Memories of Calderdale

Sowerby Bridge and Turner & Wainwright's


Alan Thomas

As a youth, before the war, one of my holiday treats was to assist an uncle who was a bird and seed importer and retailer. He operated from Ossett where he kept large stocks of bird seed, millet sprays, birds and fish.

As he had first started in business by standing in the open markets, he could not resist the lure of returning to various venues, long after his firm had outgrown the necessity for conducting business in that way. For some unknown reason, his favourite market was Sowerby Bridge and it was a great treat for me to go with him on market day.

On the night before we departed for Sowerby Bridge I would stay at his home, which was adjacent to the business premises. He used the well-known and highly respected firm of Ripponden & District Motors to collect and convey the goods to market, and we duly loaded up the van when it arrived in the morning. The rules of Ripponden & District Motors did not permit customers to travel on their vehicles, therefore my uncle and I went by car. I cannot remember the make of car he had in the late thirties, but it was quite ancient and even had a dickey-seat, which, at the time, I thought was the absolute epitome of style.

Upon arrival at Sowerby Bridge market, we would unload the large van and set out the stall. When customers purchased their bird seed, my uncle often entered into a detailed discussion with them about their livestock, and people frequently brought along their birds for him to inspect. He conducted an avian chiropody service on a free of charge basis. When questioned on the viability of providing such a service, his stock response was always

You have no idea just how much business that brings in!
One particular feature – firmly imprinted in my mind as a result of these adventures to Sowerby Bridge market – was a catchy advertising slogan. It was painted in large white lettering on the side of a building (probably a house?) with the message
A couple of months ago, I visited Sowerby Bridge market after an interlude of more than sixty years. From memory, the market appeared to be sited in the same place as on my previous visits. I looked around in vain for the clever slogan which had intrigued me all those years ago. I have recollections of looking at the toffee message whilst standing behind the stall, but on my recent visit I could find no trace of any building with painted lettering on its side. Of course sixty years is quite a long time ago and it was quite likely that the toffee firm was no longer in existence. Discovering that Sowerby Bridge library was quite close to the market area, I paid them a visit on this day of nostalgia.

Did anyone there remember the advertisement?


Was the firm of Turnwrights still in existence?

No trace could be found.
On looking through old directories it was discovered there had been a firm of toffee manufacturers in Brighouse – Turner and Wainwright – hence Turnwright toffee. (Of course had I been aware of the Calderdale Companion at that time, all would have been revealed.)  However that only answered one part of the conundrum – what about the painted sign, was that just a figment of my imagination? Perhaps some readers over a certain age can recollect seeing the sign, something which has been stored in my memory bank for so many years. I would be delighted to know

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 10:26 / 30th May 2021 / 5410

Page Ref: M_7

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