Saltaire Village, World Heritage Site
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Added to website: 15 August 2012
Celebrating local business

The Spa on Titus Street, Saltaire - our local grocer

[Introduction by Pamela Reynolds] Where would we be without our local businesses who have invested their livelihoods in our community? The Spa on Titus Street in Saltaire is one such shop which must be celebrated. It is run by Mr & Mrs Lad who have been part of Saltaire life since 1992. Here you can find all the domestic items you need to get you through - including fresh bread, savouries and confectionary - and good bottles of wine. If you've not already discovered this gem - step across its doorstep. You'll be able to pick up a Saltaire Sentinel from here too.

At one time there were 40 shops in the Village alone (not counting all the extra shops along Gordon Terrace and Bingley Road which have a more modern history). Just look a the window frames of the houses. Where there is a big lintle above the window on the ground floor - that was a shop. Sometimes you don't even notice them when you're walking along. The Spa has always been a shop and still provides a valuable service to the community and visitors alike. Perhaps we rarely get to thank the people who provide service to communities in such regular and reliable ways. But I'm sure that all our local businesses would appreciate a "thank you" from the community - so "thank you" Raman and Ramila. You have a lovely shop and it's a great boon to the Village.

Here is an extract from Roger Clarke's book, A Penny For Going, which tracks the history of the shops in Saltaire. Roger Clarke's book (a limited edition, so keep it safe for the future) is a wonderful reference book and a great read. Treasure it today! It will be a sought after book on Ebay by your grandchildren!!

The Spa

Raman and Ramila Lad took over the shop in 1992, having had limited previous retail experience.  However, the Hodgson brothers (the previous owners) continued to live above the shop and were able to teach them how to run the business and how to organise the shop for about 6 months before moving out of the village.  The couple continued to bake bread and confectionary there until 2004, when the preference of customers was for more pre-packed bread.  They moved on to have a mixture of sliced, pre-packed and unsliced, unpackaged bread, the latter coming from an external bakers.  Raman reflected how his customer base has changed in character as the social trends in the village have changed, and his stock is much different too.  The older customers have mainly left the village, many into Care Homes or living with their families.  These customers used to buy raw ingredients with which to cook their own menus. 

Since 2001, the population of the village has changed.  Younger customers (25 to 35 year age range) now shop with him, and their tastes reflect the current fast-moving society.  They want fast food such as frozen ready meals, fine wines, home made samosas, and more unusual items which they can’t easily get from supermarkets. 

Mouse over image to enlarge.

Raman offers the kind of service which says “if we’ve not got it in stock, and if it’s available, I’ll have some for you tomorrow”.  I spent over an hour chatting and observing customers and what they bought.  Most popular items seemed to be bread, milk, alcohol and cigarettes, but there were examples of the sort of specialist service which Raman had described.  One lady wanted, and obtained, some candles for a cake, and a young man wanted some coriander (to make coriander soup for the evening meal).  After a moment’s hesitation, Raman disappeared into a back room and reappeared with a bunch, to the delight of his customer!   Another customer told me that, unable to get poppy seeds at any supermarkets, she happened to mention the fact to ex-baker Raman who produced some on the spot.

Raman and Ramila stayed in the Spar group for only a few months in 1992, before trading independently.  They felt that the Spar organisation exercised too strict a control of pricing.  Apart from householders from the village, they also have students from Shipley College who buy sandwiches and drinks there.  I was impressed with the couple’s commitment to personal service to the community.  They feel that the village needs and deserves a reliable grocer on the doorstep.  The shop continues much as it has always been run.  There’s no bar coding or electronic stock control; no advertising; no market research or price comparisons with competitors.  They just stay open for as long as customers want them (8am to 10pm) and get to know their customers, and what they like, very well.

The History of The Spa

Titus Street
Nos 20/21  In 1870, this shop was run by William Holt, tobacconist, but in 1871 it was taken over by Mattias Taylor, hairdresser.  From this point on, until the present day, it has been a food shop.  In 1879 and 1881 it was Hargreave, grocer.  Benjamin Hargreave was the 42 year old owner in 1881, assisted by his sisters-in-law, Rachael Sagar and Elizabeth Ann Mitchell who were both confectioners.  His 17 year old daughter, Helen, helped in the shop.  In 1898, it was William Greave, confectioner.  In 1912, it was TJ Clark, grocer.

In 1936, it was Edith and Emily Garnam, confectioner and baker, in 1938 Harry Raistrick, confectioner, and by 1962 it’s DA Porter, baker and confectioner.  This was Gordon Porter, his wife and their children Keith and Nancy, who came to the village from Charlestown, just down the valley.  Gordon was a Trustee of the Methodist Church.  Their son, Keith was the baker, but left to take a driving job.  Leslie and Reginald Hodgson (now aged 81 and 78 years) took over the shop in 1962.  They bought it from the owner who had previously rented it out.   Leslie and Reginald opened the shop full time (8am to 10pm) seven days a week. Their background was in managing a bakery in Dewsbury, and so the presence of a bakery at 20/21 was an incentive for them to buy it.  Reginald was the baker (up at 4am to bake the bread) and Leslie the confectioner (also serving behind the counter). They built the business up to a point when there were over 400 customers a day coming through the door, with a turnover of £6,500 per week.  They employed two assistants at peak times.  As well as bread they produced other confectionery, including wedding cakes.  Leslie’s cakes were highly decorated and very popular, and Reginald’s Cornish pasties were the talk of the area, selling over 200 a day.  The pasties retailed at one shilling, small loaves were two and a half pence, large loaves four and a half pence, and teacakes were a penny.  They became part of the Spar chain in 1967, and were able to offer groceries at very competitive prices because all the advertising, bulk buying and overheads (even down to providing paint for the outside of the shop) were taken care of by Spar.  For some time they operated a mobile service using a van to trade door to door in the Coach Road area, a section of the business which, on its own had £100 per week turnover.  They became a registered company (Hodgson’s Ltd).  They were very conscious of the threat to business when Asda opened in Shipley, extending their range of goods to include beers, wines and spirits.  They also noticed that customers would shop at Asda and then get a taxi home, and so they costed out the taxi fare and reduced their prices to take account of this.  They soon won back their regulars!  They lived across the road at No 49 Titus Street.  Altogether they owned and ran the shop for 29 years and 3 months, and when they retired had spent a total of 60 years in the grocery and bakery trade.  Their retail philosophy was based in their religious belief – both church goers (to St Peter’s, Moorhead Lane) and both with a belief in the Christian philosophy of work and service to others.

© Text courtesy of Roger Clarke. Extracted from his book, A Penny For Going.




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