The Nostalgia column with Margaret Watson

Margaret Watson.
Margaret Watson.

INTERNET shopping is being blamed for the closure of many well known High Street shops, and there isn’t a thing we can do about it because, as the experts keep telling us, that’s progress.

People no longer go out shopping as they once did, and when they do, they don’t have time to go window shopping as we used to.

Shopping area: The picture shows Peace's Post Office on the left hand side, with St Saviour's church in the distance. Further back from the post office is the outline of some houses, the end of which was an alleyway leading to Dewsbury Cooperative Society Joinery workshop where Harold served his apprenticeship as a joiner. On the right hand side is the front of the Gas Works and further on in the distance is Dewsbury Pioneers Cooperative Society.

Shopping area: The picture shows Peace's Post Office on the left hand side, with St Saviour's church in the distance. Further back from the post office is the outline of some houses, the end of which was an alleyway leading to Dewsbury Cooperative Society Joinery workshop where Harold served his apprenticeship as a joiner. On the right hand side is the front of the Gas Works and further on in the distance is Dewsbury Pioneers Cooperative Society.

Today, it’s more a case of getting your car parked, dashing around to get what you want, and if you’re fast enough, getting back to the car before the parking warden does.

Leisurely shopping is a thing of the past, unless you do it via the computer, and then you can take all the time you need.

But it is a solitary occupation, and you miss out on socialising with other people or bumping into old friends and catching up on the news, face to face, instead of on Facebook.

I still remember the days when you didn’t have to leave your village to get what you wanted because everything you needed was right there in little shops you’d known since childhood.

This week Harold Laycock writes about the shops which once existed in Ravensthorpe, the village he grew up in, and where his parents also ran a shop in Huddersfield Road.

In his memoirs of Ravensthorpe, however, he also recalls trips to Dewsbury Market and the top men’s shops which once existed in Dewsbury where, as a child, he got his Whitsuntide clothes.

Harold writes: “There was a saying: ‘You could buy owt on’t lane’ – and with such a wide range of shops on Huddersfield Road – it was probably true.

“The main shopping area stretched from School Street to North Road. Gledhill’s newsagents was at the top of Armitage Street, before moving into the former Coop premises at the top of School Street. Daisy Buxton’s greengrocers was at the top of William Street, presently Fearnley’s Funeral Directors.

“The other shops were mainly between School

Street and North Road, with the exception of Hargreaves, a quality grocers shop at the top of Havelock Street.

“Harry Mellor’s general store was in the little wooden hut at the top of School Street, (later to become Harry Briers Butchers). Whitehead’s was a highly rated fish and chip shop, with another branch in Garden Street.

“Further along was Hickling’s off-licence shop which was eventually taken over by Owen Normington, the former butcher and delivery boy.

“Between Bradbury Street and Duke Street there was P A Wales’s shoe shop, Mountain’s Barbers and former bicycle shop, our shop, the Golden Grain (presently an Asian Gents Hairdressers),

Brook and Hall’s, Newsagents. British Trader’s, general grocers, (part of a group). Healey’s Tailors, Bates’s high quality Pork Butchers and Harry Potter’s green grocers.

“Between Duke Street and the Ravensthorpe Hotel, was Homewood’s Newsagents (formerly Naylor’s Draper’s shop, later to become a confectioners).

“Set back, and with a through way to Garden Street, was the Ravensthorpe Hotel. The next shop was Alfie Nicholas’s Green Grocers, Taylor’s Jewellers, Tommy Ellis’s Sweet shop and Jackson’s Shoe Shop.

“Tommy Ellis was an accomplished cello player. He was also known as the Diablo King due to his skills with the Diablo, which, in appearance, is like two inverted cones connected at the pointed end.

“It is spun by using strong cord with a wooden handle attached to the end.

“Tommy could do various tricks with the Diablo, such as throwing it up onto a telephone wire where it then ran along the wire before falling off where he would then catch it.

“Another trick, was to throw a bobbin over a house and then run around to the other side and catch it on his line.

“I remember Tommy Ellis’s shop, as the one presently occupied by the Coop Chemist. Between Garden Street and Foundry Street was the Lion Stores, formerly Hillards, a branch of the Gomersal based parent company.

“The Maypole, also part of a larger group, J&Bs, a branch of the Dewsbury-based department store, and The Thrift Stores, a branch of the Leeds-based group, later Vines’ electrical.

“The Coop Chemist formerly Tommy Ellis’s Sweet shop, and on the other side of Foundry Street was the Royal Hotel.

“Then there was Alan’s greengrocers, Norman Haigh’s Grocers and Armitage’s bicycle Shop and the Dewsbury Pioneers Cooperative Society, at the end of North Road.Mountain’s, the Gents Hairdressers had also previously occupied one of these shops.

“Bairstow’s independent chemist shop was at the top of Queen Street, and Peace’s Post Office and printers, was over the road, next to Ravensthorpe Park.

“These premises were taken over by a firm of auctioneers, which eventually closed and was then destroyed by fire. Lodge and Son also had a post office at the top of Aire Street.

“There were four branches of Dewsbury Pioneers Cooperative Society, at School Street, North Road, Broomer Street, and the Albion.

“There were two banks, Martins and the Midland, one on each corner of Huddersfield and Calder Road

“Local residents had to go to Dewsbury, Huddersfield or Leeds to find shops with a better selection of clothing, food or other items unavailable or cheaper than in Ravensthorpe.

“Dewsbury Market was probably the best market in the north of England at that time, with a wide variety of products, such as, clothing, books, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables etc.

“Whitsuntide meant shopping for new clothes. For the boys it was usually to one of the multiple tailors in Dewsbury for their new suits.

“These shops included: Montague Burton’s, Weaver to Wearer, or the Fifty Shilling Tailors etc.

“The first time the new suits were worn, it was traditional to go to neighbours and relatives, where traditionally, coppers (old money) were placed in the new suit pockets.

“The suits were then only worn on Sundays or special occasions.

“There was a very good Boy Scout/camping shop on Bradford Road, Dewsbury, selling, Boy Scout, Girl Guide, Wolf Cub, and Brownie uniforms, as well as camping and outdoor equipment.”

If you have memories of the village you grew up in and would like to share them, please contact me at tresham3@gmail.com.