Grimshaw’s was a popular shop when Margaret Sowden was a young girl.
“It was a tuck shop. I remember it was run by a little man with milk bottle-bottom glasses. We all used to go there to spend our pennies after school.”
Margaret also recalls visits to nearby Lightowler’s. “That shop sold chocolates and sweets – they were a bit more expensive so I only went in there with my parents, and it wasn’t often.”
Manningham-born Margaret’s vivid memories of the streets in which she grew up are valuable insights into the Bradford of yesteryear. “It is important to
keep the past alive,” she says. “There have been so many changes.
“There are so many more houses now – I remember Shay Lane when it was fields, and I remember flats being built on Quarry Street where back-to-back houses once stood.”
Margaret is chairman of Heaton and District Local History Group, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary – and has great plans for the future.
While its members look back in time, researching and recording life as it was many decades ago, they also see the need to record what is happening now.
“The present is important as well as the past,” says the group’s secretary Gillian Wright. “We want to bring the history of this area up to date, that is the key. We want to help the next
generation build up the history to the present day.”
To this end the group is planning to visit local schools and work with local churches. They are also working on a book for children, filled with information about the locality.
“Access to local history for children is very limited,” adds Gillian. “We would like to produce a guide taking them around the area looking at the historic buildings and telling them about other
points of interest such as the many underground springs, and including more recent changes.
“It would also be of interest to people moving into the area – the more you know about an area’s heritage, the more you feel part of it.”
Getting young people interested in the history of the area is a challenge. “As people grow older they become more interested in history. We want to show youngsters how fascinating it is.”
One idea is to encourage children to keep diaries about their daily lives, so they can look back on them later.
In 2004, the group produced a book Memories Of Lister Park, to celebrate the park’s centenary.
A recent focus on Frizinghall resulted in a leaflet offering a guided tour of the old town through its buildings. This includes Carr Syke – a collection of
houses built during the second half of the 18th century, which gets its name from the Norse meaning marsh stream.
The hamlet evolved around the stream, but it was the path which the homes followed that gave it a higgledy-piggledy appearance.
It also features the 17th century Old Barn, a former pub, now a private house, and the United Reformed Church, which began as a place for Christian worship in 1891, became part of the URC in 1973,
and is now a mosque. It passes Frizinghall Station and 18th century Frizingley Hall on Swan Hill.
Now the group is switching its attentions to Six Days Only, or Heaton Royds area, which is said to take its name from the days when a cottage-dweller sold
nettle and root beer, along with garden produce – but he would not sell on the Sabbath and put up a sign to say so. Eventually, the ‘six days only’ name stuck.
Gillian’s home, a Jacobean farmhouse built in 1632, sits in this area, and has itself a fascinating history.
The group is particularly interested in social changes affected by the closure of mills and the impact of supermarkets. “People influence history through the choices they make,” says Gillian.
“When mills closed, people had to travel further to find work. Shoppers found it easier to visit supermarkets, so small shops closed. The group has collected old advertisements for shops in Heaton
“There were shops for services we don’t get now. In those days there were milliners, cobblers and dressmakers,” says Gillian.
They would also like to learn more about the history of the Asian community in that area of Bradford.
The group, which meets once a month, also looks at the history of Manningham. “At the back of Lister’s Mill there was a slipper baths where you could go and get a wash,” says Margaret, who also
lives in Heaton.
“I don’t remember that but I clearly remember the back-to-back houses.”
As well as carrying out research, members of the group listen to guest speakers. They hold an annual general meeting and have a Christmas function.
“There is a lot of variety and we welcome new people, or if anyone has any information about the history of the area we are interested,” says Gillian.
Adds Margaret: “It is vital to have a group such as ours, because changes are happening all the time, and people need to know about them.”
* For more information about the group, contact Margaret on (01274) 541877 or e-mail roydshallfarm@ lythe.co.uk.