Following on from my last post, this entry is looking at the shops I remember for our trips to the cities – Swansea an hour and a half away, Cardiff two hours. My memories of being in the cities in the fifties is totally centred on Woolworth’s. As kids we loved that store! The pick and mix, the affordable kids’ jewellery, the stationery.
As I moved into my teens, clothes shopping became more important. My mum had always shopped in C and A, British Home Stores (later named BHS), Littlewoods, the clothes branch of the Co-Op and, of course, Marks and Spencer. There were also department stores which always seemed to have those amazing pneumatic change machines which went whizzing through the various floors of the store. As fashion-conscious teenagers who read Honey magazine, my sister and I discovered Lewis Separates, Richard Shops, Dorothy Perkins and Etam which were a bit less mumsy than the other chain stores. Lewis Separates was later re-branded as Chelsea Girl which in turn became River Island. Richard Shops no longer exist. Unless they still operate online or in other countries. I once saw a branch of C and A in Prague many years after they had disappeared from UK shopping centres. Woolworth’s have reappeared online as has Etam. I also remember a chain called Home and Colonial which I think was a grocery store so not of much interest to me at that time!
The ‘big’ shopping trips were whole day affairs as the towns were a reasonable drive away. We used to lunch in a cafe – what a treat! Sometimes this would be in a store cafeteria; Woolworth’s, Littlewoods, and British Home Stores all had great cafeterias. Or so they seemed to us as children. We even loved the sugar dispensers which gave exactly a teaspoon and the tomato sauce container in the shape of a tomato. The other option was the Wimpy Bar or the Golden Egg. Whilst looking up Golden Egg cafes on the Internet looking for photos for this post, I stumbled across the fact that the chain was started by the Kray twins!The mid-morning drink was often taken at a Kardomah cafe. That wonderful smell of roasting coffee as you walked in! The dark, exotic-looking interiors. The last Kardomah I ever went in was in Nottingham where I was a student from 1969 to 1972.
Reading your post brought back the smell of Kardomah (part of the excursions into Nottingham with my mother). I remember packets of demerara sugar, which also seemed exotic. I wonder how and when coffee crept in to take over the love of tea? There are coffee shops on every corner now, just as in Canada. Some of my British friends now confess to never having liked tea very much, even though they drank it copiously back in the day.
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When I started at university in Nottingham in 1969 there were still two Kardomahs in the centre although they disappeared soon after that.