I was walking down Commercial Street in Brighouse last night when I got hijacked: or to be more accurate, my mind got hijacked. I suppose that my mind was susceptible to seizure as my senses had been dulled by several shops displaying "To Let" signs inter-spaced with layers of Charity Shops and pawnbrokers. Only the western end of Commercial Street is faceless concrete and further down the street I was looking at one of the older buildings with its yard passage and its leaded windows and wondering what it was like 100 years ago. And that is when my mind got hijacked; a total prisoner of this thought until I had found some form of answer. My plans to write Chapter 11 of the Great Novel of the twenty-first century (*) were put on hold and I abandoned work on my 3rd concerto. Everything else now takes second place to my exploration of the history of Commercial Street, Brighouse.
All I have managed to acquire so far is a rough picture of the street based on 1911 census returns, but even this provides a fascinating window into social history in the early twentieth century.
Number Head of Household and Occupation
5 James Rogers, Corporation Labourer
7 Ann Thornton, Beerhouse Keeper, Royal Oak Inn
9 David Pearson, Shopkeeper - Wine and Spirits and Confectionery
13 James Stott Atkinson, Pork Butcher
17 Frances Furness, Shopkeeper, General and Fancy Goods
19 George Henry Threapleton, Boot and Shoe Salesman
21 David Walshaw, Butcher
47 Joseph Henry Lancaster, Fish and Game Dealer
51 William Hensworth, Harness Maker
55 Ann Jane Normanton, Widow
57 James Pilling, Beerseller, The Ring O' Bells
59 George Henry Beard, Manager, Grocery and Provision Shop
63 Thomas Herrod, Butcher
67 Victor Holland, Hotel Keeper, The Wellington Hotel
2 James Dyson, Licensed Victualler and Brewer, The George Hotel
4 George Clayton, Butcher
6 Frederick Blackburn, Hairdresser and Fancy Dealer
24 Albert Thornton, Tailor and Outfitter
26 Eva Wright, Baker and Confectioner
44 Charles Naylor, Hairdresser
46 Caroline Sykes, Greengrocer
56 James Ball, Gentleman's Clothier
62 Annie Turner, Baker
66 James Crowther, Cab Proprietor
80 Willie Aspinall, Silk Waste Dresser
84 Herbert Pearson, Refreshment House Keeper
86 Emma Stansfield, Boot and Shoe Dealer
90 Revis Anson, Fancy Draper
92 Benjamin Turner, House Painter
96 Annie Lizzie Cussens, Confectioner
102 John Hodgson, Hardware Dealer
104 Miles Knowles, House Painter and Decorator.
I accept that the above may sound like a boring list to some people, but to me it is poetry. The names are like a list of Coronation Street characters from the 1960s, and some of the occupations fit the names like a kid glove. How could Revis Anson grow up to be anything other than a fancy draper?
Those who know me will appreciate that my eyes were immediately drawn to the four pubs on the list (one of which, The George Hotel, is still in existence). That is where my search will start and we shall see where it takes us to. That is if nothing else comes along to hijack my mind in the meantime.