Church is demolished but memories remain

WHO ARE THEY?: This picture was found in an old hymn book left in St Mary's Church, Gawthorpe, shortly before it was demolished. It is possible that they were members of the church at one time. It would be interesting to know who they are. (200211101)
WHO ARE THEY?: This picture was found in an old hymn book left in St Mary's Church, Gawthorpe, shortly before it was demolished. It is possible that they were members of the church at one time. It would be interesting to know who they are. (200211101)

THERE is something incredibly sad about going into an empty church that is going to be demolished – and you know there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.

These were my feelings when I went into St Mary’s Church, Gawthorpe, the day before it was due to be pulled down.

I walked around the empty shell, devoid now of altar, pulpit, pews and Baptismal font, and with heavy heart I knelt to pray, knowing it was the last prayer to be ever said in this beautiful church.

Afterwards, I went into a little side room and found that a beautiful Bible had been left behind along with some old hymn books.

Fearful the Bible might be destroyed along with everything else remaining in the church, I took it home and hoped I might be able to trace the family who had given it to the church.

It had been presented to St Mary’s in memory of Doris Kerr, born 6th September 1915, died 26th June 1992.

It came from her family members Glennis, Don and Kimberley, and if any member of the family contact me about this, I will ensure its safe return to them.

I also found an old photograph of a couple of elderly ladies which I’m publishing today in the hope that someone may recognise them.

Seeing the demise of a church, no matter which denomination, is a painful sight, and we’ve seen far too much of this in recent years.

However, I am delighted that St John’s Church, Dewsbury Moor, is not only surviving, but flourishing.

Much has been happening at the church in recent months and much more is being planned for the future.

A number of projects are being organised and you can learn more about them if you visit the church this weekend and next week.

It will be holding open days and will have photographs of the church past and present, on display.

RECENTLY I wrote about Thompson’s Mineral Water factory in Westtown, and Sawdust Working Men’s Club on The Flatts, which has closed down.

When I heard it was closing, I wondered what would happen to some of the club’s historic artefacts.

I’ve since learned from a trustee of the club, Alan Johnson, that arrangements are in hand to safeguard them.

Mr Johnson said the framed photograph of the two founders, which had hung in the club, was safe and would never be lost or destroyed.

And arrangements were being made to keep safe the brass commemorative plaque bearing the names of members who lost their lives in the First World War.

Also the Roll of Honour of members lost during World War II.

Mr Johnson said he was approaching Dewsbury Museum in the hope it would keep these items on display for all to see.

Some time ago I received an inquiry from a reader wanting information about the sign painted on the side of a house in Cemetery Road advertising Thompson’s Mineral Water.

Over the weeks, I have received a great deal of correspondence on this matter – far too much to include this week – but I am publishing the following letter from a lady who lives in Cornwall.

Sue Marriott, who lived in Quarry Road, Westtown, from 1952 onwards, wrote: “From the top of Quarry Road you turned into Cemetery Road towards Crow Nest Park, went past the house on the corner and next to that there was a turning into a yard.

“The building next to the entrance was a large square building with fancy decoration around the top and the Thompson sign was on the wall.

“This was where they made Thompson’s pop. At the back of the house, which was a floor lower than the house level on Cemetery Road, was the ‘factory’ where they made the pop.

“You could go into the yard and buy a bottle of pop directly from them, but mostly it was sold in the local shops.

“I can’t remember how much it was for a bottle, but if you took a bottle back you got either 1d or 2d off the price of the new bottle.

“There was orangeade, limeade (a particular favourite – bright green with loads of fizz in it), lemonade, dandelion and burdock, and I think they also did American cream soda as well.

“My husband’s father had a shop in Boothroyd Lane, on the corner of Whitley Street and Oastler Street. He sold Thompson’s pop.

“He would go in his car, park in the Thompson yard, take back the empties and bring back the new stock.

“They came in wooden crates holding a dozen bottles with screw tops and a red rubber collar to stop them leaking under the pressure of the gas.

l I will be interested to read other memories of Thompson’s – more about the actual family and the business when it started and who found it?”