I can always remember going to see Father Christmas in Bentalls every year, a relative used to take me and my sister and brother to see Father Christmas, and he always said “what would you like for Christmas?” and I must have asked him half a dozen times for an electric train set, because in them days I think you still believed there was such a thing as Father Christmas! It never materialised so I never got the train set.
When I was a young lad, when you enter Craig Road from Lock Road I had a friend along there Bob Davis, who I was at school with, just near where he lived I think it was number three there was a chap who did part-time boot mending and he used to have a shed at the bottom of his garden and he used to do all of the village shoe repairs, or most of the village shoe repairs because he would have been the only chap, there was a chap on Ham Parade used to also to be a boot mender called Mr Duck and he also used to sell logs and stuff. You also used to see a pile of logs outside his shop and we used to call him Ducky, but the one in Craig Road, the boot man, a Mr Lee, he was a council worker I think and in his spare time he did boot and shoe repairs and made an excellent job of them and he had a shed at the bottom of his garden and it had electric light and all that and it was quite something in those days and I can remember going round to the house to get your shoes when they’d been repaired and he’s down the side of the entrance to the house and his wife used to answer the door and there’s like a little three-cornered cupboard as she answered the door and the shoes were all the repaired shoes were on the shelf in there and you just used to give your name and you’d get your shoes and pay for them and sometimes if she wasn’t sure if they were done she’d say, his name was Fred, she’d say “Fred’s down the shed if you’d like to pop down he’ll tell you if he’s in the process of doing them”. I can remember going down there, they were long gardens and going down the garden path there and knocking on the little shed door, and he’d open the shed door with his little spectacles, a lovely old guy he was.
Yes, that was another nice bloke, Harry Scott, he used to live up in either Mowbray Road or Sheridan Road, and he was quite a good darts player, I used to play darts with him. He was a nice bloke, he was a cobbler but he eventually, I think when he first started up round here his cobbler’s shop was opposite what we call Dunkleys now, which is a small village store now but when it was Dunkleys right opposite in between those two houses it’s incorporated in part of a house now but it used to be a little shop and my uncle had it at one time when he was a builder he used to sell one or two bits and pieces there and you could place orders with him for building materials and things, but then a butcher had it called Frank Birch who used to have a shop next to Mrs Dunkley, he was a village butcher for years and then he vacated that shop and then Harry Scott the boot mender had it for quite a while and then when Mrs Dunkley, she had another shop adjacent to the Ham Brewery Tap, and that was a little sweet shop and tobacconist etc. and then she moved out of there and she moved into the present one by the Bench. When she moved Harry Scott moved from the other shop between the two houses and he moved up to the one what Mrs Dunkley used to have adjacent to the Ham Tap and that’s when it was a boot menders for many years and a friend of mine Reg Collett, his brother took that over when Mr Scott retired. His name was Charley Collett, he had it for quite a number of years and then the last bloke who had it he lived in Cleves Road, I can’t quite think of his name, he was the last bloke who had it, it was a boot menders for quite a long time. But originally Mrs Dunkley’s old sweet and confectioner’s shop but I don’t know if a lot of people from the village, the real old people of the village would realise that Mrs Dunkley also had another shop in Back Lane but that was a general grocers that sold cooked meats and bread and that sort of thing and general groceries and her shop was just adjacent to the Bench and next door to her shop there was a newsagent and tobacconist called Jessops and that’s how it was then and so Mrs Dunkley actually had two shops.
I think they ran them together but in the old days they did a bread-round round the village and my oldest sister who is now into her eighties and she’s still around, she used to work on the bread-round and Harry Dunkley drove the van and she went all round the village in Ham and Petersham delivering bread.
Did they bake the bread or did they get it delivered? No, they never baked it they must have had it delivered to them but as far as I can remember I don’t remember any bread being baked there, the only place I knew where it was baked on the premises which is another thing I mentioned in my little book I wrote, was the one on the Petersham Road. I can’t bring the name to mind, Sadlers I think it was and that was a little baker’s shop and that was all baked on the premises cos I’ve worked in that house since probably about five years ago and the lady that owns that house now what used to be the village bakery there, she showed me the old bread ovens that are still in the wall, they’re still there, she’s kept them and the doors to the bread ovens are still incorporated and I was talking to her and I said many years ago when I was a young lad this used to be a little bakers shop, I said, I remember coming out of St Andrew’s School and coming up here and buying great big penny ha’penny ginger biscuits and she said that’s right she said I wouldn’t remember that because obviously we didn’t live in Ham but she said if you come out the back of the house I’ll show you where the ovens were and she showed me and the same as the one just along from the New Inn they’re not there now where Poveys the butchers shop used to be there was a shop there which used to be a general store that sold groceries and stuff and also was a Post Office and I worked in there since it’s all gone and the lady in there told me she said you’re obviously born and bred in the village do you remember when this was a post office, I said I do indeed, I said I was only a little lad but I remember that when you went through the shop the front part’s pulled down now but you used to go up a couple of little steps and at the back was the post office. There were all very interesting places and I think the butchers that was there I think I’ve got a picture of that shop and I think I was told they also had their own slaughter house at the back there which is part of the New Inn garden now.
I would have thought so yes, I would have thought so, it was a local butcher it’s the only two local butchers I remember then, there was Poveys there and Frank Birch who I mentioned earlier in Ham Street. In later years there was a butcher’s shop along Ham Parade for quite a number of years which recently closed down, but the two I remember as a boy were Poveys and Birch’s.