YOU will have to be about 40 years old, or perhaps a little older to be able to remember this scene. It was taken in the centre of Burnley in Market Street in town in either the late 1950s or the early 1960s but the surprise is that there is no one walking on what was one of Burnley's busiest streets.
A glance at the picture will tell those with the appropriate degree of memory where we are. In the background you can see the former, and much lamented, Market Hall with, in front of it, a number of stalls ready for their tenants to take possession. I suppose this could be after the end of a market day but I suspect the photograph was taken on either Sunday afternoon or early on a Monday morning before a market took place.
Notice that, on the right, a street runs off to the right. This was Fleet Street which ran from Market Street to meet the Howe Street-Nile Street crossing. I remember this street well because one of the shops (I think that it was Thomas's) sold diabetic chocolate which I used to buy for my grandfather Frost. There were few places which sold diabetic sweets in those days and all of my brothers and sisters used to feel sorry for Grandie when he told us that he could not eat "real" chocolate. This, to us, was even worse than a life sentence. So we had to do something about it!
In the old days one of the buildings in Fleet Street served as Burnley's lock-up, or gaol. This was in the years at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th Centuries and it appears that it was very uncomfortable being subterranean and very indifferently heated. It was also very small and after a riot in 1817, when prisoners escaped, it was decided to build a new lock-up near by.
The new lock-up (or part of it) is still with us. It is behind the Swan Hotel and, dingy as it appears, this was regarded as a great improvement on the Fleet Street premises. In normal circumstances the constable had only to deal with a few drunks but every now and again there was something more substantial to sort out.
In 1819 a large protest meeting was held at Gannow Lane end (roughly where the roundabout which gives access to the M65 is today). This was preceded by a march through Burnley. Thousands attended and a number of incidents occurred the result being that the lock up was filled. We were all horrified by the "riot" which took place in Burnley a few years ago. The truth is, however, that our ancestors could have taught us a few things about rioting!
Now look at the shops you can see in today's photograph. Above the UCP shop, i.e. to the left of the photograph, there was the Thorn Hotel and its interesting yard. The Thorn was the first pub that I remember going in. I was only young and I recall that I was not particularly welcome but my grandfather Foy had to pick something up from the place and I happened to be with him.
I will say more about the Thorn in a future article but let us look at the first shop. It carries the legend "Buy UCP Tripe". UCP stood for United Cattle Products, the Burnley branch of which was run by Ralph Mason Ltd. They had large premises in Exmouth Street (off Finsley Gate) and branches throughout the district. The one shown here was at 6 Market Street and was one of their main shops. However, as late as 1953, there were nine other companies of what were known as tripe dressers. They often combined their tripe business with the making of black puddings, one of the best known firms of which was Bradshaw Bros.
My memories of the firm UCP refer to their excellent restaurant which was situated in St James's Street rather than the shop shown in the picture but, I have to say that I have no recollection of Archibald Simon's gents outfitters shop being on this part of Market Street. I remember the firm when it was in St James's Street and I bought a suit there. In 1953 this shop, number 8, was occupied by Dearden's who were also gents outfitters. They had shops at 108-110 Accrington Road, Burnley and at Padiham.
The next shop was Price Bros confectioners and I do recall visiting this shop occasionally.
The shop next door, though the sign is difficult to read, is one of the branches of Altham's Stores Ltd.
They were tea dealers and general grocers and they were probably Burnley's biggest firm of grocers with the possible exception of the Burnley Co-op. Altham's had stores all over Lancashire in the 1950s, but previously the firm had been the largest independent retail grocers in the country with a presence in many parts of the North of England and the Midlands. A little corner of the street in Burnley not long before it made way to the needs of the modern retail industry.
That sentence sums up the interesting photograph we publish today.
A final thought. We are told that many of the shops in Burnley's present shopping centre are not big enough for modern trading. We will soon be moving on with the Oval development.