Jan 04

Shopping part 2

Apart from the little grocery shops along Ormskirk Road we were also very well served with mobile traders.

There were a couple of butchers who came along in their vans and the householders could go out an buy fresh meat out of the back of the van. I remember the Darbyshires had a butchers van and I think there was another – Hutchins, was it? Somebody might leave a comment and remind me!

There was also at least one van that came round with fruit and vegetables.

I seem to remember a vehicle of some sort which sold hardware. I hope I am jogging memories and that someone will comment with more details.

I guess I could include the ice cream vans as deliveries! On weekends in summer the Fairhurst’s ice cream van used to stop near our house. This was a motor van, the ice cream was delicious and the thing I best remember was the raspberry vinegar that was squirted over the top of your ice cream cornet.

Tom Watson, quite a character, used to come around in his round shaped van pulled along by a patient little horse. Children got a small cornet for 2d, and the adults would have a wafer. I remember an incident once when Tom had pulled up near Watkinson’s shop and went in for some cigs, leaving the horse and cart unattended. My brother told the horse to “Gee up” and to our surprise, she did! Off she went towards Skem. Tom came out and had to run to catch up. I can’t tell you what he was yelling…but he was not at all pleased.

Ice cream vans – such a luxury and a treat when you consider that we rarely ate anything that was not home made. People of the 21st century could hardly envision a world where there was no cafes, restaurants or take away outlets.

So I guess this is why all the people of Tawd Bridge and Grimshaw Lane thought it was wonderful to have a fish and chip shop! I think it must have been in about 1956 when P Kenyon’s little grocery shop was converted into a chippy. It was run by May, who I think was P’s daughter. Fish and chips were what was on the menu, maybe with peas, but certainly not all the chicken, burgers or curries that you get in a chippy these days. But the fish and chips were so good! No convenient plastic bags of frozen chips! All the potatoes were peeled in the back of the shop, then out would come a bucket of freshly peeled potatoes and May would pass them, one at a time, through a simple machine that cut them into chips. Of course it meant that this fast food was not as fast as we might expect today. But people were prepared to stand and wait, knowing that these perfectly prepared hand made chips and freshly battered fish were going to be so good! In fact I used to really enjoy waiting for my chips. It was fascinating to watch May do the cooking and to just stand and listen to the conversation of the other customers.