1935 – 2015

Diary Of A Pawnbroker

I often come across customers that remember pawning with my old family business many years ago. It’s fascinating to find out about how important pawnbroking was to their family lives and what they used to pawn as an item of security. Quite simply it was a way of life and the support of the pawnbroker was like the role of a bank today – only more ‘everyday life lending’ rather than large bank loans.
One such lady who remembers it well is Mrs Kay Henry and her brother Peter. We spoke for some time when they visited Seacroft, and she kindly allowed me to share her story with you through the Pawnbrokers Diary.
Kay Henry, (formally Thorp), used to live in Sherbrook Avenue near Temple Newsam. She was the eldest of no less than 10 children! “Well there were no TV’s in those days!” quipped Kay who was born in 1937.
Her dad worked in a foundry at Kirkstall Forge during the week and like many at the time, had a weekend job to help ends meet. It was therefore on a Friday evening when her mum would give her a few shillings to run down to the pawnbrokers and collect her dads best suit, shoes and trilby so he could look smart for his weekend job, working in the Irwin Arms as a barman at the top of Selby Road (now a Lidl Supermarket).
“I remember one time” laughed Kay, “I was sent to get the suit out and I messed about on the way and the pawn shop was closed when I got there. Dad was so angry and me and my mam got a right good telling off that night!”
I asked if they every pawned anything else and her and Peter commented that they owned little else. The suit was not needed during the week so that always fetched a couple of shillings and then there were the sheets. These ‘best bed sheets’ were never used and always kept wrapped in paper ready to take down to the pawn shop every Monday morning and collected on a Friday. The beds were covered in blankets so the sheets were always kept clean for lending against.
Kay and Peter came in to my Seacroft branch next to Tesco’s, to buy a watch and couldn’t believe that it was my grandfather that had served them all those years ago. It’s a small world but some things don’t change and I hope I provide as much of an important service to my generation of customers as my grandparents did then.
Even though most of the lending circumstances are different and we certainly don’t lend on bedsheets any more, the need for a handy instant loan remains the same. These days both pawnbrokers and banks are similarly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and every loan we make follows the same strict financial guidelines. The industry has survived through changing times and is thriving today, as it was then, because we offer a good reliable service that people can trust. Pawnbrokers were never seen as anything but helpful – fulfilling a need that society had failed to provide.
People still need money today and want a hassle free way of borrowing it. I suppose that’s why pawnbroking is one of the oldest professions in the country and it still going strong and equally important for another generation.
Chris Brown

You May Also Like

Regeneration Of Historic Leeds Street To Continue After Major Fire
2015 MOBO Awards Nominations Announced


Must Read

No results found.