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A Shout From The Attic: Shops Galore

Ronnie Bray recalls the days when his home town in Yorkshire had its own unique character.

In my childhood, the town centre was better stocked with shops of almost every variety. There was little that could not be bought from one of the many shops that crowded the streets. Over the years, particularly after the Second World War, the many have given way to the few. Smaller shopkeepers could not afford the high rents of new developments and went out of business as bigger retail chain stores moved in behind them. The character that was once unique, was dunned down to a standard of mediocrity in thousands of cities and towns throughout the land. Huddersfield was no different.

Product knowledge was important and generally available. In any of the many chemist shops, chemicals could be bought for experimentation or for producing an explosion or similar disaster. At times, these were difficult to separate, as some experimentation seemed to lead inevitably to explosion, and explosions always seemed to occur at inconvenient times.

Chemist shops sold chemicals and all the apparatus to stock a reasonably sized laboratory. Information on destructive and interesting compounds, especially those that would ignite, went the rounds at school. Some of the Chinese Whispers that concerned chemistry had much to answer for. Today, a network of anarchists and other terrorists who infect the World Wide Web caters for would-be dynamiters.

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