Pelham's Shop

6 The Broadway, Laindon High Road.

Pelhams - The Broadway
Ann Rugg

This rare photograph of Pelham’s shop is a sight for sore eyes.  Although it is undated and the people are unnamed, the shop front is instantly recognisable.  The familiar black and white chequered step that led to the front door is just visible on the right of the photo.  Many a time I have walked across that step and opened the door causing the bell to ‘ding’ which in turn summoned Mrs Pelham to appear from behind a curtain that covered the doorway at the back of the shop.  During the fifties, when I was a child, she was usually dressed in dark clothing trimmed with lace.  Small and delicate looking, quiet but with a stern demeanour she served sweets and drinks to us children with immaculate accuracy.  Tipping sweets from their jars into the scales and then into a white paper bag which she twisted by the corners.   My favourites were chocolate buttons, but there weren’t many of them in my 2 ounces for 2d.  I could rarely afford to buy a quarter.  At that time a Wagon Wheel cost 2d, a Milky Way 3d and a Mars Bar 6d.

In the mid fifties I used to take my little brother into the shop in his pushchair to spend our pocket money.  I was rather put out one day when Mrs Pelham told me he was too old to be wheeled into the shop in a pushchair and that I should leave it outside.   He could only have been about 2½ or 3 years old at the most.

I recently contacted my older sister Anne and asked for her memories of Pelhams.  Here is what she told me:-

What I remember about Pelhams:  There was a Mr Pelham and he died in his sleep. I think that was in the mid 40’s. I remember Nan saying he had said that was how he wanted to go, so he had got his wish.  I don’t know the cause though.  I was taken into the shop as far back as I can remember – Mrs Pelham used to call me ‘little Anne’.   Later on when I was about 8, I used to be given 1 shilling per week and allowed to take my sweet coupon (each person was allowed one coupon a week) where I used to spend it.  I used to get a quarter of sweets and a bar of something, either a Mars or a similar bar called a Crest but it had a white filling.  Mrs Pelham was ‘done’ for rigging her scales on one occasion, when the weights & measures people called in.  I even remember going into the shop and catching her putting some cheap toffees into the jar with the expensive ones.  This explained how it was if I bought a quarter of Merry Maid toffees, which were a nice chocolate coated toffee, I would always find two or three cheap ones in with them ”.

This probably explains the awful toffees that ‘Old Joe’ used to give me when I returned his washing to him once a fortnight.  He was partially sighted and when buying toffees from Pelhams, he was served with the cheapest.  They were horrible and sticky, that is if you could actually get the wrappers off them.  I used to say a polite ‘thank you’ to Joe, but throw them away as soon as I got home.

Pelhams was the first shop in The Broadway (near King Edward Terrace).  Next door going north was Dangerfields the grocers,  then the wood yard (Ashtons).  Next was Variety Stores, The Broadway Radio Service and lastly Express Repair Service (while U wait shoe repairs).

On the south side of Pelhams, was an alley which ran between the shop and the houses.  This led through to Tattenham Road and provided a short cut to the King Edward Estate.  ‘Pelhams Alley’ became a well-known landmark in the area and is still there today, complete with its muddy puddle half way along.

The shop was eventually taken over by Keith Cullis and became known as ‘Keith’s’ and later relocated to the Laindon Centre.  I don’t know what became of Mrs Pelham.  I will do some research – when she first came to Laindon for instance.   I am sure the Archive would like to hear from other people with their memories of Pelhams shop including any information or facts that could be added to its history.  Most of all, the names of the people shown in the photo and if possible, the date it was taken.


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  • Wow, cheeky Old Mrs Pelham dodgy scales, cheap sweets, but the story of the toffees and scales just adds to the charm and unique memories of this little ole shop from my childhood. Who cares about funny tasting toffees, sorry Nina I can’t remember them. I just remember mum giving my brother Fred and I 3 pence and a coupon to go in there on the way to school. I also remember when sweets began to come off ration, as Colin has suggested she was the first to let us have extra chocolate for our coupon. 

    Then, oh the naughtiness of buying our first pack of 5 Weights between 5 of us and going down Pelhams alley to smoke them just like Elizabeth Taylor. 

    I still picture Mrs Pelham with her hair tied back and a kindly face and my smell memory of the shop is tobacco and liquorice and cough candy.

    Richard yes the drinks a godsend after that walk down Nicolas Lane, Dickins Drive, and your Nicol Rd coming home from Markhams Chase (no school bus then) and oh yes the low wall at the side of Pelhams sat for hours on that chatting before making our way through Pelhams alley home across the field to the top of King Edward Rd where I lived, it’s like yesterday.

    Nina sorry I do remember Merry Maid toffees but they were quite expensive so I think we always had the cheap ones anyway. The Merry Maid ones had the picture of the maid on them didn’t they in a blue dress or hat maybe, blue something anyway.

    Well there you are my little input about Pelhams part of my childhood actually a big big part and to think the puddle is still there Nina fantastic I will get back one day to see it all again,

    By Gloria Sewell (12/05/2012)
  • Ok, Pelhams, shall I have a go at this one. Our local sweet shop from the time we came to Nichol Road Laindon but more than that, it was a legend wasn’t it. Look at those adverts in the window for Turf and Craven A cigarettes from long ago and Weights, probably the ones we all tried as our first smoke. Also we bought Consulate in there, a kind of menthol cigarette which rumour had could not be smelled on your clothes by parents. 

    Does anyone know if this photo is prewar or post war? Certainly my first days in the shop, just over the road from my house, were late summer 1957 when I went in with Andy Darroch for a penny drink, what a tiny glass, filled with Tizer or Cherryade by the austere looking Mrs Pelham. When you think of it quite a unique service, no other shops I can ever remember had drinks served to children in such a way. These days it would be frowned upon as being not politically correct, how modern kids are so over protected arent they? Yes I can also remember the check black and white steps on the shop, so prewar looking, just like out of the east end. 

    Pelhams Alley – hey that could tell some tales, a short cut through to the King Edward Road council estate where some of my friends lived, Geoff Cochrane for one. When I was a bit older this alley was my route through to see one of my girlfriends, she would meet me and we would sometimes go to Pitsea cinema on the bus, via Basildon, brilliant, so much to find out about girls then. 

    My most vivid memory of Pelhams is aged 11, sitting on the low wall of Lynview, High Road with my friend Stan Mortlock who lived there at the time. A Cadburys van was delivering and young Stan (just moved down from Woolwich) chirped up ‘have you got any free samples mate?’ The guy stepped round the back of the van and handed over two Cadburys Flakes which then were sold in an open brown cellophane wrapper. ‘Thats for your cheek’ he said. Cant imagine Mrs Pelham being so kind. 

    At lunch times children from LHR would be in and out of the shop if they had any spare money, and of course after school as well. When Keith moved into the shop he changed things round so that he served on the left hand side as you went in. Jimmy Bird’s mum Rose (who used to chatter with my mum) worked there until her tragic departure in 62/63. Keith was much more cheerful than Mrs Pelham but I think the whole atmosphere of the shop under her ownership back in the day was just unique. Fascinating times indeed! 

    Anyone want to talk about Dangerfields?

    Editor: separate article please

    By Richard Haines (05/05/2012)
  • What a soul-stirring photo! Brings back the best of childhood memories. Mrs. Pelham used to serve soft drinks from various flavoured bottles right by the front door. She would pour you a generous drink of your choice and it came in a real glass glass! 

    She also sold home-made ice-lollies at a 1d and 2d, the cheaper ones were a cylindrical shape and were extremely strong, heavily coloured but really so enjoyable on a warm summer’s day. Best of all though, if you were good, was she would be just a little relaxed with the ration book, so you could enjoy a couple of pence worth of sweet tobacco every day!

    Talking about tobacco, much later the shop sold “Domino” cigarettes. On the sweet counter, they were 6d for 4 they were about 2 inches long in a little “domino” packet with different domino scores on the back. Very encouraging for us (then) bigger kids and a good way into bad habits! My, how times have changed!

    By Colin Clarke (05/05/2012)

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