Clements Hall
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Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

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A York City footballer with an old shop in Bishy Road

We were delighted recently when Robert Mason gave us some wonderful photos of his uncle's shop in Bishy Road, George Maskill. 

George Maskill was an English amateur footballer born in 1906, who played as a half-back in the Football League for York City and in non-League football for Acomb WMC, Scarborough and York Post Office. He grew up in a large family in the Poppleton Rad area of York, and was well-known in the football world in his day, an England schoolboy international, capped against Wales and Scotland. His elder brother Tommy also played for York City. After leaving school George returned to York and refused offers from ‘first league clubs’ because of his business activities. 

George Maskill shop outside

Age ConcernThe photos show the exterior of his shop at 19 Bishopthorpe Road, and a lovely view of George at work inside, then in his mid-twenties. He took the shop on in 1933, and lasted there until the 1940s, running it with his wife Beatrice. They were living in a 'new house' in Albemarle Road at the time.

These premises at no.19 now house the Age UK shop. At some stage much later the position of the door changed to the left hand side, from the centre, and a door and passageway for the adjacent Indian restaurant, La Quila was inserted.

The photos were taken for a feature in Town and Country News (6 October 1933). By this time branding was important to attract customer loyalty to a product, and we can see many of these, although the names are not always clear: Oxydol, Monk & Glass Custard Powder, Brasso, HP Sauce, Typhoo Tea, Beefex, OK Sauce, Brand's Chutney, McVitie's, Chivers and an intriguing dog shape, which appears to represent a brand. Cuts of meat are hung from the window rail, with a slicer at the end of the counter. There's a chair handily placed for elderly or infirm customers. George is pictured checking his order book, gathering a neat pile of ordered goods, ready for delivery. There's a poster in his window appropriately advertising the York City match against Walsall in August 1933 at Bootham Crescent.

He was previously a travelling salesman for R Crowe & Sons Ltd of Davygate. After taking No 19 over in 1933 he said he was keen to bring modern ideas to the grocery trade, supplying high quality goods to a middle class market, based on stocking ‘the best proprietary branded goods’. People remembered the grocer patting the butter with paddles at Maskill’s, leaving a pattern of ridges on the butter. The press feature described the shop as a model of neatness, with attractive double-fronted windows, ‘tastefully dressed’. He also collected orders and delivered to surrounding districts (Tel. 4288). 

George Maskill shop insideJohnson & ElsonThere was a family story that George patented a device for keeping flies off meat, and when we checked we found it, registered in 1944, so he was still running the shop then. It used a number of fins mounted on rotatable shafts over the food, meat or bacon and adapted to create a current of air and/or flick the side of the food. He also invented a car inner tube in sections, to help with punctures.  

Johnson & Elson in 1984

After the war ended this shop became Meadow Dairy, a multiple grocer, lasting until the 1980s, when it was taken over as an extension of their premises next door by Johnson & Elson. 

George and his wife Beatrice went on to run a sweet shop in Bootham in the 1950s, near the junction with Gillygate. George died in Harrogate in 1969, and Beatrice in 1991.

We suspect we'll find a few more things out about George and Beatrice - does anyone know what the dog was advertising for example? Watch this space for any updates, and many thanks to Robert Mason for these magnificent images.