This article has been contributed by HCS member Kevin Hales, as a follow up to his article on '104 Duchy Road' (see "Down Your Street" on this website). The text and pictures were first published in the Duchy Resident's Association newsletter 'The Vixen'.
This is a short story of wealth, success and charity in Harrogate; and of tragedy.
Albert Street in Harrogate showing Falshaw’s shop on the left
In researching my house-history ("104 Duchy Road”, also on this website) I was puzzled by a name-label “R FALSHAW” that was stuck onto the 1894 site-plan of the terrace of homes of which mine is part. Nearby houses had names appended such as “J S FARRAH” (probably Joseph Sumpster, part of the Harrogate family of toffee fame) and "D SIMPSON” (David, the leaseholder and developer of much of what became the Duchy estate).
So who was Falshaw? What did he do? And what was his connection with my home (he was never a resident or owner of it) and the Duchy?
Falshaw's 6hp Wolseley car ©Bonhams 2001-2022
Reginald Falshaw was born in 1872 and brought up in Shadwell, north-east of Leeds. A farmer’s son, he was educated at Leeds Grammar School and at 18 became an apprentice electrician. Married in 1901 to Florence Anne Dyson, Reginald seems quickly to have become a successful, and it seems wealthy, businessman. In 1911 the couple had no fewer than three servants - a cook (aged 23), a general servant (22) and a housemaid (just 17). In 1928 they both sailed first-class on the SS Herefordshire from Liverpool to Marseilles. The splendid 6hp Wolseley car pictured here was first registered to Reginald in June 1905, as a trade vehicle (and was sold at auction in 2018 for £69,000).
Reginald was from 1894 a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, and he owned and managed an electricals store, R. Falshaw Ltd, in Albert Street, where Ask Italian was until recently. He specialised in lighting installations, including those for Harrogate’s new Grand Opera House, and advertised amongst other things “motor car and motor bicycles ignition batteries re-charged and repaired”. His name appears on electrical servant-bell panels that some of our homes may still have.
On 20 February 1950 Florence died peacefully at home in Weeton. She and Reginald had been married for 49 years. Both their children had died before the age of ten. Four years after his wife’s passing, Reginald's business closed down. His shop’s stock and fittings were auctioned in September 1954, sixty years after the business began. Just six weeks later William Hullah, his chauffeur of 23 years, found him dead in his study. He had shot wounds, and a sporting gun lay under him. The inquest in Harrogate determined that “he took his life while the balance of his mind was disturbed”. A niece identified his handwriting in a letter found in the house; the contents were not disclosed.
The Daily Mirror, a tabloid newspaper, reported that “in his £23,953 will [he] left a seven and a half acre field as a recreation ground for Girl Guides”. The field, pictured here, is adjacent to Almsford Bank, just above Crimple Beck, east of the Leeds Road. Florence had been a volunteer with the Guides for many years, so it is likely her husband’s bequest was in her memory.
I am grateful to Girlguiding North Yorkshire West for continuing the story, and revealing the link back to the Duchy estate:
Recreation ground for Girl Guides. Courtesy of Jean Tennant, Guides Leader, 28th Harrogate Guides
“ In the early 1970's Girlguiding NYW decided to sell the field as it wasn’t thought suitable; access was poor and there was a public bridle path through it. The money that came from the sale of the field was invested by Girlguiding NYW and became known as the Falshaw Fund, annual profits from this investment were given back to local guiding. The Fund was wound up in 2013/14 and the funds were added to the monies which were being raised to redevelop their headquarters and residential centre at Birk Crag which is off Cornwall Road.
The field bequeathed by Falshaw was converted into stables and an equestrian yard, and today’s owner was the County Commissioner for Girlguiding NYW from 2016 to 2011. It is used regularly, free of charge, by many Brownie and Guide units in the Harrogate area, for outdoor cooking, bushcraft, archery and lots more. "
I may never establish exactly why Falshaw’s name appears on my house-plan, but this story reveals how he was, and remains, connected with the Duchy estate. If you know anything of the Falshaws, do please get in touch: email@example.com.