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THE LITTLE TOWN

Part 2

The Star Tea stood on the corner of the street and many many times I went in there with my mother to get groceries it is now a shoe shop. Going back down on the other side of the road we had the Palace cinema ,I wish I had a pound for every time I queued to get in there. I have shed many a tear and had many a laugh in the old Palace cinema, but I have not put a foot inside the new cinema I know it won't be a patch on the old one. McDonald's now stands where the Palace once was. There was a toy shop next door to Burtons the men's shop and Burtons had Billiard rooms above it.

        Lloyds bank came next and where the entrance to Ankerside now is there were some small houses and shops, the houses had rear gardens that went down towards the river till they changed the shape of the river bed. It was the bank next that is now the Halifax Building Society this still looks the same from the outside I'm glad to say.Goostry's another men's and boys shop was by the Town Hall Vaults another pub, I think it was when this pub was pulled down that all the old ruins of the Castle gates were found these can now be seen from the wooden bridge by the Nationwide Building Society. I am afraid the vandals soon had a go at the old ruin however it still remains very interesting .

        Now back over the road and round the corner from the Star Tea was the Candy Stores I can remember going in there with my sweet coupons to get what few sweets we were allowed, sweets were still rationed even after the war had finished .Next came the Hollywood Hat Shop it was the height of fashion in those days, those shops stood where the fruit shop , camera shop and Winfields are today. I must not forget the Cliffton bike shop that was right next to the Middle Entry nor Cooper's the wallpaper shop, and then came Wheeldon's which sold everything including buckets, and I should know!

          I must not forget Peacock's you could go in through the doors in Market Street and then out through the other doors into Church Street, as a child I can remember it being very bright inside there at Christmas time. I have lost count of all the shops that have been on that spot since Peacock's closed. There were lots of stalls under the Town Hall on Saturdays I loved the Saturday market with all the traders shouting there was Bunny Vyse with his fruit and veg a fresh fish stall and everyone stayed late on a Saturday, no packing up at 3.30 like they do today. Going on along Market Street we had the Maypole grocery shop and a few more little shops, there was Manson's the shoe shop I think I have the name right. Then there was Felton's the ironmongers. Next was Brown's the bakers shop I used to go there to buy little tiny Hovis loaves at one old penny each that is not quite 1/2 a new pence. Another place I visited a lot as I got older was the Beehive Cafe, I used to go in there with my sister for tea cakes you could get a cake for 6d that's 2 1/2 new pence. There was also a cake shop across the road that one was called Allton's, I can see the large window now with all those mouth watering cakes on display, it was tea and toast I had in there with my mother-in-law in later years. That end of Market Street was the place to smell the bread and cakes baking, you could smell the baking up on top of the Castle. Both the Beehive and Brown's baked in ovens under the old Castle wall you can still see those walls if the doors at the side of the shops are open. At the end of Market Street we have two hotels' one is the Peel Arms that has just closed down, I hope they don't pull this down and put up some monstrosity that's absurd for this corner. The other is the Castle Hotel both have been there for many many years. As I go round the corner into Silver Street we have Burdett's it was owned by the Burdett family for many years, you were always made to feel welcome as you went into the shop. It really was service with a smile, it is still a shoe shop but the space and well-laid order of the shop have gone. Over on the other side of the street was another Felton's shop and a fish chip shop and also Mr Davis' little shop where you could get your umbrella repaired or your hair cut. Now there is only grass and a few trees where these shops stood along with a sweet and tobacco shop and yet another pub this time it was the White Horse and it was right on the crossroads where the traffic lights are now. As I stroll into Church Street the Co-op is still on the corner, I used to love to watch the ladies in the old Co-op put the money in those brass cups and screw them to the tops then pull the wooden handle and away it would whizz through the air up to the cashier's office, if you had any change to come it would soon whiz back again. There used to be Dolly Morgan's wool shop near the Co-op, that was a cosy shop with friendly people to help you with any knitting problems you had. Over the other side of the street we had a small fish chip shop and then Redfern's the butchers that later became Redfern's the cake shop, I have heard the place is haunted I don't know how true this is. Alice's Tea Parlour where you can always get a good cup of tea has been there for a long time now, Alice who opened it is the same Alice that kept the fish chip shop in Upper Gungate everyone in Tamworth knew Alice. I cannot remember what the Tea Parlour was before Alice took it over maybe I shall think of it later. After Alice's is the ladies' clothes shop and then Pallet's fruit shop this is on the corner of King Street that is a small street that runs through from Church Street into Market Street. After Pallet's came the clock shop as we used to call it, it was run by the Pickering family who had the special duty of looking after the towns clocks the Town Hall clock and St Editha's clock for example. After the Pickerings the shop became a wool shop for many years and it is now a gift shop. The Warrington's Coton Dairy shop sold lovely prize winning ice cream and they could also deliver double thick cream on Christmas mornings, that's what I call service. I think it stood where the delicatessen is now. Further along was Wheway's toy shop I can remember going into there with my mother to pick a doll for my Christmas present, I can remember the shop had a sloping gangway up the middle of it, just another little memory that's no use to anyone, today the shop is the Organ Centre this old shop has a very long history. Back to the other side of the road past the wool shop came Wighams Stores the smell of coffee and choice hams met you when you went in along with the smells of tins of tea and stilton cheeses. Next door was Seal's the cobblers this was run by the Seal brothers, they stood in their window mending boots and shoes, you always got a smile as you walked by this shop is now a gift and card shop. The shop next door was another shoe shop and this is now a lady's dress shop, after that I think there were one or two small houses and then the Horse Jockey another pub this is now a night club. On the corner of Church Street and Corporation Street there was yet another pub this time it was the Municipal Hotel. As I stroll over to the other side of the street we have the Electricity showrooms and next to that is a carpet shop that used to be Thornycroft's who sold and repaired radios they also sold tricycles, torches and allsorts of other things. After this came an entry you, could go down to get into Peacock's and there were also some small cottages down there, one of my friends had an uncle that lived down there. There came after this some more small shops and an old pub that was at the top of Middle Entry the pub was a very very old one. I never remember it being open the Middle Entry was very narrow then at both ends but alas this was also pulled and made wider but it's not the same. After the Middle Entry came the part of the town I loved the most. The passage of time had gone by almost unnoticed in this part of Church Street. Little shops all side by side, Miss Godfrey had a leather shop that had a huge boot hanging outside. It was a symbol of what she sold in the shop, many times I had to go and fetch leather for my father so that he could mend the shoes it was piece of thin leather for ladies shoes and this cost around 1/6d to 1/9d or about 7 1/2 new pence and a piece of thick leather for men's shoes. I loved the smell of leather and Miss Godfrey was a very nice lady. There was Doris Allen's dress shop and their other little shop, I think these were where the Indoor Market is now. Then we come to College Lane , I remember some little houses there and College Lane School was the building now used as a Flea Market. After the lane we had the old black and white medieval half timbered buildings, the Paregoric shop was one of these and this was pulled down when I was about five years old. The old baths was next along the street I used to go up the stairs there to the Art Room, I took my art exam there but my mother could not afford to let me go after I had passed we just had not got the money to spare for such luxuries like art school ,the cost of paints brushes excite was always a laugh when we used to go upstairs to the Art Room ,at the top of the stairs was a statue of a male nude over which someone had draped a large blue cloth, but each time we went past it we would take a peep and then start to giggle as teenagers do. It was in the 1960's that the council started to pull the heart out of the only bit of history that we had left all the black and white buildings were pulled down and across the road even the church was not safe as they removed its railings and lovely wrought iron gates. Why these were removed I will never know even the wall was lowered around the church, to me this did not improve the look of the church it spoiled it. There used to be railings all around the churchyard you could walk through from Church Street into Church Lane, it was fun to walk through in the autumn when the leaves would be thick on the path, and we would shuffle through those golden leaves. You can still walk through but it's not a quiet place anymore, and gone is the big house with the wall around it that used to be the first house you came to as you entered Church Lane. The library stands in it's place now ,the new library that is!. It was built in 1973, the old one is now the Carnegie Centre, I spent many happy hours in the old library. As you came out of the library you walked past the part of the churchyard that is in Corporation Street1 this also had railings around it, and I can remember seeing sheep in there eating the grass around the grave stones. The railings have gone now and so have most of the graves, the headstones from them are along the old garden wall that now surrounds part of the bus garage. It is now called a garden of rest as you walked into Aldergate from Corporation Street and past the bus garage you came to Mitchells the Stonemasons he used to carve the gravestones or anything else that you asked him to do. Across the other side of the road again were the houses with the round arch entry and two or three more small houses, they are still there. Then there was a row of little cottages that stood back from the road and had a small garden in front, these are now gone and we have a car park instead. Now I am back to Shepherd's Yard as was that is also part of the car park and then back to the Health Centre where I am still waiting to see the doctor!

There are lots of shops I could think of and other places in what was a small town like the old Cherry Tree house in Hospital Street that was the Vicarage when I lived round there, old Vicar Coxon was a very tall man and very likeable even his bike seemed to be extra big!.Mrs Coxon used to ride a sit up and beg bike as we always called them and it had a wicker basket on the front. I can see her now riding round by the hospital on her way home. Long ago there was a cherry orchard at the back of the vicarage gardens, it went right along the back of Moorgate School. As I sit here I can see just across the road to No.1 Albert Road where Agnes Kendrick ladies and children's hairdressers used to be, on rare occasions my mother used to have her hair done there, I think the reason I remember this is because it did not happen very often. The shop stood where Roses Garage is now. It's been lovely sitting here remembering the little Tamworth I knew as a girl, and the people and places that are no longer here, like Mr Dion of Lichfield Street and Rex P.Bartles menswear shop. Places like the little cobblers shop that had steps to go up to get in that were so worn I could not guess how old the place was, it stood near the pub and between the council offices at the top of Lichfield Street. There was Mr E.J. Cole in Upper Gungate he was the local undertaker, it is the Co-op Funeral Parlour now, as we lived quite near we would go in and look at the people who had died if we knew them as they lay in the Chapel. I know it was naughty to go in but we did not vandalise anything, like they would today. These trips made me unafraid to go and see anyone who had died as I got older. Oh! that's my name being called at last I am going in to see the doctor so my ramblings must come to an end.
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