LETTER: Fond memories of Cowgill & Smith’s

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WHAT an excellent photo of the original Cowgill and Smith’s featured in “Peek Into the Past”, Express, March 13th.

In 1958 they moved opposite the Swan Inn, much further down St James’s Street and into Bethesda Street and also bought out Bullock’s Ironmongers which had been in Manchester Road next to the Big Window pub. I started work here in 1959, first on the sales counter and then on the fireplace installation side until 1963. Reg Cook owned Cowgilland Smiths at this time. He was also a JP and a director of Burnley FC and an absolute gentleman. On the sales counter was Bob Whittaker aged 83 who had, as a younger man, been a salesman in a bowler hat, dickybow and pony and trap! I was labourer to Ted Bevan and still see Ted 50 years on, him now 83 and me almost 69. We installed the modern tiled fireplaces, tearing out the old cast iron Lancashire ranges in houses and pubs around Lancashire and imagine my pride as we installed one at Jimmy McIlroy’s. Often we would discover ancient cigarette packets, names and dates behind those mammoth old ranges from long dead workmen of a much earlier age in Burnley’s history. To celebrate the forthcoming marriage of Reg Cook’s son John they transported the entire workforce to Blackpool to see Max Bygraves with a meal and tins of Benson and Hedges cigarettes passed along the rows of the theatre! Happy days. After I left the business later moved up to Colne Road and eventually out of the family.