Nostalgia with Margaret Watson: Camera captures the changing face of Dewsbury

PAST TIMES Dewsbury, Webster Hill. (22100817)
PAST TIMES Dewsbury, Webster Hill. (22100817)
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THE changing face of Dewsbury is always an interesting topic of conversation among people of my generation, and the photographs on this page will certainly be talked about in many homes – and pubs – this weekend.

Often photographs are passed on to me - like the ones on this page - and no details are given, not even the name of the person who took them.

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE Wakefield Road before the road widening. Note the soot-blackened Town Hall in the distance. (22100820)

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE Wakefield Road before the road widening. Note the soot-blackened Town Hall in the distance. (22100820)

These days photographs such as these are put on the Internet and go all around the world and we still don‘t know from where they came.

Looking at these we can see immediately the changes which have taken place in Dewsbury, and not all of them, as some critics would have us believe, are for the worse. We can see some improvements.

We forget just how many soot-blackened buildings there were in Dewsbury and how many mill chimneys were pouring out smoke - day and night - before the Clean Air Act and smokeless fuel came into operation.

But we were a mill town after all and these mills provided our parents and grandparents with secure jobs, and so we learned to put up with soot and grime. We didn’t know any different.

But these pictures brings back happy memories of certain areas of the town which most of us passed through, usually on the bus. The scene from the bus window today is very much different from what it was when I was a girl.

I love all these photographs because they remind me of my younger days, particularly in the 1950s 60s and 70s.

The picture showing the approach up Webster Hill - with the John F Kennedy pub on the right, (formerly The Turk’s Head, I believe) - will bring back memories for people travelling up there to Westtown, Scout Hill and Ravensthorpe.

And the makes of the cars will bring a smile to the faces of those motorists who used to drive such cars. Perhaps some readers may recognise their own car among them.

The photograph looking down Wakefield Road will bring back memories for those who lived in Earlsheaton and would regularly travel this route.

When I first glanced at this picture I thought it was Leeds Road, which I travel up daily, because both roads come through identical cuttings, and the view of the town centre from both roads is the same.

THESE photographs were taken before road widening schemes were adopted by the old Dewsbury borough council, and, of course, long before the Ring Road was erected.

There will be many readers I’m sure, who will know more about these scenes than I do and it would be interesting to hear from them.

They will have travelled by bus on a daily basis through these parts of Dewsbury and will have actually seen the changes taking place.

Many photographs like these were taken by amateur photographers who, hearing that changes were afoot, went out to take photographs of places which they knew would one day be history.

How grateful we should be to them all. They weren’t professional photographers but they had an interest in the town and wanted to make sure that future generations would know what Dewsbury used to be like.

I do not know their names and therefore I cannot credit them, but I can certainly express my thanks to them and the thanks of all Dewsbury people who are interested in local history. What would we do without photographs like these?

IF you have any photographs you would like to share, please let me know. I am particularly interested in photographs from this era.

Please ring Dewsbury 468282 or e-mail me directly, Margaret Watson, tresham3@gmail.com