Prestonville Road

Remembering Seven Dials shops

By Adrian Elliott

Photo:Seven Dials in 1958

Seven Dials in 1958

Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Open all hours

I have been remembering Seven Dials shops. I remember Cardwells, Stannet's and the Boot & Shoe repairers. 'Stan' Stannet was, to put it mildly, somewhat 'ill-humoured'. I remember my father telling me that he had once been invited into the back room of Stan's shop. It was a veritable Aladdin's cave, and from what I can make out, very much like Arkwright’s in the Ronnie Barker comedy 'Open All Hours'. I recall the distinct paraffin smell in Cardwell's, and I remember being fascinated by the counter and the bank of wooden drawers all labelled up with their contents. In the winter there used to be a paraffin heater burning in the shop; something that you would not be allowed these days.

Do you have any memories of these shops? Please share by posting a comment below

Playing with the sawdust

If I recall correctly the shop was next door, or close by, was Major’s, the butchers. Here you would choose your meat, have it prepared and wrapped, and you would pay at a little booth in the corner. I was always getting into trouble with my mother for scraping the sawdust on the floor into piles with my shoes and in the wet weather picking it up on the soles of my wellies and walking it out into the street.

Dougie's boots and shoes

The boot & shoe repair shop was run by 'Dougie', and his father used to help out in the shop. He was good at his craft and certainly made our family's shoes last a long time. He would berate us if we did not polish them regularly; "it feeds the leather" he used to say. Other shops were Brown’s the newsagent, the gas showrooms, and there was also a Unigate garage and milk distribution centre, along towards Howard Place. There was also a grocers and if I recall correctly, there was a shop in Dyke Road that used to have a second entrance in Prestonville Road.

This page was added on 07/11/2014.
Comments about this page

Oh the memories! Stannet's was on the corner of York Grove and I remember it clearly. Stannet used to disappear into the back room and reappear with a tin of whatever you asked for, wiping it with a cloth and my mum used to say he stores it all under his bed. I remember all those shops you mentioned, also a private library, and a grocers on the corner of Howard Place and also the shop that you used to go through Dyke Road. I grew up in York Villas, when they were houses, now they are mainly flats. Happy days!

By Marilyn Jones (07/11/2014)

I recently carried out a refurbishment (building works) to the property in the photo, Selbourne house. Working on the roof for quite a while it was easy to envisage the bustling Seven Dials from days gone by, with horse carriages whizzing around in all directions. Its a great view from up there!

By Alan Purton (08/11/2014)

I worked in the shoe repair shop in Prestonville Road from '78 to '85. At that time it was called Dials Shoecraft and it was owned by a lovely guy called John Cooper who sadly passed away about 20 years ago. It was a great place to work along with some very interesting characters. There was a very small winding set of stairs going down to a basement where a one- legged man called Joe worked, It was full of really big machines. How they got them down there, God only knows! There was an electrical shop on the corner (in the picture), we were next, then a fruit shop, a butchers and a newsagents run by a lady. Driven past a few times, but sadly they have all gone now. Great times.

By Andy Mountford (09/11/2014)

Does anyone remember or can comment on the Buckingham Place maternity mospital that was somewhere in the Seven Dials area. I was born there in 1938 and would be very interested in finding its wherabouts.


By John Snelling (22/11/2014)

John Snelling, try Buckingham Road Maternity Hospital.

By David Blackford (06/01/2015)

Strange how things go full circle, the roundabout in the 1958 photo looks very like the new one installed (at some cost) in 2013!  I seem to remember it was removed in the early 1970s and for 40 years we put up with a death trap, then in 2013 the current safe roundabout was built.  It seems the old ways prove to be the best ways!

By Peter Groves (07/01/2015)

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