Ling's and Boon's

North Parade

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.

Boon's confectioners and Ling's toys and bike shop.
North Parade Shops 1940s.

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  • If you look at the two photographs there is a similar pram out side Boon’s. I do hope it is not the same baby!

    By Ian Mott (19/04/2014)
  • Following my posting of 18/04/2014 a few additional thoughts come to mind. Who actually built and owned the various shops on the High Road? While there were stand alone stores many were included in ”parades” which implies a far grander set of stores than was actually the case.

    Were the developers local or was outside investment money involved? Laindon High Road in that era seems an unlikely place to attract real estate investment. One would have thought that higher rents could have been obtained by building elsewhere. Countering this thought is the fact that the land must have been considerably cheaper and perhaps other incentives came into play such as favourable tax breaks from the BUDC. These factors are probably lost to us now. Did any of the shop keepers in the parades actually own their shop or were they all leased. If so who were the lessors?

    If leased did the shop keepers also lease the upstairs residentional quarters? Did the developers lease the upstairs separately? How many shop keepers lived over their shops? If not over their shop where did they live? Most stores remained in the same location for long periods until the proprietor changed. One notable exception seems to be Hatheralls who appear to have changed their address several times over the years. This would appear to indicate, in the case of Hatheralls at least, that the lease was not long term.

    My suspicion is that it is a mixed bag. Some or most of the stand alone stores were probably owned by the proprietors. The parades were probably purpose built investments by mainly outside financing. Bata and the Co-Op may have actually been company owned.

    By Alan Davies (19/04/2014)
  • Nina what fantastic photos these are. I think the bottom one is earlier than the top one as it does not have the Phillips sign above Lings and in the top photo Boons is written in a more modern flashier style. By the time of the 1955 photo we talked about earlier this week only the supporting framework of the Phillips sign remained. I did look at the 1956 1/2500 plan from OS which shows Telephone Call Boxes outside Boons, the Post Office next door to Slopers and a third one in King Edward Road/Home Mead, so we were well supplied with those.

    Truly a fascinating corner of Laindon and your memories of the comics (Dandy on Tuesday, Eagle on Wednesday and Beano on Thursday) is the same as mine. Wonderful days in a magical place – I would go in your time machine with you.

    By Richard Haines (17/04/2014)
  • Lovely story Nina, I seem to remember a shopkeeper (may have been a Mr Ling?), a very mild mannered man, slim and looked tall to me, with thinning hair brushed back possibly with Brylcreme ?  Also re comics, I wonder if you remember School Friend and Girls Crystal?  Arghhh. 

    By Andrea (17/04/2014)
  • Nina mentions tenants living above the shops. I had always assumed that the living quarters above were occupied by the shop owners. Apparently not. At least not in all cases. With housing so scarce and basic in Laindon I assumed that the store owners would occupy the quarters above rather than rent them out. Or did the actual property owner lease out the store property and the upstairs living facilities separately? How many store owners in the High Road actually lived upstairs and how many lived elsewhere?

    Above the Bata store, opposite Durham Road adjacent to Cramphorn’s, lived one of my pals Clifford Thompson and his family. Mr Thompson worked for Bata and was transferred to Laindon as the store manager. This was probably an exception as Bata must have leased or owned the property.

    By Alan Davies (17/04/2014)

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