Shopping in South Oxhey
Some memories of old fashioned shopping experiences
By John Bryan
Some memories of old fashioned shopping experiences.
My family moved to a house at the top end of Hayling Road in January 1951 when I was 10 months old.
My earliest memories of shopping in South Oxhey was the parade of shops in Hallowes Crescent. This consisted of a hardware shop (Mace’s), which also housed the sub-Post Office, a greengrocers, a butchers, a bakers, a newsagents/tobacconist (Forbouys), a grocers (Perk’s), and a Chemist. The final shop I think was originally a haberdashers but this later became an Off-Licence.
Hot Crossed Buns
The bakers baked bread and cakes on the premises and I can remember that on Good Friday they used to open for a couple of hours in the morning just to sell Hot Crossed Buns straight from the oven – I can still taste them.
Perk’s was an old fashioned grocers that sold loose tea, sugar etc and biscuits from tins lined up at the front of the counter. There was always one that contained broken biscuits.
The Chemist’s was owned by George Lieper, who was a lovely man and a pharmacist of the old school who as well as filling prescriptions etc, made up his own pills and potions. When we were kids he was always the first port of call if we had anything wrong with us. I remember when I was about 5 years old I was bitten by a dog and was dragged over to see Mr Lieper who cauterised the wound. In later years he used to drive round in an elderly green Bentley car.
Other than this, any other shopping had to be done in Watford or, more often than not in our case, in Northwood. However, then the shopping are around Bridlington Road opened and many more options opened up.
We used to call the Bridlington Road shopping centre the “new shops”, although in reality they were not much newer than Hallowes Crescent.
Among the shops that I can remember where a Sainsbury’s self-service “supermarket”. They employed a commissionaire, an elderly gentleman with one arm dressed in a black military style uniform who opened the door for people. I also remember a record shop, a fishmongers, a bicycle shop, a branch of Woolworths, a ladies hairdressers, a barbers, a jewellers, a couple of newsagents and a fish and chip shop.
Short Back and Sides
I can remember being regularly sent to the barbers (I think is was called Davis’s) for a haircut. When us kids arrived at the shop we were given a number and had to wait ages for our turn, especially as if any adults arrived they went straight to the front of the queue. I seem to remember that it did not matter what I asked the barber to do I always ended up with the same short back and sides haircut with my hair plastered down with an evil smelling lacquer. Later another barbers called Peter’s opened on Station Approach, which was a lot better.
Also on Station Approach was a Radio/TV shop called Signal Service where our first TV set came from.
Fish and Chips
The fish and chip shop was great and had an eating area in the back. I remember one period when during school holidays they did a childrens meal for 1 shilling, the same price as a school dinner. There was no choice, you were just given a plate of fish and chips the fish depending on what was available at the time. It was a real treat.