Up the High Street

Humber Museums Partnership - Up the High Street

About Up the High Street


Welcome to ‘Up the High Street’. This exhibition looks at the history of a selection of North Lincolnshire High Streets.

We would like to thank the local people who have helped create this exhibition. Their stories reveal the importance of the High Street to both the lives of residents and the commercial success of an area.

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  • Epworth

  • Scunthorpe

  • Crowle

  • Brigg

  • Ashby


Ashby High Street has developed from a village setting to a thriving urban hub. It offers a large range of shops and has changed little since the 1960s.

Ashby has long had a market of mostly family run stalls selling fruit and vegetables, clothes and homeware. Shoppers could refresh themselves at the market’s café or treat themselves to an ice cream from ‘Sergeant’s’ van. Most everyday goods could be found at the market at reasonable prices.

The old Brown Cow hotel and pub stood near what became Stockshill Road. It was replaced with a new building during the 1920s or 1930s. It had an off licence and sold the local brand of Riley’s crisps. In later years, the landlord’s Alsatian dog would chase away any troublesome customers!

Ashby offered a choice of entertainment venues. The Roxy cinema, now the Malt Shovel, had one screen and a balcony, favoured by teenagers for smoking. In the 1970s, bikers gathered at Evet Jackson’s café, which had an American diner style interior. The hippies preferred The Priory pub, which hosted famous Prog Rock bands such as the ‘Heavy Metal Kids’.

Other notable businesses include Hornsby’s coaches and Baden Powell’s car dealership, which provided panda cars for the police force during the late 1960s.

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  • Ashby Broadway, looking west, 1980s

  • Ashby High Street, looking east, with the Hornsby's bus depot on the left, 1952.

  • The lower end of Ashby High Street, looking west with Queen Street on the right.

  • The oil lamp on the left marks the entrance to the Smootings, an ancient right of way between Kirton Terrace and Ashby High Street.

  • The south side of Ashby Broadway, 1965.

Barton on Humber

Barton has always had lots of shops, providing residents with everyday essentials. The town was granted a market charter in the medieval period. A market is still held every Thursday and the town centre is thriving.

In the mid-1900s ladies would dress up ready for their shopping trip. Once all of the shopping was done, mothers might have treated their children with a visit to Havercroft’s ice cream parlour. Mr Havercroft made his own ice cream and wafers. His shop was lined with oilcloth covered tables and white benches that were scrubbed clean. Mr Havercroft also sold his ice cream out of a delivery tricycle to people enjoying days out at South Ferriby and special public celebrations.

Most shops delivered the goods customers had noted down in their delivery book. Some traders did not have a shop but sold items from the back of carts and bicycles. In the 1920s and 1930s, Jim Sharpe sold fish from a handcart, calling, ‘Now, you fish buyers!’ as he walked around Barton. There were once around eleven fish and chip shops in Barton. Wilf Welch delivered vegetables using a pony and cart, while people could go to ‘Tatie’ Tom West for a bag of potatoes.

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  • Barton on Humber Fair in the Market Place, 1907. Courtesy of Brian Peeps

  • Barton on Humber High Street, with Eastman's butcher's shop on the left, around the 1930s or 1940s. Courtesy of Brian Peeps

  • Barton on Humber Market Place, with D.S. Burkitt's confectionery shop on the right, around the 1910s. Courtesy of Brian Peeps

  • Fleetgate, Barton on Humber, around the 1920s. Courtesy of Brian Peeps

  • Junction Square, Barton on Humber, around the 1910s. Courtesy of Brian Peeps


There has been trade on the River Ancholme for hundreds of years. Boats brought supplies for businesses and visitors to Brigg. The layout of Brigg’s main shopping area has remained the same for the last 200 years. In the 1600s, there were a few shops around the Market Place and over the bridge. The 1700s saw Wrawby Street become the main area for businesses.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Brigg was famous for its rabbit fur trade. It was the only area in the country where the rabbits used were breeding. Coney Court was home to a fur factory, on the site where the Servicemen’s Club now stands. This employed women and girls and made muffs, collars, trims for cloaks, stuffing for pillows and much more.

The Buttercross overlooks the Market Place. It was built in 1819 with money from business people. Meetings and dances were held in the large room upstairs. Downstairs was open with large arches and housed the market where butter, eggs and poultry were sold.

Although the Angel Inn has been rebuilt, it has stood on the current site next to the Market Place since the 1500s. It served as a resting place for travellers.


Crowle developed as a market town serving the rich rural land of the Isle of Axholme. It became a thriving commercial hub with banks, shops, pubs and a range of agricultural traders. In the 1890s the canal arrived and Crowle expanded even further as heavy goods could be brought into the area.

James Fox and Sons established a brewery in the 1880s on what is now Brewery Road. They delivered their ale on horse-drawn dray carts to as far away as Pontefract. The Pidd family of butchers owned five shops in Crowle, three of which were on the High Street. They delivered meat all over the Isle using a Model T Ford van.

The Market Hall once housed the Corn Exchange. It later became the town’s first cinema, Crowle Picture House, and was also the site of many social events.

In the 1930s, the bus company ‘Enterprise and Silver Dawn’ ran regular services between Scunthorpe and Crowle, picking passengers up from the Market Place five times a day. The 1930s also saw Crowle receive one of its earliest garages, Haigh and Fretwell, on Eastoft Road and a new cinema, The Regal, on the High Street.


Epworth needed a large range of shops, as travelling outside the town was difficult in the days before good transport links. Most necessities were available. There were food and clothes sellers, cobblers and blacksmiths, hardware shops, a chemist, Post Office and agricultural traders. Residents also had lots of pubs to choose from!

Most shops centred on the Market Place, High Street and roads nearby. The Market Place is hundreds of years old. Cattle fairs were held twice a year here with amusements and stalls.

It was not unusual for shops to be housed in modest surroundings. Both Herbert Gravel of Axholme Stores on Battle Green and the town’s first hairdresser, Phoebe Gravel, on High Street, ran their businesses from wooden huts.

In the early 1900s, passengers could catch ‘Making’s’ horse-drawn bus to Doncaster at 7.30 am on a Saturday. With the arrival of motor buses, Epworth residents could travel further afield to shop. Local bus companies ran services to Doncaster, Thorne, Gainsborough and Goole. Customers could also have their shopping delivered three times a week by local grocers Cawthorne’s and Barratt’s.

Kirton in Lindsey

Kirton-in-Lindsey’s High Street and Market Place have not changed much in the past 100 years. The town was once very poor. As the residents could not afford to redevelop, many of its old buildings have remained.

At one time shops were spread all over the town. During the 1700s the shopping district shifted towards the Market Place. Travel was difficult, so residents needed as many everyday goods as possible in one place. There were even nineteen pubs in the town at one time! Kirton still has a wide range of shops, supplying most essential items.

The Bridewell Prison was a major employer and focus of the town until it closed in the middle of the 1800s when Lincoln Prison opened. The building became derelict and Kirton’s residents used the materials to build the Town Hall, which overlooks the Market Place. The foundation stone of the Town Hall was laid in 1897 as part of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the doors opened in 1899. It became a centre for social activity and community events. Thanks to a recent redevelopment, the Town Hall is again becoming an important focus of the town centre.


The discovery of iron ore in the 1860s led to the urban development of Ashby, Brumby, Crosby, Frodingham and Scunthorpe. By the 1880s, Scunthorpe’s shopping quarter was growing much faster than the other four townships. Scunthorpe became a shopping centre for its own residents and those in surrounding settlements.

Scunthorpe had the largest range of businesses with the area’s only chemist, spirit merchant, fishmonger, Co-operative store and police station. There were more shops in Scunthorpe than the other townships combined. The eastern end of High Street was almost completely lined with shops. Most were in the front rooms of houses. From 1906, a retail market was held twice a week.

By 1918, the continuous row of outlets almost stretched to Frodingham Road. Most of the area’s banks were in Scunthorpe, together with all branches of nationally run shops.

For many years the appearance of Scunthorpe High Street did not change very much. Then in the 1960s and 1970s the town centre was redeveloped. High Street was closed to traffic and a new shopping precinct was built within the old street plan. This included the existing Market Hall with a newly built Market Food Hall, a department store and library.


Winterton once had around fifty shops. Most were on Market Hill and King Street, with a handful on the High Street. Until the middle of the 1900s, Winterton also held markets in the Market Place.

C. W. Hunt sold baked goods and groceries. Items like butter and sugar were weighed and wrapped in paper. There was a chair in the shop for customers to rest weary legs, a feature of many shops in Winterton. Customers could leave orders and their goods would be delivered by van. Hunt’s delivered to villages all over the area, as did many other shops in the town.

Barber Marsh on King Street not only cut gentlemen’s hair but also acted as an agent for the ‘Enterprise and Silver Dawn’ parcel delivery service. Bus conductors would put people’s packages in a section at the back of the bus and drop them off at their intended destination.

The Tate brothers had a shop on Market Street. They were watch and clock makers by trade but also sold hardware and filled shotgun cartridges. They made All Saint’s parish church clock and wound it, together with those belonging to local residents and Normanby Hall.

Humber Museums Partnership