by Barbara Palmer
I have many happy memories of my young days shared with the family. Also of the shops and people on Gloucester Road from Zetland Road to almost Ashley Down Road. Being the eldest grandchild I was the one who did the errands.
My grandparents, The Hardings ran the greengrocer at 190. I tell their story separately . All the other shops on the rank were family owned and remained in the families for number of years. The goods sold covered a wide variety of choice to the local shopper for their daily needs - asket Maker, Bookshop, Bicycles, Butchers, Confectioners, Corn and Seeds, Cafe, Fruiterers, Jewellers, Junk Shop, Milliners, Newsagents, Pawnbrokers, Shoes Repairers.
Very few of the Gloucester Road shops were owned at that time by multi national companies other than Co-operative. Home&Colonial, MacFisheries and Woolworths. With the advent of these shops the smaller family shops started to slowly decline and take the true heart of the Gloucester Road community spirit away.
Mr Rupp was a very nice and interesting Swiss gentleman who sold cooked meats and variety of other such things. I think would be classed as a Delicatessen these days. The shop had lovely aromas of different foods. He had a lovely stamp collection which he would show me because he knew I collected stamps.
My friends the Whitbys lived opposite him at the doctors surgery where their mother worked.
The Pig and Whistle owned by the Courts on the corner of Hatherley Road was a favourite with children as they sometimes got packets of broken crisps which I think cost 1d.
Mr Lewis owned the confectioners, The Classic at 176. In his shop he had many jars of different sweets and packets of cigarettes. I recall some of the cigarette packets were very pretty. Passing Cloud in pink packets and Royalty in silver packets. Each Christmas my grandfather gave him a barrel and the cork in it to use as Christmas Lucky Dip for the children. All the gifts were wrapped and you rummaged in cork for your present. In those days grapes came into the country in such barrels.
Mr Warwick. Jeweller and Watchmaker At 184. He lived in Brynland Avenue and cycled to the shop daily. It was a real treasure trove of lovely things - jewellery, pen and pencil sets and numerous other pretty things. He had large glass topped display counters and an enormous safe in his shop. He would take out matchboxes or similar and show me pretty stones he had stored in them. In my late teens I was collecting gold charms for my bracelet and I still have the ones I bought from Mr Warwick. I expect he must have been one of the true characters of Gloucester Road. A really nice man!
Crawfords, newsagents at 196. I went there every week to buy my little story book Sunny Stories which cost 2d. I especially looked forward to them getting the Christmas Annuals delivered about the end of October. My three aunts each gave me an Annual for my Christmas present. I was allowed to choose ones I wanted and they were put away for my aunts to collect nearer Christmas .The shelves were full of seasonal boxes chocolates or tins of toffees. All the boxes and tins had pretty pictures of cats,dogs,flowers.thatched cottages etc. The rest of the year they had lots of jars of different sweets,newspapers and cigarettes.
Clothiers Shoe Shop at 202. My main memory is of shoes displayed in the windows. They were displayed with the soles uppermost because they had been decorated with very small nails to make a nice picture or design. They must have taken a long time to create. I did like to see them.
Sid Cocking. Cycle Shop at 204. My first bicycle was bought from Mr Cocking. It took me many months to get my mother to agree to me having it as a birthday present. As a young teenager you don't think of the hazards on the road or how much worry results from that.
The Huggins Family at 210. They were our local butchers and always busy, usually with a queue. You saw the whole carcass of the animal hanging and it was cut to the customers choice and size in the shop whilst they waited.I think most butchers wore aprons and had sawdust on floor in those days to soak up any blood from the animals.
Wyatts Newsagent at 212. Run by father and daughter. A dark shop interior,with two counters and some shelves. I cannot remember it as an exciting or interesting shop. However, on Saturdays at 6pm it became a hive of activity with people who had been queuing outside. The reason being the arrival of two newspapers the Green Un and the Pink Un. They were the sports results papers related to The Evening Post and The Evening World. Each had reports of all the days sport. Maybe more importantly the results of all the days football matches. The men were eager to check their football coupons with the hope they might have a winning line.
Mr Deakin, basketmaker at 214. I liked seeing all the beautiful baskets he had woven. They were all hung in different shapes and sizes from the ceiling. I have always liked baskets and wonder if reason related to my childhood memories.
Mr Pang. Chinese Laundry. At 222. An important service in those days as still boiler and mangle for what was then the weekly wash. I recall it was always very busy. When you collected your washing it was wrapped in brown paper and tied with string and a little label written with Chinese symbols. Mr Pang had a lovely smile which showed some gold teeth. Jean his daughter used to go to Bishopston Methodist Sunday School. Jean,her brothers and parents lived in Manor Road.
Salisburys Leather Goods, at 199. I loved the smell of the leather as you walked into the shop and the many nice bags and other items they had displayed. From my middle teens I went there to buy small special presents. I still have a leather writing case bought there when I was about sixteen.
Mr Brent. Jeweller. At 230 He was a Polish gentleman and he and his wife were later arrivals as shopkeepers..c 1960's..He designed and made beautiful rings. I still wear one he made with emeralds and diamonds for my mother. His wife made a lovely cake which she said was a traditional Polish cake. It was very popular with the locals and Mrs Brent made them to order. It was extremely rich, not least because the bottom was soaked liberally with rum and it had cream.
O'Neil Family at 276 276. Large fishmongers. They always had very large attractive window display of a variety of fishes. In those days it was traditional on Good Friday for people to have a fish lunch. I had to go to buy the fish for my grandmother to cook. We shared a meal of hake ,potatoes, carrots and peas topped with a lovely creamy parsley sauce.
Mr Smallcombe at 285. A shop selling various cooked meats and other tasty goodies. Every Monday I had to go to his shop as it was the day he cooked a real family favourite of many people - chitterlings - they were displayed in window, often still steaming. Many people no longer know what they are - the stomach tubes of pigs and other bits! They are very tasty with pepper,vinegar and bread and butter.
This visit down Memory Lane of Gloucester Road and my Harding Family has been very special! It's been tinged with variety of emotions - happiness, laughter at funny things I remember and above all the shared love and warmth of those family days.