For more than 200 years Emscote shopkeepers have been serving its inhabitants with a variety of products and services .
Emscote Road is crossed by the Grand Union Canal, opened in 1800, and it was the construction of the canal that marked the changing fortunes of this area, giving birth to several industries and related occupations.
Wharfs were built along the length of the canal with timber mills, brickyards, lime and gravel extraction and a little later, a foundry and coal depot were established. The Navigation Mill was opened in 1806 and within 40 years Nelson, Dale & Co. remembered today for its gelatine products, moved into Wharf Street from Rock Mill, Milverton. Wharf Street, Pickard Street, Charles Street, All Saints Road and Avon Street were rapidly developed by the middle of the 19th century as demand grew for cheap housing for its workers who had often moved from the country to find work .
By the close of the century many streets had their own corner shops, beer houses, as well as laundry women, midwives and often undertakers, in fact a little community all of their own.
Although today much of the evidence for this way of life has disappeared, some will remember with affection certain familiar names from a time when the only way to put food on the table was by ‘having it on the tick’.
How many will recall Mrs Steel’s sweet shop situated at the top of Hill Street or Webb’s corner shop in Pickard Street and who remembers the Miss Billeys’ shop on the corner of Charles Street? Next to the Lord Nelson pub, on the opposite corner, many will have visited Bonel & Curtis Audio Ltd, who opened in the mid 1950s selling radios and televisions.
On the corner of Avon Street people would have seen Mr Owen’s cycle shop, opened here in 1936, where you could also buy your wireless. Today the name Owens is still to be found in Emscote, well positioned on the corner of Humphries Street reaching along to the Elephant & Castle pub.
Some may also remember Meddom’s greengrocers shop that stood next to Owen’s for many years.
At 37 Avon Street, a little further down from Owen’s Cycle shop, was Elsie and Tommy Morris’s general store.
Was Alderman T. Lees your butcher ? His shop was at 174 Emscote Road. Many can tell you about him bringing the cattle from the field by Rock Mill to his slaughter house at the rear of his shop.
n The local history group known as The Emscote Project is asking for your help by giving your recollections of shopping in Emscote. The next Emscote Memories meeting is on October 10 at 2pm in All Saints church coffee room.
Everyone is very welcome to attend . Free admission. If you are unable to attend but have some memories you wish to contribute please contact Philip Bonehill, e.mail [email protected]
Pictured: Mr Owen outside his shop at 46 Emscote Road, and Mrs Webb at her shop entrance in Pickard Street.