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Non-food shops, early 20th century

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Newsagents in early 20th century England

By the webmaster’s mother, 1906-2002

When I was a child in the early 1900s, newsagents shops carried newspapers, magazines, books and comics as well as tobacco and cigarettes.

Hours of work for newsagents

Morning papers were delivered which meant that the shopkeepers had to get up very early in the mornings to organise. There were also evening editions of newspapers which meant that newsagents shops had to stay open in the evenings.

How newsagents catered for children

Children's comics were very popular, and I remember there was School Friend for girls. A very popular boys series was Billy Bunter.

Two other periodicals were Tits Bits and Strand Magazine. The first was little more than human interest stories whereas The Strand Magazine was filled with interesting information. We really looked forward to these periodicals with their little bits about the outside world.

How newsagents catered for men

Newsagents always seemed to me to be a man's shop because the men bought their tobacco there. When they bought their evening papers, they would stand and chat about the latest war news. Tobacco was very widely smoked when I was a child. Everyday pipes were made of clay and more expensive ones of wood.

Women customers at newsagents

Women were not really catered for, although I do recall The Lady and Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.

My family's local newsagent

Our local newsagents in Silver Street, Edmonton, was a very small shop indeed. The owners were a husband and wife team, along with a lady relative.

Newsagents in Edmonton, North London in 1911

My mother wrote that the newsagents in Edmonton were the Swaystons, but I am unable to find Swayston in the 1911 census. Perhaps they came later or perhaps my mother did not know how to spell the name.

Pat Cryer, webmaster
and daughter of the author

I think the name of the newsagent at 117 was Swainston, a slightly different spelling.

Pat Slocombe




If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.


Page based on the recollections and notes of the webmaster's mother (1906-2002) with additional research and editorial work by the webmaster

Text and images are copyright


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