Life in Gloucester Road

by Mike Matthews


I grew up in Churchways Crescent, so I know Gloucester Road well.

My grandparents met in Fred Phillips’s shop (No 217) in the 1930s when they both worked there – my grandfather was a sort of odd job man and my gran was a shop assistant.

My mum worked at Bendalls from 1979-c1983 when John Bendall retired - presumably the shop closed at that point.

Mum then worked at Bollom's Dry Cleaners which we think was at 232 Gloucester Road, then went to work for K.G. Stabb (shoeshop) at 101 Gloucester Road. Mr Stabb originally had four branches (the others were in Henleaze, Westbury on Trym and Chipping Sodbury) but they all closed one by one. The Gloucester Road shop closed c1990.

I believe 404 was once a café called Willy Silk’s, or something like that. This would have been early 1980s as I occasionally got lunch in there while I was at Ashley Down School. We think Dewhursts may have still been at 406 at the same time, though we're not 100% sure.

363 used to be a very nice bookshop called the Book Cupboard. I don't know when they closed but I'm pretty sure they were still there in 2003 when I moved away from Horfield. They originally occupied a smaller shop on the other side of the road but relocated - I don't know when though and I can't remember where their original shop was unfortunately. I'm fairly sure they were on the West side of Gloucester Road as early as the mid-80s.

Joseph Timothy Smith who lived (and indeed died) at 457 was a cousin – his half-brother was my great-great-grandfather. He took over Downend Park Farm from his father William but by 1900 had moved to 457 Gloucester Road. I used to frequent Bobby’s quite a lot and hadn’t made the connection to J.T. Smith until I saw your site.

109 (currently Totally Toys) I think used to be a toyshop called Martin’s – this would be 1980s.

The Co-Op at 335-343 used to be a builder’s merchants called UBM – it may have been a Jewson at one point. Before the Co-Op took over it was a Somerfield.

There used to be a computer hardware/software discount store called Special Reserve at 351-353. Their sign is still there. I think it got taken over by the Reclaimers though last time I went past it was all boarded up. Next door (between Special Reserve and the Reclaimers) was a newsagent called Nooze n Booze which was probably where Fine Fare once was (349?). This would have been 1990s.

I expect my parents got remember a lot more than I can!