These days there aren’t nearly as many shops as there used to be in the locality. Danny Taylor was brought up himself in the cobblers across the road from the one remaining cornershop – ‘The Butterpress’ at the bottom of Richmond Hill. The cobblers also took bets, alongside making and selling shoes and clogs.
Danny remembers that his first shoes were clogs. Mrs Cholmondley-James, wife of the third vicar of St Peter’s Church, took to wearing clogs too, after she remarked on the lack of women attending the services. She was told theywere embarrassed to appear in clogs, so she started wearing them too to make the women feel more accepted.
As well as those two shops there were a number of others. Cundiff’s stood at the corner of Windmill Street and Black Road until it was demolished in the late 1970s to make way for the flats. Matthew Hyde acquired the old counter from the shop when it shut; it still graces his kitchen on Buxton Road.
The pubs have a long history, appearing on maps going back before the appearance of the church in 1849. Ken Bailey recounts that in more recent times the Dolphin was the poachers’ pub; the cellar often hung with rabbits. The Navigation was the boaters’ pub – visited by the crews of the trading boats moored overnight to offload and load coal. The Beehive was the pigeon fanciers’ pub until it changed owners and changed names.
Cundiff ’s corner shop
Corner shop, Windmill Street
These places, and the church itself, were meeting points for the community. Danny remembers that people would stop in for ten minutes or half an hour at the shops and catch up on each others news. He remembers that Mrs Cundiff would remark that so-and-so was in hospital, and send someone off to take them a packet of fags. He also recollects how she would provide food for all the youngsters on fireworks night.
People could borrow and could put purchases on the ‘slate’ if they were short – the whole community looked out for each other. Wynn Greenwood, brought up – as her family were before her – at St Peter’s, remembers that her social life revolved around it. Ken remembers that when he Ken remembers that when he was young it was known as the ‘dancing church’ – for the dances in the Memorial Hall. Much earlier than that the outings and events put on by the church and the Institute provided a social focus – including even temperance outings; for example, a young peoples’ hike up to Teggs Nose to go billberrying, finishing with hot milk!
Life around the ‘common’ was hard for people, and in many ways the changes over the years have improved the area and people’s lives, but Danny feels that something has been lost with the demise of the corner shops – the opportunity to chat, to catch up, and to keep in touch.