My husband designed the windows and the door and my son David did the carving and their names are on the bottom of the door now.
No. 99 High Street, this was Popes, it was an ironmongers and it was known as the Chantry works in its day as once upon a time there was a religious chantry or like a chapel there. When Motoraids closed, they had taken over from Popes over the years, and when it was being developed into Caffe Uno as it is today, they discovered the old chantry windows within a wall and the company made it into one of the features of the building, in fact you can go into the little chantry and have a meal where you have got these church-shaped windows there. Now this was a very, very ancient building and it survived the great fire of 1653.
My dad was born at Ogbourne his name was Arthur Shorey, he went to work for Mundy’s shoe shop when he was eleven years old and he stopped there until he retired. He made shoes not just repaired them and he made a pair for our mother. I used to go up to the shop and see him up there actually at work.
R Mundy and son, they had three shops in the town, one at No.5, one down at the college for college boys use and one at 143. The one at No.5 was what used to be called at one time The Ready Money Shop. They had no accounts there, it was just the cheapest shoes and you could buy everything for repairing shoes, you could buy the tacks, you could buy leather, you could buy rubber and anything you really needed because in those days everybody repaired their own shoes or there were shoe repairers in different streets.
There used to be a weighbridge in Marlborough High Street, opposite National West Bank and the coal carts used to come up from what we called Frees Yard, I think it’s Riding School Yard now, and they used to weigh them on this plate and make sure the coal was the right weight for their customers. Right next to the weighbridge was a water trough.
Where we’ve now got a bookmakers was the Manton Milk Bar, for many, many years run by Mr Pocock, a lovely little milk bar, had a juke box in there which was all the rage in them days, we are going back to the 50’s and 60’s, when we were at Mundy’s shoe shop we could nip over there when we went home and play a couple of records on the juke box and have a cup of tea or a milk shake.
No.7 was the Swindon & District Co-op, it was one of the many grocers we had in town in those days and every street had a grocers shop of size but Swindon & District Co-op was one of the bigger ones and that was the first supermarket to appear in town, it changed over to be a supermarket probably late 60’s or early 70’s
There were two large families in Marlborough in the 30’s and 40’s, the Maurice’s who were the Doctors and the Frees who were Undertakers and coal merchants and there were eleven boys in each family I think and Eric Free was Mayor of Marlborough. He also ran a music shop and somebody who is now at the Priory, Pat Bird, worked there and Eric sold a very wide variety of music for quite a number of years.
144 the last one in the street was a watchmakers called Colliers, a real dear old boy who looked the part in a proper suit with a waistcoat and his pocket watch there and he nearly always wore a top hat. He had a clock, a big clock affixed to the penthouse in front of his shop there. You had no vandals in them days and he used to wind it up with a great big key once a week, it was a great treat to see him there, a real gent Mr Collier.
Where the Merchant House is now, I forget who was trading there at the time, but myself and Mr Oram, that was the chap that was taking me for my apprenticeship, we were doing some decorating there and it was right at the top of the building and we had to clean the walls off and we came across one wall that was done with the old hurdles and wattle and daub, which just showed you the age of the building.
110 and 110a was Hurd and Leders. Hurd and Leders had a garage with one pump out in the front like every garage did then no 2 star 4 star or anything like that, no diesel, just the one pump. And they did a little bit of selling of cars and lots of repairing.
Stratton Sons & Mead, which was where I did my apprenticeship, we used to smoke our own bacon, roast our own coffee, blend our own teas it was quite different to what it is today, everything was hand packed, most of it was done by people going out and getting orders and they were delivered that was the main, the bulk of the trade. They were also wholesalers as well and before I got there, that was all drawn out by horses and they used to have a tracer to get the horses up the hills and then bring it back. Yes, lovely isn’t it really when you think about it. We moved over to where they are now called Somerfield.
Stratton Sons & Mead Ltd., that was another old grocers, not only did they do retail stuff at the front where they cut the butters, they cut the cheeses, nothing packed in them days, they did a wholesale thing where they delivered to little shops that were in every street in the town. They made their own mineral waters there and above that in the war was the Ministry of Food place where food was rationed, and at the time my Aunt was running a shop in Kingsbury Street, so anybody who bought anything there had to have coupons, and all these coupons every month had to be delivered to this Ministry of Food shop above Strattons.
Milburn and Phillips, oh they were the one that invented the cowl that goes on the top of the chimneys, so that when it rained this cowl would stop the rain coming down the chimney, they called it a cowl; he was the one that invented that.
Now Gantlers was rather an interesting place, ye olde chemist, make up any prescription they could and my mother used to have this special thing she had for hand cream, whenever she ran out of this, you didn’t buy all this stuff then, she had this little recipe and you could go down there and they’d get a bit of powder out of one bottle and a bit of powder out of another and mix it all up and you had this lovely hand cream. There was a Mr Cook there, giant of a fellow he was, obviously with that size he had the biggest feet, you always had the impression he was going to kick something over he was such a giant of a fellow but ever such a nice bloke, could mix up anything you wanted in the days before health service of course when prescriptions came, but one of the old fashioned chemists, he had some of the old decorative bottles, probably now valuable, some he kept real things in and some were just for show.