Take a walk with me to remember (or, for the new Bourne Enders, to find out) exactly how the village used to look some 60 odd years ago, who were the main players, and just where all the shops were and how the village worked!
Let us start on the Marlow Road at the bottom of Blind Lane where Cressington Place Estate is built – much to the horror of villagers – on The Water Cress Beds – the ever gurgling and bubbling beds that had been there goodness know how long.
The garage is a newish acquisition – the “new build” office block was home to a Solicitors office and others but no longer around. The new retirement complex seems to be where both the Billinghursts Builders yard and the Billinghurst family home were.
The new Co-op on the corner replaced Mr Whites “Corner Shop” selling ice cream, fizzy pop, sweets etc. Sundays in the summer was not complete without a block of vanilla ice cream for pudding – it used to be my task to go and buy it (for 1/-, 5 pence in today’s money) just before the Sunday lunch was served as not many people had a fridge in those days! The ice cream was indeed a treat and always looked forward to on a Sunday! I remember getting into trouble one day while on the ice cream run – on the way home clutching the ice cream, I met a boy who I got talking to for rather longer than I should, and on arriving home clutching a sodden mass found my lunch, cold, on the table and no one talking to me as the pudding was ruined!!
Dudley Sims the butchers with Stan Wheeler in charge and Mrs Bowler in the cash desk. Next,
Mr Fussells grocers shop selling Oxo cubes for a farthing each (I remember purchasing that!). Kaye Townsend has reminded me that after Mr Fussell finished, the shop was reinvented as a Coffee Shop in the early 1970’s by Kaye’s parents the lovely Ray Townsend and Margaret. Ray a “child of Chalklands” was, I remember, in a pop group back in the day, a great source of pride for impressionable girls in the street! The Townsend family lived a couple of doors away from my family. After becoming a coffee shop it turned into a Chinese Takeaway.
The first Nancy and June ladies hairdressers was a great stepping stone for local girls wanting apprenticeships. Then Mr Roper the Fishmonger, also selling fruit and veg. and selling three penny worth of fish bits for the cat!
The now Wine Bar was originally built for Nancy and June Hairdressers to move to, leaving space for Clive the gentleman’s barber who moved into the old shop from just across the Marlow Road.
Now, at the start of the Parade proper was a shop that cornered the Parade and Oakfield Road. I remember it being a bike shop or perhaps just bits for bikes and run by Mr Chance and it later morphed into an Antiques Shop, then a dress shop, a bakers and more lately a key cutting, engraving shop. Time does not stand still in Bourne End! Next door a tiny, tiny shop Mrs Crabbes sweet shop completely lined with big glass jars full of all kinds of sweets. It later became a Funeral office and now a hairdresser.
The next shop which was the mainstay of Bourne End for so many years, Shortlands the department store where most of us visited at some point…owned and run by the lovely Shortland family and boasted a ladies, children’s and household department and a men’s wear and shoe section, where the main attraction was the X-ray shoe machine. No one realised how bad for us the said machine was and I am sure it was outlawed in later years, but at least our parents knew that there was plenty of room for growth in our school shoes. I remember after Shortlands closed it became an Antique Shop and now of course the first half of it houses the Costa Coffee Shop.
Next door was Mr and Mrs Spurges hardware shop. Mr Spurge resplendent in his brown overall and Mrs Spurge always in attendance. It had been a hardware shop back in the 1930’s known as W. Hearn. Much later it turned into Barclays Bank which is no longer around…Bourne End now without any Bank!
Who remembers The Quality Shop? It was next in line and sold toys and fancy goods next door was Ellisons the bakers
Next was Miss Hester’s emporium…a general store, presided over by Miss Ede Hester. I have no idea how long it had been there…probably only marginally longer that the stock she had for sale…indeed it looked that way. The vegetables for sale in the front window served as a lovely bed for her cat…her pet goat was tethered outside the shop! I don’t think Health and Safety had been invented back then. She was occasionally known to shoo the cat from his bed to retrieve potatoes, covered in grime and then with her equally grimy hands, weigh out the required amount…. then straight into the barrel of loose biscuits with dirt covered hands to weigh them out! I can’t think Miss Hester made much of a living in those surroundings!!
Collias the butchers is the only shop that I remember from my childhood that is still in situ and still trading in 2018 and I believe, with one of the Kempster family still there! A grocers Thorne’s Stores was next, and then the Dairy with Mr and Mrs Brown behind the counter overseeing all the milk deliveries in Bourne End. The branch Post Office was also in there.
Mr Whitehead the newsagent moved his shop from opposite the station to the Parade and he used to save old magazines for me as I made scrapbooks about the Queen!
Next was an old house which served as the local Doctors Surgery I can remember the waiting room which was so dark with dark wood panels from floor to ceiling…you had to peer around when you arrived to see who had arrived before you and stake your place in the queue!
Ah the Bourne End of yesteryear!