This parade was a favourite with the children of the village because of two special shops. Ling’s sold toys and bicycles and Boon’s sold sweets and comics.
My first vivid memory of these two shops was in 1951 (although I have vague memories of being taken there prior to that). I had recently started at Markham’s Chase school having just turned 5 years old and as my mother was expecting a baby; my dad collected me from school. We travelled home along St Nicholas Lane on his pushbike with me strapped into a little chair-seat on the back. I liked the downhill bit before turning right into the High Road. Occasionally we would take a detour into North Parade where I was allowed to choose something for a few pennies. I once chose a tiny toy chicken in Ling’s, which when pressed down, would ‘lay’ an egg. The egg could then be ‘re-loaded’ into the hen. I loved it and couldn’t wait to get home to show my mum.
Mum had a paper account at Boon’s and her regular order was delivered by the paperboy. The daily newspaper and at various times, Eagle for my older brother, ‘Picturegoer’ for my teenage sister and Beano and Dandy for me and my younger brother. I also enjoyed reading Picturegoer when my sister had finished with it and recognised some of the film stars among the many ‘stills’ that were displayed at the top of the steps of the Radion on the walls either side of the doors. Once a week mum would return from shopping with Enid Blyton’s ‘Sunny Stories’ and my sweet ration – a small paper bag of dolly mixtures.
Visits to North Parade would include ‘paying the papers’. I’d wait outside and wonder around the red telephone box which held a fascination for me as not many households had a phone in the early fifties. On the pavement in front of the shops, on the border line between Boon’s and Violet Butler’s draper shop stood a telegraph pole. The telephone box stood next to it on its north side.
This parade was also a favourite site to park one’s home-made ‘Guy Fawkes’ in the two weeks before bonfire night. Boon’s was one of many shops that sold a large assortment of cheap fireworks which we saved our pocket money to buy. The long since banned squib and jumping jacks were popular although most had already been set off before the big night.
The photograph of the parade appears slightly blurred but upon enlargement, shows a busy little scene, albeit the traffic consists only of push bikes. I well remember my dad parking his bike like those shown, pedal wedged against the kerb to keep the bicycle upright. That method wasn’t always successful as I remember on several occasions hearing and seeing a bike crash to the ground.
I believe the photo may have been taken in the forties, as the shop on the right is called ‘North Parade Stores’, a traditional non-self-service grocers, run at that time by The Shotter family. In earlier years it had been called ‘Polden’s Grocers’. I also noticed a pram parked outside in both the photos. A common practice during an era when it was considered safe to do so.
There were living quarters above the shops. The 1949 Electoral Register shows Cecil C Matthews living ‘over’ No 5. Violet Butler – No 4. Lucy and Frederick Reed – No 3 (Boon’s). Ada, Leslie and Edith Hubbard – No 2 (Ling’s). Evelyn and Leonard Winsborrow – No 1. Of course, the tenants in these flats changed from time to time over the years.
Gazing into these two photographs is a sheer pleasure and very emotive, I’d love to be able to drop into them and actually be there (like in the Aha video ‘Take on Me’). If only I had a time machine, here would definitely be one of my first stops.