A small market town in West Yorkshire located nine miles (15km) south-west of Leeds and thirty-four miles (54km) north-east of Manchester and dates back as early as AD 627 when the Monk Paulinus founded a Christian settlement on the banks of the River Calder. The name is derived from the latin for 'God's town' and it has earned pride of place in the Domesday Book.
Fast forward to the onset of the Industrial Revolution, Dewsbury became the center of the West Riding 'Heavy Woollen District' and became known for the local invention of the rag-grinding machine in 1813 which enabled discarded woollen cloth to be reprocessed as shoddy and mungo as well as being a major manufacturer of blankets, coats and military uniforms.
The only person of note actually born in Dewsbury is the former House of Commons speaker, Betty Boothroyd. Previously, Rev. Patrick Bronte was the curate of the town during the early 19th century and his literary daughters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne were residents here during the 1830's.
Neighbouring towns have a little more of the limelight, with Robert Palmer from Batley and Patrick Stewart hailing from Mirfield. Doing his bit, Patrick presents a promotional video for the Destination Dewsbury campaign, a scheme designed to raise the town centre's profile as "an ideal shopping, inward investment and leisure destination".
With the 'dark, satanic' textile mills now stripped down and converted into apartment blocks, it seems that Dewsbury's successful history is now a distant memory, almost. Okay, so the textile-production has gone but it's becoming a popular place to live, close to Leeds but with about half the rent. And it's still an exciting place to live and work, no doubt about it. It isn't, really. Well, okay. It's alright, no more, no less. So come with me on a little guided tour of what we have, and what we're forced to be content with:
did you know...?
Everybody loves a bargain, and round these 'ere parts - we're just nuts for them! As well as budget supermarkets and the outdoor market (on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays where you can buy stolen CDs for as little as £5) there's a handful of once-proud Pound Shops that covered a much needed niche in the market until someone had the bright idea of opening a 99p Shop. There's also a couple of regular supermarkets (namely Safeway and Sainsburys) for the precious few that don't mind throwing their money around with a little more gay abandon. Just recently, Asda have set up shop here too.
It has been said that a town hasn't really died until the big chain stores up sticks and move out and, for the size of the town, Dewsbury does very well in the shopping stakes. Alongside the inevitable Marks and Spencer there's a Woolworths, WH Smiths, Etam, New Look, two Greggs (the pasty people) and a Blockbusters.
A word of warning. The staff at McDonalds take the concept of 'fast food' to ludicrous new levels of parody. As Ben Elton said, "You can put the hat on the British teenager, but you've still got a British teenager under the hat", I'm sure that nowhere in the UK is this more true than right here. Sometimes the wait for your burger can reach up to twenty minutes and the craziest part of all is, ten of those minutes can be spent at the counter. Alternatively, if it's franchised restaurant chains you're after, you can go to the KFC - also not highly recommended.
We do have a whole bunch of really good independant take-away places, mainly for curries and pizza, the latter of which managed to collectively stamp out the ominous presence of Domino's within just one year of business. Yay! Because we *hate* Domino's!
Over the recent years there has been something of a surge in the number of drinking establishments in the town centre, thanks in no small part to the Dewsbury Regeneration campaign and the need to entice people away from the mecca that is Leeds. We were treated to a JD Wetherspoon and TP Woods bar on top of the many pubs scattered around the area which do reasonably well in the camaraderie stakes, even though most people still head off to the bright lights of Leeds. If it's a simple, honest pint you're after, try either The Bath Hotel or The Old Turk.
And the rest...
Erm... There's a lot of trees. Okay, it may not sound like much but it helps a lot, believe me. Having lived all my life in Yorkshire, I couldn't imagine life in a concrete nightmare-world and, hey, trees still impress the hell out of me. Oh, and there's never any need to wear a watch in the town centre since you're never too far away from a clock.
dewsbury in internetland: