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.