HHS member David Winskill shares his memories of the Weston Park shopping parade in the early 1960s. If it jogs any of your own memories please share them with us in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
An amazing area
I was born in 1955, just after my mother and father had moved into the flat above the grocers at 96 Weston Park. Up to the age of seven, my playground was the shop, the parade and the amazing area off Inderwick Road known as Hornsey Vale.
There were two parades of shops between Nelson Road and Uplands Road – 96 was part of the double parade. It was a self contained town centre in its own right and, in this short piece, I hope to jog people’s memories of the shops, the shop keepers and the customers.
My dad was Canadian and when he arrived in the UK he was surprised at how early the shops closed. Crouch End, only ten minutes away, had a thriving food economy and, so, for a small shop to compete, he started opening until eight o’clock in the evening to catch the commuters returning home on the 233 bus from Finsbury Park. Women were also starting to go out to work in numbers, so there was less day time trade.
Next door at 96a (the Nelson Road side) was MacAdams, the builders and builders merchants. Their forecourt was daily laid out with metal buckets, brooms, washing baskets, wood kindling and all manner of hardware. This was to be the company that would convert the run down and neglected Old School house to become the HQ of the HHS.
On our other side was Bert Smith, the electrician – an early supplier of television sets in the area- a chaotic shop full of ancient radios, batteries, valves and odd metal and Bakelite bits that no-one could remember the function of. Next to Bert was the United Dairies – a sort of grocery shop run by the company whose orange three wheeled milk floats were such a familiar site on roads of the time. Living above was Vi Coulson who came to work for my dad and was almost like a second mother to my sister Kate and me.
Next was the butcher – Mr. Randall and it was from him that we acquired our lovely jet black cat called, appropriately, Butch. On the corner with Inderwick were Mr. and Mrs. Poole who lived above their off licence. They always dressed impeccably as though they were hosting a party and the shop has the air of a small country pub.
On the other side of the road was Dakins. It was a provision merchant and sold a similar range of goods to Martyn’s in Muswell Hill. They were neighbours to the amazing John Conn – cockney, thick set, flat hat and roll up glued to his lower lip – fruiterer and greengrocer. His limited range ran to spuds, carrots, parsnips, salad in the summer with apples pears and oranges. The potatoes were wrapped in newspaper and dropped into shopping baskets and always seemed to have massive lumps of earth attached. And, always, dates at Christmas.
Gibbs and Dolman were the partners that ran the bustling newspaper and stationers (I can’t remember if they had a sub post office as well) and next door (and according to my dentist, too close to me) was the sweet shop with seemingly endless jars of pear drops, lemon sherbets, aniseed balls all really to be weighted into 1/4lb bags.
I only found out recently that Dunns had once run the premises that I knew as Jimmy Jewells the baker. The smell of his fresh, crusty bloomers was intoxicating. Finally, there was a small office and smaller builders yard with a sand store, owned by MacAdams.