ONE hundred years ago it was the turn of Barnoldswick's Bethesda Baptist Church to hold a bazaar to clear its debt of over a thousand pounds. A homegrown affair everyone was involved and everyone had their names printed in the programme - good value at just sixpence, writes historian Alan Roberts.



ON the Saturday, the bazaar was opened by no fewer than 60 young people. This was the ‘Fairyland Bazaar’ and pride of place went to the fairies who would be performing in the schoolroom. On Wednesday there would be a half-hour-long presentation of the ‘Little Man in the Moon’ while Thursday would feature ‘Babes in the Wood’ complete with woodland fairies, robins and sprites. Saturday’s show was a double bill.

There was entertainment for the grown-ups too. The Bethesda Concert Party took centre stage on Thursday with their songs, duets and ‘concerted items’. The two other nights featured singers: a soprano, contralto, bass, tenor and an elocutionist – no, he was not there to teach us Barlickers to talk ‘proper’, but rather he was a performer of the spoken word: poems, recitations and short stories, and guaranteed to both entertain and raise a chuckle or two.

Then there was the ice-cream stall, the fairy well, the baker’s oven and the cake competition. And there were rules: ‘ladies and gentlemen of five score years and upwards admitted free’.

Dotted throughout the programme were quotes from here, there and everywhere. The women’s committee page featured a line from Scottish poet Robbie Burns’s poem ‘a man’s a man for all that’, and American founding father, scientist and genius Benjamin Franklin chipped in with a ‘deep purse and easy strings’. From Persia’s ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’ there was: ‘Who is the potter pray and who is the pot?’ conveniently placed in the advert for the crockery stall.

But what can be learnt about the commercial life of Barnoldswick? The steam laundry could wash and re-waterproof raincoats, and clean carpets in a ‘special vacuum process’. ‘Conns’ in the Market Hall offered a full range of shades of crepes-de-chines, silks and crepe morocain. There were buttons and trimmings and ‘Trio’ corsets. Nancy Widdup, a costumier of Cobden Street considered ‘the workmanship of every garment to be of the highest order and a work of art’. Mrs Whipp of Essex Street was a baker and confectioner. She offered dinners and suppers four nights a week, and also sold ‘Hargreaves’ best Twist and Smoking Mixtures’.

In Brook Street, Tres Bon Café offered a ‘good square meal’ with suppers every evening. The Central Boot Store promised up to 10,000 hours of wear from its ‘K’ shoes, but promised each hour would be one of foot comfort. You could telephone too. This was 1923 and the number was just ‘80’.

Those intending to travel abroad should contact Eccleston’s, an agent for all the principal steamship lines in the United Kingdom. John Hartley in Church Street and Walmsgate offered made-to-order furniture, leading brands of pianos and organs as well as Triumph motorcycles and Jones’ sewing machines. Finally Rupert Holt offered shoeing and general blacksmith’s work as well as designing and building all grades of vehicles. Motor body work could be specially built to fit a customer’s own chassis.

So that’s a snapshot of retail trade in one West Riding town. The emphasis was on quality and value for money with a hint of the wider world beyond.

There was an extra souvenir of the bazaar. For one shilling people could buy a combined book of ‘Recipes for the Home’ and ‘Thoughts for the Heart’. So here is a recipe for sultana scones from 100 years ago: ‘Half-a-pound of flour, two ounces of butter, two ounces of castor sugar, one teaspoonful of baking powder, one egg, a pinch of salt, two tablespoonfuls of milk, two ounces of sultanas.

METHOD. – Mix the salt, baking powder and flour together, rub in the butter lightly, add the sugar and sultanas, well beaten egg and milk, mix well. Form into scones and bake at once in a hot oven about 15 minutes.’ That recipe was from Mrs Harper, and was slightly unusual as she gives both a baking time and an idea of the oven temperature. The gas thermostat had only just been invented and it would be some time before the use of a regulo or gas mark became commonplace. People might still have a coal-fired kitchen range and would have to rely on their own skills and judgement as bakers.

In the interests of historical research, Mrs Harper’s recipe was followed to the letter, and the scones were delicious.

And two ‘Thoughts for the Heart’: ‘Better pay the cook than the doctor’ and ‘The heartiest feast costs least’.

Barnoldswick Bethesda Church faced Manchester Road between Chapel Street and Philip Street. The church has since been demolished. Two stone gateposts, an ornamental archway and two wrought-iron gates survive. A new church, the Baptist Church Centre, was opened further up the hill in 1977 finally uniting two previously separate congregations.

Thanks are due to Barnoldswick History Society for its help in the preparation of this article.