Based on childhood recollections
of shops in Edmonton, north London in Edwardian times.
This photograph of a greengrocer's shop is from the early1900s
and is courtesy of Viv Nunn. It shows Eustances of 176 Tollington Park in
Finsbury Park, about five miles from Edmonton. All greengrocers shops of
the time were probably very similar. Eustances was owned by Viv's great
grandfather and later by her second cousins.
Click for a larger version.
When I was a child on the Huxley Estate
in Edmonton in the early 1900s, our local greengrocer
was Mr Rice.
The 1911 census shows that my mother's memory was absolutely
right: Thomas Rice, a greengrocer, age 32, lived at 81 Silver Street, presumably
above his greengrocer's shop. He was born in Alresford, and lived with his
wife Amelia Rice, 30, born New Cross, with their sons Thomas Richard, 3,
and Arthur George, 1, both born in Whitechapel. Amelia assisted in the business.
Pat Cryer, webmaster
The person who helped in the shop was not Thomas
and Amelia's daughter, but a young girl who was employed by them to help with the family and in the shop.
However, Amelia probably treated her like a daughter!
The family did live above the shop.
Janice Mitchell (formerly Janice Rice), Thomas and Amelia's granddaughter
Mr Rice and his wife worked a flourishing business in
Silver Street, and he brought his wares
out with his horse and cart, leaving his wife and daughter to mind the shop.
Early shop till, as described below by Bert Felgate. Photographed in
Bath Postal Museum.
The till in the shop was a large block of wood with several hollows dug out for the different coins.
Fixed to the block was a strip of metal so if a customer offered a half crown it was scraped against the metal to see if it was genuine and not home made in lead!
whose family owned a greengrocers
I remember Mr Rice mostly on a hot summer's day, when he would tuck a large
cabbage leaf into the back of his cap to protect his neck from the hot sun,
and the horse would have straw caps on his ears to keep off the flies. Mr Rice
would put the tailboard of the cart down flat and place his scales on it to
weigh out whatever his customers wanted. The
scales were the balance sort with weights
on one side and a pan for the goods on the other, and the women would come out
to him carrying their baskets.
We children regularly spent some of our pocket money at the greengrocers, mainly on
locus beans. They were often full of insects eggs but we weren't put off. I
really liked them. When my mother brought gooseberries, we children had the job of topping and
tailing them with small scissors. It was a horrible job. Stoning the cherries
was fun though because there were often two stalks together and we would dangle
them over our ears as earrings.
This photo, which is also courtesy of Viv Nunn shows
Eustances' horsedrawn delivery cart. Note the gas lamp; the policeman's
uniform and the blinkers on the horse's eyes to prevent distraction from
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in early to mid 20th century Britain, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is © Pat Cryer.