Skipton’s Other Ecological Building Society


Yorkshire folk have always been canny with their brass, so it is no surprise we have started some of the greatest building societies in the country.
Building societies can be traced back to the industrial revolution, when they were set up as small local organisations whose members pooled funds to allow them to purchase land and build houses.

Some are no longer with us but this is a few of the financial institutions we have created; Skipton, Leeds Permanent, Halifax, Huddersfield & Bradford, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Leeds & Holbeck, Bradford Equitable, Bingley Permanent, Bradford & Bingley, Scarborough, National Provincial.

Skipton formed its own society originally called The Skipton and District Permanent Benefit Building Society in 1853. It was founded by George Kendall and the Craven Herald reported “This Society differs from the old building societies, in this, that it is not established for the express purpose of building a certain street or row of houses, but what is much superior, it enables a man to build what he likes, where he likes, and as he likes; or, if a member prefers to buy a house, he can do so, and the Society, if they think the purchase a good one, will advance the money.”

So what of the other Skipton Society?

Well in fact it has its headquarters a few miles down the road at Steeton. The Ecological Building Society had a vision to set up a building society that specialised in properties that conveyed an ecological benefit in terms of construction, use of land or lifestyle. The idea was sparked at a Green Party Conference, following the experience of a Yorkshire solicitor, David Pedley. He had great difficulty in finding anyone willing to give him a mortgage on a property needing extensive renovation.

Someone asked the question “Why don’t we start a building society?” In those days it was possible to start one with just £5,000. Ten people clubbed together, put in £500 each and the Society was registered in December 1980, commencing trading in March 1981 from a tiny upstairs office in Cross Hills, West Yorkshire.
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Bah Humbugs Sweetie Shop

Masham is really for beer not sweets but in the corner of the  market square is a shop to treasure. Not only because they offer Licourice sweets from New Zealand, Holland and Pontefract but because they seem to be going the extra mile in the provision of treats for the sweet-toothed amongst us. ‘Yorkshire Mixture’ is another favourite a Northern Classic of boiled sweets in an assortment of different shapes and flavours including Pear Drops, Fruit Rock & Fishes and mint rock.

I do not want to drive you away from this web site by if you want to look inside the digital sweetshop of Bah Humbug then click here.

With winter and flu nearly upon us why not stock up with some winter warmers like Coltsfoot Rock, Paynes Original Army & Navy Tablets or real Cough Candy. Too say nothing of Aniseed Balls and the retro range including ABC Candy Letters, Dip Dabs, Double Dips, Shrimps, Anglo Bubbly, Black Jacks, Refreshers and Lover Hearts .

Maxons Humbug Suppliers to the World

Maxons of Sheffield is one of the few remaining traditional sweet manufacturers in England specialising in boiled sugar and flavoured sherbet. Maxons continues as a privately owned, independent, manufacturing company under the direction the original Pitchfork family. Henry Dixon Ltd. had existed since the late nineteenth century and had acquired a significant reputation and history in the area. Following the end of sweet rationing in 1953, both the wholesale and manufacturing began to expand and, in 1958, they all merged.
The traditional brands, as supplied to Bah Humbug, of Maxons, Dixons, and Jesmona account for the majority of production. Traditional products like Pineapple chunks, Pear Drops and Yorkshire Mixture are made along side Black Bullets, Sherbert Fruits and Humbugs.


Close Shave Edwardian Style

Sheffield steel for 21/- with a silver plated handle – What Luxury for shavers in this 1913 advertisement from The Durham-Duplex Razor Co Ltd of Sheffield. A guinea would have gone a long way in 1913.

Durham Duplex still manufacture millions of blades every month in Sheffield the UK’s cradle of engineering excellence. They ‘stock the worlds most comprehensive range of standard designs to suit all your cutting, slitting, trimming, slicing, and scraping needs.’ 14,000 lines and that is a lot of cutting capability. Started at the end of king Edward Vll reign in 1910 they will be celebrating 100 years production in this cut throat business next year.

They recently acted as the Industrial Sponsor for Myers Grove School for the Master Cutler’s “Made in Sheffield” Innovation Competition . The pupils worked on a design then at Kelham Island they demonstrated the results to a panel including the Master Cutler.

Early razors made of horn, flint or stone with bone handles have been excavated from Neolithic caves. The ancient razors from the Late Stone Age slowly evolved, and by 3000 B.C. hieroglyphics and tomb excavations show that the people of Mesopotamia were shaving with finely honed obsidian blades. Rolls Razors developed safety razors in the the post war years which are collected by those interested in ‘Barberiana’, the term given to collectible items that have to do with shaving.
Cut throat razors can still be bought from example at Executive Shaving a Yorkshire business that recently set up new premises in Plymouth.


After the business soft soap I also came across a 1920’s advert for Erasmic Shaving Sticks that have no special links to Yorkshire.

Erasmic by zimpenfish CC BY 2.0

Egged on to Save with Hammonds Sauce

We are rightly proud of our Yorkshire traditions when it comes to money. So it was heartening that Yorkshire Building Society were set to grow with the acquisition of Egg Banking.  The society will take on Egg’s mortgage and savings operations and will also acquire the Egg name and its less well known Pi brand.

Egg was an internet and phone bank launched in 1998 by life assurance company Prudential. It was floated on the stock market as an independent company but recently sold its credit card business to Barclays. The Egg was ‘good in parts’ and Yorkshire think they got the right assets with the yolk on others.

Egg’s 550,000  customers will become members of the Yorkshire where they will be coddled and looked after just like their savings. Let us hope there is no scramble to exit from the new members but this is one mutual society that declined to shell out privatisation lumps to customers.

Other Deals   Pending in 2011

  • Barnsley building society was merged with Yorkshire in 2011 I like to think the chelsea building society was taken over at about the same time.
  • A deal is currently awaiting approval for a merger with similar-sized Norwich & Peterborough.
  • These ventures will see Yorkshire more than double to around £60 billion of assets
  • The Bradford based mutual society has 2.6 million members and 178 branches. They have been mentioned as a possible buyers of some or all of Northern Rock.


  • Yorkshire Building Society will now become  ‘cock of the mutual walk’.
    Hen parties can save up for the time of their lives with a Yorkshire Egg account.
    Hard boiled Yorkshiremen will not be scrambling for the new internet accounts but will retain their free range saving approach.
    This has been an easy over type of acquisition and now everything is sunnyside up said Rhode Island Red the scared spokesman from  Omelet Factory PR.

The former Hammonds Sauce Works Band was renamed as the Yorkshire Building Society Brass Band in 1993.
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County of Shopkeepers and Jokers

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Yorkshire has been the birthplace of many retail organisations. Where would the high street be without  Asda,  Morrisons and Marks & Spencer just for example.

More to the point where have names like Burtons the Tailors and Crockatts the Cleaners gone? Both these businesses owed their start to the Burmantofts area in Leeds.

Asda only became nationally known in 1965 having been Associated Dairies and Farm Stores prior to that. The original dairies grew from the advent of milk pasturisation in the 19th century and by the early 20th  Century West Marton and Grassington dairies combined to become Craven Dairies a subsidiary company of Hindell’s Dairy Farmers.  In 1928 Hindell’s expanded into selling pork products and by the end of the second world war had nine companies, eight dairies, two bakeries and various farms employing over 1200 people.

In the 1960’s a bingo hall in Castleford was converted into a supermarket by the Asquith family with late night opening and ‘Permanent Reductions’. They offered Associated Dairies, formerly Hindell’s,  the fresh food and meat concession but a merger was agreed and a new company Asda Stores Ltd was formed. The move southward was started by the purchase ‘Gem’ supermarket in Nottingham and the opening of a store in Chelmsford. Loaded with debt in the 1980’s Archie Norman was brought in to revitalise Asda until the American outfit Walmart took over.

Marks & Spencer has just finished a sales promotion celebrating 125 years since the business was started in Leeds . Michael Marks an immigrant fro Russia started peddling goods around the Leeds villages before taking a pitch at Leeds open market. Working hard he also took pitches in Castleford and Wakefield until Leeds covered market opened with 6 day trading.   Using sales patter that included ‘don’t ask the price it’s a penny’ and the ‘original penny bazaar’ he probably taught modern day ‘Poundshops’  just how to do it.

Many penny bazaars were opened in the late 1890’s and original lines for sale were supplied under six categories, Haberdashery, Hardware, Toys, Stationery, Earthenware and  Household Goods. In 1894 Thomas Spenser the bookkeeper at Marks’ supplier joined Michael Marks and thus Marks and Spencer was formed.  By the end of 1900 they had 12 shops and 24 market stalls and the headquarters was moved from Leeds to a modern warehouse in Manchester. Thomas Spencer died in his 50’s and Marks was only 48 when he also died but the growth of the company continued so that by the 1914 war there were 140 outlets across the country.  Jumping forward to 2009 and ‘Your M&S’ the latest incarnation it make you wonder how much more could have been achieved if Micheal Marks had lived another 20 years.


William Murdock Morrison was born in Chickenley Wakefield, adopted at seven and apprenticed to a Bradford grocer. In 1899 he set up his own business based on a market stall with closeable curtains. This was similar in format to other grocery retailers like Redmans, Maypole and Drivers. The depression was a time of problems for the business but in 1931 Kenneth Morrison was born (Ken also had two sisters.)  The main shop in Rawson Market Bradford was bombed during the war. In 1950 Ken Morrison was doing National Service when his father died. Ken’s mother a strong lady with great sales skills wanted to know if she should keep the business going for Ken’s return and we know the answer. In 1958 keen to exploit the new self-service concept they were looking for suitable premises. In 1961 they opened in the former Victoria Cinema at Girlington and then Bolton Junction on the other side of the Bradford. Morrisons also innovated with the first supermarket  petrol station on their Morley site. Ken Morrison was knighted in the millennium honours list and the takeover of Safeways was digested by the enlarged group before Ken recently took a well earned retirement.

M&S logos from Designer Blogspot

Burmantofts Pottery & The Kiln

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Pottery book amazon

Terra Cotta works at the Rock Colliery, later to be named Burmantofts Pottery, opened in 1842 producing chimney pots and fire bricks from local clay. Gardeners will know there is lots of clay around but this was the real maccoy. Within 30 years Burmantofts pottery was acclaimed both home and abroad with significant exports. By now the product range included tiles, ornaments and flower-pot stands. In 1889 Burmantofts merged with five other Yorkshire companies to form the Leeds Fireclay Company. Some twentieth century Burmantofts pottery pieces are marked ‘Lefico’ from the first two letters of each of these words.

Although pottery making ceased in 1904 the company continued to make terra cotta bricks and tiles until the 1950’s

There are many Burmantofts tiles around Leeds notably at Count Arcade and Vicar Lane.
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The Kiln pub off Stoney Rock Lane was named as so many were to reflect the workers and their local trade. Burmantofts still had 90 kilns in 2000. This former pub near Burmantofts finally closed in 2012 following a shooting and other serious crimes. It was planned to be turned into an education and training centre for the local Afghan community despite objections from nearby residents. Still living up to its colourful past first artistic then international business and then criminal or civil disobedience.


Dragons in Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge

One of the animals at this charity shop must be a Dragon.Theo Paphitis by name and former dragon by nature.

Theo Paphitis wss one of the Dragon’s Den personalities that entrepreneurs would like to capture. Good luck to any aspiring business in Hebden Bridge who is looking for new investors. After the floods Hebden Bridge needs all the support we can muster. Take your business and retail spending to the town but remember dragons are so named for a reason. They are not business angels and they are not angelic when it comes to money.


Enter the Dragon

Theo’s life story is published by Orion Books in paperback. It gives an insight into the thoughts and aspirations of one of the UK’s most popular entrepreneurs.

In this revealing and controversial memoir, Theo not only takes the reader behind the scenes on Dragons’ Den, he explains how he made his fortune. He also provides a master class in business methods that will enable anyone who reads this book to learn so much about how they too can improve their business acumen.

From Amazon with other Dragon books

A new Dragons Den season starts soon with a new dragon on board. Hilary Devey started Pall-Ex in 1995 and back then it was a one truck, one woman, pallet exchange business. She initially signed up 35 haulier members, enabling Hilary to cover the length and breadth of the UK. Now her multi-million pound empire distributes up to 9000 pallets a day from its central hub in Leicestershire. Today she has set her sights on even bigger goals, and as CEO is currently overseeing Pall-Ex’s pan-European expansion.

Provident, Payday or Credit Union Loans

Not having money costs you and it is a vicious circle of debt and high often unfair cost.

Cheap at No Price
118 118 Money are offering loans over 2 years at a representative 99.9% APR. (Annual percentage rate)
Instant Payday UK offer to lend £200 for 30 days: Total amount payable = £240 @ 1223% APR (Variable)
Quick quid 1294.1% APR were a new phenomenon in the personal finance world setting out to challenge Yorkshire based Provident Financial Services, ‘The Provi’.
Yorkshire folk are canny with money and I couldn’t believe we would be sucked in by a new company offering loans that advertise interest rates of 2,689%. One way they explain the annualised interest rates are to show a short loan of 5 days at the rate is 3253% – so that’s OK then. Todays advertised headline rate is APR of 1,261% APR At least when it became known that the Church of England were investing wonga in Wonga the Archbishop created a media storm and the rate started to come down.

Provident on the other hand advertise a rate of 254.5% about 10 times the going rate on an expensive credit card but needs must when the devil drives. Small loans without charges can still cost  APR.  The old proverb ‘neither a borrower or lender be’ had been forgotten. Prior to the latest financial crisis looking at Wonga’s interest rates even I might have been tempted to be a lender ( not really).

Provident History
In 1880 Provident was founded in the West Riding by Joshua Waddilove an insurance agent. The company intended to help some working class families who struggled to pay for essential items such as furniture, clothes and shoes. Repayments were collected in small weekly installments. By the time Joshua died in 1920 Provident Clothing and Supply Co Ltd had grown into a nationwide business with over 5,000 agents operating from a head office in Bradford.
The company also operates Vanquis Bank now based in London. In 1962 the company became a public listed company and the business model is now rolled out internationally through International Personal Finance plc. and Provident Finance plc is still a FTSE 250 listed stock. According to wikipedia the ‘Company’s biggest business is (still) lending to people in their homes via a network of doorstep agents. Out of an estimated 2.5 million people who borrow from Home Collected Credit providers, 1.5 million place their business with Provident Financial…’

Credit Unions

The Association of Credit Unions list 17 Yorkshire based organisations that may have financial products that could suit certain borrowers at far cheaper rates than home or internet collected credit.
If your bank manager isn’t of the listening kind try talking to Citizens Advice Bureau for free advice. There are over 150 recorded under Yorkshire on the CAB web site or your local library would be willing to help find one.


Yorkie Ware™ The Mugs

I am not over keen on the name ‘Yorkie’. It smacks of a dog and I do not think that is what Yorkie Ware™ have in mind from their Moorland Pottery.

T pot

Another beef, but a minor one, is the super mug I got for Christmas said God’s Own Country which Yorkshire obviously is although I like God’s Own County for personal reasons. (What can they be? ed.)

The biggest beef is that the Pottery is in the Potteries or Burslem Stock on Trent to be exact and that aint in Yorkshire. Further exploration shows how naff some of their ‘Yorkshire sayings are: Yorkshire Born And Bred, Yorkshire Lad, Yorkshire Lass I’m a Yorkshire Yummie, Eeby Gum, The Lass Out Of Yorkshire, The Lad Out Of Yorkshire, Trouble At Mill ,On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘ At, Grandad can fix Out?’ (surely ‘Owt’)

Still I am not vindictive and will help promote Yorkshire themed branded businesses. If there is an interesting brand story let us know.

York Boats

Lendle bridge is a good place to go boat spotting.  Boaty McBoatyface in red and blue livery – be careful not to get marooned!

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Clogs & Yorkshire Boots Well Shod

Tannery Workers in the Dales

‘With the large numbers of cattle and sheep raised in the Yorkshire Dales over the centuries, it is not surprising that industries associated with the by-products of the meat industry were established in villages throughout the area. Leather production indeed was once one of the most common industries throughout the whole of Britain’  according to the Dales National Park team read more.

Clogs of the traditional British design with a leather upper on a wooden sole have actually been worn since at least Roman times. Some historians suggest their origins may go back further still. The Yorkshire manufacture of Clogs Walkleys of Mytholmroyd claim to be ‘the only place in the world where the great British clog is manufactured in its entirety.’You can visit us at our the premises at Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge  where you can see Clogs being made and talk directly to Master Clog-makers.

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’25 Stylish Knitted Slippers: Fun Designs for Clogs, Moccasins, Boots, Animal Slippers & Loafers’

For working men good boots were a must, see the footwear above. Women and children were not always as fortunate and had to patch, repair and wear secondhand at times. In the 19th Century the wearing of slippers was the genesis of being slipshod.

Yorkshire Boots are made in Richmond at Altberg  Bootmakers   North Yorkshire and at a second factory  in the Treviso region of Northern Italy.  The senior Alt-Berg® bootmaker shares his time between both factories, which use the same lasts, materials and manufacturing processes.

Unfortunately many skins are now packed for export as explained by The Bradford Hide Co. and Sculcoates Tannery Hull. Tanning machinery once a thriving industry in Otley at G L Murphy is now on a reduced spares only scale.
See also Shoes Booted About