Down Your Way

Selling in the street

Ted Blowers' memories

The muffin man would come balancing on his head a tray which contained muffins and crumpets covered with a pristine white cloth. Those we loved to toast by the fire, spread with butter and eaten with great relish.

It was common in those days to see knife grinders in the street, and other nefarious characters repairing pots and pans, or hand carts selling things like sherbet, licorice, bull's-eyes, hundreds of thousands, and false lips that were bright red which you could put your tongue through, made of a wax-type substance that you would eventually chew, if your mum didn't catch you first, as they were forbidden! "You don't know what's in them!" would be the cry. Then there were the rag and bone men. These would sometimes give you a goldfish for any old rags, or some had a small carousel mounted on their carts which was turned manually. They would give you a ride for any rags you gave them. Terrible was the retribution received when some fathers would come home from work to find that their children, unable to resist the temptation, had given away a favorite old jersey or pair of trousers.  

Meat pies and paper umbrellas

The lamp man coming round on a bicycle to light the street lamps He had a long pole and somehow managed to switch the light on. There was a muffin man used to come around and ring his bell. There was a man who came round about once a week on a bicycle, selling meat pies and he played pan pipes to let us know he was there. There was a rag and bone man used to come around and if you gave a bundle of rags to him you might get a goldfish or you might get a paper umbrella - a pleated thing. We girls used to like the umbrellas when they were being handed out. There was a another man who sold sweets and he had a wooden barrow and  he sold sweets at the street corner. This man was something of an entrepreneur I suspect because he also had what we used to call a magic lantern and every now and again he would give a film show - silent films, in his living room. He lived at The Circle in Middleton Road above one of the shops and we children used to queue up along the steps to go to see his films and we'd all crowd into his living room.  For this, I thought he charged a ha'penny but my brother tells me that he actually had a kind of loyalty system going. If you bought or spent so much on his sweet stall, you got a ticket and you could go to see the film.  (Doreen O'Halloran née Hayden)

The mobile clothes shop

It was like a market stall but they used to drive it around the streets. They'd be on the corners of each road and stopping for the ladies to look at the clothes that were going to be bought. (Doreen Porter née Wilkes)

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 25/08/2010.
Comments about this page

The rag and bone man was a regular visitor to the street with his old horse and cart, shouting out his call and ringing a hand bell. Two other regular street traders were Mr Wippy the ice cream man and the soft drink man who would deliver Tizer, cream soda, lemonade etc to the door.

By John Burns
On 11/12/2010

I,m well-known by family and friends as "A mine of useless information." John, Cheryl, Doreen and Ted- you can join my club!! Let me add my two pennorth. In Garendon Road where I was born, in 1932, the rag'n'bone man called-out "All lumber-vinegar" in a sort of yodel. We had United Dairies, Jobs, Sutton Creameries, Express Dairy, South Suburban Co-op, Royal Arsenal Co-op for milk, then for bread- SSCo-op, Chibnals and Hemmings. Ice creams from Leo, Eldorado, Walls, Lyons. Laundry vans from Sunlight, Darleydale, Primrose. Perhaps the biggest excitement was the delivery of the Anderson shelters one Sunday morning in 1939. We could never have guessed that reckless kids (not like me) would use the curved panels after the war, to sledge down Rosehill Park! They could have decapitated somebody. Happy Days!

By Bill Mallion
On 20/12/2010

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