The shop now known as Castleberg Outdoors, Cheapside, Settle

Chris and Graham Ball
 JOURNAL 
 2015 
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

The authors occupied the premises from September 1987 to December 2008, trading as Castleberg Sports, and during this time kept a diary concerning what we learned about the history of the place. Our main informant was John Walker, our landlord, who was in his 90s when he died in 2010, and remembered back far and very clearly. He also had a good archive of photographs, many (if not all) of which he and his brother Harold had taken themselves. His widow Phyllis contributed to the story. We had, besides, input from people who had previously worked in the shop, some of whom had moved away from the area and come back to visit, and others who had been customers of one or more of the businesses formerly housed there.

A warehouse

The Birkbecks, merchants inter alia, a Settle Quaker family, built the property around 1780 as a warehouse but, given the architectural style and detail, quite a posh one. It points to the family being wealthy, as does the fact that George Birkbeck (1776-1841) endowed the London college which bears their name. He is also credited with founding the Mechanics Institutes (Birkbeck College was formerly the London Mechanics Institute). The building next door, today known as Lamberts, was a Birkbeck residence, but until the Keighley to Kendal turnpike was constructed through the town soon after 1753 this had been the Golden Lion inn and had stood on the main road, which in those days came over the hill from Long Preston, down past the Folly, and continued down Kirkgate towards the River Ribble. The new road caused the inn to relocate round the corner. Other Birkbeck residences were Anley Hall, now a retirement home, and Settle Social Club’s building, formerly the Ashfield Hotel. The actress Bette Davis stayed at the Ashfield during the filming of Another Man’s Poison in 1952.

Tatham and Son

At the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond jubilee in 1897 the shop was under the banner of Tatham and Son, who were ‘grocers & druggists & general drapers’. In the Horner photograph this slogan can be seen on the arch above the door, and on the panels just below the arch adverts can be made out for Fry’s chocolate and cocoa. We believe that the ‘fairy lights’ surrounding the picture of the Queen were gas powered, electricity having not yet reached Settle. (We cannot be sure if the photograph was taken at the time of the Golden or the Diamond jubilee, but favour the latter). The Tathams were another Settle Quaker family. John, born in 1793, is described as follows on the Hampshire County Council website in connection with the W. A. Bromfield herbarium, which is in the council’s keeping:
‘(He) was a druggist and was born in Settle, Yorkshire, on 20 September 1775 (this would appear to be an error). He assisted Windsor in Flora Cravoniensis and Henry Baines in Flora of Yorkshire, 1840. His Herbarium and MSS are held at Kew. He died at Settle, Yorkshire on 12 January 1875. There are specimens in the Bromfield Herbarium collected by John Tatham between 1840-1841, from Settle.’ As a contributor to the Bromfield herbarium he was in good company, including the famous philosopher and political economist John Stuart Mill.
A customer from Colne told us in 2007 that his great uncle, William Dickinson, bought the shop from John Tatham, but ran it under the Tatham name. In turn, our informant said, Dickinson sold it to Shepherd and Walker, but John Walker in 2008 did not recognise the name Dickinson.

Jimmy Duck's

John said that after Tatham it was occupied by G. E. Carr (grocers, from Skipton), then Duckworths, also grocers (presumably the firm of James Duckworth from Rochdale, familiarly known as ‘Jimmy Duck’s’). From 1903 John Walker’s family had operated as dispensing chemists from other premises in the town, and after he bought the shop the business, or part of it, was run from there. He described himself and his brother Harold as the “third - and last - generation”. We have no information about Shepherd in the Shepherd and Walker partnership, but according to a pamphlet by Rita Hudson of the North Craven Historical Research Group a William Shepherd, described as a chemist, was active in the town in the mid-nineteenth century, and that might imply a family connection. It may have been in the 1960s that John took over the property. When it had come up for sale it had been assumed that the Lambert family next door would be the buyers, but a young John Lambert was into motor racing, and the preferred purchase was a Porsche sports car. John Walker was then unexpectedly offered the opportunity, and snapped it up, pausing, as he said, to give the matter “all of half a second’s thought”.

Hargers and Castleberg Sports

Later it was leased out, and became Hargers. We are not sure who this Harger was, but when we took over the lease in 1987 from Eric Rushton he was still operating as Hargers, and even twenty years later we had not persuaded the Valuation Office (which sets the business rates) to address us by any other name. The name Harger in Settle is associated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with joinery and cabinet making. Eric Rushton, whose wife Mary and daughter Helen also worked in the business, had a mish-mash of products - from bits of furniture and carpet, to football boots and tennis racquets - but he was mainly interested in field sports, and there was a secure gun room on the first floor. At one end of one of the brick-lined vaults of the cellar, under the pavement of Cheapside on its southern side, stood a target, and it was no wonder that Eric became pretty deaf when you consider the noise of a shotgun being repeatedly discharged in such a confined space. He retired in 1987, due to ill health, and moved away from the town.

There was an expectation in the area that we would continue with guns, fishing equipment, riding helmets, jodhpurs, wellies, Barbour jackets and the like, but although we did some of that for a while (though never guns) we had to focus differently and soon dropped ‘country pursuits’ and ‘countrywear’ to specialise in ‘outdoor pursuits’ in the modern sense and, to a lesser extent, traditional sports.

In September 2007 I described the shop in the following terms, starting at the top: “... I’m not sure ‘loft’ is the right word. It’s usable space under the roof, and we generally call it the ‘third floor’. It’s where Chris does racquet stringing, I do woodwork and fit up trophies, and we store spare shop-fittings and occasionally stock, when we run out of space on the floor below. The second floor is dedicated to stock. Most people who visit it are surprised just how much footwear we have, at the last count about 120 lines. On the first floor we sell clothing and footwear, and have a tiny open-plan office in the north-west corner, pleasantly overlooking the top part of the market place. The ground floor is given over mainly to equipment sales, with some clearance clothing. The double-vaulted cellar is used only for the temporary storage of rubbish, mostly the mountains of cardboard we take in. I am fond of saying that in London it would be a wine bar.”

Castleberg Outdoors

When we retired in 2008 the business was bought by Steven and Ruth Craig, who refined it further and changed the name to Castleberg Outdoors, which is what it remains today.

Other Acknowledgements

For some of the background, for instance about the Birkbecks, contributors to Wikipedia have to be thanked. We have tried to corroborate information, but this has not always been possible, and we apologise for any errors which come to light.

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OldShop.jpg


Tatham1902Ad.jpg


Tatham1902Pic.jpg


TathamJub.jpg


TathamReceipt.jpg


Tathams.jpg


ShopDrawing.jpg