Saturday, 22 December 2012

ABOVE:  The Christmas tree in the Memorial Gardens is a majestic feature of Silsden's festive decorations, which once again are the work of a small group of volunteers brought together by the Town Council, to whom thanks are due. BELOW: the splendid star shining out from the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has drawn many admiring comments and reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas.  

Friday, 21 December 2012

Pictured above is Roy Grosschmidt, who is probably Silsden's longest-serving, full-time window-cleaner. He became
self-employed 30 years ago after being made redundant. Others have been cleaning local windows longer than Roy
but not as their main or sole occupation. In the old days the big ladders were transported on hand carts as seen
in the 1930s photograph below. This window-cleaner is Tom Catlow, who is pictured at the cobbled rear of
Fairfax Street. Behind Tom are the backs of houses in Elm Grove.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The elegant window displays of the award-winning Ava Rose Hamilton bridal boutique (pictured above) have become an eye-catching feature of this stretch of Kirkgate, which for many years had been  the well-known premises of outfitters Arthur Brook (pictured below). Ava Rose Hamilton is a family-run business with three bridal boutiques, the other two being in Barrowford and Durham. The company was a Best Bridal Retailer finalist in last year's Wedding Industry Awards, and is a regional finalist in the 2013 awards. 
Arthur Brook was a family-owned clothing retailer with a dominant Silsden presence for more than 100 years. The business was started in the 1890s by Arthur Brook at No 65 Keighley Road (pictured below), opposite the present Bridge fish and chip shop. Arthur is holding his son, Harry, who later ran the shop and who in turn was succeeded by his son, Peter, The business moved to No 28 Kirkgate in 1928, farther along on the opposite side of the road, before switching in the 1930s to the building between Mitchell Square and the Robin Hood pub. With a different lay-out in those days, the terrace included Mary Spencer's dairy from the late 1930s to the early 1960s. It was Peter Brook who expanded the outfitters in the 1960s by converting three individual units into one store, the frontage of which has been a focal point of Kirkgate ever since. Peter retired in 2000 whereupon his two daughters, Fiona and Caroline, opened Brux, a fashion boutique, which closed after about four years and was followed by a newcomer to Silsden, the present Ava Rose Hamilton bridal-couture business.
The photograph below, from the late 1800s/early 1900s, shows the Kirkgate property at the junction with Mitchell Square that eventually became Arthur Brook's outfitters and is now the Ava Rose Hamilton bridal boutique. The man in the picture is probably  saddler James Burrows, who was born in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, in about 1870. His widowed father was a harness-maker. The saddlery did not last. By the time of the 1911 Census, James, who had married Annie Lawson in 1897, was a life-assurance agent living in Aire View.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Emma Stead, pictured above, and her husband Andrew, have been proprietors of Dogsbody & Friends in Kirkgate since 2008. Emma is pictured with her dogs Holly (right) and Elsie. The property goes back to Silsden's earliest retail days.
The Dogsbody & Friends premises (pictured above) have been in retail use since the late 1800s. For many years the property was a chemist's shop (Usher's and later Sherwin's) but in 1957 they became the Oakroyd Pet Shop, which had been established by Arnold and Jean Morrell in Aire View in 1951 and had moved in 1954 to Clog Bridge (where the Hydra Launderette now is).
Oakroyd, run by Mrs Morrell, rapidly expanded in the Kirkgate premises, so much so that in 1961 Mr Morrell quit his job as an engineer at Hill's Mill to work full-time in the shop (renamed A. Morrell)) with his wife. They are pictured above and below in 1980 when Mr Morrell retired and the business was sold. Since the 1890s the retail area had occupied that part of the property adjoining New Road but in 1962 Mr and Mrs Morrell converted the ground-floor living quarters into extra retail space to create the familiar double-fronted shop. As well as pets and pet accessories, they sold fruit and vegetables, groceries, garden supplies and fishing tackle. 
For 30 years Mr Arnold Morrell, who was a founder of the Silsden Canine Society, and Mrs Morrell were popular members of what was then a vibrant retail community, during a time when there was a Chamber of Trade and residents could still do nearly all their shopping locally. Mr Morrell died in 1992. Mrs Morrell continues to live in Silsden and is pictured below with her daughter, Mrs Carol Smith. 
Pictured below is No. 41 Kirkgate as it used to be. The pet shop, run by Mrs Jean Morrell, moved here from Clog Bridge in 1957 and later became Morrell's in the double-fronted store we know today.

For many years previously what became Morrell's shop had been Sherwin's the chemist (pictured below). 

And before becoming Sherwin's, the premises had been Usher's the chemist (pictured below), owned by Mr Robert Usher, who had been born in 1843 and was running the shop from possibly 1891 onwards. He may be the gentleman in the picture. 

 Below is another old photograph of Usher's the chemist at No 41 Kirkgate.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

It was in place for less than a year but this willow wolf in baying stance near Windgate Nick was much admired by walkers on the moorland path between the Nab and Ilkley. No one knew who the artist was and the creation disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

GROWERS' GALLERY (3): This the third picture in my occasional series featuring local allotment-holders shows that gardening isn't always about outdoor work. Bob Thomas (left) and Bob Bentley are both former West Yorkshire fire officers, for whom retirement has prompted the question: "How on earth did we find time to work"? 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Seven-year-olds Rose Cameron (left) and Isabel Price are pictured above enjoying a roundabout bus ride at Silsden’s annual Christmas Market on November 25. Shops open included Cafe Cake, in Briggate, where outdoor sales were run by Lisa Shackleton (pictured below) while her mother and father, owners Norman and Pauline Pickard, were busy inside. All the pastries, pies, cakes and other goodies are made on the premises.

Former overlooker Peter Mitchell is pictured above operating a Dryad floor loom at his tiny weaving shed (pictured below) off New Road. Peter returned to weaving after running the Dogsbody and Friends pet shop in Kirkgate from 1995 until 2008. He then converted a cold store at the rear of the pet shop, which for many years had been Morrell’s greengrocery, into a weaving shed. It measures 3 metres by 3 metres but is big enough to accommodate the floor loom and a table-top loom. Peter makes anything to order, as well as offering tuition in this traditional skill.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

P. J. Spencer, motor engineers, has been established in Mitchell Lane, between the beck and the park, since 1976. The business was started in a former mill workshop cum weaving shed by Mr Peter Spencer, who died in 2001, since when it has been run by his son, Richard (pictured above), who joined his father after leaving school in 1985. The garage expanded with the addition of new premises on the same site in 1990. Richard’s mother, Jean, partners him in the business. Her parents, Richard and Beatrice Bradley, farmed at Beck House, in Low Lane. Peter Spencer’s father, John, was licensee at the Red Lion in Kirkgate.
A familiar Silsden street scene since 1976 has been a colourful collection of antique and second-hand goods at the Keighley Road shop of Mrs Julie Russell, pictured above, whose late mother, Mrs Marjorie Dyson, worked there until the age of 98. The property was coal merchant Herbert Calvert's office and then a betting office before Mrs Russell purchased it 36 years ago and turned it into a popular antiques business.

Nothing unusual in seeing a mown field except that these Low Woodside hectares between the canal and the river were cut on the last weekend of October – exceptionally but not unprecedentedly late and a consequence of Airedale’s wettest summer in living memory, which has brought havoc to livestock farmers. Dairy herds have been inside during the summer, depleting silage stored for winter, and feed costs have soared on the back of weather-inflicted grain shortages.
Other seasonal distortions include curlews flying over the Hutter Hill and Tar Topping fields in November, by when normally they would have returned to the coast, a primrose in flower in December in Snowden Ghyll Wood and hyacinths still in bloom in a Kent Avenue garden in late September. And who has seen any field mushrooms this autumn?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Post Office in Kirkgate has been at the hub of the community in its present premises since 1907. The Cathey family has run the post office since 1955, when William Cathey became postmaster. His younger son, Andrew, above, has been postmaster since 1990. Andrew is pictured with two of his assistants, Rosemary Wallbank (left) and Judith Throup. One of the oldest in Yorkshire, Silsden’s postal service started around the time postage stamps were introduced in 1840 and occupied several different locations before 1907 when a row of Kirkgate houses was converted into shops.
 Kirkgate in about the 1970s before traffic congestion and road markings.   
Kirkgate scene in the early 1900s, probably before 1907 and certainly before 1914 when the first telephone box was installed alongside the post office. Note the shack in the foreground (left) by the the Stakes Beck dam.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The butchers, the barber and the cobbler pictured above are among the town's longest-serving shopkeepers.
The taxi office is a more recent arrival. These landmark  properties in Bradley Road go back at least 200 years
and are part of an area steeped in local history. In the early 1800s, what is now the shoe repairer's premises
was a cottage where Jonas and Hannah Throup raised 17 children. Jonas was Silsden’s chief constable and
also a woolcomber and brewer.
Barber Jeff Walbank's shop has changed little since he moved to Bradley Road in 1972 after three years in premises near Silsden's old fire station. Jeff, who is repainting and reflooring the shop to mark his 40 years' tenure, is equally well-known as an accomplished musician, as a dancer and DJ at 1940s-themed events and as a metal-detector. 

Mr Bryan Smith has run the cobbler’s and shoe shop at 2 Bradley Road for the last 30 years, since his father, Albert, retired. Albert Smith moved to Bradley Road from Skipton in 1963 but at first occupied the shop next door that is now barber Jeff Walbank’s premises. The switch to the cobbler’s present location came in 1972.

The Bradley family’s butchering connection with the former cottages in Bradley Road goes back to shortly before the Second World War.The late Fred Bradley’s shop was originally in the premises now occupied by the barber. The butcher moved next door to the present shop in 1946. His son, Peter (pictured above), took over in 1973. Peter was joined by his son, Philip (pictured below), in 1977. At one time all three generations worked together in the shop.
The Silsden Steeton taxi office opened in Bradley Road nearly 10 years ago. Some 40 taxis operate from here and from a base at Steeton. Manager Mr Mahboob Rashid is pictured in the doorway of the cottage where Mary Anne Shuttleworth (pictured below), born in 1854, ran a grocery shop for many years. The shop had been opened around the mid-1870s by her father, Jonas, who sold and repaired earthenware lamps before the family became grocers.  

Sunday, 21 October 2012

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Olde and New shop in Stirling Street. The owner, Mrs Gillian Egan, pictured above, quit her job as a sales representative (for a components firm) in 1987 to pursue her interest in antiques and second-hand paraphernalia. Stirling Street comprises mainly 18th Century properties. The shop was owned through much of the 1800s by the Netherwood family, who ran a thread-making business upstairs and a grocery downstairs. The grocery was eventually acquired by Eli Tillotson, who is pictured below in about 1920.

Monday, 15 October 2012

An upmarket florist shop opened at No 18 Kirkgate in June 2012. Hilary Lee, owner of The Flower Gallery, is pictured above
outside the premises, which had been a cafe under different proprietors since the 1980s and for many years before that had been Carter’s grocery and delicatessen.

Splendour in the park where the weekend's bright weather highlighted the autumnal glory of the leaves on these maple trees alongside Fletcher Avenue. October 14 also brought a frost hard enough to finish off this season's dahlias. 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Pictured above at their October 2012 meeting are members of St James' Parochial Church Council. The Vicar, the Rev David Griffiths, is on the far left of the back row. This year marks the church's 300th anniversary. At the time the church was founded Silsden's population was around 600. The photograph below shows the Church Council in 1912, the year of the 200th anniversary. The Vicar, the Rev John Berry, is seated fifth from left in the front row. The main purpose of the PCC is to promote within the parish the whole mission of the Anglican Church.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

One of the few survivors of Silsden’s industrial past is T. W. Bailey, textile engineers, of North Street Works, a family-run business started by Mr Tony Bailey in 1976. Mr Bailey is pictured above with his sons Steven (right) and Graham, who work alongside their father. Following the closure of the majority of Yorkshire’s textile mills, the company has invested heavily in computer-controlled machinery and taken on a new lease of life as a precision engineer making bespoke parts for customers in several different sectors.
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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

After what most local fruit and vegetable gardeners agree has been the wettest and worst growing season in living memory, this picture (taken four years ago) is a reminder that conditions and crops can only get better. The gardener is Peter Gawthorp, who has been an allotment holder for almost 30 years.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

There can be few Silsden residents who haven’t shopped at Paul’s DIY, in Briggate, which has been owned by the Waddington family and run by Paul Waddington (pictured above) since 1979. Paul’s sense of humour is legendary. Selling a phenomenal array of goods, from egg timers to electric sockets, from pet foods to pastry-cutters, from Kilner jars to coal scuttles and from putty to fragrant pedal-bin liners, the shop is a throwback to a different retail era and has been immune to supermarket and internet competition. Best-sellers include paint brushes, bath and kitchen sealants and DIY items. “Watering cans have not done well this year,” said Paul, noting the record-breaking rainfall of 2012.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Tar Topping is a landmark ruin on a popular walk from Skipton Road to New Lane.  It was actually Far Topping until a 19th Century cartographer mistook an F for a T and a new name was born. In disuse since the 1950s, the property comprised a one-bedroomed house with barn and shippon. The origins are unclear but the remains of a substantial cruck roof suggest considerable age. Source: "Discovering Silsden. Twelve Heritage Walks" by Cathy Liddle.

Silsden’s best-known gardener is Vincent Throup, pictured above displaying an onion weighing 12 pounds 6 ounces.who has twice held the world record for the heaviest onion. Born in April 1933 into a farming family at Higher House (near Swartha Hill on the moor leading to Bradley), Vincent’s determination to recapture the world title is undiminished in sight of his 80th birthday. He set a new world record of 9 pounds 11½ ounces in 1989 (the previous best was 6 pounds 2 ounces). In 1990, Vincent beat his own record with an onion weighing 10 pounds 14 ounces. In 2010, he produced a personal best of 14 pounds. The  present world best weighs 18 pounds 1 ounce, grown by Vincent's arch-rival Peter Glazebrook, of Newark. The world championships take place at the Harrogate Autumn Show in September. Vincent is pictured below with two onions entered in competitions for quality as opposed to weight.