Nostalgia with Margaret Watson: A look back at the buildings in Dewsbury that have disappeared

REMEMBER THIS? A lovely old photograph taken in Dewsbury in the 1930s which could possibly be Mill Road, Batley Carr, but I cannot say for certain because the area has changed so much. Could the iron gates on the left be the entrance to Batley Carr Park, and could the building further up on the left be the Saw Inn?
REMEMBER THIS? A lovely old photograph taken in Dewsbury in the 1930s which could possibly be Mill Road, Batley Carr, but I cannot say for certain because the area has changed so much. Could the iron gates on the left be the entrance to Batley Carr Park, and could the building further up on the left be the Saw Inn?

When you think of all the houses, shops and buildings which are fast disappearing from Dewsbury, especially those where we once lived, you cannot help but feel a sense of loss at their demise.

Many of us (not all I might add) look at photographs of the places they knew in childhood, and they feel a longing to return to them once more.

The old photographs I showed last week have created such a huge response that I am still reading through letters and e-mails on the subject as I write this column.

The photographs shown seem to have encouraged people to delve back into their past and recall happy times...

As I said the other week, builders and developers have to remember when they pull down old buildings they are not just bricks and mortar, but something much deeper, the fabric of life which held so many communities together.

The ivy-clad detached house which I asked readers to identify last week created the greatest interest, and I am pleased to say that it has at last been positively identified as being in Crackenedge.

But I must point out it is not the house in Springfield Terrace which was pictured on the front page of the Reporter Series property guide last week as so many people believed it might be.

Others thought it might be in Boothroyd Lane and others thought (as I did) it might be on Eightlands Road.

The true location is Caulms Wood Road, and I understand the house is still there but is no longer clad in ivy.

I have also been given the true identity of the picture in Batley Carr, which I thought might have been off Mill Road, where Speights Lampshades used to be, and I was proved to be correct.

The house in Eightlands Road has also been identified by a former postman who believes that theatricals appearing at the Empire might have stayed there.

I have been deeply grateful for the kindness of people who have written or rung me over the last few days to help identify those long forgotten places of our youth.

Their assistance in these matters often gives me extra facts which provides material for even more articles on local history.

Take for instance the ivy-clad house, which seemed to stir the imaginations of so many people. Not only have I been able to learn it was on Caulms Wood Road, but also information about the surrounding area before demolition took place.

Mr Richard Middleton, a church warden at Dewsbury Minster, identifies it as “Caulmswood House”, the former home of the Hardisty family, who were florists in Dewsbury.

Before reading what he has to say about it, it might help readers who have kept last week’s paper to get it out again to get a better understand of the detailed information Richard gives us.

Richard has written:

“The photograph of the large detached house is Caulmswood House which is situated at the top of Park Street in Crackenedge.

“It was occupied for many many years, up to 1973, by my mother-in-law and her family – Vera Hardisty of Hardisty’s Florists in the Covered Market.

“I married Vera’s daughter in 1969 at Dewsbury Parish Church and rented a house in Crackenedge Terrace, moving to Park Street five years later after we had built a new bungalow in the grounds of

Caulmswood House.

“We lived there for 30 years until 2004 when we moved to Bywell Close. The houses in the photo to the right and behind Caulmswood House are in the long terrace of houses on Caulms Wood Road. Caulmswood House does not now have all that ivy climbing up the facade.

“Crackenedge Terrace and Marsden Terrace, along with many houses in Hardy Street and Tentercroft Road, were pulled down in 1973 as Dewsbury Council wanted to build a new school to replace Eastborough School.

“But it never materialized and the site was left as open ground for over 20 years. Eventually, Tentercroft Court and later Naylor Court were built on the site.

“Incidentally, I have in my garden the stone with the name Marsden Terrace chiselled on it... It was going to be discarded when the houses were pulled down and I rescued it.

“In the 60s and 70s, Crackenedge was a lovely area to live, but alas over the last 10 to 15 years it has changed and I’m afraid not for the better.

“Your photograph of Park Street last week is exactly as it was when the photo was taken, with the exception of the two houses at the bottom of the street which were demolished in the 1980s. All the other houses are still there.”

The photograph shown of Batley Carr also received a lot of replies as to where the picture was taken and all of them were correct – it was Speights Lampshades.

I received a number of letters and phone calls from people who had worked there, and people who had passed it on their way to school.

And I was delighted to receive one from the man who owned it, Kevin Speight, of Mirfield.

Kevin writes: “You are correct in surmising that it is Batley Carr in the 1930s. The building on the left was the premises of Speights Lampshades (my old family business).

“These premises was where ‘bespoke lampshades’ under trademark ‘Classic’ were manufactured and enjoyed international fame and recognition.

“The mill yard in the foreground leads off Mill Road just above the park. The stone gate-posts in the centre of the picture was the entry to a winding drive that lead to Field House, which was the family home of the Speight family for decades.

“The roof top seen to the right of centre housed the showroom where a vast array of prestigious lampshades were on display.

“These showrooms were frequently visited by the top buyers from John Lewis, Harrods, Bainbridge, Peter Jones and the like.

“Speights moved from the premises in Batley Carr to Mirfield in 1969 and the whole area was demolished to make way for housing developments.”

The house in Eightlands Road, pictured last week, was identified by a postman who delivered letters there.

Harry Douglas, a former postman who covered most areas in Dewsbury, contacted me to say he could identify it. He recalls when he worked for the post office in Dewsbury, and delivered there. Again you may need to look at last week’s paper to follow his directions as to where it was actually situated. He explains that the house was in the Ashworth Road side, of Eightlands Road, and he says if you look carefully you can see the railway side.

On the lefthand side of the picture, where the stone wall is, was Cross’ butchers and a hairdressers.

“I’ve not been for a long time but I delivered letters there,” Harry recalls. “The street on the left of the wall was Milton Terrace.

“There were quite big houses there, and an old postman called George Brown used to live there and had lodgers from the Empire Theatre.”

Regarding the photograph showing Speights Lampshades, Harry said he remembered it well because he called there a lot on afternoons to pick up parcels.

The photograph I am showing this week is one of my favourites and I believe that this too was taken in Batley Carr, but I never take anything for granted. I think it was taken around the 1930s, and again I think it was taken in Mill Road.

I got out my magnifying glass and could read that the sign on the left-hand side clearly said the Saw Inn. I know there was a pub in Batley Carr of that name, and I am hoping that this was the same pub, but somehow it looks a lot different to when I used to walk past it as a child. I believe the iron gates could be those up to Batley Carr Park, but I cannot recognise the buildings (or are they shops?) on the right. If readers can help with more information, please me via tresham3@gmail.com or ring 01924 468282.

I would like to say a big thank you to all the other readers who contacted me regarding last week’s photographs although I didn’t have space for all their replies this week.