By Linda Gilley
.... cont'd from Previous Part 1
We ate a lot of fish at home partly because my maternal grandfather had a maxim that one should always eat a fish meal every day.So, for example, if we didn’t eat kippers for breakfast, we had fish pie for lunch or fried cod for tea. Fortunately, we had a MacFisheries in our parade where my mother often bought wet fish. I liked to watch the fishmonger weigh out shrimps or winkles in a metal mug. We rarely had shellfish, but we ate a lot of cod, haddock, whiting, herrings, sprats, plaice, mackerel, kippers and, occasionally, skate.
For clothes there was a Dorothy Perkins for ladies’ stockings and underwear (the underwear was kept in shallow drawers behind the counter) and Astoria, a smart shop selling ladies’ beaded evening dresses. We also had a school outfitters for all the local schools, and two gent’s outfitters – Burton’s and the Fifty Shilling Tailors where men could buy suits made to measure. We had a Bata shoe shop, rather cheap shoes. More expensive shoes were sold a bus ride away, in Harrow, at Lilley and Skinners and Dolcis.
We bought records at a small record shop where the 45 r.p.m. records were in order on a rack behind the counter. If we wanted to hear a record before buying, we could go into one of two booths to listen with headphones
On the less popular side of the road there was a hardware shop with brooms and other goods outside, and a Lawleys china and glassware shop next door to The Way Inn, a small tea shop. Along that side was also a florist, Martin’s newsagent and, on another corner, Victoria Wine which had stocks of wine and spirits. Over the railway bridge we could buy pipes and tobacco at another tobacconists, two more sweet shops, a hat shop, and a dairy - a branch of United Dairies.
In our parade also there was an optician, a chiropodist, a GP surgery, several dentists, a hairdresser that my mother went to for nearly forty years, a driving school, and an Odeon cinema. All this in one parade of suburban shops. No bookies. No charity shops. No Marks and Spencer either!
Generally speaking, we could get everything we wanted at these local shops but sometimes we went to Wembley Central on the train to buy clothes at British Home Stores or C & A or at Bland’s. I liked going to Bland’s as it had an old-fashioned cashier system where the assistant put the money in a canister that flew on wires straight to the shop’s cashier and back with the receipt and any change for the customer. When we needed new school shoes or ballet shoes we normally went into Harrow on the bus where our feet were properly measured at Lilley and Skinner. Sometimes we went to the department store there – Soper’s. This was quite a smart shop until it became Debenhams in the 1970s, when it went downhill.
Some of our local shops were part of nation-wide chains but many of them were independent stores run by the owners proving that we were then at least, a nation of shop keepers.
© Copyright Linda Gilley - THACS Writers Online 2020