Iconic store founded in 1856 opens its own museum

Iconic store founded in 1856 opens its own museum

FEW shops in the history of Dewsbury have been held in such great affection as Greenwood’s on Church Street.

It was opened in 1856 by John Greenwood and seems set to be there for many years to come. One of the founder’s descendants, Dr Innes Simon Chadwick, from Cheshire, visited the shop for the first time last week. While tracing his family tree he learned that his great great great grandfather, John Greenwood, had founded the shop.

He also discovered from archives that his great grandparents, Mr and Mrs J E Chadwick, opened the old Dewsbury General Infirmary in 1929.

Greenwood’s is still a busy little shop and continues to sell what its founder sold all those years ago –  workmen’s overalls, socks and caps of all types as well as quality new and vintage jewellery. The shop, which once also operated as a pawnbroker’s, has lost none of its character or charm over the last 150 years.

Its present owner, retired dentist Sue Baker, is making sure it will not lose any of its fascinating history. She has set aside space inside the premises for a small museum displaying artefacts discovered in the shop dating from the end of the industrial revolution.

“Visitors are amazed at some of the items on display, some of which are posing quite a mystery for our younger visitors,” she said.

“Some include the old pawnbroker’s counter as well as receipts and ledgers which reveal what people were once forced to pawn from Monday to Friday to make ends meet.”

But one little man – ‘Bolenium Bill’ – whose statue sat in the shop window for years, has been taken out and given pride of place in the museum. It was when Crow Nest Park Museum closed that Sue became concerned that much of the town’s social history could be lost if steps were not quickly taken to preserve them.

She is making sure that at least the artefacts from Greenwood’s will be kept safe and she would like to hear from anyone who once worked in the shop or were customers there.

Sue bought the shop from previous owner Catherine Parkin in 2015 to maintain its local history and to ensure the highly-skilled jewellery manufacturing and repair service remained open within the town. It is currently managed by Kim Gott, previously a dental practice manager, and Kevin Parker continues to be the on-site jewellery craftsman who has worked there for over 20 years. 

The museum is only big enough to hold four visitors at a time and is accessed by narrow, steep stairs, but anyone wanting to visit is welcome. Ring the shop on 01924 461198.

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