VINTAGE could be the way forward for Batley after more than 20,000 people turned out in the town centre last Saturday.
Trade chief Andrew Marsden said several shops posted record takings at the third annual Vintage Day centred on Market Place.
And with Dewsbury targeting arts and crafts, its Heavy Woollen rival may have found its own niche.
Solicitor Mr Marsden said: “Town centres need a new offer – I won’t say the traditional High Street is dead, but we do live in different times.”
Both ideas could be connected to Redbrick Mill, which lies between the two towns.
Batley Business Association chairman Mr Marsden said: “Batley and Dewsbury are small towns in northern England that had a prosperous past based on industries that no longer exist.
“Dewsbury seems to me to be trying to go down more of a Hebden Bridge-type route. In Batley, it’s time for a new offer and maybe that niche could be connected to retro and vintage.”
Last Saturday a Spitfire from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew overhead. There was a vintage market, live music and dance, military vehicles and hundreds of people in period dress.
Brighouse has a 1940s day and Mr Marsden said: “We’re keen to stress ours is not just a 40s day.
“We’re about things from across the eras, whether it’s from the 50s, 60s or 70s.
“Many of the people who come would have been too young to catch this first time round.”
Meanwhile, two vacant units, the old Reunion Cafe on Branch Road and the former game shop on Commercial Street, could be back in use soon.
Renovations are under way, with the Branch Road premises rumoured to be another cafe.
Mr Marsden said: “The difficulty for Commercial Street is that a lot of the units are owned by big groups. Those units are only a small entry on a data sheet, so they’re not involved in Batley on a daily basis.
“But they do seem to be discovering the benefits of having someone in those units rather than leaving them empty.”
Picture: Mike Clark