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.