Shopping on Church Road by Joy Searle
I was born in 1951 so my first memories of Church Road are shopping with Mum and my sister Valerie in the mid 1950s onwards. In those days there were few large shops that sold everything and shopping was done at individual specialist shops or very local corner shops on the end of the road you lived in. The real specialist shops were all on Church Road and a 'proper shop' would require you to go 'on the road' as we referred to it. Going on the road was a frequent almost daily trip for Mum. We would go with her, when not at school, crossing Chalks Road, walking through Roseberry Park to arrive on Church Road's busy pavements, so busy you would have to weave your way through the shoppers, especially on Saturday mornings. Shopping was a very social experience with Mum stopping to talk every few steps. These were people she had known all her life and there was always time to ask how others were and catch up on any local gossip or news. People smiled and were pleased to see one another. I remember Mum continued to call married women by their maiden names, as she'd known them at school which was a bit confusing growing up with their children!
Unlike the chain grocers Pearks and David Greig, the other smaller shops were family businesses and you knew who was serving you by name and customers were called by their name, Mrs Tarr in Mum's case. I'm sure Mum chose her shops because she knew the families that owned them. As a child a friendly service, a smile, a bit of humour counted for a lot and made the shopping experience enjoyable.
Running errands was a good way of earning a bit of pocket money and Valerie and I used to shop for three aunties, Mum's youngest sisters who were not yet married and working all week. On Saturday morning we would go down home to shop for Aunties Win, Pam and June. I suppose I was about six and Valerie nine years old when we did this. We collected bags and a shopping list and set off for Church Road. I look back with amazement that we were so young, taking on such responsibility. We would go along Victoria Parade to Gwilliams a shop on the corner as you reached Church Road, a popular and well-stocked grocer. They sold very nice ham. Along from there past the Granada we would queue in the butchers, Moretons.
In my childhood Church Road was a place you could buy anything; shoes from Lennards, cough medicine from, I think it was Hodders the chemist, glasses from Hudds the optician, Maynard's sweets from a very nice sweetshop near the Park, Dad bought his morning paper from the newsagents by the bus stop near Mr Hudds before catching the No 9 bus to work. Then there was Elkins the jewellers where Dad bought me a ring for my thirteenth birthday, which I wear to this day.