Down memory lane with Peter Tuffrey: Conisbrough traders

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A confectionery business was established in Conisbrough by Jos Drabble and brother-in-law John Maxfield during 1890.

But after a while the two men parted company and established their own confectionery businesses.

John’s firm was short-lived and a number of his staff joined Jos’s venture which by 1924 was a limited company.

Jos’s son, Arthur, succeeded his father and he was also well-known in motorcycling circles.

He was in the first four in the 1924 Isle of Man TT Races and was a keen flyer.

On Sunday afternoons during the 1930s he was frequently seen performing ‘loop-the-loops’ and other spectacular tricks in his aeroplane over Conisbrough.

In 1938 Drabble’s warehouse caught fire and residents said that this led to the road being covered in melted chocolate.

Arthur Drabble died in 1958 and was succeeded in the business by daughter, Doreen.

The company ceased trading after she retired in 1981. The only person to be identified in the picture dating from around 1925 is the man on the left – Albert Smithson (leaning on the wagon).

n The existence of a brickyard on the west side of Clifton Hill can be traced to at least the 1850s.

The business of the Ashfield Fire Clay Works may be seen in operation here and it was established by Thomas Henry Simpson.

Thomas came from Loversall, where his family had farmed the land for generations.

Brother Simeon, once a cordwainer, clerk and overseer, was manager of the brickyard, a job he held until the age of 70.

When Thomas died in 1880 his executors, along with his second wife Lydia and his nephew Arthur sold the business to George Walker of Conisbrough and Godfrey Edward Crawshaw of Warmsworth.

When these two died in 1877 and 1887 respectively, their sons Edward Crawshaw and Godfrey Walker took control of the brickyard.

In 1920 Yorkshire Amalgamated Products, owners of other brickyards in Yorkshire, took over.

Afterwards the brickworks was reorganised and extended and in subsequent years employed over 100 hands. And each week around 200,000 fine weather bricks were produced.

The works was converted for military use during 1942 but brickmaking resumed afterwards.

By the 1950s the clay deposits were running out so the material was supplied from the company’s Mexborough brickyard. Final production at Conisbrough ceased in April 1961 and the quarry was later filled in.

n Blacksmith William Jones’ business premises were on Low Road and he had been there since around 1880.

Jones is seen on the extreme left and his house is in the background next to a small passageway which linked Low road with Doncaster Road.

The picture was taken around 1905 when the blacksmith’s profession was still thriving in Conisbrough and elsewhere. But the familiar image of the burly blacksmith wielding a large hammer, together with the sights and sounds emanating from his shop have disappeared from everyday life.

A number of products and machinery associated with the blacksmith’s trade may be observed in the yard. As well as being a hard-working blacksmith, Jones was also captain of the local fire service.

n AG Gurney originally ran a cycle business in Doncaster Road, Conisbrough. In time, the business moved to more suitable premises on the opposite side of the road.

He continued to sell cycles but progressed to repairing motor vehicles as they became more widely used in partnership with HE Nicholson.

Together, they had a fair slice of the local trade but just prior to the Second World War, the business was acquired by Ernest Bonnett.

During the War the premises were commandeered by the army for vehicle repairs.

Soldiers were also billeted in rooms above the workshops. Afterwards, W Whyers and E Stanley established a business there and traded as the Conisbrough Motor Co.

Lasting until early 1983, the business then became Crossbow Motors but changed a little later to become Conisbrough Motors once more.

n Meat purveyor William (Billy) Hare is posing for the camera in the doorway of his business premises which were situated on New Hill, Conisbrough.

There were facilities at the rear for slaughtering beasts and also producing his own pies and sausages.

Billy followed his father into the butchery business; his uncle and cousin were also in the trade. It is noticeable that his shop window has a sliding sash to expose the meat for customers to inspect. His wife was the daughter of a fellow businessman, Edgar Lawcock, a boot and shoemaker.

Billy’s shop was later converted to a private house.