Down Memory Lane with Peter Tuffrey: Wood Street traders

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William Henry Shaw, from the Harrogate area, established a printing business, in premises on the north side of Wood Street and near the Cleveland Street junction, around 1900.

A notice in the reception area of the premises once read: ‘WH Shaw, artistic, general, and commercial printer, bookbinder etc begs to announce that he has taken over the business lately carried on by Mr Martin W. Chapman, at 1 Wood Street, Doncaster and hopes by personal attention to business, to merit a continuance of the patronage extended to his predecessor.

‘WHS has had many years practical experience with some of the Highest Class Printers in the North of England and all the work entrusted to him will receive prompt and careful attention.

‘Specialities: Price lists, catalogues, posters, handbills, memorandums, bill heads, programmes, circulars.’

Unlike many of his business contemporaries, William Henry, residing in Lawn Avenue, never took an active part in public life, though he was a member of the Chamber of Commerce. He died in 1935.

His son John, an only child, joined the firm after attending Doncaster Grammar School.

John bought the Wood Street premises in the late 1940s, having previously been rented from Heath & Smith.

John was president of the Conservative Club for many years. He enlisted with the Armed Forces in 1942, the business being continued by his wife Freda until his return in 1946.

Freda’s father was Melton Vaizey, the noted racehorse trainer. Freda and John’s son, Peter was born in 1940. Freda left him with a child-minder while running the business during the war.

Like his father before him, Peter attended Doncaster Grammar School, often working in Wood Street during the summer holidays while in his early teens.

He teamed up with his father full-time in 1956. He said: “I didn’t really want to do anything else and there was no pressure to join the business.”

His working hours during the week were 8.30 to 5.30 and 8.30 to noon on Saturdays.

Peter also gave the following interesting details about Wood Street’s other traders during his early working years in the mid-1950s.

“On the corner was Albert Baker’s shoe shop and adjacent was Heath & Smith mineral water suppliers, their storage cellars extending beneath the road.

“Further along from us was the South Yorkshire Caravan Co and Auld & Co’s garage. The latter was run by Pip Reast and Bob Lee.

“They used to have a petrol pump which swung out from the premises on an arm. Straight after the war, when petrol was rationed, they used to pop in and tell my father when they’d got some in.”

Peter missed National Service by only a few months and completed a six-year apprenticeship, learning the printing trade.

Father and son had a good working relationship.

Peter said: “There were no problems or serious differences between us. When he died in 1980, I bought a Heidelberg press.

“Because of serving in the war, he would never buy anything German.

“In the 1980s we also established a photocopying service on the premises, Danum Instant Print.

“This was run by my wife as a separate business to WH Shaw.”

The Wood Street premises have now been redeveloped for another commercial venture.