I Think She’s At Liptons…

Bunches of unripe plantain at a vegetable stall

High Street greengrocer memories, including when Marion forgot her baby sister at Lipton’s, when Sheila found her baby covered in flour at Perk’s, and Mick’s childhood friend from Hutchins’ Greengrocers on Portland Road.

In this audio you can hear Marion, Mick and Sheila.

This audio is 5 minutes and 51 seconds long.



Marion: One time I took my sister in her pram, a baby, and I went to a shop called Lipton’s that was there and got home and whatever mum said, “Right, go and get your sister”.  I went downstairs and went, “No pram”. Mum said, “Hurry up. What are you doing? “She came down and said, “Where’s the pram?”  “I don’t know”. So, I said “I must have left her outside Lipton’s”, so I had to run up the hill, go along to the high street and got to Lipton’s. And there she was, coo-cooing away. And I came up to the pram and I looked around and the lady in Lipton’s waved at me and said, “Did you forget her?” I went, “Yes”, she said, “She’s been all right”. I wasn’t when I got home, my mother was not very pleased, but she was worried, obviously. But, again, she was perfectly safe. Everyone had kept an eye on her, and they’d all guessed what had happened, because I was obviously a regular every Saturday morning, so. Oh, dear, yes. 

Alistair (Interviewer): So, you mentioned Lipton’s there. What kind of shop was… 

Marion: It was a grocer’s, you know, you could get your tea, sugar and whatever there. It was a grocer’s shop, but it was a proper little high street then, which it is not now.  There was a knitting shop, a stamp shop, if you wanted to buy stamps for your stamp album. There was a toy shop and there was a proper greengrocers and all the shops you’d imagine along a high street, they were there.

Mick: The greengrocery, it was a proper greengrocers. You had all the stuff out on the road and it was just a proper greengrocers. And also, they used to do deliveries as well. So yeah, but again they used to have the stables at the back between Oakley Road and Sandown Road. 

Alistair: And what were the stables for? 




Mick: For horses, they used to have horses there. 

Alistair: So, have you got sort of memories of…? 

Mick: Yeah, we used to walk down the alley and the horses used to poke their heads through and we used to feed them and stuff. So.

Sheila: But this Pearks was a grocer’s shop, double fronted and the paintwork was all green, I can remember that. But we went in and you bought, you know, your butter and your cheese and your bacon and of course years ago you didn’t have packed stuff like you do now. They got a machine where if you went in and you say, “I’d like some bacon, please”. And “How many rashers would you like?” And “Do you want fat bacon or would you like lean bacon?” And there was no smoked or unsmoked. I don’t know what it was in those days, but you had whatever they’d got, and you’d say, say you wanted 4 or 6 rashers of bacon then they would put a big piece of bacon into a machine and put a thing on it to keep it in place, and that. Then they’d be turning your handle. And “How thick would you like?” “Do you want thin rashers or thicker rashers?” And you’d say what you wanted and they’d, you know, sort it out, and then they’d wind the handle until you got the amount of rashers that you wanted. Then it would be done up in greaseproof paper and that. And butter, you never got butter in a packet. They’d have a great big piece of butter, and you’d have something with two bits of round, like dowel on a wire and they’d put it down on the butter and how much butter you wanted. 

Sheika: And then they’d have butter pats to pat it into shape. And the same thing with cheese and sugar, I can see it now in a great big, like sacking, like you have sacks, There’d be a sack in the little grocer’s shop on the floor with the top open, and could you have two pound of sugar or whatever, and the sugar that was scooped out and put into a blue bag and then put on weighing scales to weigh. So that’s how you bought shopping years ago and this ‘Pearks’ that I used to go to, to buy again certain things. It was after our daughter was born and I’d taken her up in a pram and of course, in those days you could leave a pram outside the shop. You could see it out there because there’d be these great big windows that you could look through and that. If it was summer and that the door would be open, you could see out. One day I’d got her, she must’ve been, well she was sitting up in her pram. She was in a great big royal pram, I can see it now, grey. And she’d be sat up in that and all of a sudden I could see a group of people around her laughing and I used to think, well, what’s going on out there? I went out to her and I’d obviously been somewhere where I’d bought a three-pound bag of flour. Well, the flour was everywhere. The pram was covered, she was covered and of course, all these people were laughing.

South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit www.croydon.gov.uk/southnorwood

Image Credit: Croydon Council

Bunches of unripe plantain at a vegetable stall

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