Site’s new building had housewives cooking on gas

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MY Article last week about the bus which crashed into the Gas Showrooms brought a great deal of response from readers.

One reader wrote to say how the article and photograph I showed of the gas showrooms had rekindledmemories of childhood..

He remembered the underground public toilets situated under the gas showrooms, the gents being accessed from the Bradford Road side, and the ladies from Halifax Road .

When the gas showrooms closed and the building sold the toilets had been stripped out and the dividing wall between them knocked through leaving a huge empty space.

Another reader recalled how afterwards a local businessman showed interest in converting this space into a wine bar, but nothing came of it.

The charity shop which occupied the vacant building for some years closed earlier this year, and I understand from another reader that the empty gas showrooms is soon to be refurbished by a local builder..

Who will occupy it when finished our reader didn’t know, but I will stick my neck out and say it could possibly be another town centre cafe!.

Local people wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case because there are so many in the town centre at the moment that Dewsbury is heading for the title “Cafe Capital of the North!”

But I am not complaining. It is good to see people wanting to invest in Dewsbury once again, and in doing so bringing back to life some of our historical buildings.

I just wish some of the new cafes opening up would serve more of the kind of food which Bailey’s used to serve, food which people of my generation enjoyed - like steak and kidney pie and corned beef hash.

FURTHER research into the history of the site on which the Dewsbury Gas showrooms was built reveals some interesting information about this small triangular piece of land known as the Flat Iron Site.

In 1928, the old Dewsbury borough council was keen to see the empty buildings on it demolished so they could widen both Bradford Road and Halifax Road.

An article in the Reporter in 1928 stated: “There has been considerable public interest in the use which the Dewsbury Town Council will make of the recently cleared ‘Flat Iron’ property at the junction of Halifax Road and Bradford Road.

“The committee appointed some time ago to consider the matter has presented a report dealing with the widening of Halifax Road and Bradford Road at that spot.

“The question of the erection or otherwise of buildings on the major part of the site has been adjourned for the present, but the committee recommends that the widening of Bradford Road on an average width of 6ft 5ins, and of Halifax Road by an average width of 10ft 6in, be carried out forthwith.

“The Council is under an agreement with the Dewsbury Pioneers’ Industrial Society, who own the land, to leave open a quantity of land 50ft from the apex of the triangle.

“There is a strong feeling that as much as possible of the remainder of the land should be also left as a public vacant space.”

The photograph on this page shows on the right the buildings demolished to make way for the new gas showrooms in 1928. On the left is the headquarters of the Dewsbury Pioneers Industrial Society, which owned the site.

We all know that the building later erected on it was the town’s first gas showrooms, and although there wasn’t land left for what one could reasonably call a public vacant space, there was a fairly large forecourt left which acted as a short cut into Bradford Road.

MORE research into the new gas showrooms has revealed just how important this new facility was to the housewives of Dewsbury.

Not only did the showrooms give them access to all the latest gas appliances, but they also put on popular cookery demonstrations

Electric appliances were coming on to scene at this time and the gas showrooms were keen to fight off all competition

The suppliers of these new gas appliances, mainly cookers, were offering them on hire purchase terms, so easy, they would never be considered today.

One advertisement stated:

“It should be specially noted that all gas appliances may be purchased on very advantageous terms, either direct or on Hire Purchase. Payments can be made over three, six, or ten years!”

When the gas showrooms first opened, full page advertisements were placed in all the local papers with photographs of the new appliances.

The impact these new labour saving devices had on local housewives, who previously had spent hours a day cleaning and washing with primitive tools and no running hot water, was dramatic to say the least.

One advert claimed; “COOK BY GAS – THERE’S NO BOTHER AT ALL. Clean heat, ready at any time, under your control and freedom from cooking failures and kitchen drudgery.

REFRIGERATE BY GAS – You’ll hardly notice the running costs – less than one penny a day - and food will be kept in a perfect state of preservation

HEAT YOUR WATER BY GAS – Have hot water in abundance for baths, and use the new gas washer for an easy washday!

DO YOUR IRONING BY GAS – the gas iron gets hot in a moment and heats as it irons. No scorched or soiled linen, and the work done in half the time.

WARM YOUR ROOMS BY GAS – the modern gas fire can be lighted, varied or extinguished in a moment, and it is always clean. The cost for the gas is one farthing an hour!”

MY apologies for last week confusing the names Don Leo with Leon Coopers – two shops I knew well but sadly no longer with us.