Memories of Clayton Road Shops
by Barbara Weightman
I began living in Burdon Terrace at the age of nought, in 1947.
When we were old enough to be trusted to cross the road safely, my little brother and I were sent out on errands. Usually bringing back the wrong item.
Us children used to sit on the roof of the coal and coke shed overlooking Clayton Road and write down car numbers – not very exciting – not many cars in those days! However there was plenty of activity around the shops to keep us occupied.
Back then there were normal shops along Clayton Road. Starting from the east end of the parade there was White’s the Baker, alongside White’s the Grocer. The grocer’s shop was twice the size of the baker’s, and I remember watching with wonder as bacon was sliced on a gigantic machine.
Across the road was Lestrene, a very grand ladies outfitters. My mother, to my knowledge, never ever bought anything there, and I was so glad she did not – the clothing was staid – as was much of the apparel of that era.
Continuing along the parade, was the chemist’s, an extremely important shop according to my mother. Mysterious medicines to a little girl.
Next was the greengrocer’s – my favourite – lots of green stuff. Boxes all over the place – a bit of a mess – just like myself.
The hairdresser stood where I believe the current hair salon now stands. At the age of 11, big school time, I was marched in there sporting two superb plaits, and came out with SHORT hair. The hairdresser handed me my plaits which he chopped off before ‘styling’ my hair. I felt grown up. The plaits are still in my memories drawer – gleaming chestnut brown – a reminder of youth.
The next few shops were possibly a flower shop, Mackays the hardware/builder’s merchants , Owen Humble the antiques emporium (this opened about 1957), the wonderful Post Office (full of wondrous greetings cards), Lilburn the fishmonger, possibly a butcher’s, a sweet shop (of course I remember that one), and at the end the usual corner shop, stocking everything anyone could possibly need.
Shopping took a great deal longer in those days, but everyone knew each other, it was a joy to be out, gathering up the latest gossip. Chores done, my mother would take us in the summer, when we were very little, to the Brandling Park paddling pool, and when older we were allowed to go to the swings and on the rowing boats in the Exhibition Park. There was a lady who lived in Kingsland who seemed to produce a baby every spring for a few years, and as a teenager I and a few local lasses were allowed to take her older children to the park whilst the mother coped with the latest addition. I understand she was Irish.
Even though I lived at home until the age of 19 I have very few recollections of visiting these shops, so the information is not that accurate. I have been trying to find neighbours who lived in the area during the 1950’s but it’s proved impossible. My mother, who is now 100, can’t remember either!