Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Richard Cooper of Goole.



Buying an icecream in Richard Cooper Street from Anthony White

It's a cold day and there's gloomy news on the Covid virus front so it seemed a good time to look at a bit of local history.  

There have been questions on the Goole facebook page about the origins of some street names - in particular the now demolished  Richard Cooper and Phoenix streets. It does seem a great pity that these names have not been preserved in some way.

At the time of the demolition [October 2010] I wrote a piece in the Goole Times which, with some editing and additions I reproduce below.

The history of both streets begins with the birth of Richard Cooper  in 1825, the son of Thomas Cooper and  his wife Mary  who were the licensees of the Half Moon inn, which stood on the site of the New Bridge inn.   The year after Richard’s birth the Goole to Knottingley canal and docks were  completed and the Goole we know began to grow as a town and port.

A Richard Cooper cooking range
By 1851 Richard was working at an iron and brass foundry in Bridge Street alongside his younger brother Henry. He married Ann Tait/Tate of Asselby [but born at Cliffe] at Howden on Christmas Day 1858 and by 1861 he was living at East Albert Street, off Bridge Street with his wife and one year old daughter, Minnie. This was the site of his original Phoenix foundry where he employed five men and two boys. The company made, amongst other things, cooking ranges, stamped with the name Richard Cooper and many of these were installed in the new houses erected in the later years of the nineteenth century in Goole and the surrounding villages.





An advert for Richard Cooper's Aire Street shop in 1875
His business prospered and he moved his family into new premises in Aire Street where he also ran an ironmonger’s business. 





These premises were part of the impressive new Bank Buildings, opened in Aire Street in 1870 for the Leeds and County Bank and then described as 'near the Railway Station'. They eventually became  a branch of the Midland Bank and closed as bank premises in 1928 with the business moving to  the Market Place branch [now of course itself closed and a branch of Wetherspoons].

Bank Buildings built in 1870 and pictured in 1952

By the 1880s Richard Cooper was described as an engine maker and brass founder and employed 46 men and boys. The family now also included daughters Lillie and Susan and 12 year old Richard.

Soon afterwards, with Goole growing rapidly and his business interests prospering Mr Cooper bought a piece of land  on a new building site behind the recently erected houses on the south side of Marshfield Road. Here he began building two more rows of new houses and, in September 1886 a warehouse which became the centre of a small foundry and ironworks named, like the one in Bridge Street, the Phoenix works.

The houses on Richard Cooper street and Phoenix street were probably built by Walter Dixie who also built some of the properties in  the Marshfield area although the mid eighties provided work for many as housebuilding went on all over the town.

Between 1880 and 1890 Ouse Cottage on Hook road, Carlisle Cottages on Carlisle St., the old water tower, the bank and other buildings  on the west side of  Aire Street,  more Hook Road houses north of Marshfield, the first house in Clifton Gardens, the new court house and police station, Anglesey house, now the Nat West bank,  Tower View on Boothferry Road, part of Weatherill St as well as  Montagu, Gordon and Jefferson streets were all built.

By 1891 numbers one to 40 Phoenix Street were occupied and there were 34 occupied in Richard Cooper Street, which was so new it had not been given numbers.

Number four Phoenix Street was already in business as a grocer’s shop while the first house in Richard Cooper Street was where Mr Dixie had built himself a new house.

Many of the occupants then were mariners, tug boat captains, clerks and carpenters. For example at 39, Phoenix St. was John Sherburn, captain of a steamship while at 34 was Mrs Elizabeth Claybourn, like many in the street described as wife but also as head of the household on census night as her husband was away at sea. At number 28 was Erastus Haigh, a shipwright with his wife Rhoda and their nine children while in Richard Cooper street were, for example, three families named Depledge, all mariners, Alfred Steele a coach painter and Richard Huntington who had a grocer’s shop.

Ten years later in 1901 the street was numbered and several of the houses still had the same occupants: at 29 was still Mr Huntington, at number 33 was Mr Steele and the Depledge families lived at 16, 20 and 26. It was still largely a street occupied by mariners: Robert Alcock, George Gill, William Blakey, Albert Watson, George Arnold and Thomas Eyre all made their livings by going to sea.

Walter Dixie, who had originally come to Goole in 1864 as a ten year old boy and lived in a wooden hut with his father, a navvy working on the Staddlethorpe to Thorne railway line, was in 1901 living in his own house now identified as number two Richard Cooper Street.

And living nearby at number one Phoenix Street, with his widowed daughter was Richard Cooper himself. In 1891 he had sold his Hook road works to Messrs Earle of Hull, shipbuilders. They expanded the premises, installing new machinery and even electric lighting but times were competitive and the firm went into voluntary liquidation in 1900, putting 70 Goole men out of work.

Mrs Ann Cooper did not live to see this sad day, dying in 1892 and Richard Cooper then moved to live with his eldest daughter Mrs Minnie Cluff. Mr Cooper died in 1908 aged 82.

This was his obituary in the Goole Times

 Goole Times  March 27th  1908 

Death of a Goole Tradesman.- Our readers will learn with regret the news of the death of Mr. Richard Cooper, a retired tradesman of the town, which occurred on Monday at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Cluff, Phoenix-street. 

For many years the deceased carried on business as an ironmonger in Aire-street, from which he retired some years ago. Although he took no active interest in the municipal affairs of the town, Mr. Cooper was ever ready to promote its welfare, and was connected with the engineering works which he built in Hook-road. He had built considerable property in the East Ward, one street being named after him. Mr. Cooper had been in failing health for a considerable time, and latterly was confined to bed, and died as stated at the advanced age of 82.

At the time that the new houses were built on the site of these two streets several of us as local historians signed a letter which was printed in the Goole Times asking that new street names should reflect the town's heritage. So maybe one day Goole will remember Phoenix Street and Richard Cooper.






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