Signs of the times: from Kirkgate and the Messiah in the 1950s to Tattoo City and Age Concern todayAbove: a 1950s view of the shops from the (Primitive) Methodist Church grounds to the Post Office. The shop with the cigarette advertising boards (Senior Service and Capstan) and chewing-gum dispenser was Marion's, which as well as being a tobacconist sold toys and sweets. The owner was Marion Ritchie (nee Hardcastle). Next door was the chemist Herbert J Clark (with sunblind) and then came the iconic ironmonger Waterhouse's (Esso Blue paraffin stockist). The next shop was Ernest Todd's gardening-supplies outlet. Beyond was Nancy Lund's ladies' outfitters and then the Post Office. The chapel notice board on the left advertises a production of Handel's Messiah, which was an integral part of Silsden's choral calendar for 100 years or so.
Above: the Messiah soloists, civic dignitaries and worshippers in 1951. Seated are the soloists (left to right) Arthur Gardner (tenor), Ursula Tunnicliffe (soprano), Margaret Bottomley (contralto), Jim Bradley (trumpet), Alice Bradley (accompanist) and Alan Murgatroyd (baritone). The VIPs in the row behind the soloists include Silsden Urban District Council chairman Horace Fortune (fifth from left) and his wife, Nellie Fortune (sixth from left). The Messiah was first performed in Silsden in 1875 and became an annual tradition into the 1970s with united church choirs at its heart.
Above: the same retail parade in 2017. The chemist, now Rowlands Pharmacy (previously Mitchells), occupies two shops. Tattoo City has been established in Kirkgate for three years, occupying what in my 1950s photograph was Waterhouse's ironmongery. Only the Post Office, which opened by the beck bridge in 1907, has outlived all the changes over the years. That too is due to move -- to Twigg's newsagents -- in the near future. What on earth were the planners thinking when they allowed the bizarre top-floor addition to what is now at street level the Dale Eddison premises?
Above: the tattooist at work. The popularity of the art is a truly modern phenomenon.
Above: intricate designs like this one on the thigh of a customer take hours to accomplish.