18th May 2015
Joseph Sherwood: the birth of a shop in Bishopthorpe Road
The Borthwick Archive at the University of York holds a wonderful treasure for those interested in Bishopthorpe Road in the late nineteenth century. It also describes how one of our shops was born.
The diary of Joseph Sherwood provides a very detailed record of life at number 35 Bishopthorpe Road (now the Pig and Pastry), where he was later joined by Harriet Cundall and her family of three young daughters.
Although born in Hull in 1828 he had moved to York after the death of his father. At the age of 20 Joseph was apprenticed to the lessee of the Skeldergate Ferry and Crane House which he later managed. He was a keen pianist and organist at local churches and also taught music at the Blind School at King’s Manor. Around 1858, he started in private practice as a music teacher and also composed a number of popular music pieces, published by Novello’s.
In 1872 Joseph bought the house at 35 Bishopthorpe Rd from Mr Richardson, drawing out £290 to pay for it. “Took possession on Sunday 25th Feb between four and five in the afternoon. Paid £8 7s for the carpets and fittings extra. Had a glass of brandy and water in the house with Wm Harris after Mr Richardson had left.”
“Mar 1st got parlour and kitchen chimney swept in the new house.”
“Mar 14th made a fire in my new house for the first time.”
In December he had some coal stolen so he arranged to put a lock on his coal house door.
Bishopthorpe Road with no 35 on the right hand side
“May 4th…lost key of tea-caddy – thought Baby must have swallowed it…”
“May 5th After dinner Baby quitted the key in the parlour –
Went onto the Mount to see the coach from Liverpool arrive, which had commenced running on Monday 2nd.”
“June 6th Whit Sunday. Oddfellows Gala processions, went with Harriet and Gertrude to see it pass over Skeldergate Bridge.”
But by the early 1880s, Joseph, now nearly 60, found it increasingly difficult to make a living from teaching and composing music. He tried other avenues.
“May 29th called at Messrs Richardsons Coney St about letting apartments during the Royal Agricultural Show.”
“July 14th Two gentlemen came in the afternoon in a cab and engaged 2 bedrooms and my sitting room for four nights for the Royal Show for £3.10.0. Their name was Biddell from Playford, Ipswich and they were judges of the horses.”
“July 17th …Whilst they were here I slept in the top room with the children and W and Emily in the little back room.”
Eventually falling on harder times Joseph started a newsagent’ shop at his house in 1884.
“Feb 6th called upon Gazette and Herald about selling their papers.”
[March] “Mr Hilder’s man brought 2 new boards for newspapers.”
“March 8th Busy all day preparing the sitting room for the shop.”
“March 10th Opened the shop. Went to the Herald office and got 6 Herald’s before breakfast. Sent Herald each to Mrs Sherwood and Mr Scaling.”
“March 15th kept open till nearly 11.”
Sadly the archived diary ends in 1887, but Joseph carried on as a newsagent until his death in 1910. After then the Cundall family went on to run the Post Office at no 35 from 1911 until 1971, followed by the Shaw family, finally closing in 2005.
The Post Office in 1998
The Post Office in 1984