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.