Dr Elspeth Veale interview: Ironmonger, garden store, fish stall and others

One side of Francis Grove now was built for the Wimbledon Guild and part of that was the hall of Drake House where I have attended meetings and concerts. Crossing the Broadway to Hartfield Road, of several shops I remember most vividly the ironmonger Hughes. There in the front section, served by a helpful gentleman who knew exactly where every bolt and tin tack was to be found. I am often reminded of the stacks of drawers and the famous sketch by the Two Ronnies to buy four candles which is repeated on television. In the area behind I bought a watering can and a very expensive dustbin with a heavy composition lid. Was this to stop ash from blowing about in pre-central heating days? I don't remember but the dustbin is probably still in St Mary's Road.

Along Hartfield Road, past Hughes, was a Mac Fisheries, then a plumber. All these were swept away when the big white building of several storeys was built and the Hartfield Road car park set up. Traffic was then re-routed around that block. I also remember shops around there. A shop selling seeds, plants and garden equipment. I think that was called Farlow*. I don't remember but it's now Robert Dyas.  There was a stall selling vegetables and fruit that was later moved to St Mark's Place. It always had a good reputation for the quality of its supplies. Then, further down, there was the Woolworth's of fond memory alas, which also had a flourishing department selling plants where they tended to be a bit cheaper.

Further on, one reached the cinema, where outside every Friday morning there was a stall for the fish man with fresh fish coming up from Hastings. A neighbour of mine kindly bought fish for me there as I was working. Later he also moved to a stall in St Mark's Place. Then there was the theatre and there were shops further down towards the river and the new part of South Wimbledon. Other shops were driven from the centre to cheaper sites or to the industrial site in South Wimbledon. I regularly combined visits to buy fish with visits to a well stocked public library. Its resources were such that then I was well able to do some research there at that time but not perhaps now.

*[The seed shop was actually called Falkner's at 19 Broadway. Robert Dyas is further down the road at No 61. Both had alleyways alongside.]