Echoes of the past: It’s that time of year again for Brighouse Gala

Gala procession - 1987
Gala procession - 1987

The Brighouse 1940s weekend was another fabulous event, it gets bigger and better each year. Those who prayed for sunshine certainly did us proud.

We had visitors from The Netherlands staying the weekend who were amazed at how the event had transformed the town centre, they had never seen anything like it before. So many people getting into the spirit of the occasion, it was nice to see so many smiling faces in which ever quarter of the town you were in.

Gala Queen 1987 - Helen Bancroft

Gala Queen 1987 - Helen Bancroft

As I say each year, congratulations to the organisers and volunteers, you all did a magnificent job. A special thanks to the local police who in light of events in London and Manchester kept a watchful eye to ensure that everyone had a good and safe two days. This week’s photograph is a timely reminder of another event on the Brighouse calendar, the annual charity gala on the last Saturday in June (24). Hopefully the weather will be just like this last weekend so it will be a bumper event in attendance which will of course help to boost the charity money raised.

To put us in the spirit this photograph takes us back thirty years to the 1987 gala with a look at Helen Bancroft who was the Brighouse Gala Queen for that year. (Photograph courtesy of Stuart Black)

The second photograph from that gala is this car being driven along Commercial Street, which was seen at many Brighouse Gala processions. The driver is owner Douglas Blackhall with local MP Sir Donald Thompson. If you look away from the car and look at the six shops - Greenwood’s, the man’s shop; Smith’s Dry Cleaners later renamed Johnsons Cleaners; Timpson’s shoe shop; Dyson’s fruit and vegetable shop; Duncan Wilson, shoe shop, when Mr Wilson retired he moved back to his native Scotland, I recall seeing that he passed away in the last twelve months and finally Dewhurst Butchers.

This chain of butchers shops was originally founded by the Vestey family. It was the first chain of butchers to introduce glass windows to protect the meat on sale and during the 1970s had 1,400 shops in Britain. But it fell on hard times during the 1980s as supermarkets increasingly took control of the fresh meat market. The Vestey family’s British companies ran into trouble in 1995 and Dewhurst was sold as part of a management buyout but struggled and eventually collapsed into administration in 2006.

Looking at all those shops the only one to survive the last thirty years through all the ups and downs of the high street trading difficulties is Dyson’s the fruit and vegetable shop. The other five shops have all changed hands a number of times since 1987, but it is good to see that they are all occupied rather than standing as empty shops.