London Road

Everything you needed in one place

By Paul Clarkson

 
Photo:London Road c1970s: from Oxford Street to Oxford Place

London Road c1970s: from Oxford Street to Oxford Place

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

Popular shopping destination

London Road was definitely a very popular shopping destination years ago. I remember it mainly in the 1960s and 1970s; you could obtain everything you needed in that road without having to go further into town. It did have some great shops like Bellmans, Woolworths and the Co-op. Added to this there were several butchers, hardware stores, Boots, Timothy Whites, then there were clothing shops and shoe shops.

Woolworths in the 1970s

I worked at Woolworths in 1973 and 1974, and can well remember being sent into the road to pull the blinds out. This was done on sunny days as the sun used to shine directly onto the front of the store in the morning, and at around 10am it took quite a while due to the amount of shoppers, so I had to wait for a clear bit of pavement. If you go to that location today you can still see the steel fronts of those blinds, and the hooks where we had to pull them out with a long wooden pole.

Fish chips and a haircut

Then of course there were the shops that surrounded London Road. There was Needhams in Ann Street for musical instruments, along with Wicks in Ditchling Road where you could buy Airfix kits, train sets, Scalextric and Subbuteo teams. Baker Street had Bardsleys fish & chip shop which incidentally is still going strong, two barbers which were Youngs and Coopers, and the pet shop. I've only covered the 1960/70 and I'm sure there are many people who can recall some more memories from my era, and the decades before.

This page was added on 18/01/2013.
Comments about this page

As a kid in the 40s and 50s my dad was a stallholder in the Open Market so I knew London Road really well. I have forgotten many of the shop names but a few I remember: Woolworths and the Coop, Boots and Bellmans were the biggest shops. Timothy White and Taylors, Mac Fisheries?, Mence Smith and a lot more would come to mind if I thought long and hard. Christmas presents were bought for my mum and dad and aunties in one of the big stores mentioned. I seem to remember Halfords for bicycle bits, and Elliots the tool shop. I quite often had to go to Elliots for tools for my dad. This shop was fascinating to me and would still be to this day for the amazing tools and other goods that they carried. I also remember Needham's little music shop just up Anne Street where I would get my dad's guitar strings. I remember the fire engines tearing along London Road from the station in Preston Circus and the policeman on point duty by the end of Oxford street standing to attention with arms outstretched waving the fire engine straight through. I always felt a definite sense of urgency and pride on seeing this. I am almost sure  that the fire engine with the long ladder with huge wheels (forerunner of the turntable ladder?) had the firemen sitting on the sides and they wore the old fashioned brass helmets. Good memories.

By Mick Peirson (20/01/2013)

Further to my comment posted yesterday I would like to add that on the long ladder fire engine the man sitting beside the driver always rang the bell that was situated to the side of him. And Elliot's tool shop had a huge stock of Meccano. They had working cranes in the shop which were beyond my wildest dreams financially, but I spent every bit of my meagre pocket money buying bits for my beloved Meccano.

By Mick Peirson (20/01/2013)

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