Half a century of Sneinton’s shops : Part 2.

By Stephen Best

(All photographs in this Article are by Stephen Best).

(Part 1 of this article considered Sneinton Dale and Sneinton Road, describing the shops and businesses that existed there in 1953, and comparing them with those of the year 2001. We conclude with an account of Sneinton Boulevard, Manvers Street, Sneinton Hermitage, and Colwick Road.)

THE EASY LAUNDERETTE at Sneinton Boulevard, August 1989.THE EASY LAUNDERETTE at Sneinton Boulevard, August 1989. Occupied in 1953 by HALL's grocery shop, these premises are now SNEINTON BOULEVARD POST OFFICE.

WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN HOW SNEINTON DALE HAS, over the years since 1953, sustained its role as a local shopping street, while the significance of Sneinton Road as a shopping centre has been dramatically reduced as a result of wholesale redevelopment. The street to which we now turn has also lost much of its importance for the shopper, but in this case through gradual decline over the decades.

Sneinton Boulevard was built in the Edwardian heyday of Sneinton's expansion as a presentable suburb. From its inception the Boulevard, tree-lined as it name indicates, possessed its row of shops, in addition to corner shops at regular intervals. The dwindling status of the Boulevard as a shopping centre is clearly seen by comparing its facilities in 1953 with those of today.


No. 1953 2001
63 NCS, grocers private house, apparently
83 Harold Hall, grocer Sneinton Boulevard Post Office
85 Arthur Wilkinson, draper Clothing shop (no name on display)
87 Dorothy Allsopp, hairdresser Wallpaper Paint & Hardware (associated with no. 85)
89-91 A. E. Carr, newsagent private house
93-95 A. E. Pickbourn, confectioner empty: most recently Sneinton Boulevard Post Office
97 Charles Battersby, boot repairer Tele-Box, tv and video sales and repairs
99 Doris Guyler, hardware dealer Akhter & Co., accountants
101 Emily Palethorpe, fruiterer Akhter & Co., accountants
102 Albert Marriott, confectioner Alzaman's Foodstore
105 Victoria Laundry Alzaman’s Foodstore
107 W. A. Textiles, drapers empty: most recently P. & G. Derrick, newsagents
109 Annie M. Wignall, beer retailer Pet and Garden Supplies
111 J.D. Marsden Ltd., grocers Sonia Fashions
121 G. Davies, boot and shoe dealer private house
135 Jack Cunliffe, fruiterer private house
145 Leonard Wilde, hairdresser empty: most recently Sweeney Todd, hairdressers
20 Dr B. I. Kohlinsky, physician and surgeon Sneinton Boulevard Dental Practice
58 NCS, butchers private house
60 William Elliott, greengrocer Albery's Bakery and Confectionery
72 James Price, boot repairer private house
90 H. Taylor, greengrocer private house: most recently Dave's Fresh Fruit & Veg
92 Florence Bannister, shopkeeper Public Call Office and video shop
102 Sarah Cunliffe, ladies' hairdresser private house
106-8 J. Freeston, butcher empty, and undergoing conversion
110 Robert William Wheatley, pork butcher empty: most recently Airways Travel
120 George White, greengrocer empty
134 H. Scudder, turf commission agent R.B. Chughtai, confectionery, newsagent, videos,
    Islamic books
136 George Harrison, fried fish dealer empty: most recently still a fish and chip shop
162 Charles A. Lloyd, radio engineer empty: most recently Sweeney Todd, hairdressers

Of the 29 shops here in 1953, twelve were primarily food sellers, with two confectioners and an off-licence ( in local parlance, the beer-off.) Most areas of Nottingham had one of Marsden's grocery shops; this local chain owned over eighty shops in and around Nottinghamshire, more than thirty of them within the city boundaries. Although Marsden's ceased to trade many years ago, their painted advertisement can still be seen above Sonia Fashions at no. 111. Sixteen of these Sneinton Boulevard shop premises are now empty, or converted to private houses. Of the departed businesses, it will be noticed that Sweeney Todd successively occupied shops on either side of the Boulevard, while Dr Kohlinsky's former surgery at no. 20 still features in local health provision as a dental practice.

A summer 1989 photo of DYSON's newsagents at 107 Sneinton Boulevard. In 1953 this had been a draper’s, but currently the premises are empty, having last been used by DERRICK’S newsagents. DAVE’S FRESH FRUIT & VEG. 90 Sneinton Boulevard, in August 1989. A greengrocer's in 1953, the shop is a now a private house, but traces of its former role are apparent. The spelling is worthy of examination.

A visit with a camera in August 1989 recorded some of the intermediate occupants of the Boulevard's shops. Once a grocery and now a Post Office, no. 83 was at that date the Easy launderette, with the Post Office just up the road at nos. 93-95, and Hair by Claire at 97. Nos. 103-105 were the Boulevard Foodstore, while next door at 107 was Steve and Sally Dyson's newsagency. Ori the evens side, Scorpion Video Film Hire traded at no. 120. The 1989 photo of Dave's pleasant little corner shop at no. 90 immortalises a little slip of the brush made by Dave, or his signwriter. Like those of Sneinton Dale, the Boulevard traders nowadays include categories that few residents of 1953 could have predicted: accountants, videos, and Islamic books.

Incidentally, anyone looking in vain for Sneinton Boulevard Post Ofice in the 1953 list is reminded that at that date the sub-Post Office was a few yards away, at the corner of Thurgarton Street and Trent Road.

Manvers Street has undergone a fate similar to that of Sneinton Road, although it did not possess nearly as many shops and business premises as the latter. Like Sneinton Road, Manvers Street was substantially changed by the Sneinton renewal scheme of the late 1950s. From Eyre Street to Newark Street every building was razed to the ground, and three tower blocks, followed by some low-rise housing, put up in their place. Just as the row of old buildings at the foot of Sneinton Road largely escaped demolition, however, so the properties backing on to them in Manvers Street were allowed to remain. The changes of use in this block can be compared as follows:


No. 1953 2001
5-7 George Pinson, turf commisssion agent private office, or other commercial premises
9 E. A. Saxton, tobacconist High Gear Service, reconditioned gearboxes
11 Richard Padden, cafe Trent Cars, taxis
13 . William Bedward, furniture dealer William Hill, bookmakers (13a)
15 William Brooke, leather seller William Hill, bookmakers
17 Leslie Brown, cafe Flying Horse Chinese Takeaway
19 W.F. Strother, optician John Yeomans & Partners, optometrists
21 Mattock Automatic Scales Ltd. John Yeomans & Partners, optometrists
23 Stanley Leam, hairdresser Rita Hair Fashions
25 M. Hodgson, chemist empty: most recently A.J.A. News
27 Lewis Smith, fishing tackle dealer empty: most recently A.J.A. News and
    Nottingham Travel Centre
29 King William IV PH King William IV PH

Virtually all the Manvers Street shops, pubs, and cafes were, like the surviving ones, on the odd numbered side opposite the Nottingham City Transport and Trent bus depots. Three others existed in a little group on the evens side of the road, in that industrial part of Manvers Street which used to be characterised by factories, coal yards, railway sidings, and scrap merchants’ premises. The Island Business Quarter has recently been created hereabouts. The shops and pub premises which vanished after 1953 were a mixed bag, as the list reveals.

33-35 H.A. Morley, clothier 63 J.H. Bush, hairdresser
37 G. Knight, sack and bag maker 69 James Hancock, grocer
37a A.W. Shelton, shopkeeper 79 Joseph Gent, hairdresser
39 Bob Watling, motor engineer 83 John Redmile, cycle dealer
47 G. Knight, sack and bag maker 89 Crystal Palace PH
49 Sidney Brown, fishmonger 91 Harry Gilbert, shopkeeper
51 Edwin Perrin, general dealer 110 Sir Robert Peel PH
53 Ethel Truman, refreshment rooms 112 Manley & Simpson, cafe
61 Miss C.A. Anderson, shopkeeper 116 Mrs Kate Varney, shopkeeper

It is highly likely that the scale makers and sack and bag manufacturers owed their presence in Manvers Street to the nearby Sneinton Wholesale and Retail Markets. The fishing-tackle maker, as we shall see later on, was not to prove the last of his line in Sneinton (no pun intended,) while Redmile's cycle shop was a well-known establishment. It would be interesting to know what social nuances differentiated Ethel Truman's soi-disant refreshment rooms from the three cafes in Manvers Street. A grocer and a fishmonger were the only obvious food shops here, but the description 'shopkeeper' usually implied a general store which included food among its wares.

Not a shop, but the-well-remembered SIR ROBERT PEEL in Manvers Street. Photograph taken from Lower Eldon Street in April 1994.

Sneinton Hermitage still displayed vestiges of its old status as a shopping street when this photo was taken in June 1991.
Sneinton Hermitage still displayed vestiges of its old status as a shopping street when this photo was taken in June 1991. THE ASHFORTH CLEANING COMPANY, the last survivor, is nearest the camera. Further details of the shops are to be found in the text.

No. 19 has remained an optician's throughout the period since 1953, although the profession is now called optometry; J.A. & M.A. Smith were in practice here for over thirty years. The King Billy pub also survives, happily with its name unaltered. Chinese takeaways were unknown in Nottingham in 1953 - indeed, the directory listed no Chinese restaurant in Nottingham then, and just one Indian - while radio-cabs were also a thing of the future.

A 1987 photograph records that the Flying Horse Chinese takeaway was preceded at no. 17 by Wing Shing, chicken and fish and chips, and that nos. 25-27 were then occupied by Spurgeon's newsagents. I took the picture too late to capture the curious mock-rustic timber-framed frontage of the optician's, which certainly existed into the 1970s. Much later, in 1994, came the view of the Sir Robert Peel pub, then closed and up for sale, and flanked by buildings that had not been there in 1953. Located in that dark corner of Sneinton, and overlooked, as already mentioned, by factories, the pub would never have won an award for picturesque beauty. It must, however, have possessed a warmth and atmosphere all its own, as one heard of former Sneinton residents who had moved to Clifton during the 1950s redevelopment, but who until its closure always returned to the Sir Robert Peel for company and refreshment.

The residential and shopping part of Sneinton Hermitage was, like that of the Dale, bounded by a railway bridge spanning the road. Between the bridge (adjacent to Lees Hill Footway) and Hermitage Square, a dozen shops existed in 1953, facing the handsome tall houses which back on to Lees Hill Street. These have now shrunk to one, and it is hard to imagine that so many used to thrive here. Here is what we had then, and what remains today.


No. 1953 2001
42 Laurence Hickling, baker private house
44 Norman Duckworth, wallpaper merchant empty
46 Mrs Gertrude Manning, confectioner private house
48 A.E. Wales, draper private house: most recently (?) Peter and John Morse, off-licence and general store
50 Eric Burrows, butcher Ashforth Cleaning Co.
52 Alfred Turner, boot and shoe dealer private house
56-58 John B. Cragg, greengrocer private house
60 James L. Landon, wholesale fruiterer private house
62 Frearson & Co., decorators empty: most recently Trent Dog Parlour
66 Albert Kemp, fishmonger empty
68 Mrs Stella Wigley, teacher of dancing empty
70 Claude China, furniture dealer empty: most recently Startline, motor cycling accessories
72 Mrs Ethel Meats, milliner empty: most recently Go Digital Mobile Phones, and (?) Travel Centre

As usual in local shopping streets, food shops were well represented in the Hermitage. Even this small row supported a butcher, baker, greengrocer, and fishmonger. The former shopping side of the street now looks most disconsolate today, and one salutes Ashforth Cleaning Services for having hung on here for so long. Photographs from June 1991 reveal that some of the decline has occurred in the last decade or so. Ten years ago Startline occupied nos. 70-72, at the corner of Meadow Lane, and sold helmets, gloves, boots, and leathers, and other items for motorcyclists. Next door to Ashforths, Trent Insurance Air Travel and Cargo at no. 48 appeared to have recently ceased trading. (Looked at in close­up in 2001, however, the painted-over fascia suggests that Morse's off-licence may have been a later occupant of this shop.) In 1989 the premises of M. Abbas, photographer, at 46, were newly converted into living accommodation, while no. 44 was empty, but still displayed the name of Chameleon Antiques and Collectables. Next door, another former shop at 42 was being turned into a house.

Sneinton Hermitage / Meadow Lane corner in June 1991. Sneinton Hermitage / Meadow Lane corner in June 1991. At this date STARTLINE occupied two shops which had in 1953 accommodated a furniture dealer and a milliner. Both are now empty. The familiar ACE TYRE garage can be seen in the background, although its frontage now looks rather different.

DELBOY's SECONDHAND SHOP, 60 Sneinton Hermitage, in June 1991.
DELBOY's SECONDHAND SHOP, 60 Sneinton Hermitage, in June 1991. One of Sneinton‘s shortest-lived shops, its name reflected the power of popular television. Now a private house, the shop had been occupied in 1953 by a wholesale fruiterer.

June 1991 brought another prize, in the shape of a photo of a very short-lived occupant of 60 Sneinton Hermitage. The very name of this shop may prove incomprehensible to future generations unfamiliar with 'Only Fools and Horses,' but there could be no better example of the spirit of the age, and of the power of popular culture. This was none other than Delboy's Secondhand Shop, 'houses cleared,' which lurked behind a bus shelter, and was consequently difficult to capture in a photograph. A few items of stock adorned the pavement outside - some sort of washing machine, a small coffee table, and a gas hob on top of a cupboard. My appearance with a camera caused great consternation to Delboy, or his understrapper, who demanded to know what I was up to. My harmless purpose being explained, he reluctantly accepted that a picture was going to be taken, and withdrew into the shop. When, however, I turned up later that year to offer a print of the photograph, the business was gone. I understand, by the way, that Del Boy, rather than Delboy, would have been more strictly correct, but can only record the name as displayed on the shop front.

There have, incidentally, never been any shops on the odd-numbered side of Sneinton Hermitage, but in 1953 Edwin Wright's dental surgery was at no. 33. It is rather odd, though, that no business was listed that year at the large garage almost next door to the police station. In 2001 three three business concerns exist on this side of the road. An outbuilding numbered la accommodates Gard Alarm Security, while similar premises at 37a are Moreland Products, joinery. The big garage already referred to is, and has been for some years, Ace Auto Services: tyres, servicing, tuning, welding. In 1991 it styled itself Ace Tyres, and possessed a much wider vehicle entrance than it has today.

From Manvers Street and Sneinton Hermitage, our voyage through Sneinton ends with Colwick Road. In 1953, this thoroughfare contained almost fifty shops and other business. The year 2001 finds this number reduced to thirteen, and I have been uncertain whether two of these were in fact still open. Here are the lists from the two years:


No. 1953 2001
1-9 Whiting & Sons, pawnbrokers The Food Junction, takeaway currys, kebabs, pizzas
11 Mrs T.M. Davis, cafe private house
13 G. Such, fried fish dealer empty
15 S.S. Henshaw, grocer Shehzad Fashions
17 E.A. Turner, poultry food dealer private house
19 Mrs Caurah, photographic materials dealer empty
21 Mrs M. Ward, cafe empty: most recently Shahnaz Hair Studio
23 Mrs M. Lyman, draper empty: most recently Pizza Valentino
25 George Mellors, confectioner empty: most recently Candy Box
29 Z. Michalik, boot repairer private house
43 Miss Helen Brunn, ladies’ hairdresser private house
67 G.S. Taylor, decorator private house
69 Harry Allen, boot repairer private house
71 Frank Williamson, antique dealer Geo. Akins, bookmakers
73 Gethin Hogg, butcher Geo. Akins, bookmakers
75 Henry A. Calladine, greengrocer private house
77 Texton Ltd., dyers and cleaners private house
79 Olympic Motors empty: most recently T.C. Motors
81 D.W. Coleman, confectioner private house
85 Reginald Wingard, hardware dealer private house
111 Lacy Bros., grocers private house
115 William Bush, hairdresser private house
121 Mrs G.A. Cox, draper closed: most recently Colwick Tackle, fishing tackle
129 Horace Seaton, hide & skin merchant private house
155 J.M. Draycott, grocer private house
157 John Murray, grocer B.&.K Hardware
2 Boots the Chemists empty: most recently Windmill Family Dental Practice
4 E. & G. Cumberland, newsagents empty, and very ruinous
8 George Mellors, cycle dealer empty: most recently AEW Electrical & Electronics
14 K.A. Glover, greengrocer (dem.) Kwiksave Supermarket (new building)
16 J.B. Berry, wine and spirit dealer (dem.) Asim Chemists: Greenwood Late Night Chemists and FotoStop Express (new building)
34 Mrs Mary Murphy, grocer Sheikh Food Store, fruit, veg., Halal meat and poultry
36 Frederick Taylor, pork butcher Sheikh Food Store
42-44 Samuel Glenn, grocer dem.
46 Albert Morton, decorator private house
62 Gertrude Middleton, shopkeeper dem.
68 Earl Manvers Hotel Earl Manvers PH
70 Ethel Louis Ltd., gowns and robes empty: most recently an off-licence
84 John Taylor, butcher Johnson's Bakery
86 Harry Clarke, fried fish dealer Fish 'N' Chips
100 Harold Carnelley, newsagent Yagnik & Co., 'Today's Convenience Store'
102 Mrs E.B. Freeman, grocer private house
110 Mrs Maud Lang, cafe dem.
188 A.L. Robinson, fruiterer private house
190 A.W. Watts, grocer Maid Marian Food Stores
192 Miss P. Anthony, draper apparently closed: most recently Stylistix Hairdressers
194 William Moules, newsagent empty: most recently a newsagent
196 Hannah China, shopkeeper private house Ginger Tom PH (new building)
SHEIKH CONTINENTAL STORE and van, Colwick Road, August 1989.SHEIKH CONTINENTAL STORE and van, Colwick Road, August 1989. This had for many years been WHITING's pawnbrokers premises, and is now the home of THE FOOD JUNCTION takeaway food business.

In terrible condition at the time of writing, nos. 2-4 Colwick Road were photographed in December 1992.
In terrible condition at the time of writing, nos. 2-4 Colwick Road were photographed in December 1992. In earlier years the chemist’s shop had been BOOTS, while the Libas House building had accommodated CUMBERLAND'S newsagents.

No fewer than eight grocers featured among the twenty or so shops in Colwick Road which sold food in 1953. This number has now declined to eight, one of which is, admittedly, a supermarket. Half a century ago Whitings the pawnbrokers occupied the most prominent shop building in Colwick Road, at the corner of Sneinton Boulevard and Hermitage Square. With the former Methodist Free Church it dominates old photographs of that spot. Although in 2001 we find some former shops converted into private houses, several others have merely reverted to private occupancy, not having originally been built as shop premises. Bush's long-lived and well-known gents' hairdressers is a case in point, though here the insignia of the former business are still proudly on display. However, it seems clear that in one or two cases, such as nos. 46 and 67, the Colwick Road addresses were mainly for taking orders. And there can never have been any skins or hides handled at no. 129 - this was one of the trades explicity banned in nearly every set of domestic title-deeds. We may assume that this was Mr Seaton's registered office.

Comparatively little demolition has taken place in Colwick Road since 1953. Apart from the Ginger Tom pub, which stands close to the site of the Suburban Railway bridge, only a couple of recent buildings claim notice. These are the new Kwiksave, set well back, but officially in Colwick Road, and the Greenwood Late Night Chemists. An interesting addition to Sneinton's named buildings, the latter bears an inscribed stone identifying it as the 'Sheikh Rashid Building 1997.' The two former shops at 81 and 85 Colwick Road are, I believe, post­war buildings which replaced houses destroyed in the Nottingham air-raid of May 1941, which gutted St Christopher's church.

For a last time we return to the scene revealed in photographs taken a decade or so ago. In August 1989 Sheikh Continental Store was trading at nos. 1-9, while no. 13 Colwick Road, now empty, was Rehana Fashions. July 1990 found Brian's Hair Stylist open for custom at no. 115, with Colwick Tackle in business a few doors away at 121. At the corner of Meadow Lane, no. 2, which had a long history as a pharmacist's, was Asim's chemist shop (now located in the new building a few yards away.) Next door at no. 4 was an unoccupied shop which still bore the sign of the recently-closed Libas House, 'children's wear, Asian suits, material, jewellery.' This former shop is now, unhappily, easily the most dilapidated building to figure in this survey.

Nobody can pretend that empty shop premises are pretty to look at, for any abandoned business gives off an inevitable air of decay and lost prosperity. Sneinton, regrettably, has more examples than one would wish. Of the six streets dealt with in this brief look at the Sneinton of 1953 and 2001, only Sneinton Dale has substantially retained its position as a thriving shopping centre. In none of them, alas, can we now call upon the services of the pawnbroker or the milliner, the apron maker or the circulating library, the fishmonger or the fishing tackle dealer, or, to the best of my knowledge, the corsetiere. Most striking of all has been the disappearance of the ten shops in this chronicle which sold or repaired boots and shoes. Truly the world is altered almost out of recognition since 1953.

Throughout all these changes, however, the community has owed much to the wide variety of tradespeople who have sustained old shops or started new ones, and still keep Sneinton alive as a place in which people go shopping.

At the end of the first part of this article I expressed my thanks to John Hose for his helpful comments and support. This brief account of Sneinton's shops is dedicated jointly to John (a friend of long standing) and to an old Sneinton Boulevard schoolmate of his, who has moved rather further away from his boyhood home. Maurice Green, once of Lyndhurst Road, now of Burlington, Ontario, is not only a subscriber to Sneinton Magazine, but also my cousin.