Shopping 1950s Style

By John Veasey

I was watching a TV Programme a while ago about the Coronation in 1953 and everyday life during that period and one interviewee commented on the fact that, because very few families had refrigerators at that time, housewives had to go shopping every day.
This set me thinking that I never remember my mother going shopping every day and thought “Why”. It then dawned on me that one of the reasons was because most perishable items were delivered to your door daily.
For example I remember Alf Whitehall calling each day to my home with his pony and trap in which he carried a large churn of fresh milk from which he dispensed your daily requirement into your own jug, this was eventually superseded by the CO-OP milkman with his cardboard topped returnable bottles.

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Then there was the baker with his horse and bread van who delivered fresh bread and cakes to your door. Bread was rationed up until 1950 and there was a system which involved the allocation of what were known as BU’s (bread Units) and the baker’s van man would exchange these for your family’s daily bread ration.
As for meat my mum, would take our ration books to our butcher,( Albert Lester in Queens Rd, who happened to be her step brother) she would give him her order for the week and tell him when to deliver it and it would then be delivered. by his delivery boy on his basket fronted bike. At that time the meat ration was so small that it didn’t last long so keeping it was not a problem.
We also had a greengrocer, Tom Warmington who delivered at regular intervals such things as potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower carrots etc and such fruit as was available at the time.

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For other groceries such as sugar, tea, bacon, flour etc mum would complete her weekly grocery book order and give it to dad to hand in at the Central CO-OP when he went to load his bread van at the bakery and it would then be delivered next day. There was also a fish monger who delivered at regular intervals
This was all of course long before the days of the internet, when line shopping meant going to the Ironmongers to buy a clothes line, but my mum still didn’t need to go shopping every day as the interviewee suggested, she was too busy doing her housework anyway.
This all leads me to think about all the other deliveries and services which used to be brought to our door and which no longer exist for example :-
The Insurance man who would call for your “Tuppence per Person per Week” for your Life Insurance or your Endowment policy which you would take out to mature at a time when you expected a costly event such as your child’s twenty first birthday or your daughter’s wedding.

Nun Mem Pegler co-op book 1 001

 

Nun Mem Pegler co-op book 5 001

There was also the CO-OP Laundry man who would call to see if you had any special dirty linen or collars every week and return it, clean starched and ironed, next week
Then there was the CO-OP mutuality man (Mr Jephcote in our case) to whom you would pay a fixed amount every week and then request payback when your children needed new clothes to go back to school after the summer holidays or a special dress for the Sermons.
Our coalman, Mr Bevan from John St, who would call weekly, wearing his back to front cap and a sleeveless leather jacket, carrying on his back our delivery of hundredweight sacks of coal which he would tip into your coal house and return his sack to his lorry,
The Pop or beer man who would ‘Clink,Clink up the entry carrying his delivery of full bottles and then ‘Clink, Clink’ back again carrying the empties. The better off people of course bought theirs by the crate which didn’t ‘Clink’
With so many regular callers my mum was never short of someone with whom to share a cup of tea and a chat and over the years she built up quite a group of loyal and trusted friends

Nuneaton Co-Op store in Queens Road

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