Echoes of the past: The life of a Brighouse businessman

Joseph Lawson's shop in 1885 was in what was then 19 Commercial Street
Joseph Lawson's shop in 1885 was in what was then 19 Commercial Street

This week I am taking you back to a plumber and glazier who had a business in the middle of Commercial Street 153 years ago.

Joseph Lawson, plumber, glazier, gas fitter, hot water engineer and an ironmonger just to name a few of the things his business did.

The shop in 1885 was situated at what was then 19 Commercial Street, the business was initially started by Henry Welsman but in 1864 Joseph Lawson took over this prime town centre located business.

The numbering of the shop is a little puzzling because the shop is shown on another photograph as 68 and 70 Commercial Street.

From almost the first day his extension plans for the shop were on the drawing board.

Within ten years he had bought the three adjoining cottages and built a three storey warehouse with a large basement facility for storage.

The shop front on Commercial Street was modernised and given much larger window space.

Gradually he expanded the range of goods and services to include: ironmongery, brass work, sanitary appliances, baths, gas fittings, chandeliers, cisterns, pipes and all the necessary connections.

He stocked a wide range of domestic appliances including the familiar name of the Bissell carpet sweeper.

Now there is a familiar name to many readers.

This was an American business started by Melville and Anna Bissell in Michigan USA.

Having patented their new Bissell carpet cleaner in 1876 and opened their new manufacturing plant seven years later.

Today the Bissell carpet and cleaning company is still in business unlike Joseph Lawson’s.

Joseph Lawson was born 13 June 1841 in Otley and came to Brighouse when he was 20 years old.

His first job in Brighouse was at a plumbers shop in Police Street (now Lawson) which in those days was run by Joseph Blakeborough & Sons.

He must have been considered as someone who could go far by Mr Blakeborough a native of Otley himself gave permission for his eldest daughter to marry this youngman from Otley.

They had three children, two sons and a daughter.

Joseph worked at the Police Street shop for four years and then set up his business in Commercial Street.

So successful was Joseph’s Commercial Street shop that he expanded by opening another shop at Brook Street in Ilkley.

Mrs Lawson died in the 1880s and in 1897 Joseph married a Miss Tyson from Coniston in the Lake District.

Unlike many of the Brighouse business men he did not enter into public life, but instead was a leading light in the Christian’s Meeting Room which was then at the back of Bonegate House.

He died on April 1 1915, ged 74 at his home in Bradford Road, Brighouse.