Growing-up With Southall From 1904 (Memories of R.J. Meads)



                        In the early 1900s Brentford used to be the place where Southall people used to do their shopping, via the Brentford branch of the G.W.R. but by 1906 West Ealing became the shopping centre. On Saturday afternoons or evenings after tea Mum and Dad would get us all smartened up and take us up to West Ealing shopping. The Sunday joint had to be got and the butchers would be doing all sorts of things to get a sale. In their straw hats and striped aprons they would offer a joint or a bird at such a price, and if there was no sale would add something else for the same price, talking all the time to make passers by take notice . Dad would buy leather to mend our boots. There was a penny bazaar where among other things you could buy a dozen boxes of matches for a penny. We would meet some of Dad’s relations and, when the shopping had been done, they would go for a drink; and that would mean ginger beer and biscuits for us kids. Christmas times the shops would be all dressed up and it was a special treat to be taken on the trams to Shepherds Bush and back. In those days the outside of shops used to be lit by napthalene lamps, and these used to smoke. Grocers would have crates of eggs selling at 14 for 6 pence outside, and butchers turkeys hanging all over the front of their shop, and you would go from one to the other until you got the bargain – a turkey perhaps for around 10 shillings ( 50p ) for a whopper, with sausage meat thrown in. 

                        Most things could be bought at the door. The milkman came twice a day, the second round being termed the “pudding round”. You took your jug to the door, or it was left in cans. Cost was 2d a pint, 1 ½d for skimmed milk. Greengrocer, oil and hardware, coalman, all would be calling out their presence in the road. Tradesmen were always willing to deliver your order. There were also characters such as Dicky Duffell with his winkles and water-cress, Wild Rabbit Joe with his rabbits strung on a pole and Hoky Poky the “Itie” who came round with a variety of ices. Our nearest fish and chip shop was near Hamborough Road and for 1/3 ( 6 ½p ) you could get 6 pieces of fish, 3 pennyworth of chips and ½ pennyworth of crackling to eat on the way home. At night there used to be two coffee stalls, one at the High Street corner of Lady Margaret Road, the other on the Station bridge. These were open all night. They used to dispense most drinks and cakes and hot pies – hot cheese cakes 4 inches across with lashings of cocoanut on top, and what was known as “Tottenham” or “Nelson”, a flat triangular piece of cake 1 inch thick with pink icing on top for 2 pence. Up to 1914 Mr. Marwood used to ply for hire from the Station with a hansom cab. Tallymen used to call trying to get people to have goods on credit. Once in their clutches they would get more and more into debt, very often with sad endings.