The Nostaligia Column with Margaret Watson

Margaret Watson.
Margaret Watson.

IT HAS been heart-warming these past few weeks to receive memories (and photographs) of old Dewsbury from readers, some from people no longer living in the area, but who still have a soft spot for the town.

One such reader, Jackie Kureshi (nee Davis) who used to live in Thornhill but now lives in Bristol, has sent me her memories of the town she grew up in.

BUSTLING AREA: Daisy Hill when there were no closed shops. Wigglesworths, where Jackie worked, was near the bottom on the right hand side.

BUSTLING AREA: Daisy Hill when there were no closed shops. Wigglesworths, where Jackie worked, was near the bottom on the right hand side.

This week, I am delighted to hand over my column to her, and I know many readers, especially those from Thornhill, will identify with what she has to say.

Here is Jackie’s memories of days gone by:

“I have lived in Bristol for the last 40 years but was born in Dewsbury in Moorlands Maternity Home in 1944.

“I spent 32 years of my life in Dewsbury and surrounding areas.

HOLIDAY PHOTO: Jackie Kureshi (nee Davis) with her parents Kathleen and Harold Davis at the seaside.

HOLIDAY PHOTO: Jackie Kureshi (nee Davis) with her parents Kathleen and Harold Davis at the seaside.

“As a very small child I lived in Thornhill Edge in a one-up, one-down house with a cellar and an outside toilet, which was about 50 yards away from the house.

“We lived in what was called Brooks Yard. My mum kept a bucket upstairs for if ever we were caught short because no one wanted to go outside to the toilet in the middle of the night.

“Just across the road from where we lived was a co-operative store where everything was weighed out and put in brown paper bags.

“Everyone had coal fires in those days, and our coal was delivered by Walter with his horse and cart.

“Whenever he came round all the children crowded around the horse because he was so gentle.

“I went to Sunday school at the chapel just up the road from where we lived. I remember one year we had a pantomime called ‘Babes in the Wood’, and I was one of the Babes. The church has since been demolished and houses built there.

“I remember that if it had been a really dry summer, we children would go and get pieces of cardboard or old tin trays and use them to slide down The Tops.

“Sometimes the grass was so dry I had many a sore bum going over hidden stones.

“Sometimes we went to Emroyd Wood which had three big ponds full of tadpoles and frogs.

“We roamed the back bottoms and fished for hours, but our parents were never worried. It was a different world from today.

“When I was about 10 years old we got a council house on the new Mountain Estate, and for the first time a television.

“We felt like Royalty.

“I went from the Combs Infant School to Overthorpe Junior School, and then to Thornhill Secondary Modern.

“I left school, aged 15, in the December of 1959 and started work in January 1960 at Wigglesworth’s, a wool and china shop at the bottom of Daisy Hill. It was such a busy, thriving area in those days.

“There was a chemist shop half-way up where my friend worked and at the bottom was a hat shop.

“On the opposite side, near the bottom, was a pet shop.

“I remember once buying a white mouse there but it later gave birth to babies so my dad made me take it back.

“Up the side road at the bottom of Daisy Hill was a jeweller’s shop, I think it was called Aldreds, and next to Wigglesworth’s was a hardware shop and further up a butchers shop.

“There was also Thornes’ music shop in Daisy Hill. I remember the singer Michael Holiday visiting there once. Me and my friend got his autograph. Does anyone remember ‘Rennie Squires’ who worked at Wigglesworth?

“She took me under her wing. When we went out in the dinner hour, it seemed as though everybody knew her.

“She said ‘hello’ to half of Dewsbury.

“We usually went to Bailey’s Cafe where it cost two old shillings for a dinner with all the trimmings.

“In 1960 my wage was £2 11s 6d and for that I worked six days a week. My mum used to give me half-a-crown a day – two shillings for my dinner, and sixpence for my bus fare.

“Among the other places I remember were Bickers department store, Ledbetters (grocers), the old gas showrooms and Heughan’s chemist down the Arcade.

“I remember the Bon Bon Cafe. In the early 1960s there were quite a few coffee bars opening up in Dewsbury.

“There was one at the bottom of Kingsway Arcade and one near the arches where the Ring Road now is.

“Me and my friends went to the Feast every year, and we always bought the little fried potatoes , I think we called them “chats”, which were served in paper cups.

“What wonderful nostalgic memories I have of Dewsbury. I still visit Dewsbury three or four times a year.

I have relatives in the area, but my heart breaks when I see all the empty shops and those which are boarded up in the Arcade.

“At least the market is still going strong, and they still have lots of the old shops in the covered market which used to be there in my day.

“I still read the Reporter every week on my laptop and I love the nostalgia column.”

IF YOU have any memories – and photographs – you would like to share please email them to tresham3@gmail.com.