A commanding sight in the street

Lancaster's Christmas display - Commercial Street - 1890bw
Lancaster's Christmas display - Commercial Street - 1890bw

In this day and age, hygiene certificates and national food hygiene rating schemes have been created to ensure that all potential food safety risks are identified by the business to ensure that adequate controls are in place and to prevent any health risk problems.

In this week’s featured photograph it illustrates how different it was 110 years ago in Commercial Street, Brighouse. It shows the business of E. Lancaster and Sons, a wholesale and retail fish and poultry dealer which had its shop at 47 and 48 Commercial Street, right in the heart of the town centre.

It was a business that would, on the evidence of the display in this week’s featured photograph, have presented a commanding sight in the street

The business was opened in 1856 by Joseph H. Lancaster and by the time this photograph was taken c1900 the business was being run by his son George Herbert Lancaster. The shop was in two separate shop units - numbers 47 and 48 - which in those days were next door to each other and interconnected.

There have been a number of changes in Commercial Street over the years with old shops demolished and new ones built which will have seen the numbering in the street change more than once.

Lancaster’s had what were described as cool chambers to keep the fish, poultry and game always at its best. The business bought and took deliveries from as far afield as Scotland, Italy, France, Belgium and Hungary, as well as other suppliers in England.

Lancaster’s were the agents for Skaife’s celebrated potted lobster, which was a fish and meat preserving company based in Milton Street, Hulme in Manchester.

I wonder how many Brighouse meal tables saw any of that? Roger’s Cambridge sausages and the Kirklees Park Dairy for its celebrated cream were two more companies for whom Lancaster’s were the local agents. This was one of the best food shops in town and judging from this display they always liked to have a huge display for the Brighouse shoppers, particularly at Christmas.

By 1910 the Brighouse trade directories show the business at number 47 is still a fruiterer, poultry and game shop but it is now being run by William Holmes.

Whether he was a relative of the Lancaster’s without further research I cannot say but according to the Edinburgh Gazette 1924 it would appear Lancaster’s business became either insolvent or bankrupt.

This would have been a great loss to the town centre, for older shoppers in particular.