Shopping in Appleby
By Allan Condie
In the 1950s Appleby possessed a number of shops. Firstly there was the Post Office on the corner of Black Horse Hill and Mawby’s Lane. As I remember it the incumbent was Edgar Wileman, whose gait and stature was reminiscent of Jack Walker in Coronation Street. Aside from the Post Office the shop was a Grocers and General Merchants. It was the first shop in Appleby to get a deep freeze apart from the usual Ice Cream Cabinet, bringing the products of Captain Birds Eye to Appleby folk.
The Coalville and District Co-operative Society were resident in the former Bates’ shop in Church Street. This was in the hands of the redoubtable Reggie Betteridge, aided and abetted by Pat Gothard, Lorna Lees, and ?
Mrs Johnson kept a small shop in Top Street – the cottage opposite Snarestone Lane. A limited range of groceries were available, and confectionery, but in the days of paraffin stoves and lamps, a tank round the back supplied Esso ‘Blue’.
There were in my time two Butchers in the village, Lenny Betteridge had a shop in Church Street just down from the Church before you reached the Crown, and Messrs Starbuck & Taylor resided in Rock House on Mawby’s Lane.
For everything else you relied on vans, although both Appleby Butchers also covered the local area by that means. Butchers who visited the village were Harry Ensor and Billy Ball from Measham; in the early 1950s Lionel Woodfield who had a pork butchers in Measham also called but later on he went to work for Billy Ball. The Co-op also had a butchers van which came from Coalville, Cyril Bull from Snarestone and Dawkins from Congerstone also attended.
Groceries were a different matter, what you couldn’t get in the village came from either Measham or Ashby. Normal practice was that a representative called and arranged delivery of the order later. Mr Ordish came from Simpkin & James at Ashby, and Mr Archer from Bullens. Mr Petcher from Measham however came in a van, but anything that was not on board could be ordered for the next visit.
Now to Bakers. Hughie Richardson from Netherseal called with his Reliant Van, and Blunts from Austrey plus the Co-op bakery van from Coalville.
The highlight of the week was a Thursday when a Ford Thames Cost Cutter arrived outside the Black Horse and the cry of ‘Oil Duckie’ resonated off the 17th century brickwork at the side of Hill House. This was Grace Carter, nee Cull, with her husband Jabis. They had a shop at Overseal, but the van carried everything from pots and pans to tins of soup. It also had a paraffin tank and supplied ‘oil’ for the hurricane lamps and Valor stoves. Grace’s father Bert used to deliver tractor vaporising oil (TVO) to the farms, using an ancient Austin car towing an ex War Ag. Bowser. He hand pumped this into the tanks on the farm. This business later passed to Buckleys when proper road tankers were evident.
Other representatives called, expressly on the farmers. Holdrons and Isons of Ashby were two concerns who did this, whilst machinery dealers from far and wide also made occasional visits. Some of the Grocery businesses supplied farm feed, the Co-op in church street stocked this. Seed and feed merchants were Dickinsons from Ashby and Staffordshire Farmers who owned Acresford Mills.
When it came to drapery and clothing, Stanfields from Measham and Taylors from Warton also made calls in the village.
There was no gas in Appleby in those days, so coal was the main fuel for heating. Teddy Farmer from Old End had a single Morris Commercial, and Dennis Jones also had a round. The Fowkes in Hallyard also had a coal business, and later Ronnie Jones took over when Teddy Farmer retired. Ronnie and Dennis were sons of Jack Jones who was landlord of the Black Horse.
Edgar Wileman retired from the Post-Office in the late 1950s but kept the shop on for a time until he moved to Rhyl to be near his daughter Peggy. Tom Lakin took over the Post Office and it moved to the cottages down Mawby’s lane opposite Duck Lake. The Lukemans eventually took over, and the last time I came across Tommy Lakin he was driving for the Midland ‘Red’ from Coalville garage.
Various wholesalers supplied the independent shops in the village; Wilcox the wholesale tobacconists delivered cigarettes and sweets. I well remember Wilcox’s arriving at Edgar Wileman’s one Wednesday afternoon with a delivery and as it was half day Edgar and Rose had gone out in the car. The goods were left on the shop step and an ensuing downpour rendered most if it unsaleable.
The local hostelries of course had their ‘off sales’ which included Cigarettes, ‘Pop’, Crisps and some confectionery. The two shops sold mineral waters; Mrs Johnson sold the products of Brown’s, Woodville and Tizer, whilst Edgar Wileman stocked Corona. Davenport’s Beer at Home came round, and eventually Corona started direct sales from a lorry too.
There were of course three Pubs in Appleby; the Crown and the Queen Adelaide in Church Street, and the Black Horse. All were Marston’s tied houses and the Stevensons moved from the Queen Adelaide on closure into the Crown. Ronnie Jones eventually took over from his father Jack at the Black Horse. Overtown fielded the Moore Arms; by the mid 1960s the landlord there was Bill Rice, who was Ansell’s (Birmingham) head stocktaker. The pubs were well patronised by some of the travelling shopkeepers and commercial travellers in the days long before the breathalyser was even thought of.
The mail in those days was brought from Burton on Trent, indeed the postal address was BURTON ON TRENT, Staffs for many years. Final sorting took place at the Post Office in Appleby and was delivered by the two post girls, Maggie Mortimer and Edna Radford.
Mrs Johnson held the agency for the Midland ‘Red’ parcels express, although I believe at one time this was also run by the Black Horse.
There were probably more tradespeople who visited the village over the 1950s period and no doubt my memories might stir up others to add to the above.
Allan T Condie. June 2010
- Shopping in Appleby in the Early 1950's by Walter Ellis
On the History Tour:
Also by Allan Condie