NOSTALGIA: Looking at pictures that speak a thousand words

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I KEEP saying that a picture speaks a thousand words, and the two pictures shown today do exactly that, at least they do when you have a really close look at them.

And, how often do we look at these photographs of old Dewsbury and don’t bother asking who took them and why?

These two pictures were taken by photographer Mark Cross who had a photographer’s studio in the town centre well over 60 years ago.

It was situated between where Yorkshire Bank now stands and where Stylo shoe shop and Boots’ Chemist used to be.

Mark lived above the premises, and his business was mainly taking portraits or covering weddings etc, but he did have a side-line in making some of the pictures of the town centre into postcards.

I was speaking to a lady who once worked for him, Mary Cooper, and she kindly gave me the photographs I am showing, and told me why they were taken.

She started working for Mark Cross in 1939 as an apprentice working in the dark room and learning as much of the job as she could.

When they weren’t too busy in the studio, Mark would go outside with his camera taking pictures of the town centre at that time.

The photographs shown on this page were actually rejects which would have been thrown away but Mary decided to keep them, and thank goodness she did.

The one which is my favourite, and one which I’ve never seen before, is the one showing what used to be the old Dewsbury Gas Showrooms, now a charity shop. I think a lot of readers will be surprised to see this one because perhaps it didn’t end up a postcard after all, and they, like me, could be seeing this particular scene for the first time.

What I love about these old photographs is that they always show up something interesting and take your mind back to an age when things were so much different, and more leisurely.

I think this was taken shortly after the Gas Showrooms was opened because the building still looks pristine clean, unlike the one next to it, Salem Methodist Church, now a mosque.

On the left hand side you can see the Co-op building when it was flourishing with various stores inside, and you can just see the old Pioneer Cinema at the corner.

On the right hand side is Bickers departmental store and the bus terminus for the buses en route to Batley and Birstall, Note the double decker bus ready to set off on its journey along Bradford Road.

Surprisingly , if you took a photograph today of this same scene, it wouldn’t be too different because all the buildings are still there although under different ownership.

But you wouldn’t see traffic coming down Northgate as they are in this picture because this part of Northgate is now one-way. The bus and car coming down the road, would today have had horns blazing because they would have to turn left where the old Rex Cinema can be seen – then named The Majestic - because this is where the Ring Road starts.

Spinkwell Mill can be seen in the background, now luxury apartments, and sadly the old cinema was demolished to make way for the Ring Road.

The second picture may have been seen before by some readers, but it was taken in the days when the market used to stand in this spot, hence the area being known as Market Place.Once again, if you were to take a photograph of this particular part of Dewsbury today, you would find that it hasn’t changed all that much, apart from the fact that there are no longer any stalls there, and the buildings are not as soot-stained as they were.

We keep saying that Dewsbury doesn’t look like it used to do, but these photographs do prove that it is very much the same, perhaps not as busy as traders would like it to be, but nevertheless the buildings look the same.

Hope these photographs bring back memories for readers, and grateful thanks to Mary Cooper for bringing them to my attention.

There are a number of other pictures she let me have which I may show in future columns.

If you have any old photographs of Dewsbury and surrounding villages, please contact me, tresham3@gmail.com.