Reflections: Work & Shops

Castle Street Shops

Going down Castle Street from the castle gates on the left you had a fruiterers shop on the end and then there was Bailey’s hairdresser, then there was a chemist, Harrison’s chemist, Robinson’s cake shop, then a shoe shop, then the butchers which is where Cowman’s is now, Then next to that was Whiteside’s carriages, then Castle Candy Stores. After that was Starkie’s yard, then the Advertiser and Times. Opposite there on the corner to the Swan Yard was Dawson’s fishmongers which was quite a posh shop. You never went in the Swan yard because horses used to go in. You never used to go in there because it was private. Then you’d come down to Whiteside’s winery and tobacconists. Further down there was Bracewells’s haberdashery and a shoe shop. The Imperial café was down there and another little toffee shop. On the corner, what is the Yorkshire Bank that was a pub.

Cooks Saddlery - Steve Burke

Back in the early-mid 1980’s, I recall going into Cook’s Saddlery (though it hadn’t been one for some time) when Bill Smalley had bought the property to redevelop. The saddlery was in an outbuilding to the rear of the Castle Street property and  overlooked an overgrown garden and then Lowergate Car Park. Waling into it  just as if the Saddler had finished work the day before. Everything, tools, benches, trade worn stone flags and timbers were in their place. There was still the smell of oils, polishes and hides - though not the hides themselves! Sadly, it was all dispersed when it should have been retained somewhere, the Castle Museum ideally. 

The one thing I do know that was ‘saved’ was an old Lancashire Range which came from the main building’s basement. This would have been the resident shopkeeper’s kitchen in ‘the day’. At this time, I had a client who was renovating a fine old farmhouse out on the Fylde. It had a big electric oven installed into the kitchen chimney breast, which they wanted to replace with a ‘Lanky Range’. My clients made a deal with Bill and the range eventually made its way west for reuse. When the modern unit was stripped out it revealed three separate flue ways behind it. These were in the exact same location required to take the relocated cast iron range, confirming the same type of range had been there before. Rarely do the planets – or flues – line up like that but, when they do, it is a thing of great joy to all involved. Though the Lanky Range was backed up by some more modern appliances it did work and was used and I hope this still remains the same.

This event also revealed to me that the Lancashire Range was virtually identical to the Yorkshire Range which I had grown up with at home as boy. Though I am as fond of ‘God’s Country’ as anyone Yorkshire born lad, as most will know, this is a not an  untypical illustration of the many similar  ways and means of our two proud counties.