When I was a child growing up in Longsight in the 1950s it seemed as though every corner held a shop, pub or chippie. It certainly wasn't the case but the corner shop played an important part in the lives of local people. There were lots of shops all along Stockport Road in those days basically from Ardwick Green to beyond Slade Lane but lots of people did their shopping at the end of the street. There was o good reason for this because local shops gave tick and I know my mother wouldn't have survived had it not been for the fact that she could pay the grocer, green grocer or butcher on pay day. We didn't have pay-day loans but we ate during the week and settled up on Friday.
How the economy works today I have no idea but I do know that there are lots of local shops today tucked away down side streets away from Stockport Road. Here are just some of them.
My childhood days were spent in the northeast corner of Longsight close to the railway sidings of the Longsight Depot. Here are a few of the local "shops" we used back in the 1950s.
1. Bill's: Bill Barnfield's was a newsagent on the opposite corner from Emmet's. Paper boys went out of there morning and afternoon delivering the News and the "Chron." A friend of mine was one of Bill's paper lads in the 50's and he made 17/6d a week or 87.5p today. You had to go and pick up the Beano, Dandy, Topper, Wizard, Eagle, Women's Own and other magazines that he arranged on his counter. It was also a toffee shop with a great line in toffee on trays that Bill would break with his toffee hammer and weigh out while you salivated. He was also the source for fireworks and not only sold selection boxes but had a whole range from penny bangers through rip-raps to Catherine wheels, volcanoes and roman candles to rockets of various sizes all available singly. Each kid had his own box behind the counter and Bill would put away every purchase, however small, until the night. He also had a range of items suitable for gifts and I well remember buying my Mam a pair of rickshaw driver ornaments that were made out of plastic but I thought they were grand and I took Bill every bit of money I could save until I had them paid for.
2. Emmet's: A grocery cum off-license on the corner of Morton and Holt Street run by George and Edith Emmet. (It was owned by Shaws before that.) This was in the days when you could still buy one egg or a quarter of broken biscuits. Biscuits were displayed in front of the counter in rectangular tins with lift up glass lids. Every week the brewery men came to deliver crates that they slid down into the cellar via the trap door on the pavement on Morton Street.
Hully's ('Ulley's): On the north side of Edlin Street
(#7 I believe), Mrs. Hulley's shop was a grocery but
she also sold sweets, firelighters, fly catchers and
Alan's: On the corner of Florence Street and
Morton Street, Mrs. Alan's was our local chippy. A
friend wrote this about the place, "Mrs. Allen's
Chippy and boiled spuds (Mmm) would attract children
from miles around. Lemonade served in old meat paste
jars, one penny. Awesome Victorian Lady, never any
cheek whilst we were being served. She used to let
us eat them on the premises. On cold winter days
well-behaved and grateful school kids, many with
holes in their trousers, would chat merrily. The
windows used to steam up very quickly." I remember
the hand pulled device for making chips and the
stove where they warmed up the puddings and peas. In
those days the peas weren't actually meant to be
mushy they just ended up that way from being boiled
all night. I remember that you could get scratchings
of batter from the fish shelf for a penny.
5. Mrs. McManus': On the corner of Holt Street and
Victoria Street. People tell me it was a grocers but
I clearly remember that at one point it was a green
6. Bibby's: Across the street and a little
further down Earl Street was Bibby's grocery shop. I
remember the ice cream freezer with the two lids
that flipped up to give access to the treasure trove
of lollies and ice-cream. Little rectangular blocks,
wrapped in paper, that came with wafers. Then in the
60's you'd get frozen Jubblies in there.
7. Midgley's: The butcher's shop at the end of Holt Street on the corner of Sefton Street and Earl Street. Mr. Midgley's son was called Edwin and it was Edwin who did the deliveries on his bike with the big basket holder on the front. I got to go behind the counter at Midgley's and into the walk-in freezer. Mr. Midgley had wonders to show you from eggs with no shells that he had removed from a chicken to the chickens legs and feet that you could use to chase the girls with. Pull the tendons and the claws would come to life. I remember a man paying for his meat with a 5 pound note in Midgley's, not something I saw very often, one of those great big white notes that looked as if someone had just made it at home with a pen and a piece of paper
8. Dutton's: On South Street the crème de la crème of chippies. People would be lined up down the street by the time the doors opened.
9. Dutton's Dinky had two
chippies on South Street: the main one close to
Upper Plymouth Grove and a smaller shop that only
opened on some nights, down near the Sand Park.
I'm told it was known as the "Dinky."
10. Bob's: (shown
Was a corner grocery, at the corner of Marlow and
Victoria Streets, with a particular claim to fame.
Bob's made their own minerals in two sizes. Now my
Mam told me never to go there because it was nothing
but coloured water, but truth was we went there all
the time for the joy of having a full bottle of pop
all to yourself and I'm sure a small bottle was only