The Nostalgia Column with Margaret Watson

Margaret Watson.
Margaret Watson.
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THEY say a picture paints a thousand words and I think every picture I display on these pages does exactly that.

Especially for the people of Dewsbury who day-by-day are witnessing dramatic changes in their town.

NO LONGER WITH US: The old Victoria Modern School in Wellington Road is pictured shortly before its demolition.

NO LONGER WITH US: The old Victoria Modern School in Wellington Road is pictured shortly before its demolition.

This week a little colour is added to a normally black and white column showing photographs taken before the Victoria Modern School in Wellington Road was demolished to make way for the present day Health Centre.

Although it is only about 20 years since this happened, we can still regard these photographs as nostalgia , considering that when you get to my age (over 70) anything that happened yesterday is viewed as nostalgia.

Many readers will remember the campaign by different organisations in the town who tried to prevent its demolition.

They wanted it retained and put to good use because of its historic and architectural significance, but it wasn’t to be.

GONE: On Huddersfield Road, where Asda supermarket now stands, there was once a sturdy mill employing hundreds of local people.

GONE: On Huddersfield Road, where Asda supermarket now stands, there was once a sturdy mill employing hundreds of local people.

No developer saw enough profit to be made in converting a solid, old building like this. It was cheaper to pull it down and build something new.

Today, in the midst of a housing crisis, it would have been a different story, and it would have been converted into apartments, like many other old buildings on Wellington Road, like the old Reporter Office building.

One concession, however, was made in the case of the old school, and that was to retain the two stone archways marking the entrances to the school – one for boys and one for girls.

The photographs were kindly sent in by Mike Hobson who came across them while sorting through old photographs.

They were taken at a time when Dewsbury was undergoing massive redevelopment of one kind and another, not only in the infrastructure of the town, but following school closures to adapt to new education systems.

The new ring road also meant the demolition of many old solid and sturdy buildings with much history behind them.

Two cinemas, the Tudor and Rex, were victims, not to mention many other buildings in various parts of the town.

Today, we have a different view of old buildings, and thankfully many have been preserved, unlike the Empire Theatre (now Empire House) demolished in the 1960s, and the centuries old Moot Hall in Church Street, demolished in the 1950s.

This ancient building, once the pride of Dewsbury, was pulled down to make way for road widening schemes.

Promises were made that it would be pulled down brick by brick and rebuilt in another part of the town. But, we’ve all heard that before, and, of course, it wasn’t because the powers that be, the old Dewsbury Corporation, said it had fallen to bits while being taken down and therefore couldn’t be rebuilt. And, we cannot forget Caddy’s Ice Cream Parlour which went the same way to make way for the building of the Princess of Wales Precinct.

Dewsbury, however, has been more fortunate than many other towns in Great Britain in keeping most of its historic buildings intact.

They are now either “listed” or in conservation areas and therefore will be preserved for posterity.

Most readers will recognise where Victoria School was, at the end of Wellington Road, and across the main Huddersfield Road, where Asda supermarket now stands, there was once a sturdy mill employing hundreds of local people.

Yes, times are changing – some for the better, some for the worse.

If you have memories of the school or the mill in the pictures, please contact me via email at tresham3@gmail.com.