No. 71 Kirkgate has been a newsagent's shop since about 1880. The present proprietor, Raheel Arshad, who bought the business from Michael and Elaine Kershaw in July 2011, is pictured above.
Arshad is pictured here with his sister, Arzoo Shafiq, who manages the shop, which is also staffed by Arshad's wife, Savera Raheel. Arshad, who gained a BSc degree in accounting at Oxford Brookes University, came to Silsden after six years with a similar shop in Burnley. The family are from Jhelum, a village near Islamabad, where Arshad's father runs a poultry farm.
Arshad has transformed the shop into an off-licence and general store as well as continuing the traditional newsagent business. There is hardly a square metre of unused sales space.
The "top of the town" area where Kirkgate meets Briggate and gives way to Bolton Road End has undergone road lay-out alterations over the years but the buildings that can be seen here have largely been unchaged since 1900 when the Conservative Club was built.
In this early 1970s photo, the newsagent's shop was under the name of R. Dewhurst and a greengrocer occupied what is now Stefano's Italian ristorante. The offices on the ground floor of the Conservative Club were occupied by Dennis Knowles' estate agency, which moved across Briggate to its present premises when the Electricity Board showroom closed. The former Knowles offices have been occupied by Aire Valley Financial Advisers (previously insurance specialists) for several years and more recently also by the Green Partnership estate agency. The snack bar became a cafe but has been a hairdresser's for some time.
A late 1950s/early 1960s view. The roundabout was built in 1936. Photograph by courtesy of Silsden Camera Club.
The buildings on the left and the nearby Highfield Farm and Bolton Road School were demolished in 1956 to make way for the Memorial Gardens. Photograph by courtesy of Silsden Camera Club.
The view in 1930. Note the war memorial at Bolton Road End between the Conservative Club and the entrance to "Punch Bowl Hill". The memorial was unveiled on November 12, 1921, and was transferred across the road to its present site in 1957. This scene was published as a postcard by newsagent R. Dewhurst.
Bolton Road End in 1897 when the newsagent at 71 Kirkgate was William Smith. The mill chimney is at Airedale Shed. The gas lamp in the centre of the picture is where the roundabout was built in 1936. The first Silsden newsagent probably was Thomas Bradley, who combined nail-making and selling newspapers from the late 1860s. His forge-cum-shop was near the old vicarage. William Smith (born 1840) was also a nail-maker and a Methodist local preacher. He started in business as a book-seller, newsagent and assurance agent at 71 Kirkgate around 1880. He was there for more than 20 years. By the time of the 1911 census, two more newsagents had opened in Kirkgate: James Edward Streets at No. 39 (now Twigg's) and Timothy Jackson at No. 49, next door to what is now Bilaluci. William Smith was followed at 71 Kirkgate by Edwin Kirkham. Subsequent owners were R. Dewhurst, Fred Sharp, Arthur Watson, who was chairman of Silsden Urban District Council from 1952-55 and who kept the Dewhurst name, his daughter and son-in-law Tom Hayes and the Kershaws. This view, from the late Kevin Bower's collection, was published in Neil Cathey's book "Silsden in old picture postcards".