Shoppers world

Last week, I noted that I’d been the lucky recipient of some secondhand local history books. This week, I’ve decided to return from Walsall Wood and take a stroll to some of the more notable local emporia for the discerning shopper of years past. These fantastic pictures – apart from one, sent in by a kind reader – all come from Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington’s long sought-after work ‘Memories of old Brownhills’, published in 2001 by Walsall Local History Centre.

I pay tribute to Clarice & Geoff’s tireless work, and urge anyone who finds a copy of any of the excellent works on local history to buy them if they get the chance.

I don’t remember anything about this butcher or his shop, but he looks like a dapper, helpful shopkeeper. Taken from ‘Memories of old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

Lote’s would still have been in existence when the authors published this book. Now gone, I recall the smell, darkness and red velvet of the shop he had in the High Street near the off license. I also remember that the proprietor had a unique way with customers and a hatred for digital watches.Taken from ‘Memories of old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

I’ve heard mention of a barbershop on Lindon Road before – some folk talk fondly of Neville’s, but I’m not sure if this is it or not. I keep meaning to take a picture of the bomb tailfin sticking out of the gable of this building, placed there when the old shop was renovated after Maurice Baker, the electrician, gave it up in the late eighties. Taken from ‘Memories of old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

I remember this shop as a chip shop really well. I can remember sitting on the inside cill of the big window waiting for chips as a little boy. After the shop closed, the building was painted in a bright colour – maybe red. Taken from ‘Memories of old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

Now this is more my era. I’d forgotten Pricerite, which replaced George Mason, a kind of proto-Kwiksave. Range records, of course, formerly Chasmic, was an institution. The Golden Grill – a semi-american style cafe, was all red vinyl and squeezy sauce bottles, and Tandy was the source of materials and inspiration for much tech fiddling. Picture kindly mailed in by reader Dave, not sure of source.

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23 Responses to Shoppers world

  1. Dave Cresswell says:

    I remember the shop on the junction of Lichfield Road and Seeds Lane as a Fish and Chip Shop and chips were a tanner 2 and half p in new money as it was then. I also remember 3 shops on Lichfield Rd, A florist, A corner type shop where on a Sunday if we wanted Candles they had to wrap them up to disguise them due to sunday trading rules and also a shop that sold clothes like Gaberdeen macs and it had that wonderful orangy film blind when it was closed.

    • I think I remember the florist. Didn’t it operate out of a shed in a garden or something?

      There were two little shops; one was Prior’s that sold traffic light lollies and had lots of jars of sweets. The other, can’t remember who ran it. Then there was Wood’s newsagents, who sold model kits and fireworks at bonfire time.

      The clothes shop was Ducketts – they sold clothes door-to-door on the drip. The shop – I don’t think I ever went in – was dark and forbidding. I remember the wood panelling in the window, and the yellow blind. Brooks had the same thing in the High Street.

      All the best


      • pauline says:

        Hi Bob,
        That picture of Allan Birds butchers in the High Street, was that anything to do with the fishmongers. I remember as a child going into a shop somewhere there and inside, behind the counter, there was a small low opening in the wall, which went into the shop next door. I can remember a lady who worked there having to stoop down quite low to go through it into the other shop.




        The other shop on the Lichfield Rd , Brownhills opposite the Memo was Beaties run by an ederly lady called Beatie and her daughter an husband Jean & John

  2. CAZ says:

    l’d forgotten all about the chip shop.Me and a friend used to go there in our lunch break from work on a friday [from Chase Road] but there always seemed to be a queue. some of the ‘older’ workers got us to get theirs as well and eventually by the time we’d waited for them all to be cooked and walked back our hour lunch break was reduced to 10 minutes to eat them. But the chips were lovely and the mushy peas yummmy. Later on we used to go to a chip shop in Great Charles Street, near Ogley Club. l think there was a green grocers next door to it.
    You’re right about the florist. l remember going down the side of the house to a shed for flowers with my mom, and there was also a timber yard on the same side as the chip shop but just down from Smithys forge, or The Top club as l think it was called back then.
    vaguely remember the clothes shop and l agree it wasn’t very inviting.dark and depressing to look at.
    The van in the centre of the last High Street picture reminded me of the bakers delivery van for the area,that might have been called Roberts.l think the man lived in Furst St. near Ogley Club.Back then l remember there being a Woolworths where the ‘new’ carpet shop is and when it closed it became Shoppers world? [a bit like an Argos]

  3. CAZ says:

    Sorry Bob, but l clicked the ‘post comment’ by mistake before adding a big thank you for showing us these wonderful photos.Also thanks to Dave and the others who supply you with the pics. l love your blog as it brings back so many memories.

    • Thanks for the kind words – I do this because I enjoy it. The contributions of the readers are wonderful and make this a really fun, engaging thing to do.

      I hadn’t thought about that florist for decades until I tried to remember Prior’s shop, prompted by your question. That’s why I do this.

      All the best


  4. stymaster says:

    I remember ‘Shopper’s World’ well, as well as Range Records. I think I’ve commented on Shopper’s World here before, but can’t find the comment. I’d forgotten about the Tandy shop: I too used to fiddle with stuff from Tandy, but the Aldridge shop was nearer for me as a lad.

    I did go and view the house with the ‘bomb’ tailfin before buying my present home- we didn’t really gel with the place, but the fake tailfin also put us off. This would have been about 1993ish, I think.

    • Shopper’s World was an early experiment with catalogue shops – it was a prototype Argos, owned by Woolies who saw it as the future. Woolies closed Brownhills retail store and opened SW in it’s place. It lasted a few years before closing – they were badly run, never had what you wanted in stock. They kind of sprang out of the Green Shield Stamp/cigarette token catalogue schemes. It’s widely thought that it was one of the factors in the early-eighties implosion of Woolworth, and event oddly repeated when the same experiment with catalogues floored them finally in 2007.

      After that, it was an indoor market opened by Gordon Astley, then of Beacon Radio. I remember the event well.

      Tandy was odd. Maplin have kind of replaced them now; junk tools, dodgy cheap audio gear and overpriced electronic components. They were useful to a young nerd fiddling though, and the free battery a month club was beneficial.

      The ‘bomb’ house on Lindon Road is odd. Maurice Baker had it for years, then it was empty for a while. I don’t know the origin of the tailfin, but even on renovation, the work looked a tad dodgy. The spanish roof over the bay was twisted from the start, and none of the window frames match, one bearing an oddly close resemblance to those used to build the development next door. I think it’s divided into flats now.

      All the best


  5. stymaster says:

    It’s true Maplin have taken over the Tandy market: Maplin used to be a more serious component supplier, as I’m sure you’ll remmeber, but filled the hole left by Tandy to some degree once the Tandy stores dissapeared in the UK: In fact a friend of mine that workeed for Tandy (as did I for a ahort time) took over evaluation/certification for Maplin, based on experience and contacts from his time at Tandy.

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  7. clive says:

    hello Bob, the barbers shop in Linden road was Neville`s from around 1964 to 1972 give or take abit, he had an assistent by the name of paul ( pauls parents keeped the four crosses in shelfield ). when the barbers finnished paul had a secondhand shop there for a while.
    in the shop when it was a barbers there was a big tropical fish tank just inside as you went in. I could tell you afew funny storys about Nev as he is quite a lad for messing around , but I don`t want to get him into trouble…hi.
    Hope this will get afew memorys going amongst your readers ?.
    well done on the 100k, keep it up

  8. mike says:

    We lived in Seeds lane, the chippy at the top was owned by the Martins during the 70’s then it was sold and became a bloody eyesore,being painted in a green then red colour scheme.. the Sweet shop was owned by Mrs Prior,then there was Smiths timber down the Lichfield road,Duckets was opposite,a kind of strange clothes shop that never seemed open..i don’t recall any other shops except the top club ( a tragic lack of design and inspiration ) then the old plumber merchants at the old top club,opposite there was the Pearl Assurance office,now a tan shop ? Anybody remember Joe’s in the high street.
    Good times,

  9. Ray says:

    Hi all, I read Bob’s blog quite often but have only just stumbled on this thread while trying to find out when Ravenscourt was built. Does anyone know?

    As far as memories go I have quite a few since I grew up in Brownhills.
    Staying on the Lichfield Road theme I can remember a cobblers that operated out of a shed type building just between where Middleton House club was and the junction of School Avenue/Lichfield Road, this was further along from Woods newsagents where I used to fetch my Sporting Star (Pink) from every Saturday evening without fail. Also I can remember the chip van used to park near Crabtrees on the Lichfield Road every Friday lunchtime.
    Then moving to the High Street I can remember there was a barber, possibly Mr Brown, who had a small wooden chalet type building behind the old shops where Specsavers to Wilko’s have now been built.
    As for record shops there was also Coppice Records right in the middle of the High Street. I used to go in there to buy my vinyl and then just a few doors along to the Arcade to play the pinball machines in the back room (misspent youth) I think it was Mick and Paul who owned the Arcade in those days.
    Not forgetting Silver Court there was the cobblers right on the corner and the crockery/fishing tackle shop a couple of shops along. I used to love going into the hardware shop in Silver Court where the neighbourhood office is now, it was called Jaygers or something like that and there was another hardware shop back on the High Street near to Claridges that I can remember had old wooden floors. Think that one might have been Robinsons?

    Could go on for ever since once you think of one thing it drags up another memory.

    Any help with Ravenscourt building time would be great.



  10. catherine myatt says:

    does anyone remember madleys grocer in church hill there was a sweet shop next door I used to go there from school for my liquorish wood and pick and mix

  11. Kathleen groves was Adams says:

    Can you please tell me where I can get this book from as I come from brow hills and I would like to get it thank you

    • Downes had some a while back.

      Sadly out of print now, but worth watching eBay as copies occasionally come up there.

      Brownhills Library have a copy for loan.


  12. Margaret Hart née Owen says:

    What about Beatties, opposite the Memo, lollies and some general items of food

  13. Jacqui Jukes says:

    Think this might be way too late to comment but my Grandmother lived at Co-op corner Lichfield Road and I remember a small shop across the road that I only recall as being “Dolly’s” does this equate to people already mentioned? The shop was one of two and I can’t remember if it was a butcher or a chip shop next door; there was the co-op, then a house, the shop I can’t recall properly and then Dolly’s heading down towards Sankeys Club. It would be late 60s maybe early 70s

  14. Ian Hancox says:

    I lived at the three cornered house at the junction of Lichfield Road and Seeds Lane (no. 49 Lichfield Road.) from approx. 1948-1960. My parents ran some shoe shops in High Street under the name of Willetts’ Shoe Shop. There was a wonderful sense of community spirit in those days. At one time we ran a greengrocery shop from one of the front rooms and I can remember my Mom telling me stories about other Mothers coming to the back door when the shop was closed to ‘borrow’ a cupful of sugar, etc. Most of the residents of the area were extremely poor but their hospitality was legendary. Some kindly, lovable people and an unforgettable era!

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