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Post by Stanley » 01 Dec 2018, 06:19


During my youth when I went through my pub phase and spent far too much time sampling the local brewer's offerings I was struck by the fact that so many 'hawkers' came round during the course of the evenings, they had fresh wet fish, oat cakes, crumpets and even occasionally, haberdashery. As I have already said, Ted and I used to hawk freshly caught rabbits in the same way.
This was part of a wider variation of retail selling where bakers in particular didn't have retail shops but sold their wares door to door around the town. My picture this week is of Hacking's bakers in Walmsgate, they had a smaller bakery before this near the Baptist Church and relied totally on selling door to door. Jim Pollard of Earby was reared in his parent's backstone bakery in Red Lion Street and they sold everything they made either at the bakery or door to door. I think that many of you will remember Stanley's crumpets. The bakery was just off Wellhouse Road next to the sidings and as far as I know never had a retail shop. They were operating until 25th of September 1999.
I suspect that if we could go far enough into history we would find that all selling was done like this before the transition to operating a shop became the norm. A precursor of this was the market day but many of the things that were sold were in demand daily and we began to see what were at first permanent market stalls in the same location as the weekly market and later lock-up shops in buildings that were open daily for business. This was the start of the shopping centre as it was good for the various retailers to be near each other reinforcing each other's footfall.
As the town grew there rose a demand for a more local shop, it was too far to go to be walking into the town centre for daily needs, milk, bread, fresh vegetables etc. Well-off workers with a bit of money to spare saw an opportunity and opened what became the corner shop. This had the added advantage that it was a way that the housewife could add to the family income. We know from the research that many of these corner shops generated income significant enough to be invested in new mill building.
Today we seem to have moved full circle. I know of local retailers who have seen the benefits of getting rid of the financial burden of maintaining a shop and have moved to online selling from home. The modern equivalent of hawking door to door. Then the rise of refrigeration at home gave the possibility of a weekly shop and this plus the rise of the supermarkets killed off the corner shop.
In many ways I regret this transition because it has removed a lot of human face to face interaction from retailing. Shops are a marvellous way of encountering friends and having a good gossip!


Hackings bakery in Walmsgate over 100 years ago.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
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