Nostalgia with Margaret Watson: Street from yesteryear

We all get upset when we see much loved town centre buildings being knocked down and replaced by buildings we don’t like.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 22nd July 2014, 11:26 am
CHANGING TOWN Work begins on the demolition of buildings in Northgate in 1890 to make way for the London and Yorkshire Bank. Picture kindly loaned by Stuart Hartley.
CHANGING TOWN Work begins on the demolition of buildings in Northgate in 1890 to make way for the London and Yorkshire Bank. Picture kindly loaned by Stuart Hartley.

But pulling down buildings is really nothing new to Dewsbury because I’m afraid the old town council was always doing it.

These two photographs give you some idea of the time in our history – 1890 – when they started getting rid of the old and bringing in the new.

If you look at the two pictures, you wonder what the people of Dewsbury thought when they saw their quaint little shops being knocked down. Perhaps just as much as we do now.

STREET SCENE Buildings in Northgate in 1890, which were demolished.

But there was more to come. The ivy-clad vicarage of Dewsbury Parish Church went to make way for new roads, and so did one of the oldest Saxon buildings in the world, the Moot Hall.

Another to go was the centuries old Manor House, demolished to make way for the Empire, and many more went the same way.

The two pictures were taken in Northgate, and I hope readers will have the same fun trying to detect exactly where they were taken, as I did.

They were pulled down to make way for a new impressive bank in Dewsbury – the London and Yorkshire Bank, which nobody living today will remember.

But if I say National and Provincial Bank, most people will recognise it straight away because that was the name it was eventually changed to.

And if I say Nat West Bank, well even our very young readers will know where that is because that was its last name change.

But what about the shops and buildings round about? Well if you want to learn more, you had better get your magnifying glass out as I did.

On the picture, showing the sign, you can see a number of quaint little shops and buildings also awaiting demolition to be replaced by other shops.

One of them Ruddlesden’s could well have belonged to the Ruddlesden family which had a painting and decorating business in Halifax Road. Perhaps they moved there when this shop was pulled down.

If you look at the second photograph, you can see in the background the Fleece public house, which was pulled down some years ago, to be replaced by new shops and more recently another pub - The TimePiece, owned by Wetherspoons.

Also in this picture, you will just see on the top right-hand side a misty view of the Pioneer Building – still here I’m glad to say.

Many buildings were pulled down at this time to make way for brand new shops further up Northgate, where the old W.H Smith’s used to be and the Kingsway and Queensway Arcades..

Also in Corporation Street, other new shops were built, and the street was so named because it was the Dewsbury corporation who built the shops.

The council had the power to do things like that in the days when Dewsbury was in charge of its own affairs.

If they wanted to give the town a face-lift, they did, and when they thought they needed new shops, they built them. Oh happy days!

In the 1890s Dewsbury was rapidly growing in size and prosperity, and was doing everything in its power to attract industry and commerce to the town.

When the bank moved here in 1890, it was stated that “such a prosperous and important centre as Dewsbury could not be overlooked by the London and Yorkshire Bank.”

One of its balance sheets in 1895 showed that the investments of the bank had already exceeded half a million sterling.

The cash on hand, and “lent at call or at short date”, exceeded £528,000. Profit for the half year was £352,273, less than half of which provided a half-yearly dividend of 10 per cent dividend. Oh happy days!