Shopping parade of change

Brighouse Gala parade in the 1960s along Commercial Street, Brighouse
Brighouse Gala parade in the 1960s along Commercial Street, Brighouse

IT’S the day the whole town comes together, one of the biggest events in the summer calendar.

The last Saturday in June sees the annual Brighouse Gala - and in the 1960s, just like now, hundreds lined the streets for the procession of floats.

This week’s featured photograph has been kindly supplied by Carole Whittingham and shows part of the gala parade over 40 years ago.

Looking at this small section of Commercial Street takes us back to the days of some very familiar High Street retail outlets which are no longer with us.

The extreme right hand side is F.W.Woolworth, the store where most of us as school children visited before the new school term started to stock up on pencils, rulers and everything else you would need for that first day back in the classroom.

It was also the place to buy the popular Pick ‘n’ Mix sweets. Back in the days of not having so much spending money left, it was always a bag full of the more light weight sweets.

For almost a century the F.W. Woolworth chain of shops had over 800 branches throughout the UK but in 2009 the last few closed down including the one we had in Brighouse.

Next door to Woolworth’s is the gents outfitters shop Harry Fenton, not a shop I remember too much about but do remember buying a yellow flowery shirt and my first and last pair of hipster trousers. The Harry Fenton chain was started in London and its success soon spread to many towns and cities throughout the country.

Freeman Hardy and Willis, the High Street’s favourite shoe shop retailer was established in 1875 and named after three employees of the company.

The early 1990s saw the parent company British Shoe Corporation convert almost half of the 540 branches into Hush Puppies shops and sold the remainder to an entrepreneur from Sheffield. Unfortunately, after only a year, his business empire collapsed. and after providing “Shoes For All The Family” since 1875, Freeman Hardy Willis was no more by 1996.

Moving to the left hand side of the photograph is the shop everyone from 60s will remember as Alf Fawcett’s Stationers. Today it is Fawcett Cards & Gifts Ltd but still simply called Fawcett’s.

Now, who is that lady in the road? She would have to be quick or the Pipe Band would march right through her. Are you perhaps one of the children watching the band march by.

Just as Commercial Street was lined with people all those years ago for the procession, come June 25, the current generation of local people will be there again, watching and cheering as the great Brighouse Gala parade goes by.