Leisure => Retail => Topic started by: busyglen on April 27, 2010, 18:55:22

Title: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on April 27, 2010, 18:55:22
For those who aren't old enough, I thought I would give you some of my memories of a couple of shops I worked in when I first left school, in the late 1950s.

My first job was at the Maypole, which was a grocery & provisions shop, next to what was then the old Bon Marche.  The Maypole is now a small cafe, with a jewellers next door, in Sheerness High Street.

To say I was in for a shock, is an understatement. I was used to helping my mother with chores, but they were easy.  My first task was to scrub the tiled floor in the shop, then move out to the room where they boned the bacon, which was wooden and covered in grease, then into the kitchen which had a concrete floor and was very greasy.  I was then put to opening huge tins of corned beef, with a large fixed tin opener.  I was a slip of a girl and found it very hard to turn it, and one day I slipped and cut my arm.  There were also tins of spam to open as well.  After a short while I was allowed to put the corned beef, ham, and spam on the huge cutting machine and slice it up.  Even though I used a piece of paper to catch the meat, I was constantly going to wash my hands as they got greasy.  Then there was the bacon.  This used to be boned and cut up by the manager, and I would then slice the various pieces up.  Back, Gammon, streaky, etc. and they would then go into the shop window.

Then there was weighing up the Lard, which came in big chunks, and had to be cut into 8oz pieces and wrapped up.  Dried fruit also had to be weighed up and put into bags.  The only thing with them, was that after a while they would dry out a bit, and so they had to be undone and more added.  If the weights and measures man called and found anything underweight, the manager would be fined.

A job I really hated, was skinning cheeses.  Cheshire cheese was the worst.  It was wrapped in muslin which was very difficult to get off.  I had to go down into the dark cellar (which was cool, and had spiders which I hate) and sit there on a box and scrape all of the muslin off.  My fingers were always slipping and the nails were full of bits of cheese from the skin.

Later I was considered good enough to start boning the bacon.  I found this very hard.  The manager brought the sides up from the cellar, and they were put onto the wooden bench.  There was unsmoked, and smoked.  I had a small knife, which I scored down each rib, and then I had a loop of string with a wooden toggle on the end.  I put this over the end of the rib, and pulled hard so that the rib would come away.  Being knee high to a grasshopper, I eventually had to stand on a small stool, as I couldn't get high enough to get a purchase on it.  Eventually I got used to it, and started to develop muscles in my shoulders and arms!  At the end of the day, I had to scrub the benches and clean the slicing machine.  My white overalls, were always thick with grease down the front.  When you think of the precautions etc. that have to be in place these days, it's a wonder we didn't die from poisoning, but nobody seemed to do so.

Eventually I was allowed to serve in the shop, but I was very shy and used to hide at the back of the shop busying myself with filling the shelves and keeping them clean.  After a year, an opening came up in a shop my sister used to work in, so I decided on a change.....and what a change.

To be continued....
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: oldsunset on April 28, 2010, 03:25:28
when the builders renovated the present cafe, they uncovered the original huge carved slate MAYPOLE DAIRY shop sign from above the window , the writing was in gold leaf, the builders threw it into the skip & smashed it...criminal
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on April 28, 2010, 10:12:06
when the builders renovated the present cafe, they uncovered the original huge carved slate MAYPOLE DAIRY shop sign from above the window , the writing was in gold leaf, the builders threw it into the skip & smashed it...criminal

That's so sad!  I can remember the sign.....I used to have to clean it, also the window and the tiles beneath.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on April 28, 2010, 15:53:15
Continuing with the shop theme.....

My second place of work was TH Lane & Son, Decorators Merchants, next to Sheerness Post office. The proprietor Mr Reginald Lane was an ex-army man and had white hair and a white moustache.  He looked very stern, and as my sister had worked there for 10 years, he agreed to give me a trial in the shop.  I was terrified, especially as there was only one other female, and the rest were male.

The shop sold everything from buckets of sand, bags of cement, and lime.  Putty that was made from linseed oil and whitening, which was rolled into balls. Paint, wallpaper, wood stain, brushes, all sorts of scrapers, glasspaper etc. Glass that was cut to size, button polish, french polish etc. the list goes on.

In my sister's time there, paint had to be mixed to a required colour.  The base was white, and for undercoat it was thinned with turpentine, and for gloss, linseed oil was added.  A dye was added to get to the required colour.  That was fine, unless someone wanted more, and there wasn't a sample to go by. When I was there, you chose from colour strips (similar to the way that is done in the well known shop in Sittingbourne) and the tubes were stirred into the base paint.  Knowing the colour and the number, it could always be repeated.

I loved selling the wallpaper.  I'd climb up and down the tall ladder, opening rolls to show the customers, and made suggestions of colour schemes.  Because I loved this part, I was often able to remember what paper a person had chosen, so that when they came back months later and wanted another roll, I would go straight to it, without seeing the pattern.

We used to have a sale day once a year, where all of the odd rolls of paper, and the end of lines were placed in the window all bundled up.  There would be a queue when I arrived, and I was a bit shocked at my first one, as the last customer went about 4.30 in the afternoon.  We didn't have tea breaks in those days...not in that shop anyway, so apart from an hour for lunch, we didn't stop.  I was quite surprised therefore, when I went to put my coat on to go home, to find a box of chocolates by my bag.  I shyly said to Mr Lane, that I'd found it by my bag.  He just said  `that's for you'.   I was quite shocked, especially later when my sister said that she'd never had a box when she'd done the sales!  

There was always a standing joke with some of the men, that they would send me up the ladder to get a small pot of paint, and then when I'd got down, they'd change their mind and want the larger size.  Luckily, I wore a long overall, which didn't really fit me, and came almost down to my ankles!

Eventually, the other female left to have a child, and I remained on my own.  By this time, I could hold my own, with the other male staff, and they became quite protective of me which was nice.  However, I used to be terrified by `the old man' as we called him.  He always looked so stern, and had me running here there and everywhere.  The work was hard, as I sometimes had to carry bags of cement from the yard, across the road, lug bales of wallpaper up two flights of stairs, and down again, when stocks needed replacing.  When one of the decorators was around, they would do it for me.

Everything was so dark in the shop, even the lights, until eventually he had new lights put in.  I also used to have to decorate the window every few weeks, and he would go outside to check that everything I'd done was ok.  I could do what I liked, providing it wasn't always the same.  One year there was a competition by a paint company, so Mr Lane drew out figures of men playing cricket (it was around the Test time) and stood them on the paint tins, with a banner which said that this paint stood the test of time.  He won 2nd prize and he split the money with me and another chap.  I was thrilled to bits. When you think how easy it is to go into a decorators shop today, and select your own paper and paint, find what tools, brushes etc. you want, it is difficult to imagine the time that was spent in weighing up the sand, making putty, stacking shelves etc. and helping people make a wallpaper selection.
 
After I'd been there 9 years, he became ill, and eventually died.  I had been on my own for quite a while as the decorating business had ceased due to the men having retired. There was one other man who stayed on to help with cutting the glass etc. so I managed as best I could, ordering things to keep the shop ticking over until it was sold.  Mrs Lane who was in her late 80's used to pop in to see how I was, and made tea.....something I'd never had.  Eventually the shop was sold, and became a bookshop. I then started on a completely different track as a Legal Cashier......so here endeth my memories of a couple of the old shops in Sheernes.  Hope you haven't been bored. :)

Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: Lyn L on April 28, 2010, 17:51:31
Lovely memories busyglen, they reminded me of my early days in shops. One of my early 60s jobs was working in a bakers in Canterbury St, Gillingham , opposite Beacon Court tavern, at that time you could only buy Hot Cross buns on Good Friday, there was only the manageress and me and we had to open at 5-30am just to sell the hundreds we had delivered, being 17 that was a very unholy hour to have to start work and was I glad it was just one day a year. Also later I worked in a small supermarket in Borstal and cut up all the cheese and cooked meats and bacon, so shared some of your memories with that one. The bacon slicer was my mortal enemy for a few weeks until I mastered it and cutting all the mould off the outside of the large blocks of cheeses especially English Cheddar which came in huge blocks, I also had to stand on a box to be able to reach it  :) Only came unstuck once ( and not with the slicer ) I had a bucket of very hot water where the sharp knives were kept, put my hand in to get one and now have a lovely scar in between my thumb and finger , I was OK with my own blood but anyone else's !!!!!!! Plus we were taught to be polite to customers and be as helpful as we could, can't say that now very much can we, I'm sure I'm invisible in some shops.
The bakers was Nicholas Kingsman, and when I got married they gave us a 3 tier wedding cake as our present, that wouldn't happen now either I shouldn't think.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on April 28, 2010, 18:14:41
Lovely memories busyglen, they reminded me of my early days in shops. One of my early 60s jobs was working in a bakers in Canterbury St, Gillingham , opposite Beacon Court tavern, at that time you could only buy Hot Cross buns on Good Friday, there was only the manageress and me and we had to open at 5-30am just to sell the hundreds we had delivered, being 17 that was a very unholy hour to have to start work and was I glad it was just one day a year. Also later I worked in a small supermarket in Borstal and cut up all the cheese and cooked meats and bacon, so shared some of your memories with that one. The bacon slicer was my mortal enemy for a few weeks until I mastered it and cutting all the mould off the outside of the large blocks of cheeses especially English Cheddar which came in huge blocks, I also had to stand on a box to be able to reach it  :) Only came unstuck once ( and not with the slicer ) I had a bucket of very hot water where the sharp knives were kept, put my hand in to get one and now have a lovely scar in between my thumb and finger , I was OK with my own blood but anyone else's !!!!!!! Plus we were taught to be polite to customers and be as helpful as we could, can't say that now very much can we, I'm sure I'm invisible in some shops.
The bakers was Nicholas Kingsman, and when I got married they gave us a 3 tier wedding cake as our present, that wouldn't happen now either I shouldn't think.

Glad this has reminded you of your early days in shops.  It's nice to catch up with someone else who worked around that time.  I can remember waiting for Good Friday to come so that we could have Hot Cross buns.  They seemed to taste better in those days didn't they, or perhaps we've just got used to the taste now?  Ouch!  I bet that water was red, when you sliced your hand.  

I remember the Nicholas Kingsman shops.  I think they took over from George Humphrey didn't they?  We had two shops in Sheerness, and one in Bluetown I think.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on April 28, 2010, 18:25:16
I've just been recalling a few other shops in Sheerness.

The Home & Colonial, Grocers
The International, another grocers  (we used to send some of our eggs down from the Maypole when they were short).
Shrubsall, Grocers and provisions.
Weeks & Warner, Wool, patterns etc.
Mrs. Gaisford, Milliner
Madame Wynne, Ladies dresses etc.
O'Keefe - Hairdressers
WH Baron - Radios, TV and electrical goods.
Aylen - Gents Outfitters
K & M Mode - Ladies dresses etc.
and of course - Bon-Marche that sold all sorts of things like curtains, dress materials, cushion covers etc.

Just a few that come to mind at the moment.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: colin haggart on April 28, 2010, 21:00:33
Coles Stationers, Sheerness High St. now and then, from my photos collection.

2009.

(http://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk90/colinhaggart/Photos%20volume%20two/Coles.jpg)

December, 1986.

(http://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk90/colinhaggart/Photos%20volume%20two/ColesstationersDecember1986002-1.jpg)
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on April 29, 2010, 09:42:42
I'd forgotten that one Colin, although I remembered the Coop.  In fact the Coop virtually had the monopoly of the town then didn't it?  Food, Homewear, Shoes, Gents Outfitters, Ladies Fashion, etc.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: oldsunset on May 01, 2010, 13:55:59
keep em coming..i for one love to see and remember the old shops.."kings stores" opposit fairy's decorating store was an aladins cave of everything you could ever want..i think he retired on the money i spent in there
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on May 01, 2010, 14:45:42
Yes I remember that....little goldmine.

Does anyone else remember Godwins or Mence Smith's?  I was only a child, but I `think' that Godwins sold curtains etc. possibly a Drapers, and Mence Smith's, I think sold things like, kettles, kitchenware etc. I  may be wrong, as it's about 60 years ago! 

There was also Kays Corner.  It was situated where the garage is on the corner of Invicta Rd. and the High St. I `think' there was a pet shop there and a sweet shop called Ferrells.

I remember when the road was made one-way along Cavour Rd and into Invicta Rd to the High St.  It was fairly new, when my brother went round the corner into Invicta Road on his bicycle and was hit by a chap going in the wrong direction in his car.  Luckily he wasn't badly hurt, but his bike was in a state, so my Father made sure he paid for a new one!

Then there was Hubbles, cooked meat shop, that was where Lloyds Bank is nowadays.

Must try and remember some more.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: oldsunset on May 01, 2010, 15:19:54
anyone remember the name of the corner shop in new road near kent road ?
my hubby used to go there on his little red tricicle to get pigeon seed for his dad back in the late 50s/early 60s
he says it was such a big adventure as he was only 5
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on May 01, 2010, 17:01:12
anyone remember the name of the corner shop in new road near kent road ?
my hubby used to go there on his little red tricicle to get pigeon seed for his dad back in the late 50s/early 60s
he says it was such a big adventure as he was only 5


I think you are looking at what used to be the Corner shop in New Street, (the road just before Kent Rd.)  It used to be Gardners, but then changed hands, and I can't think what it was called now.  When my brothers and I were small, we used to go there with our ration books to buy our sweets.  We thought it was great when they came off ration, but unfortunately, we didn't have the money to buy them.

I can remember some of the lads going round to the side of the shop, and nipping into the gate where the empty bottles were put for collection, and then going into the shop with them as they were given coppers for their return.  They did this several times before they were caught!

Do you remember Jessie Lights, in Russell St?  We used to take our old jam jars and rags there to get money.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: seafordpete on May 01, 2010, 17:29:19
Any one rember Tindall's corner of Albion Place?
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: Paul on May 02, 2010, 15:43:27
First Ave, Eastchurch
(http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/mm223/Paulwp/DSCF0895.jpg)

There was a shop here once,It used to do those wrapped up little oblong Walls ice cream blocks with the square cones... :)
All thats left are the stairs, base and the memory. :(

Anybody know when it closed and the name of it?
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on May 03, 2010, 09:52:46
Any one rember Tindall's corner of Albion Place?

Yes I remember Tindalls.  You had to go up a couple of steep steps to get into the shop, and I used to pop in there sometimes for sweets on my way to school.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: Lyn L on May 05, 2010, 09:35:43
Seeing the advert for refrigerators reminded me of the first one we had. It had done the rounds before it got to us, my brother and his wife bought it brand new in Malta when he was stationed there about 1960, but it was a paraffin one , the tank was at the bottom, it only had a freezer big enough for a block of ice cream, when they came back to England, it went to my parents then to us when they bought a new one, it lasted for years . We lived in married quarters in Dargets Wood then and used to have a mobile shop round as there was only one shop on the estate, that man carried anything and everything including the paraffin and even had an 'on
 tick' book, that must have been about 1965. Shortly afterwards the new shops were built and we missed our old pal coming then we moved to Rochester and invested in an ELECTRIC fridge, oh happy days.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on May 05, 2010, 15:29:51
How about Featherstones, Pearl House, on the corner of Alma Rd. and the Broadway?

When I was in my teens, my mother used to go there to get me shoes, and occasional clothes.  She used to pay weekly and a man used to come out to us on his bicycle.  The shoe department used to be upstairs, and I can remember going there for my shoes.  I always thought it was a `posh' shop, as I'd only had `hand me down' clothes previously.  She also used to get my brothers shoes there, as well.

I was in an opera at the Secondary School, and needed a patchwork skirt as I was doing a dance as a gypsy.  I was over the moon when my mother gave me a parcel that contained this beautiful, full circle, patchwork skirt.  It must have cost a fortune, so how she afforded it I will never know, but it was one of the most treasured possessions I had for a long time.  That came from Featherstones.
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: colin haggart on May 05, 2010, 22:05:30
One of my old shop photos.
Pearl House. It's at the corner of Alma Rd and The Broadway, for those who do not know where it is.
Taken in 2009.

I lived in the flat on the corner.

(http://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk90/colinhaggart/SheernessTheBroadwayshops.jpg)

From Trevor Edward's Sheppey website.

(http://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk90/colinhaggart/Photos%20volume%20two/PearlHouse.jpg)
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: oldsunset on May 08, 2010, 02:57:15
featherstones as it was 1920s;
photo link here;
http://www.pbase.com/luckytrev/image/42243366 (http://www.pbase.com/luckytrev/image/42243366)

in 1880/90 it was the dress shop of Madam Knight costumier, i have a beaded victorian bodice made by her, sold to me by old mr moss when he had his antique shop in hope street ..many moons ago
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: busyglen on May 08, 2010, 11:22:31
featherstones as it was 1920s;
photo link here;
http://www.pbase.com/luckytrev/image/42243366 (http://www.pbase.com/luckytrev/image/42243366)

in 1880/90 it was the dress shop of Madam Knight costumier, i have a beaded victorian bodice made by her, sold to me by old mr moss when he had his antique shop in hope street ..many moons ago

I'm a bit puzzled here...(it doesn't take a lot these days)  :)

In the 1901 Local Directory, it does show Madam Knight Costumier still there at Pearl House, which is also shown as 32 Broadway at that time.  The picture from Trevs shows Featherstones as 174. ?

I know that there was a firm of Builders & Decorators around called Featherstones, but not sure if they went back that far. At one time they had the small shop next to the Castle Pub in the High St. (where the Cycle shop is now).

Perhaps someone else knows?
Title: Re: Remembering past shops in Sheppey
Post by: oldsunset on June 19, 2010, 19:15:56
not sure when but as shops and houses were added at one point all the streets had to be re numbered, mostly happened around the 1920s, featherstones family had a huge business and still own their old department store in chatham high street, as well as dozens of buildings all over kent.
 i rented a shop from mr featherstone in the 1980s, my shop was in rose street sheerness (now a curry house) but i had to go to their old store in chatham to meet him and sign the paperwork, the offices were up in the roof an amazing warren of ancient rooms, he was such a grand gent, its still there in the high street just past the sun pier and i think its rented out as units now but it still had the money canisters that wizzed around the ceiling remnant of its posh days.