Sunny ’70 but how things have changed!

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Now I wonder what these two mothers were thinking as they approached the photographer on this summer’s day in July 1970.

It is 43 years since this photograph was taken and even in this snapshot in time, from not that long ago in the context of the history of Brighouse, many things have changed.

The most obvious change is that Boots the chemist is no longer on the corner of Park Street. The shop moved into the Wellington Arcade properties once that development was completed later in the 70s. I am sure many readers will remember the days before Boots was on this corner, back to the days of Timothy Whites or even earlier still with Taylor’s chemist.

Thinking of chemists, I am sure many young children did just as I did when they passed the chemists shop window. All looked in awe at those big medicine bottles in the shop windows containing coloured liquid and thought, you must be poorly if you needed to have one of those! Of course the blue liquid was just water for effect but that meant nothing when you were an under ten.

On the opposite corner to Boot’s was the electricity showrooms which went on to be the Abbey National Bank and then the Santander Bank and now it is a new branch of Coral’s.

That distinctive corner building started life in 1934 as part of a town centre re-development programme when Stanley Howard Burton came to town to lay the street level engraved stone marking that another branch of Burton’s was to open.

What a pity that the new occupants Coral’s have not seen fit to leave their corporate blue street levels tiles off that small piece of local town centre history. A piece of the town centre that would remind future generations what this distinctive high street building started as.

Someone once said that many town centre high streets began to suffer when the gas and electricity showrooms closed. Many people would visit the town to pay their bills and take the opportunity of meeting up with friends, some shopping, perhaps a spot of lunch and eye up a new gas fire in the gas showrooms in Park Street. But once they had closed many people particularly older people stopped going in to town or certainly going less often.

While Boot’s has moved other shops in this scene were not so lucky – on the left hand side can you remember visiting the upstairs Windsor Café, or calling in at Burras Peake, British Relay TV Shop, Popley’s, Kyle’s wallpaper shop, the Lion Stores, Ernest Wilson’s or John Driver’s?

Looking to the right hand side there was Dewhirst’s Butchers, Duncan Wilson’s shoe shop with his distinctive Clarke’s shoe sign outside. All these and many more have disappeared from our high street during the last 40 years, some through retirements and some through difficult trading times.

While shops and businesses do still come and some sadly disappear from Brighouse town centre, it is a very difficult time for some traders who feel they have no alternative but to close their shop for the last time.

I think in Brighouse we are fortunate that empty shops don’t seem to remain empty for long and the streets that are often shown on the television showing that appear almost desolate and depressing. The view here in Brighouse from outsiders I speak to is that Brighouse is different.

While many traders will be finding it difficult hopefully with some of the initiatives organised by the business community throughout the year and with your continued support the town will attract more people into the town centre showing just what we have which will all help the businesses to survive and flourish.

The recent 1940s weekend is being hailed as one of the best events held in the town. No doubt there would have been one or two scary moments or even sleepless nights for the organisers worrying that all their best laid plans come to fruition and come off seamlessly.

Well, from a spectator’s point of view everything went off brilliantly, the sun shone throughout and the flypast came right on queue. Congratulations to all those who organised and helped in making such a wonderful event happen.