Review of ‘Tideswell Traders’, by Tony Hill

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Tony Hill
Published by Country Books/Ashridge Press (2007)

This intricately researched study has been compiled by Tony Hill, Tideswell born and bred and an avid collector of old postcards and photographs. Through listening to the recollections of older inhabitants over many years, Tony came to recognise the essential connection between this thriving village - known to history as a famous market town - and its resident traders, entrepreneurs and inventors. He was actually inspired in great part by one lady who could recall more than 80 shops during her lifetime.

The author concentrates on specific streets, roads and squares to detail businesses past and present. Photographs and advertisements span the years from a Victorian tinsmith to the staff of Hunters 'the Great Teamen' posing outside their three fascinating window displays, while a butcher has draped his shop with sides of beasts and an apparent string of oxtails outside his bedroom window. We read of one family who sold only yeast; it was delivered in straw hampers which were then re-used by tramps who filled them with locally gathered watercress to hawk around the houses at a penny a bunch.

Over the years Tideswell has boasted chippies a-plenty, a photographic studio, clockmaker, corsetière and a velvet factory, and now many innovative enterprises are utilising 21st-century technology. Whilst some shops and traders' premises have become dwellings (a surprising number incorporating former slaughterhouses), today's businesses continue to provide work for many local people. The pages of Tideswell Traders are interspersed with modern colour photographs in which everybody seems to be smiling, happy to take their places amongst the 500-plus illustrations of what is certain to become an 'heirloom' book.

Review by Julie Bunting

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