Based on childhood recollections
of shops in Edmonton, north London in Edwardian times.
Bullocks General Provisions store on the corner of Silver
Street and Haselbury Road, 145 Silver Street. Photo courtesy of Hal Whiteman
who has provided the following information:
The shop belonged to his great-grandparents, Alfred and
Catherine Bullock. Sadly though it burned down in the late early 1900s.The
family, who lived upstairs, had to flee the fire across the tin rooftop.
The shop was rebuilt, but with no insurance, Hal's great-grandparents were
no longer involved.
(The Bullock family came to London from Bristol in the
1870s, Alfred walking the whole way to save money. After the store
burned down he returned to his original trade, which was French polisher.
Hal's grandparents both attended
Silver Street School in the
Where my family lived on the Huxley
Estate in Edmonton [now Enfield], provisions came from a grocer's shop in
Silver Street called Brown's. There were though other grocers and general
provisions stores in the area.
Browns was a family shop, where everyone was treated as though their custom
mattered. The grocer would greet my mother by name, saying something like, "Good
evening, Mrs Cole. What would you like? Some collar bacon and not too salt?"
Then he would hold up a piece of bacon and say, "How about some rashers off
here?" There was quite an art to cutting the bacon. Small weights such as half
an ounce or an ounce were on a piece of string and had to be manipulated with
great skill. I heard my mother say about one shop, "I'm not going there. He's
a bit too tricky on the scales for my liking".
The cheese came as a large hunk and had to be cut with a wire to whatever
size one wanted.
The butter came in large blocks which stood on a marble slab with another
slab in front with the word "butter" engraved in gold coloured letters. Butter
was not pre-packed into convenient weights for sale. It had to be cut to weight
with butter pats made of wood and kept in a pail of water to stop them sticking.
Old wooden butter-pats with a mock-up of a
lump of butter patted into shape. Photographed at the
Museum of Nottingham Life.
There was an art to cutting the butter because it was never possible to cut
off the precise weight that someone wanted. So the grocer had to take bits off
or put bits on to make the scales balance. To add a bit, he would use the butter
pats which had been standing in the water and smack a bit onto the main piece
of butter. He might have to do this a number of times, and the smacking was
important to make the piece of butter into a nice shape. I loved to watch my
mother's face when Mr Brown gave her a taste of the butter on the end of the
pat to see if it was too salt (a common practice in those days). Her lips would
go and down and up and down, and I thought it must have been lovely to be able
to do that.
My mother says nothing about food rationing when
she was a child, but after finding a ration-card for the period in my
father's effects, I made it my business to find out - see
WW1. Pat Cryer.
If you have an old photo which illustrates
the way of life that my mother describes, I would very much appreciate a copy.
In the 1930s there was another provisions shop in the area. See the
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.