St Helen’s Parade – looking back.

Along the western side of St Helen’s Gardens, opposite St Helen’s Church, there is a parade of shops familiar to those who live nearby.  However, usage has changed considerably over the years reflecting how local residents have changed their shopping habits and no doubt also the higher rents. The chart below shows the changes based on the recollections of local residents,  so exact dates may not be precise, except for 1950 when the details were taken from a Kelly’s Directory of that year.

St Helen's Gardens, 1920s. Photo: E.Adams

St Helen’s Gardens, 1920s. Photo: E.Adams

St Helen's Parade through the years as recalled by local people.

St Helen’s Parade through the years as recalled by local people.

 The Parade in the 1920s

I walked up and down Kelfield Gardens four times a day, from 1922 to 1932.

Starting at the end of the houses on St Helen’s Gardens, the first shop (no 53) was a chemist, FINN’S. (I don’t think it was PHINN’S.) Next was a fishmongers and then Harris’s the grocers. The end one was a very nice drapers & haberdashery run by two ladies, called Prynne & Harris.

On the other side of Kelfield Gardens was the bakers Checkley & Walke, next was Briggs the grocers then a greengrocer’s, next was a gent’s outfitter’s, which later on had the Post Office. Evisons, the sweetshop & stationers, then the Dairy which later became the United Dairies, then I think there was Southcotts the builders.

Somewhere, I think was a Butchers, so if you can see where I have missed a shop out, that will be it.

Former local resident Mary Osborn, interviewed by Audrey Jones in 2006

St Helen’s Parade in the 1940s

..starting from the right side of Kelfield Gardens (as shown in the photo) – when I left to be evacuated – was Partridge the baker’s, Brigg’s the grocer and provision merchant and our landlord, Clyde’s the greengrocer and source of the “ha’porth of specky apples”. We lived in the top flat above Clyde’s,………The fourth shop up – the one with the tiled frontage was Pratt’s the butcher, though he must have ceased trading, for I cannot remember the shop ever being open. I can’t remember what the fifth shop was, but the sixth was, I am fairly sure, Fennimore’s newsagents and tobacconists. The shop next to that was still a dairy shop, part of the United Dairy chain.

As remembered by John Wittering

In the 1980s

We moved into the area in 1976.

Starting at no 53 was the hairdresser Toni (originally from Turkey, I think) and his wife. Next came the Spanish butcher and his wife who sold excellent meat. When they retired, their children took it over and turned it into a delicatessan/cafe. Then came the off license and of course the launderette on the corner, kept busy by the travelers from their site under Westway. Across on the other corner with Kelfield Gardens was and still is –  the bakery. Then what we called the ‘wool shop’ which was also where you went when you needed a zip or a reel of cotton. Next, initially when we moved into the area this it was just a greengrocer, but then they started selling everything and became a convenience shop. In the late 1970s, no 67 was an ironmonger’s/builder’s merchants run by one of the Stone family who until recently ran their excellent tiny shop on Bramley Road. Then the Post Office, followed by the newsagents and finally another convenience shop that we called ‘the Dairy’ run in those days by an Indian couple. Lastly and separate from the parade was the insurance brokers.

Recalled by Sue Snyder.

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4 Responses to St Helen’s Parade – looking back.

  1. Susanne Medas says:

    2013:- sadly we lost our post office a couple of years ago – and the news agents next door where one could buy stamps when the post office was closed or too crowded Other shops come and go – but the baker much improved since under new management.

  2. Anoushka says:

    I lived in St Helens Gardens in the 1960s and 70s as a child. The shops from St Quintin Avenue were: Insurance Broker, United Dairy (later a convenience store), Newsagent, Post Office, Hardware Store, Green Grocer, Wool/baby clothes shop, Tomlins Bakery. On the other side of the road was a Hairdresser (later the launderette), Off licence, Butcher and Chemist.
    Loads of memories of those days: Tomlins selling cakes to kids for a discount because the wasps had eaten the sugar off! United Dairy which had a vending machine for milk and orange juice outside. It was originally staffed by what seemed like a lot of old ladies (probably middle aged). Later on an extended Indian family took it over. Sadly one of them was killed along with his family in a car crash. The newsagent had the rudest staff imaginable – especially to children. I also remember when decimalisation came in, all the sweet prices went up by loads! The Butcher was called Benson (or something like that?) I remember he and his assistants always used to have plasters on their fingers no doubt from butchering. There was a machine to slice ham which always fascinated me. The green grocer was Gigg and his wife Sheila. I think they eventually moved to Cornwall. The hardware store was run by the England family – useful for bicycle pumps, paraffin – all sorts of stuff.
    What strikes me most is that it is so quiet now, it was a real shopping street in those days – always bustling and busy.

  3. Jules says:

    What a fantastic piece on the street I’m living in now! I’d like to know how old the buildings are in St Helen’s. Does anyone know whether it’s been there prior to the 1920s?

    • The shops on St Helen’s Parade and the houses between Kelfield Gardens and Oxford Gardens are clearly marked on the 1914 Ordnance Survey map but not in 1893. The houses on Wallingford, Kelfield, Balliol, Kingsbridge and Finstock to my knowledge were built in the early years of the century around 1905 so I would presume that the shops were built at the same time.

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