Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A survivor of the times when Kirkgate was a bustling shopping street is Picturesque, at No. 50A, where owner Marcus Bernard’s picture-framing services and gallery have been a feature since 1992. Some 90% of his business is from local people and Marcus (pictured above) is grateful indeed for their friendship and support over the last 21 years. He went into picture-framing after working in industry, lastly at Peter Black’s in Keighley. Marcus enjoys working with customers to enhance their paintings and photographs so that their work is shown to the best advantage. Right from the beginning, Marcus’s father, Arthur, who died last year aged 88, had been an invaluable help and was well-known to customers. The picture-framing side of the business is complemented by sales of aerial photographs, for which Marcus draws on a huge archive of nationwide views principally from the 1960s.
The impact of changed shopping habits on local independent traders is well-documented. To some extent Silsden has withstood modern challenges longer than other small towns but, sadly, closures continue. Presently for sale is No. 50 Kirkgate, where owner Nadine Errington (pictured above) has decided to call it a day after taking over from Colin Russell in 1995. She changed the name of the shop from Dual Discounts (popularly known as “the cheap shop”) to Nadine’s a few years later and for a while did healthy business selling a huge array of gifts and goods, from sink plungers to sweets. But trade has been difficult since the closure of the Barclays Bank branch on the opposite side of Kirkgate. “It was surprising how many people the bank had brought to this end of the street,” said Nadine. Her stock has changed accordingly. Nadine was among the organisers of the Christmas Extravaganzas, which lit up Kirkgate and Briggate in the 1990s. Before buying the shop, Nadine worked behind the counter at the Kirkgate Post Office and at Aire View Stores.
The present-day Nos.44-54 Kirkgate. The Hair Design Centre on the right is No. 44. No. 54, the Tucos take-away food shop, was the first village-centre post office, opened by Thomas Driver, possibly in the 1880s. He came here from Leeds, and was succeeded in 1894 by William Moore, who moved the post office to its present site farther along Kirkgate in 1907. Silsden's first post office, a rudimentary service, had opened in Bridge Street in 1840.  
Charles Weatherhead (left) was a grocer at No. 50 Kirkgate at the time of the 1891 census. Born at the Red Lion and self-educated, he was a main mover in the establishment of a Local Board in 1863 and in 1895 became the first chairman of the successor Urban District Council. He is pictured here with Kirkgate butcher Sam Bottomley. Instrumental in giving the village a piped water supply and a proper sewerage system, Mr Weatherhead, who was also a Methodist preacher, was mourned as Silsden's biggest benefactor when he died in 1909. Weatherhead Place is named after him.
A late 1800s picture of Mrs Emma Throup at her greengrocery at No. 54 Kirkgate, presently the Tucos food take-away shop.
Mrs Throup won first prize for best-decorated shop in Silsden's second carnival, in 1910. She is dressed in black on the left of the picture. On the steps are her son Jonas, daughter Violet and son Ethelred (who features in one of my earlier posts about the wooden hut in Elliott Street). The lad at the front on the left is Harold Kitchen, who became a leading local musician. This photograph is from his collection of memorabilia. The tallest of the boys is orphan Willie Rawling, who lost his life just a few years later in the First World War.
Another fascinating turn-of-century view of this stretch of Kirkgate. This photograph is from a collection compiled by the late Kevin Bower.
Health and safety? Not a chance. Victorian children at play in and out of cellars alongside the steps to Mrs Throup's greengrocery. Picture from the late Kevin Bower's collection.
Two advertisements from a 1910 bazaar brochure show that No. 52 was Whittingham's millinery shop (now Mega Modo's food take-away) and No. 50 was a confectioner's run by Mary Hillman and her daughter. The 1911 census lists No. 50 as being occupied by the Hillmans and by William Overend, a grocer, and his family.

A jump in time to the 1930s, when Miss Breare's ladies'-wear shop occupied No. 52.
Fashionable footwear: this sturdy lace-up shoe was popular after the Second World War when Walter Varley, a chiropodist, moved into No. 52, where his services were available for some 25 years. This advertisement was from the council's 1954 guide to Silsden. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

With a largely young squad, mostly under-21s, Silsden AFC were positioned 12th out of 22 teams after 14 games in the Premier Division of the North West Counties League. They went out of the FA Cup in August at home to Bridlington Town and on September 21 were beaten 4-2 after extra-time (1-1 at full time) by North Shields in the FA Vase. Back row (left to right): Michael Hall, Anthony Lynch, Daniel Fagan, Jack Houlker, Steven Throup, Andy Hill, Kristian Hargreaves, Michael Rosser, Tom Sowerbutts. Middle row (left to right): Andy Geary (manager), DannyThorpe, Chris Williams, Dave Blacklock, Wayne Mahomet, Ed Hall, Pedro Quintas, Jackson Rouse, Nathan Egan, Kev Knappy (goalkeeper coach), Claire Smith (physio). Front row (left to right): Anthony Young, Matty Moses, Chris Wademan, Josh McNulty, Will Storrie, Joe Jalil, Ben Crabtree.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Characterful barbers are an essential part of the community and in Silsden they have an incredible long-stay record. Gino Familio, pictured above, who runs Cut Italia with his son Alex, is nearing his 25th year as a hairdresser at No. 88 Kirkgate. He came to England from Naples in 1969 and opened Cut Italia in 1989. Previous uses of the shop on the corner with Wesley Place (pictured below) included the water-works office where household bills could be paid. In those days all the utility bills could be paid locally in person and in cash.

In the early years of the 20th century, the shop at 82 Kirkgate, now a dog-grooming parlour, belonged to barber Harry Foster, who lived above the premises with his family. Pictured above at the shop, around 1912, is one of Harry's assistants, Wilf Naylor, an ex-soldier, who had moved to Silsden from Leeds to learn the trade. On the outbreak of the First World War, Wilf volunteered to serve, despite being in his late 30s. In a trench in France in 1917, Wilf was hit by shrapnel, which shattered his right arm. He died aged 42 in a military hospital in Leeds in 1920. In the 1950s, 82 Kirkgate was well-known as Mr Sanderson's sweet shop. Another barber who had fought in the 1914-18 war was Tom Lowis. He retired in 1964 after 44 years here, having opened his first Silsden shop in Aire View in 1920 and then moving to Kirkgate in the premises which a few years ago flourished as Bonapartes restaurant but which are presently unoccupied. Tom was also a booking agent for local coach firms and customers, well lathered for shaving, often had to wait while he arranged day trips to Morecambe and Bridlington for families who had called in.  
The barber pictured above in 1908 at his shop on Clog Bridge is Jonas Gill Wilson, who retired in 1935 after 55 years as a local hairdresser. Known as Joany Barber, he shaved 100 villagers on his first day in business in 1880. The busiest time was the hour before midnight. The pubs closed at 11pm and drinkers would then dash to the barber's shop for their weekly shave. For 35 years he lived at Farnhill and walked along the canal towpath to and from the shop, which was a large wooden hut once used as a nail-maker's smithy at Brunthwaite. The hut was pulled down when Joany retired in 1935. Silsden's first barber was Morecambe-born John Nixon, of Caleb Street, who came here as a child and was a nail-maker until becoming a  hairdresser in premises in Kirkgate in the mid-1870s. Before that, men had cut each other's hair or their own. John continued as a barber virtually until his death aged 77 in 1908.  
Another long-serving barber is, of course, Jeff Walbank, pictured above at his Bradley Road shop (featured in my October 2012 post), who is still going strong after 44 years as a local hairdresser. Arthur Wade, John Lyth and Geoff Whitley are also among well-remembered barbers from yesteryear.  

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Above: A bee about to feed on common toadflax in a local lane. The snapdragon-like plant is common throughout England but rarely seen in the Silsden area. The shape of the flower excludes many nectar-seeking insects. The mouth of the petal tube is closed by a fold of the lower lip, called the palate, and only heavy and skilful insects, such as bees, can depress the palate to gain access to the tube, which extends into a long spur as can be seen in the photograph.    

Monday, 2 September 2013

Above: The Gibson Gang were the stars of Silsden Allotment Association's show on August 31, winning the trophies for most points and best exhibit. Dad Jonathan Gibson (right) is pictured with sons Nathan (front left) and Lewis and daughter Amy, and their grandma and grandad Liz and Paul Mortimer. The Association, founded in 1985, has revived the Silsden tradition of horticultural shows. This year's event, for members only, attracted more than 120 entries, reflecting a bumper growing season after last year's wash-out.
Above: Steve Metcalfe was runner-up in the class for a basket of four vegetables. He also exhibited the best tomatoes.
Above: Peter Smith, a leading local gardener, judged the vegetables, flowers and eggs. Elaine Akeroyd judged the domestic section and Brenda Carey judged the children's classes. The trophies and certificates were presented by Mike Carey.

Above: Molly Driver, pictured with Mum Ros and Dad David, was joint first with Elisha Emmott in the scarecrow competition.