Village Shopping Fifty Years Ago by John Knock
Saturday morning – my brother and I had the weekly task of shopping in the village, which then had three grocers, a butcher, bakery, shoe repairer, and a cycle and radio shop.
First down to Lower Green: by the slope up to “Lyghe Halt”, as it was then named, was George Bennett’s cycle shop. We were not cyclists but would buy torch batteries and small electrical goods, always greeted with a cheerful welcome. The bakery, run by Mr Lakeman, baked its own bread, lovely crusty loaves which we collected still warm, and cakes, my favourite “Russian pastries”. At the top of Lower Green – now the antiques shop – was the cobbler’s or ‘snob’, where we would leave shoes for Mr Lewis Brooker to repair – he had been a first rate Leigh cricketer and later used to re-stud my cricket boots without charging and give wise cricketing advice while he worked.
At this time most of our family’s grocery shopping was done at Ken Parrett’s – now Alan and Barbara Johnston’s. Ken and Anne were always very friendly, and we would leave our weekly shopping order for later delivery by van, whilst purchasing immediate requirements. At the other side of the ‘Bat and Ball’ was Mr Whitehead’s butcher’s shop. Mr Whitehead was a large man with quite a high voice, and while he served customers, with Stan Wells helping behind the scenes, Mrs Whitehead sat in a little hatchway to receive payment. We were always amused by confusion between the two over whether Mr Whitehead was called out the weights or prices of the meat.
Then a call at ‘Adin Coates’ – more recently the clock shop and hairdressers, where Mr and Mrs Spencer Coates had a marvellous shop selling pots, pans, footwear, and clothing besides groceries and delicatessen. We were often served by Mrs Lil Pankhurst, a bit strict with us children. Finally to the ‘old’ Post Office, by the phone box, run by Mr Albert Winson and his daughter, Margaret, who was later to take over the shop with her husband, Bill Wells.
By now we were well laden with shopping, with bags of bread, meat and groceries. Green View Avenue had not then been surfaced and was full of holes and puddles and one memorable morning we stumbled and our cargo of potatoes rolled everywhere!
Village shops have dwindled, and modern shopping habits include supermarkets, superstores, and now predicted super internets. Leigh has one shop left, groceries, post office, newspapers, household goods, lottery, copying, dry cleaning and doctor’s prescriptions. Long may it thrive!