Saltaire Village, World Heritage Site
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Mary Maude's Story
Introduction by Roger Clarke

Mary Newnham got in touch with me by email and asked if I'd be interested in her story. Her family had lived in Saltaire through the 1900s and she had lived here for 24 years. Her father, grandfather and great grandfather owned the only furniture shop in Saltaire and were undertakers. She also had other relatives living in the village. Was I interested? Absolutely! Mary's story is fascinating. Thank you so much for getting in touch.
Roger Clarke

Mary Newnham writes: My story starts with my Great Grandfather (James Jonas Ramsden), who started a small carpentry shop making furniture around 1875 on the corner of George St and Saltaire Road. Then when his son (my Grandfather, James Henry Ramsden) left school he started working there and he eventually bought the larger shop across the road, 105, Saltaire Rd, which his son (my father, James Arthur Ramsden) went into after school. By this time we sold furniture, carpets, etc. Also when they bought the larger shop they started the undertaking business up, and became Funeral Directors. Around 1954 we bought a second shop on the opposite corner, 107, Saltaire Rd.

Our shop was a very friendly social point in the village, most of the people in Saltaire used it. There was no higher purchase in those days, but my father let people take things and pay weekly at £1 or £2 per week. Some people came to the shop to pay, and from others we used to collect the money. Friday night was what we called collecting night.

For funerals, most people from the village used us. My father was a very friendly person, and very good hearted, every-body used to call him Arthur. Many a time my father would get a telephone call during the night, because someone had died at home and he had to go and lay them out. If it was a lady my mother would go too. Some went to the Chapel Of Rest, and some stayed at home. Then the coffin was made at 105, Saltaire Rd in the cellar; everything was done by us in those days, not like nowadays when they buy the coffins in.

My grandfather (James Henry Ramsden) was an excellent wood carver, and did some of the carving in St. Pauls Church, Moorhead Lane, Saltaire. My brother (James Gordon Ramsden) went into the business in 1954 from school, and my husband (Richard Barry Maude) went into the business in 1961, when we got engaged. When my grandfather died in 1962, I took over the book work for the business. I'd been a book keeper from leaving school, and was Secretary for Bell’s Transport Services, Thornton Rd, Bfd. We finally closed the shop in 1968, when there was a lot more bigger companies to compete with. With hindsight, I wish myself and my husband had kept the Funeral Directors side of it going, but I think we were too young for us to think of it.

I was born at 1, Bromley Rd, Saltaire. I went to Albert Rd school from 1947 (the nursery) and through the school until 1955, when I was 11 years old, then went to Fox’s School of Commerce, Bfd. I was in the Salts hospital, in Victoria Rd, for my appendix out in 1958, and stayed in 2 weeks; it was a lovely hospital, so different from nowadays.

I also got married at the Congregational Church down Victoria Rd, on 6.6.64, and my two children were christened there (Yvonne and Lee). My daughter Yvonne was also born in the same house as myself (1, Bromley Rd) as my mother and father gave me that house as my wedding present. My parents then moved to 35, Grosvenor Road, Saltaire.

My mother's parents, Amy and George Abrams, lived for a few years in Amelia St, where Amy died in 1974. My Great Grandma and Uncle Alwin Abrams (on my mother's side) lived at 40, Titus Street. I had a Auntie and Uncle, Ivy and George Taylor, and their son Derek, lived at 38, Caroline St, they all worked at Salts Mill all their lives.

My father's parents, Hetti and Henry Ramsden lived at 1, Bromley Rd, until my parents got married, then they also got the house as a wedding present. And my grandparents moved to 25, Nab Wood Drive, Saltaire.

Next door to us at no 103, was Mrs Hellon, the shop was a Millinery’s, and at no 101, was Baldwins, pork butcher’s they cooked all their own cooked meats and pies, absolutely georgous.

Just at the side of the Gaumont picture house, (where I visited a lot) including Saturday’s Matinee in the morning’s, was a very small sweet shop, that was run by a very dear little man called Mr Bailey.

My brother was married at St. Pauls Church, Saltaire, and had his reception at the Victoria Hall, in the York Room. Sadly my brother died in 2004, so I’ve nobody’s brain to pick. I'm afraid there’s nobody left but me.

My name, by the way, is now Mrs Mary Newnham. Of course it was Mary Ramsden and when I got married it was Mary Maude, but sadly my husband died in 1989, and I have since re-married. I also have a Shipley and District directory, which has every name of every street, and the name of who lived at what no, all shops and everything.

Copyright Mary Newnham 2006

Appeal for information
Added to website: 27 April 2016

Tracey Calvert writes: I have just read this article with excitement and great interest as this lady is a relation of mine via my late mother, Rose  Rogers (nee Abrams)  who was also a niece of Ivy and George Taylor of 38 Caroline St Saltaire.  Mum was the only daughter of Thomas and Rose Abrams; both died very young (she then lived with Ivy and George Taylor). I know little about her family and have lost touch with anyone who may have known her.   I'd be delighted to make contact with anyone who may know more about the Abrams in Saltaire, their connections with Salts Mill, any surviving relatives etc.  

Kind regards
Tracey Calvert (nee Rogers)

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