years.

Kathleen left school to start working for her auntie Elsie, who later took over the business, aged 13 – and has not regretted a day of it.

“It’s like the end of an era,” she said. “I never thought I’ve had to go to work in the morning – I’ve loved it.”

Their auntie Elsie worked until she was 82, turning up to 14 markets a week on a motorbike and side-car with husband Harry Brooke.

Kathleen can remember times the family would crowd around a plate of chips at odd hours in Batley Market’s heyday.

Elsie made sure they were ready for the tea-time rush when Fox’s Biscuits’ workers clocked-off, and streams of shoppers spent their pay.

Kathleen said: “People aren’t coming to the market like they used to. They go to the supermarket and do it all themselves. My older customers are dying off, so it’s the right time to go.”

Internet shopping had also played its part in the stall’s end, she said.

“I would like to thank all the customers for coming week in, week out, rain, snow or blow, and for their loyalty.”