West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Years in Focus 1959

YEARS IN FOCUS
LOCAL NEWS AND EVENTS OF THE 1950s

PONTEFRACT IN 1959

16 January 1959
KEYZERS SPLENDID NEW STORE

A 'West End' atmosphere, where you can buy almost every conceivable commodity, or dine in a Continental Cafe' overlooking Valley Gardens! That's the new Keyzers of Pontefract - now the largest store of its kind in the district, where alterations and extensions were completed this week. The transformation is the latest and most revolutionary development to take place in the town's shopping centre.

Stretching from Ropergate to Southgate, with entrances on both sides, this huge walk round store, complete with modern hair and beauty salon, has everything. There are individual departments, each tastefully decorated, well lighted and airy, for fashion and ladies footwear, corsetry, men's wear, Continental jewellery, furniture, bedding, etc, Flowers and plants play an important part in providing a really pleasant atmosphere in which to shop.

The electric heating system permanently holds 600 gallons of water and is one of the very latest ensuring that the temperature inside the store is kept at a comfortable level even in the coldest weather. Some idea of the size of the store [for those who have not seen it] is given by the fact that no less than over two miles of wallpaper have gone on the walls! Mr Clarence Cawthorne, a director of the firm, has been responsible for the decor - colour schemes, carpets, curtains, etc. He can well afford to be proud of his work in this direction.

THE STAFF

On hand is a staff of 80, some members have served Keyzers for many years and will go on doing so in the new surroundings. there was a shortage of room for staff employed on upholstery and French polishing, This was overcome by acquiring a factory in Harropwell Lane, Pontefract, which has been practically re-built, and heated. "The removal difficulties during the recent upheaval could not have been overcome without the goodwill and tolerance of our customers and by the careful planning, work and guidance of the directors and staff, to whom we are grateful for their loyalty", says Mr. Carl Keyzer.

ENTHUSIASM

The business of Keyzers was founded in Castleford more than forty-five-years ago by Mr. Osman Keyzer (now in his eighty second year) with small capital which had been laboriously saved. Times were hard in the period 1910-1912. Colliers worked only three's and four's for a large part of the year. Glassware and Potteries were hard hit by foreign imports, coal and railway strikes were frequent, but Osman Keyzer was not dismayed. To his task he brought a wider knowledge. He worked sixteen hours and more a day, and made an honest name for honest value and service.

CONFIDENCE

He knew his customers; their troubles were his worries, and his confidence that "We shall not always be down"  was justified.  His business grew, and after the tiresome restrictions of World War One faded, he set about looking for a chance for his son, Mr. Carl Keyzer, to develop ideas of his own. A small shop in Shoemarket, Pontefract, with the remains of an old business was found and the keys handed over to Mr. Carl.

Narrow streets are often good for trade and Mr. Carl was determined to make his that way. The place was cleaned from top to bottom and the existing stock slaughtered. Bargain hunters had a truly 'Roman Holiday'.  Men's suits went for as little as 10s, and women's hats for 6p. Then the real task began...

SUCCESS

Bitten by the 'business bug', Mr. Carl set out to prove to all, and particularly to his parents, that he could both 'buy right' and 'sell right'.  He worked the hours that his father worked, with no time for holidays and little time for meals. Value he gave, and his public was appreciative. Those who had looked askance at him tended to change their  minds. His customers supported him and his supplying houses respected his ability. Shoemarket, well enough for a start, did not provide enough scope for a Keyzer venture and premises were soon obtained in Ropergate, where a successful business was carried on for more than thirty years.

It was not until 1951 that it became possible to think of further extensions, and then the new building, which before had only been a dream, began to be considered. Nearly seven years planning, time, and thought has gone into the building, which has been completed in less than six months. It is a milestone for Keyzers, and certainly a milestone for Pontefract.

1959 INDEX


 

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