Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 25 October 2013

Open All Hours


We are celebrating at Sepia Saturday this week as we have reached our 200th post. Co-incidentally it is also my 200th blogpost on Hanging On My Word. I wasn’t part of the sepia fun at its inception, but now I’m part of the admin team! I decided to share one of my early posts, which is also one of my favourites.
The very detailed pictured provided as a prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday, shows a shop doorway in Sydney, Australia in 1934. This sent me delving into my father’s side of the family, where I knew that at least three of them had been shopkeepers. It’s amazing what a little research for a blogpost will nudge, quite literally, into the frame. I had always been aware of a blurry sepia picture of my great-grandfather Sydney (Dad’s Grandfather on his mother’s side) standing in the doorway of his fishmonger’s shop in Nottingham. My older brother knew a few more details but also provided me with three new pictures I had never seen before. The first of these is the one I like best; the nonchalant pose is not one I’ve ever seen adopted by a 'sepia shopkeeper' before!


Now, I know this isn’t a fishmonger’s, it appears to be a grocer’s, so we have a bit of a mystery. Could it be two windows of the same premises? Behind him, in the shop, can be seen tins of biscuits and other dried goods which would have been his stock-in-trade. 





A second picture appears to confirm this, though he doesn’t look quite so dapper here; waistcoat off and sleeves rolled up. The child beside him is a friend of the family and the other youngster just happened to have run in front of the intended subjects, as small children so annoyingly can when a shot is being posed. No digital cameras then, and films were precious, so once the shutter clicked it would have to do. This picture seems to pre-date the next one as my Great-grandfather looks a little younger, but it’s interesting to note the price of bread is the same as that in the Sepia Saturday prompt. The shop reminds me of the one kept by Arkwright in the TV series ‘Open All Hours’. I wonder if it had a similar lethal till (cash register). I talked to my 90 year old father about the fishmongers on Manvers Street, Nottingham. Dad remembers his Grandfather also sold rabbits, and my Grandmother (one of his fourteen children) as a girl, had the job of skinning them. There was sawdust on the shopfloor to catch the blood .

Here’s the picture of my Great-grandfather which started me on this quest. Now we see him in yet another working outfit, complete with striped apron, from which he would produce a halfpenny when my Dad visited as a child. The window advertises cod and crabs. I’m told this was Jubilee Day 1934, and the bunting can just be seen above the window and door.

My Dad, who was a travelling salesman, also inherited the selling gene from Lydia, his Grandmother on his Father’s side. At some time around the turn of the twentieth century we know that she had what Dad called a ‘Bread Shop’, but I don’t think it was what we would now know as Baker’s. It was more likely a corner shop, typical of many a street in town and village at that time. The shop would provide those commodities needed by people with little income, who   had only to walk to the end of the road where they lived to buy a loaf or a packet of tea.





The last picture is of yet another member of the family. The lady in the doorway is not Lydia, who died in 1910, but her daughter Sarah (born in 1885). This picture was probably taken in the late 1920s or early 30s. She was my Dad’s Aunt ‘Cis' who would later run a sweet shop in Delta Street. Cis would have given up her original skilled job, which according to the 1901 census, was that of a lace-hand in Nottingham’s famous lace industry. I like the way the children in the street have engineered to be in the photograph; it makes it all the more interesting. The little chap is being given a ride on a bike which is far too big for him - he could never reach the pedals. On the other hand it seems too small for his older sibling. There’s another smaller bike on the right, face on to camera. What do we think the youngster on the left is doing? And no, he’s not sending a text!



I asked both my parents about the sweetshops of their childhood. Dad recalled Pontefract Cakes, Marshmallows,Tiger Nuts, Turkish Delight and Barley Sugar sticks. Mum remembered that when she was a little girl in the 1920s, she would visit a shop run by the Misses Mackintosh on Tealby Terrace, Nottingham, where 2oz of sweets would cost one penny and a bar of chocolate would be tuppence. There would be fruit drops, dolly mixtures and liquorice sticks. Mum loved walnut whips (a rare treat) and sherbert fountains. “Do you know, she said, I haven’t had one of those in years. I wonder if you can still get them. I’ll look out for them next time I’m out shopping.” Mum will be 91 in November, with a wonderful memory for the small details of her childhood. "Aniseed balls,” she said, “We used to suck them until they changed colour, and we’d keep sticking our tongues out to each other to check.” She also recalled her friend Tommy who always gave her the little toy from his ‘Lucky Bag’ for her Doll’s House. The simple pleasures of childhood.

To see what other Sepians have chosen as their favourites, take a look at Sepia Saturday 200 and join the celebrations.

28 comments:

  1. How fabulous to have those photographs of your family!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  2. I think he is a time traveler and he is sending a text.

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  3. I think it's safe to say that he's counting his money to see if he can afford any sweets. Either that, or he's checking his timepiece to be sure he gets home in time for supper.

    Love these photos, Marilyn. I tried to solve your mystery for you, but came up short. I'm wondering what the letters "COC" and "RO" something stand for on the door in the top photo.

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  4. A strange pose indeed! I think the boy is probably picking at a finger nail or a scab as boys were so wont to do! I remember aniseed balls - where did all those lollies go!?

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  5. Wonderful pictures! Sweets makes me think of chocolate. One of the high schools my Mom attended (she and her mother and brother moved around a lot) was near a chocolate factory and she said there were times when whatever they were doing with the chocolate smelled awful. I can attest to that. On trips to Modesto, CA, I used to drive past the Hershey's factory in Oakdale, CA until they closed it, and there were times when it did smell pretty bad. On the other hand, there were times when it smelled really GOOD!

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  6. All AreVery Evocative Photos & Poses.Lovely Gentle Images That Caputure The Times Perfectly.Splendid!

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  7. Isn't it funny how universal the checking of one's tongue color is! The pictures are terrific -- I'll enjoy looking at them again when the book is published.

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  8. Great photos! I loved Turkish Delight until I went to Istanbul and had real Turkish Delight, what a difference!

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  9. Great photos, they make me remember my grandfather who was a butcher, he had a butchery in Voorburg, a suburb of The Hague, and Gorinchem (20 miles east of Rotterdam). Unfortunately he passed away before I was born, but I've seen old photos of him standing in front of his shop window.

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  10. I wonder what a Pontefract cake was? Some of my Bentley ancestors supposedly came from there.

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  11. I love all the photos and to think of how many people in your family were shopkeepers of some kind. It seems they passed along merchanthood from decade to decade.
    Nancy
    Laides of the Grove

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  12. How great that you have several photos of your great-grandfather in front of the shop. Good ancestors you had for taking photos! It's interesting to read fishmonger and see grocery store. And I love your parents' remembrances of childhood candy.

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  13. A fine choice for this weekend. Photos of our parents, grand parents, and ancestors at work are real treasures, as they better define their everyday life, which we never see in the formal wear of wedding photos, etc..

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  14. A great set of photos to back up you family story. How things have changed. If we walk to the end of the rodd where we live all we would find is the pub, The nearest shop in which to buy a loaf or a packet of tea is 2.1/2 miles away. In the village where I was born in Rutland the grocers shop where I bought gobstoppers was less than 100 yards away..

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  15. Wonderful photos. And the memories of all those sweet treats.Pontefract cakes was a new one for me and I was surprised to learn that they are licorice. From wikipedia, "When the first secret ballot in the United Kingdom was held in Pontefract on 15 August 1872, the ballot box used was sealed using a Pontefract cake stamp from Frank Dunhill’s factory, which shows the image of a castle and an owl."

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  16. Wow the price of bread has skyrocketed! I love seeing those old prices, Makes me wonder what people will think of our prices in 100 years. Great post for Sepia Saturday 200!

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  17. I loved reading this and the photos are wonderful. How nice to see such candid things as the little girl running by. So much more fun than the carefully posed formal shots that we usually have. I think the little boy is getting ready to check his tongue color in a mirror.
    Barbara

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  18. I always enjoy seeing shop window pictures. It always depicts the cost for articles, I know the income was lower back then, but my the prices!!!!

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  19. I think Kristin may be on to something with her comment! Shops and people always grab my attention, but oh I do like a good mystery. Even if we never discover the answer, the fun trying to solve and in these cases when we get feed back from others...(even if it's a fishy story) Ha! Ha! It's all so enjoyable.

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  20. Good choice for the 200th.

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  21. I really enjoyed this post, Nell, and would love to have had Delta Street as a line in my address. Sydney reminds me of the owner of a corner shop close to us, when I was small. His name was Mr Wallis. He always wore a brown overall, like Arkwright, and the shop itself always greeted customers with the sweet aroma of smoked bacon.

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  22. What wonderful pictures to have. A great choice.

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  23. The photos are so great to see. The detail makes them so fascinating.

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  24. The stores back then were a lot more interesting than the ones we have now. I especially like that last photo.

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  25. I remember this post, Marilyn. What wonderful pictures. The last one is so clear. I am so happy that you were able to collect so many memories from your parents to share with us. Now that your Dad is gone, it is sweet to think of your conversations.

    What a wonderful choice for the book. Thank you!

    Kathy M.

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  26. I remember and loved those aniseed balls!!
    That boy on the left probably picked his nose
    and he was checking out what he fished out of there...
    Great stories Marilyn!!
    Most enjoyable!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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