Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Last Chara To Dewsbury

Whenever you look at an old photograph of a familiar scene you become aware of content; the very scale and detail of what is going on. This is Brighouse in the early 1920s: there are shops, there are men waiting for the Black Bull to open and there is a charabanc waiting to trundle you off to Dewsbury Market (fare 2/- return). It is busy, it is lived in, it is a cobbled metropolis.

The Black Bull is still there but now it is flanked by some concrete conveniences and a Wilko wall. And the last "chara" for Dewsbury left a long time ago.

Dear Elsie, Excuse me not writing to before now. I will send you a letter later but with the card you will see I have not forgotten you. I got your letter and card was very nice and thank very much. Well my Dear friend how are you keeping I hope you are well. I am very well myself. Do excuse me Elsie Dear not writing before now. I have been thinking about you Elsie Dear all the same. Well Dear I will stop. With love I remain your loving friend, Edith xxxxxx

Elsie Shuker of Church Street, St Georges in Shropshire was 28 years old when she received this postcard from her friend Edith in Brighouse. Perhaps they knew each other from being in domestic service together? In the 1939 Register, Elsie Shuker - who was then 44 years old - is simply listed as "Daily Girl, Domestic Duties".


  1. For all its banality, that sad message says more about the isolation and toil of domestic service than is ever recreated in BBC dramas of life in grand houses. Poor girl indeed.

  2. My own mum was born in Brighouse in 1911. Her father Mathew Birkett was an alcoholic who left them.
    Aged 9, when this photo was taken, her own mother died and my Mum was adopted and moved to the Wirral. The post-war depression years of the twenties were very hard indeed.


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