As Time Goes By — the changing scene.
There is no doubt that Ulverston is not what it used to be. But is anywhere? The pace of life has changed; the whole way people live has moved on to embrace the latest technology especially in the living room and in the kitchen. Expectations are greater, personal responsibility has become less. But as far as a small town is concerned the way we shop has shifted — supermarkets have made family businesses less viable to the detriment of a town’s ambience. Flats and apartments are taking over some premises, and many others remain empty, or temporarily occupied.
I, and others of my age, will recall the shops that satisfied all our needs. I used to buy my blouses from a great little shop in the Market Square. My coats and other clothing, plus some furnishings came from the Coop in County Square, my underwear from Atkinsons, the men of our house bought clothes from Greenwoods. Delicious pork pies were bought on Queen St. Ham and other groceries from a shop on Market St. Meat from a King St butcher, fruit and veg from the shop now selling sports’ clothes. ‘Home made’ cakes and pies from a family business on Market St and Soutergate. Just about everything else was bought in Ulverston too. The book-come-stationary shop in Queen St is sadly missed. The printer, art and craft materials, on Queen St is no more. The list can go on. Thankfully Smith and Harrison is still in business — what would we do without Graham, whether for fork handles or four candles? His smiling face and friendly helpful manner is a true tonic. Long may his hardware store live on!
Well, I guess Supermarkets killed off most of the family businesses and made others non-viable. We have even lost the Halifax branch — a great loss to many, especially the older customers that prefer to have a ‘face’ to talk to and be greeted by name at the counter. I think the first bakery/café to go, and missed by many, is Salmon’s — genuine old thirties chairs and tables, rusting bay-window frames but marvelous atmosphere with open coal fire and simple good food in the upstairs café. Known for the quirkiness of closing between the hours of one and two! All of these gone but not forgotten.
The face of Ulverston has changed indeed. Tourism is welcomed as more trinket and charity shops, and cafés appear, and tables are put out on pavements. The town is given an olde worlde image with rough paving flags and cobbled areas. Thankfully, the delightful band continues to play on Thursdays and special occasions. A statue of Laurel and Hardy in Crown Square draws visitors, and the many festivals bring in coachloads of people from near and far. Fireworks often light up the sky.
But personally, I’m sorry to see more drink sold, and often bins too full to take away the remnants of take-away food. We seem less likely to bump into people we know, though footpaths are often crowded with the need to walk into the road.
But still the walks are delightful — the canal side, the Gill footpath, the Flan and onwards to the Hoad by a choice of paths. The walk through the bluebell woods particularly delightful, and the views from Hoad Hill spectacular. Longer walks too for those able to do so. Even so, I feel a sense of loss for what has been but will be no more.
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