Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Brooke's Ironmongers

Everyone who has lived in Hyde and is over a certain age, will have heard of or visited Brooke's Ironmongers on Market Street. Before the coming of B & Q and other similar shops, Brookes was the only place to go for anything to do with ironmongery or DIY supplies. The shop was very cluttered with nearly everything in little drawers behind the busy counter. Brookes closed the Market St shop in 1992 and move round the corner in Water St for a few years, before it shut down completely. The Market St premises were taken over by a Doctor's Practice named The Brooke Surgery in respect of the old shop.

Below is a copy of a North Cheshire Herald report from 29th October 1992:-


Fire tong's grates, gas appliances from long ago and other devices most of us have long forgotten - all can be seen in Hyde's "old curiosity shop".The Crimean War was four yours away when William Brook opened his ironmonger's business in Hyde and now the Market Street shop is a treasure trove of odds and ends.Walter Brooke and his brother Bill have been running the shop since 1945 but tomorrow (Friday) they will cash up for the last time.Hyde's oldest shop is closing to make way for a new business, but Brooke's Ironmongers won't be gone for ever. Apart from the sale of domestic hardware and garden equipment, the business is moving lock, stock and barrel to their warehouse on Water Street.But what might not make it is a collection of odds and ends that look like an ironmongery Antique Roadshow: like a turn-of-the-century toilet roll, made by the Daffodil Company and said to be "not injurious to health" and an old football "rickrack" used in the war to warn of gas leaks.There's a circular metal slug-catcher, "you sink it in the garden, filled with beer, and the slugs would be attracted to it," said Walter. "They would fall in and drown - or get drunk!"Walter, 64, admits that moving will be a wrench because the interior of the shop has changed little since the start of the century.Wellington and wire stand cheek by jowel with shovels and secateurs. Nails are still weighed by the pond and screws are counted out. The smaller items are house in polished wooden drawers and the focal point of the shop is the well-worn counter.Walter and Bill, 67, are moving round the corner, deciding on the move after a crack appeared in a wall when the next door property was demolished.Sorting through hundreds of old items, Walter also came across a box of brass gas fittings. "It had not been opened since it was delivered ," said Walter. "And that was in 1909.An 1898 price book shows fire shovels costing just over a shilling (5p) and nails, at a penny a pound.Sadly most of the relics may be consigned to the scrapheap, but a pair of brass spit rods were recently sold to a collector and there might be more little gems to unearth.Walter and Bill have one bit of gear that even they don't know what it was for. Made of metal and 5ins long, it has adjustable spikes at the top. Walter thinks it might have been used in the leather industry but if you can fathom it out, call in and let him know.

William Brooke outside his shop around 1900.

The busy counter with scales and the rows of wooden drawer behind.

Brooke's shop around 1990.


Tom said...

What a time warp the shop was... I remember both the shop and the warehouse which was just around the corner on Water Street. It was a pleasure to go in both, and be 'served' politely and professionally by the two brothers. I recall one brother always wore a tweed Jacket, he looked a proper 'county gent'. The other brother wore much the same but I rarely saw him without a khaki storemans/warehouse coat. Screws and nails were sold by weight, or you could ask for a small amount, either way they would be wrapped up in brown paper. It was one if not the last shop in Hyde that provided chairs for you to sit down on while waiting. If you asked for something obscure the brothers would concur for a bit then off one would go to search the stores.. and come back with what was asked for.
I feel honoured to remember this shop and the two brothers. That kind of shop and the way you were served are now a thing of the past, and Hyde is a sadder place without them.
Great post again Paul.

Dave Williams said...

The photo of the interior looks a dead ringer for the shop interior in the famous Ronnie Barker 'Four Candles' television sketch.

Tom said...

Seems some comments have been lost from here ..
I recall this shop very well, and the two brothers who served. One was a proper country gent in how he dressed. Tweed coat, shirt and tie... always smart... the other brother a rarely saw him without his store-man's coat on.
I showed this post to my friend Jack Cheetham.. he recalls as a small boy standing outside the shop with his nose pressed against the window drooling over the array of tools. When he started his apprenticeship as a joiner this is the shop he went to for his tools. He got his first lot of tools by saving up weekly and buying from this shop when he had enough for each item. Jack tells me that they are in full working order today... One tool he bought was a rebate plane. when he went into to buy this he was told he could not have it for 2 weeks as they soaked all the wooden planes in linseed oil... and sharpened the blades to suit. They also stamped his stools and eventually Jack bought his own stamps at 6d a letter.

Petrus said...

It's a great pity that these type of shops are disappearing fast - the likes of B&Q can not provide the same service.

Dave Williams said...

One of the comments which has disappeared is one I made about the interior of the shop reminding me of the shop in the Ronnie Barker 'Four Candles' sketch on the television.

westarsteve said...

hello tom
when i was at greeny school one of the metal work teachers thought it would be funny to send me to brookes shop for a long stand so off i went ha ha i was in the shop for over an hour and the two brothers kept coming and talking to me and serving customers then the teacher must of rang them and asked to send me back when i got back he was worried that i had been along time the joke backfired on him but i had a good hour in that amazing shop there is one such shop left and thats seymour wilson in ashton the still have the old fire range and oven in the back of the shop and they still use it cheers steve

Tom said...

Hi Steve
I'd forgot about Seymour Wilsons... I used to go there for stuff when I worked at Sherwood Joinery... another shop that must have stock dating back donkeys years.

Ex Hydeonian said...

I typed a really witty and insightful comment and Google lost it for me! Damn. I used to love Brookes shop, often went there with my Dad to get stuff for the DIY projects that were always on the go when I was a boy. Also sometimes used to stare in the window on my way to Greenie. As Dave mentioned previously, it always reminded me too of the Four Candles, Fork Handles sketch....what a wonderful shop and what a shame that this is yet another thing of the past.

hardyd said...

I remember going into this shop many times for nuts and bolts, nails, screws, etc. One time I remember being told to get some nuts and bolts asked for the correct size and for the bolts to be threaded along the whole length of the shank and was informed patiently, that that was a set screw not a bolt - lovely old guys, there used to be an artist supplies shop in Ashton that had a floorwalker as in "are you being served" despite the shop being no bigger than Brookes, I cant remember the name though .